Russian roulette: the Kremlin’s escalation strategy from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea

By Polina Sinovets, Iryna Maksymenko & Maksym Skrypnyk

This article explores escalation as a tool which is being used in Russian military strategy in the twenty-first century. This method of operation has been transformed from a purely defensive deterrence asset which was valid at the beginning of the 2000s into an element of aggressive deterrence, one which bases itself on Russia presenting Crimea’s annexation as a fait accompli. The authors conclude that the strategic value for Moscow of the Black Sea region has grown with the annexation of Crimea, so that it now surpasses the value of the Baltic region. This can be inferred by comparing the Russian military potential which is present in both regions, as well as through related doctrines and corresponding decisions. To a major extent, the Russian stance in the Baltic plays a coercive role in its strategy: it aims to boost deterrence on the Black Sea, where Moscow sees itself as being more vulnerable.

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