Kathryn Stoner on Russia’s Economy, Politics, and Foreign Policy

Kathryn Stoner
Kathryn Stoner

Kathryn Stoner joins the podcast to discuss Russia’s resurrection and its implications for international relations. Kathryn is a professor of political science at Stanford University. Her new book is Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order.

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Biden’s current policy is, you know, we want Putin to calm down, be stable for awhile and turn our focus to restraining China. I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not in his interest to do that. So, I think taking our eye off Russia, underestimating it, is the biggest concern for the U.S. currently.

Kathryn Stoner

Key Highlights Include

  • A description of Russia’s economy
  • An account of Russia’s military reforms
  • Why Russia is in the Middle East
  • Explanation of Russia’s foreign policy
  • Is a resurrected Russia a danger to the West?

Podcast Transcript

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan has not gone as planned. It’s received a lot of justified criticism. But many have anticipated this moment for over a decade. In many ways, the withdrawal feels like the culmination of a paradigm shift in American foreign policy. It is the end of an era as America shifts to focus on the great power rivalries from China and Russia. 

Still, it feels odd to include Russia as a great power rival. America spent two decades minimizing the potential of Russia in international relations. So, it genuinely surprised many when it seized Crimea in 2014 and interfered in the 2016 Presidential election. Russia has reemerged as a force in global politics once again. Kathryn Stoner writes, “Under Vladimir Putin’s autocratic rule, Russia possesses the capability and his regime possesses the will to use adroitly a variety of power resources to disrupt the prevailing international order and to define a new one.”

As global events rapidly change, I wanted to take some time to understand Russia better. So, the next two episodes will discuss Russia with two leading Post-Soviet scholars. Next week’s episode will feature Timothy Frye from Columbia University to discuss his new book Weak Strongman. But for this week I invited Kathryn Stoner from Stanford University to discuss her book Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order.

Kathryn explains Russia’s resurgence and why it demands our attention in any discussion of global affairs. But more than that Kathryn offers a deep dive into the capabilities and strategies of Russia. And we discuss why its political system remains a weakness. 

Of course, like always this is a complex topic. We’re not able to touch on every point or perspective so please join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram. You can also go to democracyparadox.com to find a full transcript of the episode or email me at jkempf@democracyparadox.com. But for now… This is my conversation… with Kathryn Stoner…


Kathryn Stoner, welcome to the Democracy Paradox.

Kathryn Stoner

Thanks very much for having me.


Well, Kathryn, I really loved your book, Russia Resurrected. It gives such a great overview of the topic of Russia both within international politics, but also to really give a better grasp of the dynamics of Russian politics itself domestically as well, so that we can kind of understand it within the international context. And I was very impressed because I think it gives some very nuanced and insightful comments on Russia itself.

But as we begin, I keep coming back to the title. It’s called Russia Resurrected which Implies to me a nadir or a low point that they have overcome. And so, before we get too deep into the idea of Russia and Vladimir Putin, why don’t we start with where Russia came from in terms of your narrative. Can you paint a portrait of Russian life at its lowest ebb to give us some perspective, to understand where Russia has gotten today?

Kathryn Stoner

Sure. So, it was awful. It was a complete collapse of the economy. And it wasn’t just caused by the loosening of prices and sudden inflation that came along with this attempted shock therapy in the first six months of 1992. It was also 70 years of communism before that and then the sort of halting, uneven reforms that Gorbachov attempted between 85 and 91. It was also called by various economists, the deepest recession or human made economic catastrophe outside of war time. It was bad. It was dependent on lenders of last resort. That means the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank for aid. It was in a huge debt situation that had run up since the collapse of oil prices in the early 1980s as well. And so, people were doing things like hoarding, whatever they could get from their places of work.

I had an economist friend who had bars of soap stacked against the wall in his apartment and I asked what those are for. And he said, ‘Oh, well, it’s to trade’ for things that they needed. So, it was a terrible situation. People selling belongings on the street. Just to give you a sense of how bad. It was a country on food aid. A country in debt and amassing tremendous loans. There was worry about famine even at times in 1992.


now my understanding is that period shaped Vladimir Putin as well. There’s that infamous quote that he had where he said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the great tragedies. I found it interesting because you go back to that quote and you put it into context. Because you say that it’s not understood correctly in the west. And you write in your book, “Putin was not sorrowful over the collapse of the Soviet planned economic system or the fall of the Communist Party, nor was he advocating the return of Marxism Leninism. Instead, he regretted the loss of territory and resources wrought by the Soviet collapse, as well as the populations of ethnic Russians stranded outside the homeland in former republics that were now new countries.” Is there an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union maintains its territorial integrity or was that just a necessity at that moment in history to be able to collapse into all these different nations, the way that it did?

Kathryn Stoner

So it was, it was actually written into the Soviet constitution, the successive ones, that the republics all had the right to secede. It was just not dreamed that they actually would exercise that right. There’s a long history before Gorbachev of the resources of the republics going to the federal center. And so even though people may have lived in, for example, Kazakhstan, where they have a lot of oil or gas and the same in Russia, they wouldn’t necessarily have reaped the economic benefits of those resources. They would instead go to the federal budget and then subsidize other republics of the Soviet Union. So, the reasons for separating from the union were often economic.

But there also was a nationalities component to this beginning up in the Baltic Republics that had been annexed through the, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, that was between Nazi Germany and Stalin, the Soviet Union. So, they really wanted out. When they had the opportunity, in the Baltics in particular. So, it’s hard to see once those sort of federal constraints were lifted and Gorbachev began to try to renegotiate the articles of some sort of Confederation or looser union, it’s hard to see those republics staying in. And indeed, they didn’t sign on even to this Commonwealth of Independent States, which was a very kind of weak association of many, but not all of the former Soviet Republics after 1991.


Now the quote that I just read it also helps put into context the way that Vladimir Putin and the way that many Russians feel about the territorial loss of Crimea. Many people that listen to this podcast are aware of the Russian annexation of Crimea. I feel like we’ve heard about the story, about it happening. But in reading your book, I feel like I got a very different perspective of the annexation, not from a normative perspective, but in terms of how Russia came from such a low point to being able to be powerful enough to invade Crimea and annex it. Can you give an account of that annexation, how that actually happened and what Russia did to be able to bring itself to that point? That it was much more powerful and much more stable, capable of being able to pull off such a feat?

Kathryn Stoner

Yeah. So, the book has a discussion of what power is. So, one of the arguments is what is power and that we are underestimating what Russia can and is capable and willing to do internationally by looking at power in just one way which is the strength of the military, the economy, and the health and wealth of its population. Some of those things aren’t as bad as you may have been led to believe if you look at the actual numbers. Because there was actually some good policy. We forget to look sometimes at the numbers and when you look at the numbers, you’ll see that its economy has recovered significantly.

And so, when we think about why can it do things like grab the Crimean Peninsula and continue a low boil war on the borders with Ukraine and inside Ukraine. Why could it go quickly into Syria in 2015 and keep Bashar al-Assad in power? Why was it able to keep Maduro frankly in power? Well, it’s because it has enough of a stable economy and pretty good macroeconomic policy, despite the political situation to rebuild its military.

And so, one of the things the book does is look in detail at the military reform that has taken place since 2008 comparing directly Russia’s reformed military with the American military and China’s. The United States is obviously the most militarily capable with the biggest economy in the world. But Russia has enough. It’s a capable enough or a powerful enough country to accomplish some of its global goals and so that’s really what I mean by the resurrection. And then the second component is the fact that this personalistic, patrimonial authoritarian system has meant that it is existential for Mr. Putin to maintain, as a political resource, his own approval ratings at a pretty high level. And it helps to explain a more aggressive foreign policy and including taking Crimea in the way that it did.


Well, let’s unpack some of the points that you brought up regarding Russia’s resurrection. And you brought up two big ones. One is regarding the economy and the other is regarding the military reforms. So, let’s start with the economy. You said that Vladimir Putin had some very good macroeconomic policies in place.

Kathryn Stoner

I want to separate it from being Vladimir Putin. They have an excellent central banker and I think the only credit Mr. Putin can take there is that he’s left her alone and allowed somebody who has technical expertise and good judgment to manage the macroeconomy in Russia. And so, I think it’s an area where the federal government has stayed away in Russia. And then there were some good reforms actually that happened at the end of the 1990s, including a flat tax. And so good policy judgements like the creation of a reserve fund to save some of the money coming in from oil and gas, revenues in good times to smooth over the federal budget. So, that’s not Mr. Putin alone sitting in the Kremlin thinking, ‘Hah! I know the levers of the economy.’ That’s actually, having some sense, I suppose, to the extent you take credit of staying out of at least that part of Russia’s development.


Now were most of those reforms early on in the Putin regime?

Kathryn Stoner

So, things were recovering. We get a pretty positive trajectory of growth from 1999-2000 and then 2003, big increase in the volume of oil revenue coming in. And so, that’s a bit of luck because at that point, at least Mr. Putin didn’t have any control over how much oil was selling on international markets. So, there’s some luck and some decent, at least macroeconomic policy, there.


How much does corruption retard that macroeconomic policy that you refer to? Because a lot of the conversations that I hear about the Russian economy oftentimes focus on Russia as almost a kleptocratic state. Your book really caught me off guard when you’re talking about positive reforms that they made in terms of macroeconomics. So, where’s the line that you’re able to recognize the beneficial policies from the corruption that’s endemic within the Russian economic system?

Kathryn Stoner

Yeah. So, corruption is still a big problem. And one of the areas that’s a big problem in is garnering foreign investment. So, investors like to get their money out. And so, if you have insecure property rights, where you think you’ve invested in one company that’s owned by person X and it turns out it’s owned by person Y or where really the legal system isn’t protection against arbitrary search or seizure or taxation of your company, that’s hugely problematic. Because there are lots of places in the world that investors can invest. Though, sometimes you have to go where the resource is and only certain countries have oil. And so, oil and gas companies have had to put up with this to some degree. Although, of course, Russia is now under sanction. So, at least Western oil companies aren’t investing there at the moment because they can’t.

So, you know, one of the things to remember is this is not a in praise of Mr. Putin. It’s despite this, despite the fact that there is, in particular, grand corruption. Russia’s done better in terms of curbing some of the everyday things, although they still occur, of course, but this is something that holds Russia back.


One of the things I found interesting in the book was you pointed out that even under sanctions, Russia has continued to grow at a modest rate. Again, this emphasizes the idea that Russia has some positive macroeconomic policies. You’ve already mentioned a central banker. Are there other people involved within Russia who are contributing to these policies or the direction that the Russian economy has gone?

Kathryn Stoner

Well, there were earlier on. And now some of those folks have fallen out of the regime. So, you know, Alexei Kudrin, former finance minister, there were certainly people who are very technically capable and who were helping to run the economy as some of them are no longer in government. And it has been modest growth. So, one of the frustrations about Russia is if it’s really going to be resurrected, is getting hold of these developmental issues like corruption and diversification of the economy that have been problems since the 1990s. And so, even when times have been good in terms of revenue into the national budget, there’s been some investment in diversification of the economy and the book shows that, but there could have been much more.

And so, if you look at things like research and development or if you look into some of the health indicators, it’s a very mixed picture. On the one hand, life expectancy has gotten a bit better, but it’s still very low. In fact, Russians live longer than they ever have, but they still don’t live as long as Chinese people who actually have per capita GDP that is lower than Russia so, that I think is one of the frustrations.

I think another one of the frustrations is inequality in Russia. This is something that has really gotten to be pretty problematic and is partially behind some of the big social mobilizations that we see that are, clearly a threat to the stability of Mr. Putin’s regime. So, Russia has the Gini coefficient, one way of measuring inequality, that is roughly the same as the United States at 0.4. That’s quite high. It is I think frustrating for young people who we saw come out on the streets in 2017. And folks between ages 18 to 35, I think it’s over 60%, are saying that they intend to immigrate permanently from Russia. So, this is not a positive sign for Mr. Putin’s government in the long run. Most people want to stay in their own country in a healthy economy and a healthy polity, but that’s not the case there.

I think this also helps to explain some of the fear of Alexei Navalny, his mobilization. So, one of the quotes in the book is from Mr. Putin saying that Russia has over fulfilled its plan in terms of revolutions in the 20th century. And so, his emphasis is on evolution, on gradual development, on gradual change, and stability. Well, that was, I think, a welcome message in the early 2000s after the tumultuous change in the 1990s in particular.

But now it’s a less welcomed message, because people are frustrated by inequality. Where let’s say you’ll invest in education for yourself or your children, if you think that that education will help them get ahead in life, but if it turns out somebody who is connected to the local administration or who can bribe their way into a job or into a graduate program, then you become disillusioned and you know that investment in education isn’t necessarily paying off. So, you won’t invest in it. So, all of this for long-term trajectory isn’t good for the development of the Russian economy and for diversifying further away from revenues from carbon sources. And by the way, Russia does sell other things abroad. But you know these are long-term problems that regime has not attacked.


Now, you mentioned about diversification of the economy and that that’s a real challenge for Russia to be able to overcome right now. It has a very educated workforce, especially when you take into account it’s per capita gross domestic product. Why hasn’t Russia been able to, leverage the education of its population, to be able to spark a more innovation economy?

Kathryn Stoner

So, there has been some investment in research and development, but relative to the countries that you just mentioned, and the book goes through the numbers, it’s less, far less. It’s also state led. So, you know, China, South Korea threw the book at state led research and development. Russia has not and it doesn’t have the private sector that the U.S. does that pushes research and development. And there’s a legacy system that has not changed yet in Russia. And that is basically a research academy of sciences and industry. So, they might run parallel, but they don’t cross. And so, when you think about, for example, the influence of Silicon Valley, I’m sitting at Stanford University, Silicon Valley-Stanford fits hand in glove. And it was initially when Hewlett and Packard did their startup here.

They don’t have that in Russia in terms of the universities, the academy of sciences, research institutes feeding directly into industry. And so, this is problematic as it turns out. So, there isn’t a skills match between industry and science or education. And so, when you read surveys of industries or managers in the private sector, they’ll tell you that they can’t find the right skills match yet in Russia. Russia has also only got so far one university Moscow State University in the top 100 in the world. So, they’ve tried putting money into this, but not quite enough yet.


So. as we kind of come back to the second element of Russia’s resurgence, which was the military that we hinted at earlier. I found it interesting, the contrast between their invasion of Georgia, which was successful in some ways. They could honestly say that they won that war, I guess. But you note in the book it proved a lot of challenges that they had within their military. That they needed improvements. So, when we see the annexation of Crimea, where there’re little green men that all of a sudden prop up in Crimea, it feels like it’s an entirely different military force that they have created. Can you walk us through the evolution of the Russian military between 2008 with the invasion of Georgia to 2014 with Crimea.?

Kathryn Stoner

Yeah. So, 2008 in Georgia, not surprisingly given just even the size of the Russian military, they’re able to effectively annex the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And they still occupy those in Georgia. They did succeed in subduing the Georgians. But, you know, Georgia is not a particularly a big military power. This is a little teeny country, but it shouldn’t have taken the effort that it did. And we could also look at the Chechen war where we have guerrilla warfare there basically and the Russian military lost just thousands of young conscript soldiers. So, what they did was invest from 2008 till about 2016-2017 in transforming the military. So, it is no longer a fighting force that is designed to fight a big European war. It is no longer based on conscript soldiers.

Instead, it is, and this is what we saw when you said the little green men, these are guys dressed in green uniforms with no insignia on the uniforms indicating where they were from, but evidently spoke perfect Russian, very polite. And, of course, they were Russian soldiers who had been housed on the Crimean Peninsula who came out of their bases and then gradually just absorbed Crimea. But what we saw was some of this new equipment. This is 2014. So, suddenly they had sophisticated radios. These are professional soldiers, not young, unhealthy conscripts. Because in 2008, the only folks the sort of on the ground soldiers had been conscripted, so Russia no longer has that. It is a professionalized army. It is downsized, but it still can bring out about a million between reserves and the professional soldiers.

And so, it’s also equipped with upgraded weapons systems and a full reorganization. They have put a lot of money into submarines. They’ve also created an upgraded nuclear weaponry. So, it is a different military than it was certainly 10 years ago.


I get the impression that power in your description for a country, especially like Russia, that’s kind of a mid-tier, upper mid-tier power…

 Kathryn Stoner

Depends. I would say it’s actually one of the top three. It depends on how you define power, Justin, and I define it as more than just military.


But for a country like Russia, power comes down to a series of trade-offs. What areas do you want to emphasize? What areas do you want to allow somebody else to be able to be the leader in? What areas did Russia forsake so that it could see improvements in other areas?

Kathryn Stoner

Well, Afghanistan is one obvious one, right? Having had its own quagmire there in the late 1970s through 1989 when Gorbachev pulled them out. Russia was pretty content to have the United States and NATO allies do the dirty deeds that needed to be done in Afghanistan after 9/11. Watching carefully what the United States was doing, not particularly anxious to have them there long term, and indeed, we’re obviously pulling out now. But that’s one area, I think, that the Russians were very happy to cede.

Another area though, where they’re not happy to cede, and where the United States has stepped back is the Middle East. And so, since 2015 in particular, and the deployment of troops and the establishment of bases in Syria, Russians were invited in by Bashar Al Assad. a point that they make again and again that the United States was not invited, but Russia was. This has led to a whole network of relationships throughout the Middle East that Russia has now. And so what did they use those for? Well, they use them to sell things. So, it has a bigger market for weaponry in the Middle East and in North Africa than, well, almost than the United States. It also has used this though as an opportunity to gain control of transportation networks for oil and gas.

And so, that is a kind of leverage that is measured by GDP. And it gives outsized influence if you can control where this still very valuable set of resources can go, how fast it can go and, it is a revenue source as well. Right? You have to pay to transport things through those pipes that run through Northern Syria into the port in Tartus that Russia has now established as a permanent base in the Mediterranean. So, Russia is also a major supplier of natural gas to Germany which is the biggest economy in Europe. And Russia is the biggest military power in Europe. Hands down. No question. So, when you think about its resurrection, it’s become a global presence again. Former President Obama once said, Russia is a regional power. It’s much more than that. Now it’s truly become a global power.

And again, as you said, Justin, just to get back to your original question, it is exercising power in a series of trade-offs. And we in the United States have exercised those trade-offs as well. Really, even before the Trump administration in 2016, you know, the kind of leading from behind there was less of a stomach domestically for the U.S. to actually deploy the vast power resources that it has. We were much more focused on our internal problems and that’s a trade-off. So, who has rushed in? China very notably, but it moves very differently in the international system than Russia, which has a different set of tools of influence.


Now, some have argued that Russia’s involvement within the Middle East is overextending itself. Do you feel that the involvement within the Middle East has gotten to a point that it’s more about vanity at this point or more about image or do you think that the trade-offs make sense still for Russia in terms of how involved it has gotten within the Middle East?

Kathryn Stoner

Oh, it makes tremendous sense. I don’t think it’s in any way vanity. It’s creating a new set of, if we don’t want to call them allies, fellow travelers in terms of kind of a more kind of conservative ideology. It’s also very, I think, transactional. So, for example, you know, Russia unlike, the United States is able to maintain positive trade relations, positive military relations with countries in the Middle East that are traditional enemies of one another. So, Saudi Arabia and Israel, Saudi Arabia-Iran, Iraq and Iran, which is not a feat we’ve been able to pull off here in the United States. There’s a huge Russian speaking diaspora in Israel. There’s a lot of traffic and investment from Israel into Russia, not enough to make the Russian economy boom, but there’s a big brain trust there. Mr. Putin has visited most countries in the Middle East.

He also is increasingly tight with MBS, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and OPEC is OPEC plus one now. So, if in the first decade of the 2000s, Mr. Putin didn’t have much control over oil prices. Now, we could argue that he does in terms of dealing with Saudi Arabia and negotiating within OPEC on the supply to international markets of oil. So, there’s much more influence on global oil prices through that relationship in particular than there ever was in the past.

So, no way. These are completely pragmatic. Syria is a gateway into Egypt, into Sub-Saharan Africa, into Libya to try to sell things. Russia’s good at building heavy industry. So, you’re not going to go into Target and buy something that says Made in Russia in the toy department or in the clothing department. But if what you’re looking for is a mega truck that can dig in mines or you want to build a railroad or a nuclear power plant or to lay down piping to move oil and gas, then Russia is your country.


So, there’s a fascinating line in your book where you write, “Russia, after twenty years under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, was anything but conventional in its approach to foreign policy,” and that can go a lot of different ways. We could say that ‘It’s anything but conventional. It’s so innovative,’ or we could say, ‘It’s anything but conventional. Wow. They made a lot of mistakes.’ How do you think of their foreign policy? Has it been a success in not being conventional? Has it brought about weaknesses within Russia or has it been a core part of its resurgence?

Kathryn Stoner

So, I meant predictable. The Soviet Union had been kind of a conventional, predictable adversary. Russia is not a conventional, predictable adversary under Vladimir Putin in 2021. I think the popular line has been ‘they play a weak hand well.’ And my book tries to argue, well, it depends on the card game that you’re playing. So, sometimes different cards have different values depending on the game that you’re playing. And so, don’t assume that the values are the same of those cards when Russia is exercising them and when we’re exercising them. And so, the argument is basically that in poker an ace may have one value, in bridge it has another value. And so, the context matters and the context, under Putin is one where Russia tolerates a high level of risk.

So, grabbing Crimea, that was risky. That’s not something Soviet leaders would have done, because they had institutions. Members of the Politburo after all tried to toss out Gorbachev, they did toss out Khrushchev in the 1960s. There were checks. Putin’s system of increasingly personalized, patrimonial autocracy has very few institutional checks on the already very powerful office of the Russian presidency. And so, there’s no one to really say, ‘Vladimir, we can’t do this.’ Instead, it’s, ‘How do we do this?’ And the question really is also, ‘Why do we do this? Why are we behaving this way?’ And my argument is that this is, I think, unique to this kind of political system. If Russia had a much more open political system, with institutions and real checks and powers, parliament, rule of law, open media then it wouldn’t behave this way in the international system.

Because now Crimea is not so popular. Why did they do that? Well, because the approval rating that Mr. Putin has relative to other elites is a political resource for him. There are no challengers to him within his own political circle, because no one comes close in terms of the approval ratings or trust ratings. And we can say, ‘Yep, those are all manipulated. No one else has access to the media, blah, blah, blah.’ They can control that, but the most likely possibility is not a sort of popular overthrow of Mr. Putin’s regime. It’s an elite struggle that, you know, knocks him out of power.

But right now, he can maintain this regime and himself at the head of it, because he can deliver to them economically. And there aren’t challengers as long as he is the one with this political resource of public approval. Because ultimately, they fear the street. They’ve had, as he said himself, overfulfilled the plan in terms of revolutions in Russia. And so, what they want is stability and that is so that they can continue to have access to state resources and privatize those gains from controlling the state. So, having Mr. Navalny show videos on YouTube of this big, beautiful palace that Putin apparently owns or had built for him. That’s problematic if a lot of people watch that because they might come out on the streets and demand change and he doesn’t want that.


So, you just gave a brilliant synopsis of what I think your big insight is, which was that Russia’s power comes down to how we look at it. Like what perspective are we looking at in terms of what game are we playing when we’re saying Russia’s weak or Russia’s strong. So, as we’re looking at a new administration within the United States, as we’re looking at new leaders in different parts of Europe, like Germany soon, how should the West take your advice and approach things differently with Russia going forward?

Kathryn Stoner

So, we’re stuck with this regime well, Putin in particular, potentially until 2036. Because last summer they had constitutional changes that enabled him to reset his clock, so he could run again after 2024 when his current term ends and stay in power for another 12 years. We don’t really have much reason to think that he’s suddenly going to pull a Pinochet and have a referendum and they will democratize. So, we therefore have to kind of manage things with Russia and we have some levers and we’ve used those levers to try and constrain Putin globally.

But I think that we’ve just done tremendous damage to America’s ability to exercise its vast power resources through the Trump administration. And we’re viewed as unreliable now which, you know, is going to be a hard thing to win back globally. I’m optimistic that we can do that. We have to go demonstrate that. Frankly president Biden has already said that democracy is a better path developmentally. Point out that the inequality and opportunities not taken to improve people’s lives in Russia. You know, for as much as it’s resurrected, it would be much further along if the talents and education of the Russians that you mentioned were better used in a system that serves their interests instead of the interests of a very few people who have stolen control of the state and its assets.


Is a resurrected Russia a danger to the West?

Kathryn Stoner

For sure. I think we’ve already seen that. And I think that the mistake would be to assume that China is the only concern for the West. And my understanding of Biden’s current policy is, you know, we want Putin to calm down, be stable for awhile and turn our focus to restraining China. I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not in his interest to do that. So, I think taking our eye off Russia, underestimating it, is the biggest concern for the U.S. currently. But we’ve already seen the danger Russia poses in terms of the abilities. It has to disrupt the information environment and what it’s willing to do under Mr. Putin in terms of actually using that military and its soft and sharp power tools more generally.


Well, Kathryn, thanks so much for taking the time with me.

Kathryn Stoner

Thank you.


Your Book was really a pleasure to read. It’s impossible to be able to incorporate all the different studies that you put it together. It’s a very comprehensive book, but I think that it’s got some insights that aren’t even available in other places. You really make it your own work. Thank you so much for talking to me.

Kathryn Stoner

Thank you very much, Justin, for having me.

Key Links

Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order by Kathryn Stoner

The Freeman Spogli Institute For International Studies

Follow Kathryn Stoner on Twitter @kath_stoner

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