It seems like Russia has entered a new era of its foreign policy – a ‘constructive destruction’, let’s call it, of the previous model of relations with the West. Parts of this new way of thinking have been seen over the last 15 years – starting with Vladimir Putin’s famous Munich speech in 2007 – but much is only just becoming clear now. At the same time, lackluster efforts to integrate into the western system, while maintaining a doggedly defensive attitude, has remained the general trend in Russia’s politics and rhetoric.
Constructive destruction is not aggressive. Russia maintains it isn’t going to attack anyone or blow them up. It simply doesn’t need to. The outside world provides Russia with more and more geopolitical opportunities for medium-term development as it is. With one big exception. NATO’s expansion and formal or informal inclusion of Ukraine poses a risk to the country’s security that Moscow simply won’t accept.