Andrew Monaghan
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This chapter frames the book’s argument, introducing the core themes. It first sketches out how Russian activity is understood in Euro-Atlantic capitals, particularly the debate over whether Moscow is acting strategically or opportunistically. It then frames Moscow’s view that international affairs are in structural transition and dominated by intensifying geopolitical and geoeconomic rivalry. Senior Russian officials assert growing competition for the global commons and for access to energy resources, transit routes, and markets. Such competition is considered likely to increase during the 2020s and to be a potential cause of conflict. The Russian leadership sees this transition as offering serious risks and also potential benefits, and this view guides Russian strategic thinking and activity. The Russian military has sought to enhance its positions in the “strategically important global areas”. This has been most notable in the Middle East and in parts of Africa, and increasingly visibly in North Africa. Activity in the Indian and Pacific Oceans suggests that Moscow is engaged in establishing a presence there. Moscow seeks to link economic capacity across regions through major infrastructure projects. If Moscow’s prioritisation of the Northern Sea Route – an “Ice Silk Road” – is the most obvious, a number of other ambitious projects seek to link Europe to China and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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