Civil-Military Relations and Russia’s Post-Soviet Military Culture: A Belief System Analysis
This article studies the role of military culture in defense policymaking. It focuses on Russia’s post-Soviet civil–military relations and military reform attempts. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s armed forces were in a state of despair. Despite having relative institutional autonomy, the military neither made itself more effective before minister Serdyukov nor tried to overthrow the government. The paper uses the advocacy coalition framework’s belief system approach to analyze data from military memoirs, parliamentary speeches, and 15 interviews. The research shows that the military’s support for institutional autonomy, combined with its elites’ self-serving bias, critically contributed to what I term an “imperfect equilibrium” in Russian civil–military relations: the military could not reform itself and fought back against radical, though necessary, changes imposed by civilian leadership.