Strategic Culture, Elite Structure and the Formation of Russian Foreign Policy

This discussion paper examines the strategic culture and the elite structure of the Russian Federation as determining internal dynamics that have contributed to the shifts in Russia’s foreign policy.

What caused Russia to follow an aggressive foreign policy? Is it President Putin himself or a much larger phenomenon? This discussion paper examines the strategic culture and the elite structure of the Russian Federation as determining internal dynamics that have contributed to the shifts in Russia’s foreign policy. Russia’s strategic culture, which can be traced back to the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, is prone to a competitive aggressive foreign policy. Moreover, members of the security apparatuses, known as the ‘Siloviki’, have become the determining group in shaping Moscow’s foreign and security policy and this high level of consensus and cohesion among the elite have contributed to an aggressive path as their specific background leads them to resort to the old playbook embedded in the country’s strategic culture.

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