A former national intelligence officer charts Russia's emergence as a growing world power as President Vladimir Putin took advantage of a vacuum created by the West's distraction with its own domestic problems and U.S. foreign policy blunders.
...Stent expertly walks readers through Moscow’s relations with every region in the world, avoiding the hysteria that warps discussion of the country. Aware that too many books about Russian foreign policy arrive instantly obsolete because they lack a foundation in history or political culture, Stent opens with those subjects ... Stent’s regionally compartmentalized tour of Russian foreign policy lacks a compelling narrative arc. Still, chapters about the interminable deadlock in Russia-Japan relations or the economic sanctions imposed by Europe illuminate the flaws in any depiction of Russia as some global power broker, and the book culminates in a clear-eyed portrayal of the inescapably troubled U.S.-Russia relationship.
The story Stent relates about the contrast between the American and Russian approaches to the Middle East is particularly telling ... Sadly, however, the book’s usefulness is marred by maddening small errors ... such inaccuracies make it hard to know how much faith to place in these less familiar sections. Still, that is not the primary problem with Stent’s book. The picture she draws of the Kremlin’s foreign policy is consistent, but she never delves into the domestic motivations behind it. We have much description of what Putin is doing...but scant insight as to why. And this failure to engage with Moscow’s internal dynamics means that she misses an essential aspect of what the Russian elite is up to ... There is a pressing need for greater understanding of the nature of those interests, and the assumptions underpinning Kremlin policy. This book is sadly not the one to provide it.
An incisive exploration ... Stent...offers a deeply informed look at why Russia, directed by President Vladimir Putin, persists in behaving in what the West regards as an exceedingly maddening, paranoid, and often aggressive manner ... A compelling historico-psychological work delineating how the West should respond to Russia going forward.