James Sherr

James Sherr draws on his in-depth study of Russia over many years to explain and analyse the factors that have brought Russian influence back into play.

During the Cold War, Soviet influence and Leninist ideology were inseparable. But the collapse of both systems threw Russian influence into limbo. In this book, James Sherr draws on his in-depth study of the country over many years to explain and analyse the factors that have brought Russian influence back into play. Today, Tsarist, Soviet and contemporary approaches combine in creative and discordant ways. The result is a policy based on a mixture of strategy, improvisation and habit. The novelty of this policy and its apparent successes pose possible dangers for Russia’s neighbours, the West and Russia itself.


'This slim volume should be required reading by all policy-makers and diplomats as it is a primer for understanding the internal triggers of international behaviour generally and of Russia’s strategic culture specifically. Sherr returns here to themes from his earlier works, namely how Russia’s history informs its international objectives and the strategies chosen to pursue those objectives. His trenchant insights warrant comparison with another short classic, George Kennan's Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin (1961). Sherr’s recommendations for Western strategists are powerful, not least letting Russia reap the consequences of its choices. This is the masterwork of one of the few top Russia specialists of his generation.'
S. Enders Wimbush, Executive Director for Strategy & Development, National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR)

'This concise book is rich in original interpretations of Russia's ability to turn weakness into strength. Its logic, while eschewing the conventional juxtaposition of intentions and capabilities, is far straighter here than in most demand-driven policy analysis. James Sherr wins over any traditional realist or rational-choice economist through the intense power of his arguments, but the persuasive elegance of his prose also beats most academic narrative by a huge margin.'
Dr Pavel Baev, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

'James Sherr expertly lays out Russia’s approach to the world and foreign affairs. This book will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what shapes and motivates Russian policies toward the United States, NATO, Europe and Russia’s neighbourhood.'
Dr Fiona Hill, Director, Center on the United States and Europe and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Program, Brookings Institution

'James Sherr’s new book provides a perceptive and sober analysis of Russia’s influence in the world. Soft coercion, which Sherr describes as a tool used by Russia, fills the hiatus between hard power and soft power. He elaborates and refines definitions of power and influence as presented by Joseph S. Nye in his seminal work Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Insightful and witty, Hard Diplomacy and Soft Coercion: Russia’s Influence Abroad is a must-read for anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of how Russia operates, what makes it tick, why it reacts the way it does and how the West is supposed to respond. In the spirit of the best Oxford debating tradition, Sherr entices the public and persuades it to adopt his line of thinking. With this book, James Sherr yet again proves to be one of the leading experts on Russia.'
Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland (2007- )

More Resources


This book synthesizes the findings of a Chatham House research project which reveals the ways Russia is attempting to develop informal networks, business links, state-corporate relations, cultural affinities, and linguistic ties with its neighbours and other politically important countries.

Russia's Hard Diplomacy over Syria, Expert Comment, June 2013

About the Author

James Sherr is an Associate Fellow and former Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. 


ISBN-13: 978-1862032668

Order the book from Amazon.



Order the Kindle edition from Amazon.