Briefing Note (part of the Perspectives on the Georgia Conflict series)

Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

The true driver of Russia's foreign agenda is the domestic situation. The Russian ruling class has returned to a traditional matrix of power which cannot exist without spheres of influence, macho posturing and the search for an enemy. The war provides essential support for the status quo, a status quo which is destroying all modernising impulses. However, the reserves of power and legitimacy needed to maintain this matrix are not unlimited; at some point the elite will face a choice between reform and collapse. The war in Georgia has brought forward this new moment of truth.

This briefing note forms part of the series - 'Six Perspectives on the Georgia Conflict'.