When does Vladimir Putin's Russia send in troops?

Convener: Professor Roy Allison (St Antony's)

Speakers: Simon Saradzhyan (Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs) & Nabi Abdullaev (Moscow School of Social & Economic Sciences) 

Simon Saradzhyan and Nabi Abdullaev will present main findings of the article When Does Vladimir Putin's Russia Intervene and Why? -  which they have co-written with Dr Domitilla Sagramoso, lecturer at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London - to explore the conditions under which Vladimir Putin’s Russia decides whether to intervene militarily. The article argues that the perception of an acute threat to the country’s vital national interests as well as a sensed capability to achieve a favourable military outcome, are the main drivers behind such decisions. Furthermore, the article postulates that two additional factors make the Russian leadership more inclined to intervene militarily abroad - a Russian strategic culture based on a sense of strategic vulnerability and a desire to attain Great Power status as well as substantial increases in Russia’s power vis-à-vis its leading Western competitors during Putin's rule.

Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of the Russia Matters project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research interests include foreign, defines, and security policies of Russia and other post-Soviet states and their relations with great powers while his thesis focuses on causes of political violence in Russia. Prior to joining the Belfer Center in 2008, Saradzhyan had worked in Russia for 15 years, where he served as a senior fellow at the East West Institute, worked as a consultant for the United Nations and World Bank, and as deputy editor of The Moscow Times. In his capacity as an expert at the Belfer Center on post-Soviet space, Saradzhyan has repeatedly testified at hearings in the U.S. Congress and Canadian Senate. He has also published scholarly articles and commentaries in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, and Washington Post.Saradzhyan holds a BA from the Moscow State Linguistics University and MA from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Nabi Abdullaev teaches policy analysis at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, an independent university. Also, as a Control Risks Director for Russia & CIS, Nabi contributes to wide-ranging analysis of processes and actors influencing political, operational and security environments in Russia and the country’s relations with its neighbours and key global players. Nabi speaks at policy and academic forums and writes in international media and academic publications. Prior to joining Control Risks, Nabi was the editor-in-chief of The Moscow Times, an English-language daily newspaper in Russia, where he had previously been a political and security writer for many years. He also headed the Foreign-Language Information Service at Russia’s major RIA Novosti news agency. Nabi has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he studied negotiation and conflict resolution. A native of the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, he also has a degree in construction engineering from a Russian university.