(Co-authored with Jean Radvanyi) This timely book provides a balanced and comprehensive overview of the geographical, historical, political, cultural, and geostrategic factors that drive Russia today. Russia has long inspired fear in the West, but as the authors argue, Russia is fearful as well. Three decades after the transformations launched by perestroika, multiple ghosts haunt both Russian elites and ordinary citizens, ranging from concerns about territorial challenges, societal transformations, and economic decline to worries about the country’s vulnerability to external intervention. Faced with a West that emerged victorious from the Cold War, a shockingly dynamic China, and former Soviet republics claiming their right to emancipate themselves from Moscow’s stranglehold, Russia is constantly questioning its identity, its development path, and its role on the international scene. The country hesitates between two strategies: take refuge in a new isolation and revive the old notion of being a “besieged fortress,” or replay the messianic myth of a Third Rome, the last bastion of Christian values in the face of a decadent West. Explaining Russia’s perspective, Marlene Laruelle and Jean Radvanyi offers a much-needed analysis that will help readers understand how the country deals with its domestic issues and how these influence Russian foreign policy.
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