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Posted on Sep 13, 2013 in War College

What Does Russia Really Want?

By Jerry D. Morelock

September 9, 2013. Vladimir Putin meets with the Russian Security Council. Russian Presidential Press and Information Office.

September 9, 2013. Vladimir Putin meets with the Russian Security Council. Russian Presidential Press and Information Office.

Editor’s Note: This article accompanies “Putin vs. Obama: The ‘New Cold War’ Roots of the Clash Over Syria.” Both were authored by Jerry D. Morelock, PhD, ARMCHAIR GENERAL Editor in Chief, the former Chief of Russia Branch on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon where he helped coordinate U. S. policy regarding Russia and the fifteen nations formerly part of the Soviet Union. Dr. Morelock’s wife, the Russian artist Inessa Kazaryan Morelock, is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine. Click on the link to read “Putin vs. Obama.”

In 2009, then-U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously announced that the Obama administration had “re-set” U.S.-Russia relations. Calling this a “fresh start” in dealings between the two countries, the administration strives to emphasize engagement over confrontation and seeks to identify common foreign policy goals (such as countering the threat from Islamic jihadists) in order to pursue U.S.-Russia cooperative actions. However, finding common ground requires that American policy makers first clearly understand what Russian leaders really want.


The domestic and foreign policy goals of the Putin regime – based on public statements and actions plus a thorough understanding of the goals Kremlin leaders historically have pursued – are focused on maintaining its power monopoly within Russia and with regaining for their country the Soviet Union’s former international superpower status and prestige.

Domestic Policy Goals
—Maintain political domination (Putin and Medvedev each garnered 71-percent of the vote in the 2004 and 2008 elections, respectively; and Putin received 64-percent of the vote in 2012 and can now serve two consecutive 6-year terms)

—Keep the regime’s stranglehold on the media (technically independent, Russian media toes the “party line;” reporters criticizing the government face grave consequences)

—Encourage and capitalize on rabid Russian nationalism (recent law punishes anyone “falsifying history to the detriment of Russia” by publicizing Soviet-era crimes; former leaders such as Stalin are being resurrected as “Russian heroes”)

—Increase power of internal security (threats include organized crime and terrorism – particularly attacks by Chechen separatists; recent reorganization of Interior Ministry expands Kremlin’s police power)

Foreign Policy Goals
—Reestablish Russian hegemony in its traditional “sphere of influence” (primarily former Soviet Union republics such as Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic nations, but notably including the strategically-located Central Asian former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)

—Protect Russian “citizens” wherever they are (the excuse used to justify launching the 2008 Georgia war; ethnic Russian populations in countries like Ukraine increase fears Russia may use this excuse to justify further aggression)

—Maintain nuclear balance with the U. S. (defeat any further U. S. attempt to create a Europe-based missile shield; aggressively pursue Strategic Arms talks to prevent/retard U. S. nuclear superiority)

—Pursue closer relations with nations opposed to U. S. foreign policy (portray U. S. as the “common enemy” when courting countries such as Iran, Venezuela and, most recently, Syria)

—Regain for Russia the global superpower status formerly held by the Soviet Union (the Kremlin code phrase for this goal is attaining a “multi-polar” world).


  1. I’d settle for knowing what the United States really wants. I live in the country, and I have no idea. Neither do most of my friends. Worse… we don’t think President Obama knows either.

    • Aside from the wishful thinking of the Neocon coterie who once inhabited the Pentagon and tried to put the “American Century” into operation, the rump remaining still sees America as a great power. The national debt puts some credibility issues to the notion of America being an arsenal of democracy any more while the ‘economic hitman’ of development for a price continues to be the primary way America engages its ‘friends’. Both are unsustainable.

      America’s role as an honest broker has been usurped in many parts of the world by China, which seems far more able to sell its needs as a way of developing other countries without exploitation.
      it is to be hoped the Russians can’t regain their former economic strength, otherwise America will be rivalled and could be eclipsed.

      For the present the leadership of the US is in the hands of ‘infants’. they don’t know what they want, at home or abroad.

  2. “Uber alles”, but also “und Morgen die ganze Welt”, this is Russia goals. No matter how weak or how strong is Russia.

    • You’ve got your totalitarians mixed. That was a former Reich.

      Aside from a briefly premature flirtation with world revolution (the Comintern), the Russians haven’t really gone far afield in spreading their ideology. They did support those who adapted/adopted the ideology of Marxism, or even the heartier brands of socialism, but world conquest only existed in the minds of those who wound-up trying to rule the earth with free trade and ‘democrazy’.

      Had the cold war roles been reversed, we would presently be living in a post apocalyptic world. For America would have nuked everything faced with its empire collapsing.

      Russia isn’t half as dangerous to America, as a rogue America is to the world.

      • Mixed totalitarism ? Korea 1951, Vietnam, countries and nations of Black Africa, Middle East, Cuba, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Chile, Afganistan 1980, threats against Poland at 1981 as we all can count it was briefly after 1917 year. So, Baldur tell me if 1968 was “briefly after” 1917 what means “long” A.D. 2318 ?

  3. The Russians are doing what they do best, trumping America at the UN.

    Why? Because somebody stupidly thought that expanding US influence to the borders of Russia was a good idea. So, without having to hit back they’re going to stop America any time and anywhere they can. If it means bringing the former Republics to heel, they will.

    Even NATO members aren’t dumb enough to sign up for having to ‘defend’ Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova or the Khirghiz. Having to defend ‘freedumb’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, and going to the rescue of AQ Libya has made them realize the emperor is bug-dirt loco, as well as buck nekkid.


  1. Armchair General Magazine – We Put YOU in Command!Putin vs Obama: The ‘New Cold War’ Roots of the Clash Over Syria | Armchair General - [...] über alles” approach to domestic and foreign policy plays well to the Russian public. [See “What Does Russia Really…