COLD WAR OR NOT, RUSSIA’S FOREIGN POLICY TACTICS TOWARD THE UNITED STATES AND THE WEST REMAIN UNCHANGED
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This thesis argues that, notwithstanding the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the fall of Communism, the current aggressive foreign policy posture exhibited by the Russian Federation toward the United States is virtually identical to that of the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. This topic and the underlying argument are important as an acknowledgement of this truth will better equip law and policy makers to address the current challenges posed by Russia, how it relates to the historical challenges posed by the Soviet Union, and how best to address this challenge. Following a discussion of the foreign policies activities undertaken by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, this thesis underscores Russia’s foreign policy posture toward the US in three contexts or chapters. The first chapter analyzes Russia’s aggressive annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, and compares it to similar violations of the sovereignty of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Moldova and Georgia. This chapter provides historical context for Russia’s violation of international norms, and lays out why this behavior was both predictable and expected. The second chapter analyzes the Soviet Union’s, and later Russia’s, interference in US presidential elections. This chapter discusses a discernible shift in tactics and escalation in the invasiveness, from simply offering campaign funds to a favored candidate in the early 1960s, to the use of “active measures,” defined below, to spread disinformation regarding opposition candidates in the 1980s and 2010s. The final chapter explores the use of espionage and illicit intelligence collection operations by the Russian intelligence services during Soviet and Russian rule. This chapter highlights the slight variance in approach but underscores the fact that both the Soviet Union and Russia have relied heavily on this tool, to procure iii intelligence related to not only US state secrets, but US government, political and economic information. This thesis concludes that while a number of factors have changed the landscape of the US-Russia dynamic, the only reasonable conclusion to be made is that Russia has maintained its aggressive foreign policy posture toward the US and its allies. This thesis concludes by offering three possible avenues for future research. The first possible avenue is an attempt to understand the specific role Vladimir Putin plays in Russia’s foreign policy posture as a dictator and relic of the Soviet Union. The second avenue would be an exploration of the impact economic relations between US and Russian private businesses has on normalizing or thawing diplomatic relations between the governments of the same. A third possible area of research would be an analysis of how the current relationship between the US and Russia, which has been colored by both Russia’s aggressive foreign policy posture and the US-led eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, impacts the relationship each has with the People’s Republic of China.