This book is for anyone that cannot understand why Russia and its leaders behave as they do.

The relationship between Russia and the West is once again deep in crisis. A major reason is that Western leaders have too often believed or hoped that Russia sees the world as they do — but things look very different from Moscow. This book shows that efforts at engagement with Russia that do not take this into account are a key reason for repeated disappointment and crisis.

In confronting the West, Russia is implementing strategic and doctrinal approaches that have been consistent for centuries. The roots of current Russian behaviour and demands can be traced not just to the Soviet era, but back into Tsarist foreign and domestic policy, and further to the structure and rules of Russian society. But this also gives the US and the West pointers for how to behave — and how not to — in order to manage the challenge of Russia effectively, based on past experience of both successful and unsuccessful engagement with Moscow.

This book recognizes the reality of confrontation and provides an essential introduction to grasping why Russia sees it as inevitable. Consequently, it offers a basis for building a less crisis-prone relationship with Russia.

My only regret is that I did not have this book 35 years ago

Toomas Ilves, former President of Estonia

Should be required reading for all who deal with Western policy towards Russia

Roderic Lyne, former British Ambassador to Moscow

A compelling, well-documented argument for honest acceptance of differences between the West and Russia – and for a policy of firm deterrence

Evelyn N. Farkas, senior fellow, Atlantic Council

About the author

Keir Giles is a senior consulting fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House and leads the Conflict Studies Research Centre, a group of subject matter experts in Eurasian security.

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Insights: Critical Thinking on International Affairs

This book is part of the Insights series, published jointly with the Brookings Institution Press. Concise, lively and authoritative, this series explores a wide range of country, regional and international developments, within a global context.

More about the series