Russian and Chinese conceptions of deterrence: a comparative study of revisionism and the status-quo



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Tartu Ülikool


The study of deterrence provides a unique and insightful alternative for the evaluation of state revisionism and status-quo adherence. This thesis provides an innovate method and proof-of-concept for the categorization of state revisionism, through operationalization of state deterrence strategies, using two of the most topical and relevant rising powers as cases: the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China, during the so-called period of the ‘Rise of the Rest’ and the ‘Return of Geopolitics’. Through the use of data-driven qualitative content analysis, areas of interest are determined; from which key events are identified and evaluated by comparing the empirical results to the theoretical frameworks of deterrence and the long-established definition of revisionism. Through this methodology, this thesis finds that both the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China are revisionist states, with the Russian Federation being significantly more revisionist than China; due to the differing security environments, historical and territorial context, and deterrence conceptions. By using the study of deterrence as an explanatory framework, this thesis provides a proof-of-concept and model for future research, and is the first holistic study on state revisionism in over 15 years, as well as it is the first comparative measurement-based study of its class.