Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

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The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the root causes of Russia’s recent aggressive regionalism. Russia’s revival and corresponding military, political, and informational offensives have shaken European security in a way few thought it was capable of following the USSR’s dissolution and Russia’s subsequent fall into ineptitude. At first glance, this shift in Russia’s posture appears to come as a result of an uptick in nationalism driven by the chauvinistic revanchism of its leader, Vladimir Putin. However, this thesis finds that the eastward expansion of NATO’s membership and transition to a more offensive force posture, augmented by the placement of missile defense infrastructure in Europe, has contributed to a Russian impression of besiegement and corresponding sense that its security and sovereignty are threatened. Russia’s perception that NATO is acting to replace Russia in its perceived sphere of influence has been shaped by the fall of the Soviet Union and Soviet security considerations.

This thesis recommends that, to prevent the further deterioration of the relationship between Russia and the West, the following policies should be enacted. First, NATO should reestablish relations with Russia and partner with it on the European ballistic missile defense shield as a confidence building measure. Second, NATO should halt the eastward expansion of its traditional collective security membership and instead rely on NATO’s Partnership for Peace program to support democratization efforts in the former Eastern Bloc. While these policies cannot eliminate the historical context that the NATO-Russia relationship is shaped by, they can serve as the beginning of a shift away from mutual antagonism by defusing tensions between NATO and Russia.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.