The wicked wolf of the West

While China may pose a bigger risk, it is the US that is Russia’s main concern, says Kirk Bennett

The World Today
3 minute READ

Kirk Bennett

US Foreign Service (retd)

There is a maxim that you shoot the wolf closest to the sled because that is the one that poses the immediate danger. This saying helps to explain a seeming anomaly of Kremlin policy. While some Russian analysts and politicians point with alarm to the rise of China, even positing a risk to Russia’s thinly populated Asiatic region, Russian policy-makers consistently focus instead on the West as Russia’s top security concern.

Even as they highlight the economic and social problems of the United States and the European Union, Russian leaders express greater apprehension about the supposedly ‘declining’ West than about the burgeoning economic and military power of China to the east.

The explanation for this paradox is that the reasons for the Russian security preoccupation with the West are not principally military.

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