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Moscow Rules

What Drives Russia to Confront the West

By Keir Giles
Moscow Rules front cover

From Moscow, the world looks different. It is through understanding how Russia sees the world—and its place in it—that the West can best meet the Russian challenge.

Russia and the West are like neighbors who never seem able to understand each other. A major reason, this book argues, is that Western leaders tend to think that Russia should act as a “rational” Western nation—even though Russian leaders for centuries have thought and acted based on their country’s much different history and traditions. Russia, through Western eyes, is unpredictable and irrational, when in fact its leaders from the czars to Putin almost always act in their own very predictable and rational ways. For Western leaders to try to engage with Russia without attempting to understand how Russians look at the world is a recipe for repeated disappointment and frequent crises.

Keir Giles, a senior expert on Russia at Britain’s prestigious Chatham House, describes how Russian leaders have used consistent doctrinal and strategic approaches to the rest of the world. These approaches may seem deeply alien in the West, but understanding them is essential for successful engagement with Moscow. Giles argues that understanding how Moscow’s leaders think—not just Vladimir Putin but his predecessors and eventual successors—will help their counterparts in the West develop a less crisis-prone and more productive relationship with Russia.

Praise for Moscow Rules

"Moscow Rules offers a long-overdue, sober, and clear-eyed description of how Russian citizens regard Russia, and how this has been misunderstood by the West. Keir Giles makes a compelling, well-documented argument for honest acceptance of differences between the West and Russia—and for a policy of firm deterrence"
—Evelyn N. Farkas, senior fellow, Atlantic Council; former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia

"This study by Keir Giles describes how Russia sees the West and has through the centuries. It is a book meant for those who study and, most important, must deal with Russia. As one who had to do this throughout his professional life, my only regret is that I did not have this book 35 years ago."
—Toomas Hendrik Ilves, president of Estonia, 2006–16

"Keir Giles has done us all a great service in writing this book, helping the West to understand how we can demonstrate our strength in every way, not only to deter Russian aggression but also to establish a relationship with this great nation that is helpful and effective as opposed to one of competition."
—Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, Center for European Policy Analysis; Commander, United States Army Europe, 2014–17

"Keir Giles has explained with clarity, concision, and deep knowledge why Russia cannot be understood by Western criteria alone. His book is a much-needed antidote to simplistic judgements. It should be required reading for all who deal with Western policy towards Russia."
—Sir Roderic Lyne, UK ambassador to Moscow 2000–04

"Moscow Rules makes an important contribution to understanding the different viewpoints that exist in Russia and how Russia’s state system and influencing traditions differ from those of Western democratic countries in ways that have not always been comprehended. This is essential to understanding how the West can learn to distinguish real threats relating to Russia from those that only look like a threat but are not."
—Hanna Smith, Director of Strategic Planning and Responses at Hybrid CoE (The European Centre for Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats)

"Academics and journalists are perpetually excited by the question of which books world leaders are reading. Keir Giles’ latest book should certainly be one of them; or at least one that Western leaders should read."
—Erkki Bahovski, Editor-in-Chief of Diplomaatia

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