Journal Article - Connections

The Dynamics of Russia’s Response to the Piracy Threat

| Summer 2010

Several years of economic growth before the 2008-09 economic crisis allowed the Russian government to steadily increase its defense expenditures, extending their conventional forces' reach, while Russia's foreign policy ambitions also grew in scope and scale.  Just as important as the boom-driven rise in defense spending was the fact that, as the economy grew, so did Russian companies and individuals' activities abroad, including both shipping and fishing. Thanks to the expansion of the media industry's reach, and the globalization of news in general, the Russian public's awareness of piracy incidents in general, and particularly those involving Russian citizens, grew as well.

Moscow's decision to send Russian Navy vessels to patrol the waters off Somalia, thus re-establishing a naval presence in the area, came as a response to this trend. It may also have been prompted by Russia's desire to re-establish itself as a global power, as well as by Russia's renewed interest in the minerals-rich African continent, into which Russian aluminum and oil giants have been making steady inroads.

The deployment of more Russian warships to waters off the African coast can help to decrease piracy, but this threat will not be eliminated as long as the major powers limit their counter-piracy activities to the sea.

The Russian leadership should also remain alert in order to prevent the establishment of ties between groups engaged in both piracy at sea and insurgency on land and terrorist groups seeking to attack Russia's homeland.

This is the least that Russian policy makers can do, even if the current economic crisis significantly diminishes Russia's capability to conduct a far-reaching foreign and security policy.

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Saradzhyan, Simon. The Dynamics of Russia’s Response to the Piracy Threat.” Connections, (Summer 2010) .

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