The Ukraine crisis has provoked a discussion in Western policy and academic communities about Russian strategy as observers attempt to work out what the Russian leadership might do next. Are Russian actions the result of a coherent and consistent agenda? Is Russian strategy, as some Western interviewers recently asked of Putin himself, on ‘a path of dialogue, or expansion and conquest’?
This paper explores the question of whether there is a Russian ‘grand strategy’, but approaches it from a different angle from that of the current debate indicated above, which usually equates strategy with long-term policy or goals. Instead, here the focus is on strategy as the creation of power, and the paper examines the link between the Russian leadership’s consistent but increasingly obvious commitment to strategic planning and its ability to have those plans implemented.