All FSI News News February 23, 2021

New Book by Kathryn Stoner Examines the ‘Paradox’ of Russian Power

FSI Deputy Director and Senior Fellow Kathryn Stoner discusses Russia’s economy, its international influence, and why the characterization of Russia as weak is outdated.
Two buildings located on the Red Square: Kremlin wall (left) and Saint Basil's Cathedral (right), in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Getty Images.

In her new book, “Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order,” Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) Deputy Director and Senior Fellow Kathryn Stoner argues that Russia is more than a regional power and that its international reach and influence — while in no way as extensive as that of the Soviet Union — are far more significant than often realized.

In a discussion with FSI Director Michael McFaul, Stoner elaborated on several themes in her book, including Russia’s economy and its international influence.

The characterization of Russia as a “weak” nation is outdated, Stoner told McFaul. This stereotype originated in the early 1990s when Russia was experiencing a large amount of street crime and corruption, she said.

“Here we are 30 years later and what's remarkable is that 30 years after the total collapse of its social, political and economic system… Russia, along with China, are tied as the number one threats to United States national security,” she said.

Stoner examines several different aspects of Russia’s power in her book, including its military and its cyber capabilities, and the countries over which Russia exercises power.

She told McFaul that the deployment of Russia's power resources is influenced significantly by its domestic politics.

“The more the regime feels destabilized at home, the more it tends to exercise its power abroad,” Stoner noted.

“The more the regime feels destabilized at home, the more it tends to exercise its power abroad.”
Kathryn Stoner
FSI Deputy Director and Senior Fellow

The book also explores the geography of Russian power, focusing on regions where the Kremlin has established stronger relations.

One notable area is the Middle East, Stoner said.

Stoner also discussed Russia’s economy, focusing on the fact that it is not as bad as most people perceive it to be.

“It is not a high-growth economy right now, but before the pandemic hit, growth was 1.5 to 2% a year,” she said. “That's not particularly impressive, but it's certainly not the perception that I hear too often — that it's a disaster. It's not a disaster,” she said. 

Kathryn Stoner

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Woman smiling

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