Strategic Sderzhivanie: Understanding Contemporary Russian Approaches to “Deterrence”


There is a mismatch between the Western concept of deterrence and the Russian concept of sderzhivanie, and particularly strategic sderzhivanie. Strategic sderzhivanie encompasses the Western concepts of coercive statecraft, deterrence, compellence, and intra-war deterrence. It is a multi-domain, cross-cutting effort to shape the strategic environment to serve Russia’s objectives using a range of both soft and hard power tools of statecraft in peacetime and during conflict. Grouping these disparate behaviors under a term that implies a defensive posture could create misperceptions in the Kremlin and enable destabilizing behavior.

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