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Hierarchy of threats to Russia
Hierarchy of threats to Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, with very low population density and an intricate interplay of neighbors. Its vast territory makes Russia a
Since Russia’s key possibilities for development lie within the country, its main foreign policy goal is to block external negative influences and avoid being drawn into confrontation with opponents. Historically, the outside world and internal political stability, which are closely interrelated, have always been the principal condition for utilizing Russia’s advantages.
Russia has existed within its present borders (excluding the North Caucasus and Khabarovsk Territory) for more than three centuries since the time of Peter the Great. Creating and preserving the world’s largest state amid fierce competition is undoubtedly an achievement of the Russian people.
But the Russian state has a number of vulnerabilities. Historically, Russia has been known for large distances between towns, the absence of natural defenses against external invasions, exposed lines of communication, a harsh northern climate and a short growing season. Many regions of the country are not suitable for farming, and the main industrial centers are far away from energy sources. The government has to ensure security and maintain uniform health service and education standards across 11 time zones from Magadan to Kaliningrad.
All of the above makes the country fragile,
Russian authorities try to address the country’s fragility and permeability by strengthening military security and stimulating steady population growth. By so doing, they try to increase the vitality of the state and make it more resilient to external and internal stresses.
Russia’s foreign policy is a direct continuation of the domestic one. Over the past three centuries, Moscow has been the dynamic core of Eurasia and a major attraction for its neighbors. Russia was among the first to have brought the fruits of European culture to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Far East. But in the 21st century the future of Eurasia will not be shaped entirely by Russia, which will have to compete with China, the European Union, the United States, Turkey and Iran. Russia should secure its place among great powers at the negotiating table in order not to become an item on their menu.
Key external threats to Russia come from Islamic extremism in Syria and Iraq, drug trafficking from Afghanistan, a possible escalation of conflicts in
Of all the
Russia seeks to become a leading world power along with the United States and China, but with no success so far. By waiting and building up its strength, Russia becomes a strategic balancer which should be interested in remaining independent in pursuing its own policy and assessing international events. A key international threat to Russia will stem from the need to stray from the role of balancer and join one of the centers of global competition in the 21st century — the U.S. or China.
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