Russia’s behaviour is shaped by Russia’s history. Her paranoia is rooted in both her past and in the geopolitical realities of today. Control of central Europe is vital to her military and economic security and as the basis for projecting her influence globally.
Her approach to international relations is one in which national interests carry much greater weight than universal rights or the norms that the West thought had been accepted as the rules governing inter-state relations.
The actions of the Putin regime represent continuity in Russian attitudes and behaviour since the Time of Troubles in the early 17th century, when Russia was ravaged by famine, foreign occupation, civil strife, and a third of the population died. Such attitudes and behaviour have been discernible throughout almost four centuries of Romanov and Soviet rule and reinforced by the bitter experiences of civil war following the Bolshevik revolution and most recently during the Second World War.
The rights of neighbours count for little compared to Russia’s national security, especially when those neighbours are the avenues for foreign military or ideological invasion.
Credit: Kissinger, Henry. World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History.London, Allen Lane, 2014, 49