In Between War and Peace: The Conceptualisation of Russian Strategic Deterrence
Lucassen, Okke Geurt
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The Russian Federation has expanded its foreign policy instruments in recent years to include a broader range of tools, both military and non-military for times of peace and war. The implications of this pivot in Russian foreign policy is often referred to in terms such as Hybrid Warfare, Cross-Domain Coercion, New Generation War, or the Gerasimov doctrine. Examples of this turn include the annexation of Crimea, the use of paramilitary groups (such as the Wagner Group), and foreign election tampering. The present paper contributes to the growing literature on contemporary Russian foreign policy by dissecting what the Russian Federation has named ‘Strategic Deterrence’ (сдерживание стратегическое) as a part of its foreign policy strategy. Whilst established theories of foreign policy strategies such as Hybrid Warfare have been adapted to better fit the contemporary Russian model, the notion of Russian Strategic Deterrence is best understood through its conceptualisation as a uniquely Russian take on contemporary foreign policy. This paper provides an analysis on how Russian perceptions of Western expansionism have influenced the Russian conceptualisation of Strategic Deterrence, and how the Russian concept of Strategic Deterrence is distinct from seemingly similar and commonly interchanged concepts such as Hybrid Warfare.