The Russian Threat — Real or Imaginary?

  • Olga Alexandrova


After the 1996 presidential elections one may ask whether the question ‘Is there a Russian threat?’ is still relevant. However, the short history of Russian politics after 1991 is marked by abrupt ups and downs. It has nurtured scepticism among Western analysts about the prospects for the transition to democracy and a market economy as well as about Russian foreign policy. Thus, it is good advice to be sober in evaluating Russia’s future development. Boris Yeltsin’s re-election as President of the Russian Federation has been assessed in the West as a further step towards democratization which, in turn, opens the prospect of working relations with the West. However, democratization alone may not necessarily promote harmony between Russia and the West and guarantee Russia’s benign policy towards its ‘internal abroad’ (subjects of the Russian Federation), ‘near abroad’ (former Soviet republics and newly independent states), and the outside world.1


Foreign Policy Organize Crime Nuclear Weapon Security Policy Former Soviet Union 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The topic of the democratic peace has recently become a most widely debated issue in IR literature. On the relationship between Russia’s democratization and its international conduct see N. Malcolm and A. Pravda, ‘Democratization and Russian foreign policy’, International Affairs, 72, 3 (1996) 537–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    R.D. Blackwill, ‘Russia and the West’, in R.D. Blackwill, R. Braithwaite and A. Tanaka, Engaging Russia. A Report to the Trilateral Commission, The Triangle Papers 46 (New York—ParisvTokyo: The Trilateral Commission, 1995) pp. 28–9. It is remarkable that Russian analysts and politicians put this quite differently: the West is both Russia’s partner and rival.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J.F. Matlock, Jr, ‘Dealing with a Russia in Turmoil’, Foreign Affairs, 75, 3 (1996) 41.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    G.T. Allison et al., Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy. Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material (Cambridge, Mass, London: MIT Press, 1996)Google Scholar
  5. B.G. Blair, ‘Russian Control of Nuclear Weapons’, in G. Questor, ed., The Nuclear Challenge in Russia and the New States of Eurasia: The International Politics of Eurasia (Armonk, NY, London: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), pp. 59–88.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    M. Cox, ‘The Necessary Partnership? The Clinton Presidency and Post-Soviet Russia’, International Affairs, 70, 4 (1994) 644.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See, for example, R.W. Lee III, ‘Post-Soviet Nuclear Trafficking: Myths, Half-Truths, and the Reality’, in Current History, 94, 594 (1995) 343–48.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    S. Benson, ‘Can the United States and Russia Reshape the International Strategic Environment’, Comparative Strategy, 14, 3 (1995) 238.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Z. Brzezinski, ‘The Premature Partnership’, Foreign Affairs, 73, 2 (1994) 79.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Sergei Rogov, then a deputy director of the Institute for the US and Canada, has pointed out that the Russian military continues to consider the West as ‘the most dangerous opponent’ of Russia and that the new military doctrine still assumes a ‘large scale war’, implying the ‘possibility of a clash with a coalition of the strongest and industrially most developed states’. S.M. Rogov, ‘Novaya voennaya doktrina Rossii’, SSha: ekonomika, politika, ideologiya, 4 (1994) 9–10.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    J. Sherr, ‘After the Cold War: The Search for a New Security System’, European Security, 4, 4 (1995) 578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 20.
    St. Covington, ‘Moscow’s Insecurity and Eurasian Instability’, European Security, 4, 3 (1995) 447.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    S.N. Macfarlane, ‘Russia, the West and European Security’, Survival, 35, 3 (1993) 19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Alexandrova

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations