Russia and the West: The 21st Century Security Environment (Eurasia in the 21st Century, Vol. I); Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia: The 21st Century Security Environment (Eurasia in the 21st Century, Vol. II); Russia and East Asia: The 21st Century
Russia and the West: The 21st Century Security Environment (Eurasia in the 21st Century, Vol. I)
Edited by Alexei Arbatov, Karl Kaiser, and Robert Legvold
While observers have noisily debated the paths and perils of the revolution within Russia in recent years, a cohort of security specialists has quietly toiled away to assess its impact on Russia's relations with the world. Some recent results are impressive, like this timely three-volume tour d'horizon. Comparative in its approach but coherent, it contains the radically different points of view of a truly international list of authors. Even though written before 1999, the chapters on Kosovo and Chechnya appear prescient rather than dated, thanks to the series' broad but sensible post-Cold War approach to security. Some authors tackle "traditional" security issues, such as the state of nuclear and conventional forces inherited from the Soviet Union. Others assess "nontraditional" issues not unique to Russia, such as economic security, drug trafficking, and the environment. Yet many of the qualities inherent in the "new" problems derive from the collapse of the Russian empire, its redrawn borders, the weakness of institutions within the Russian state, and the clash between historical legacies and post-Soviet identities in the region. Most striking is the divergence between the numerous threats (traditional and nontraditional) that the Russian authors perceive and those detailed by the non-Russian authors. Given all this, no wonder the title of the series promises a bit more than it can deliver; after all, the 21st century has only just begun. Nevertheless, the complexities of the new security environment and the authors' thoughtful analyses make this series required, if unsettling, reading for Russia scholars and policymakers alike.