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Working paper

What is Russia trying to defend?

Contrary to the focus on the events of the last two years (2014–2015) associated with Crimea and military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, I stress here that serious changes in Russian internal politics (with strong pressure on political opposition, state propaganda and sharp anti-Western rhetoric, and the fight against ‘foreign agents’) became visible already in 2012. Geopolitical ambitions to revise the ‘global order’ (introduced by USA after USSR collapse) and the increased role of Russia in ‘global governance’ were declared by leaders of the country much earlier – with the famous Munich speech of Vladimir Putin in 2007. These ambitions were based on the robust economic growth of the mid-2000s, which encouraged the Russian ruling elite to adopt the view that Russia (with its huge energy resources) is a new economic super-power. In this paper I will show that the concept of ‘militant Russia’ in a proper sense can be attributed rather to the period of the mid-2000s. After 2008–2009, the global financial crisis and especially the ‘Arab spring’ and mass political protests against electoral fraud in Moscow in December 2011, one can speak mostly of ‘militant’ attempts of the Russian ruling elite to defend its power and assets.