#act power thursdays: Russia’s coercive diplomacy

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Reuters/ Alexander Demianchuk

Today’s post on statecraft, thinking and acting in terms of power, is again dedicated to Russia’s ongoing attempt to break out of the existing European security architecture, breaking it up in the process. It explores Russia’s innovative way of using diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, to achieve its aims.

Lilia Shevtsova, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, publishes an outstanding analysis of Russia’s current strategy. Here are salient parts of her article, Coercive Diplomacy Injects Adrenaline into Russia’s Decaying Regime:

The Russian regime is experimenting with a three-pronged strategy
against which the West is struggling to react: “to be against the West;
to be inside of the West; to be with the West.”

Russia’s foreign policy goal is to be able again to redefine zones of influence. To get there, it is trying its best to muddy the waters:

The Kremlin is pursuing a post-post-modern policy which waters
down the differences between principles and norms, war and peace, right
and wrong, reality and imitation, ally and enemy, law and lawlessness,
and internal and external conflict. Using this strategy, a state which
contributes to conflict within another can also be the one to start the
struggle for peace. This is a version of the Hobbesian world order—it is
based not on international treaties and trust, but on uncertainty as to
an actor’s intentions and their readiness for surprise breakthroughs.
…Now,
the Kremlin wants to have the right to reinterpret the rules while
influencing the West through globalization and engagement.

According to Shevtsova, the West is in a bind:

any bargain that would allow the Kremlin to
interpret the global rules of the game as it chooses would undermine the
coherence and unity of Western principles. But rejecting the bargain
could incite the Kremlin bull to wreck the Western china shop.

How can we mobilise forces to counter such a challenge and find a way out of this catch-22 situation? 

Johanna M

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