Moscow’s behavior cannot be predicted. Moscow metaphorically can be seen as an isolated child who doesn’t have friends, because he is not psychologically stable. Russia says one thing, but does completely the opposite. On one side they say they will strengthen the relationship with another country, but what they do the next day completely wrecks the relationship. Another example is the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. It can be seen that Russia doesn’t somehow love the sustainable development, neither economically nor politically.
Not only Ukraine is a target for Russia, but also Baltic countries, Northern Kazakhstan, and wherever the Russian minorities are having a step-trace.
Many observers of Moscow suggest new conspiracy theories, explanations, models about the behavior of the state. However, in the end it is not predictable if Russia is rational or irrational.
If Russia would be ruled by ideologues, they wouldn’t care about anything but erecting the Great Russia by not partly invading lands, but taking everything from neighbor countries. Not only Ukraine is a target for Russia, but also Baltic countries, Northern Kazakhstan, and wherever the Russian minorities are having a step-trace. But Moscow has never talked about their Great Russia desire, and it is more-or-less visible that it is not what they intend. Nonetheless, nobody can assure.
If Russia would be ruled by realists, they wouldn’t invade the land of neighbor countries, because they know that this would disrupt the relationship with other strong and long-time neighbors or friends. This is a realist point of view. But If they would be realist, they wouldn’t be living the nightmare they have now, which is born from the invasion of Ukraine.
Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council has brought back the notion of the solidarity of Ukraine and Russia as a one nation. It is one people that lives in the Russian Federation and Ukraine that has so far stayed divided [by a border],” he said. “The normal relationship between our countries will one day be re-established.”(Maxim Trudolyubov, 2015)
As they have done it in Ukraine project of their, Kremlin uses the solidarity of Russians in all the lands, and Kremlin’s excuse of disturbance is the rights of these Russian minorities in neighbor lands. It’s not a new notion that Kremlin uses to direct the Russian population to support the state’s interest. However, such a manipulation already has backfired. The backfire also has hurt the EuroAsian Union Project. None of the member countries have a faith in Russia anymore. The reason is that EuroAsian union is a result of realistic thinking, but ethnic solidarity strategy is an ideological thinking, and these two oppose each other.
Back to the main question. Is Russian behavior rational?
Strategic movements can strongly affect the political or economic situation of any country. Having a friend like Turkey (or at least till few months ago), Russia could strengthen its influence in international affairs. However, just by a little tease, they scattered many opportunities of having a friend like Turkey. One of the optimal ways of building energy corridor to Europe was through Turkey, and Russia could have the same opportunity in the future if they didn’t cut all the relationship with them.
Kremlin will always live the high volatility in both international and domestic affairs.
Russia asked for a cooperation in Syria from Western Powers. It looks like a rational movement. On the other hand, Russia does its best to isolate itself from everyone. Is Russia acting rational?
I personally think that, Russia’s problem is the lack of decision between being realist or ideologist. This dichotomy doesn’t let Kremlin to go on one way. Being realist for a long time creates a feeling of insecurity in the system, but being ideologue for awhile also creates a feeling of insecurity.
That’s why, in my personal opinion, Kremlin will always live the high volatility in both international and domestic affairs.
If you ask for the solution, it’s not so easy to solve these problems. There should be a big deal of strong amendments, such as changing the society’s ideology (which I call close to impossible), evading the influence (or Threat) of elite, having liberal and transparent system, scattering the corruption, and so on.
The opinions stated in this paper are absolutely those of the author.