• Jacob Dalsgaard Pedersen
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This master’s thesis seeks to investigate Russia’s use of military intervention as a foreign policy tool under Vladimir Putin’s administration. Since Putin first became President, Russia has been involved in three major conflicts outside its borders, in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. From a Western perspective, Russia is almost always labelled the aggressor in these conflicts, however this project seeks to examine what led Russia to intervene militarily in these conflicts and whether or not the actions of Russia can in fact be characterised as offensive or not.
This is examined through two hypotheses, generated from the two-neorealist schools of international relations theory, defensive and offensive realism. With due regard to the actual empirical reality, these theories are tested to support the research in determining whether Russia’s foreign policy is to be considered defensive or offensive. The project finds that neither of the two hypotheses can unambiguously be confirmed to describing the Russian motivation for military intervention in all three conflicts. Rather, it finds that Russia’s actions should be seen in the context of the actions of other actors within the international system as well. When Russia engaged in the Russo-Georgian War, it did so after decades of NATO expansions, in spite of repeated Russian criticism that it was considered a threat to the security of the Russian State. When NATO declared its intention to admitting Georgia into the alliance, Russia deemed prone to act. Similarly, when Ukraine decided to pursue a more Western path following the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014, Russia feared that the expanding Western influence could jeopardise its strategically important military installation in Sevastopol, Crimea, which led to the annexation of the peninsula. The subsequent destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine however, indicates a more offensive motive to signal to Ukraine and the West that Russia still has significant influence within its near-abroad and Western influence here will not be tolerated. When Russia launched its Syrian intervention a year later, it did so to protect its interests rather than to protect its security. Through its comprehensive effort in the conflict, Russia has managed to position itself as the power broker of the conflict and has remerged as a great power in international politics once again.

The research conducted in this thesis clearly reveals a shift in the foreign policy strategy of Russia. In Georgia, Russia used its offensive capabilities as a means to defend itself against the expanding NATO threat. But as Russia has become more powerful over the years, it has increasingly been using its military capabilities to defend its interests abroad, rather than primarily the security of the Russian state. Concurrently with increasing U.S. absence from the international system, Russia has pursued a more interventionist foreign policy strategy, allowing it to fill the power vacuum, for instance in the Middle East. This clearly illustrates an attempt to re-emerge as a major power and to diminish the United States-led unipolar world order.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2018
Antal sider80
ID: 280124761