The article discusses visions of future warfare articulated in recent Russian military publications. There seems to be agreement among Russian scholars that future war will be triggered by Western attempts to promote Western political and economic interests while holding back Russia’s resurgence as a global power. The future war with the West is viewed as inevitable in one form or another, whether it is subversion and local wars or large-scale conventional war. While the danger of conventional war has declined, according to several scholars, the West is understood to have a wide range of non-kinetic means at its disposal that threaten Russia. In order to withstand future dangers, Russia has to be able to meet a large number of kinetic and non-kinetic threats at home and abroad.
Based on representative primary sources as well as authoritative academic and think tank analyses, this article aims to evaluate the role that Asia’s emerging superpower came to play in the Baltic trio’s security, with particular emphasis on its harder aspects and most recent developments, which marked a certain shift in the respective bilateral relationships. Structured according to the conventional levels of international relations analysis and rough chronological order, the qualitative study tracks the more or less direct impact of China for the comprehensive security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ranging from the systemic (global) to purely bilateral domains. The results show that China has indeed become a security factor to be reckoned with there, particularly since roughly 2017–2019 and primarily due to its deepening strategic partnership with Russia. Some of its security effects, however, are even older, more nuanced, yet still significant. Since roughly 2019, however, China’s security factor has increasingly acquired challenging and even threatening characteristics as is most clearly demonstrated by its relationship dynamics with Lithuania.
Russia once again pushes its way to emerge as a major power in the international order after losing this status in the modern ‘time of troubles’
in the 1990s. Its political and military strategic leaders demonstrated willingness to
employ all instruments of power as means of escalation to achieve this goal. Meanwhile, tactical military commanders
are the ones in direct control of military escalation means and therefore their motivations, agility and rationality are
also important factor in the Russian escalation processes towards the West. This research will look at these processes
through lenses of game and decision-making theories.
Interpreting Russian actions in the Near Abroad relies on the perception of Russian intent, but all too often states fail to analyse how Moscow interprets Western objectives. While defensive realist theorists argue that states tend to seek only enough power to survive within the system, the U.S. 2017 National Security Strategy argues Moscow is a revisionist state, seeking a return to great power status. Increasing tensions among the actors in the region gives rise to potential misperception of intent. This article analyses state motivations under a defensive realist paradigm and addresses how Russian actions may emerge from a defensive perspective. Using a defensive realist framework, this article elevates Russian insecurities and fear of Western influence in the Near Abroad as the primary motivator of state action.