Russia’s return to prominence in international affairs has been in many respects surprising. Russia’s easy seizure of Crimea, its role in Syria and its ambitious pivot eastward have emboldened Moscow at a time of crisis for the liberal order. This article characterises Russian national security policy as a deliberate ‘rebound’ strategy, designed to deliver a rapid return to power and status. The author defines rebounding in respect to four characteristics: a relatively short timeline for the rebounding state to achieve its goals; a strategic (re-)emphasis on territory and hard power; the construction of alternative networks of influence via institutions; and active efforts to undermine existing normative and legal orthodoxies. The author then assesses these in terms of specific Russian national security policy objectives, including in the key domain of information operations. The article concludes that Vladimir Putin has skilfully employed conventional material capabilities and geopolitics, combined with the exploitation of contemporary information networks for instrumental purposes. Paradoxically, though, those same factors will constrain Russian national security objectives in the future.
Australian Journal of International Affairs
‘The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and The Australian National University’