Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Professor Jeffrey Kucik

Second Advisor

Professor Rajan Menon


Russia, NATO, minorities


States closely monitor their surrounding territories. When a military block expands its membership to include countries next to a rival state's borders, those rivals feel threatened and tend to respond. One of the ways states respond to losing influence over their border-states, which are not only their direct spheres of influence but serve as a protective buffer zone, is by declaring that their national or ethnic minorities who live in these territories are in danger. The likely result is that states will interfere in these border nations on behalf of ethnic minorities. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been warning that it perceives NATO enlargement eastward as a threat to national security. After Moscow's "soft" balancing strategy towards NATO of the 1990s and the beginning of 2000s did not bring the desired outcome, the Kremlin turned to much more coercive policies towards its neighboring states, which had sought NATO membership. The Five-Day War between Russia and Georgia in 2008 and the current Russian-Ukrainian crisis took place only after Georgia and Ukraine made concrete steps towards NATO membership and served as a balancing strategy for Russia towards the Alliance's enlargement. This perceived threat is the root cause of the Kremlin's intervention in post-Soviet states on behalf of the Russian diaspora. In this light, the Five-Day War between Russia and Georgia of August 2008 and the current Ukrainian crisis are consequences, not causes, of Russia's conflict with the West.



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