chapter  2
13 Pages

Putin’s operational code and strategic decision-making in Russia

WithGraeme P. Herd

Russian strategic calculation is rational but based on a poor or ‘broken lens’ threat analysis and understanding of the strategic environment. President Putin portrays his own motivation as ‘defensive reactive’, aiming to restore the status quo ante rather than revising existing norms and practice. Colonial theory offers a sound explanatory framework to understand decision-making motivation. ‘Prospect theory’ suggests that individuals are more cautious when they feel they have an advantageous position and winning hand in any given situation, but exhibit riskier behaviour when they think they are in the weaker position and hold the losing hand. The philosophical beliefs of Putin and his inner circle of decision makers are in line with Russian strategic culture. Such a culture, understood by and shared between elites and society in Russia alike, is overlaid and interwoven with myths and narratives, history and tradition.