Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia

How they affect Western policy, and what can be done
Chatham House report Updated 2 July 2021 Published 13 May 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 461 7
A representation of Imperial Rome is projected onto the façade of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, 2016.

This report deconstructs 16 of the most prevalent myths and misconceptions that shape contemporary Western thinking on Russia. It explains their detrimental impact on the design and execution of policy, and in each case outlines how Western positions need critical re-examination to ensure more rational and effective responses to Russian actions.

Underpinning our analysis is the essential argument that, contrary to wishful thinking on the part of many Euro-Atlantic politicians and policymakers, there is little prospect of Russia becoming a more constructive and cooperative partner for Western governments in the foreseeable future. Well-meaning efforts to ‘improve’ the relationship with the Kremlin are thus likely to founder, as Russia’s strategic goals, values and understanding of interstate relations differ irrevocably from those of the West.