On Geopolitics

A Journey Into the Russian Enigma

Eugene Chausovsky
Senior Eurasia Analyst, Stratfor
Dec 13, 2018 | 05:00 GMT
Russian navy ships, among them the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, second from left, sail near Kronshtadt naval base outside St. Petersburg on July 20, 2018.

Russian navy ships, among them the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, second from left, sail near Kronshtadt naval base outside St. Petersburg on July 20, 2018. Russians from all walks of life believe the West will stop at nothing to undermine their country.

(OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

It was October 1939, and Winston Churchill was on BBC radio, describing Russia: "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Of course, World War II had just begun, and the question regarding the intentions of the Soviet Union -- and particularly its relations with Nazi Germany -- was of paramount importance to the United Kingdom, Europe and the world at large. Bookending Churchill's characterization of Russia was the following: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia … but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." This quote has unique relevance to the work that we do at Stratfor. We produce forecasts, and driving those forecasts is a geopolitical methodology that considers first and foremost the broader national interest above the subjective considerations of individual leaders, decision-makers and ordinary citizens. With these principles in mind, I recently set off for a visit...

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