New dogs, old tricks?: Are Soviet views and perceptions still influencing Russian foreign policy? A case-study of the intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968, and the intervention in Georgia, 2008
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As the world’s eyes were on Beijing and the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Russian and Georgian forces were fighting fiercely over two minor breakaway regions: South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Western commentators quickly drew comparisons to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia 40 years earlier. This thesis shows that such a comparison perhaps is not as far-fetched as one might assume, and that Soviet views and perceptions of the world still influence modern-day Russia’s foreign policy. To show this it will analyze the reasons behind the Czechoslovak intervention and the Georgian intervention in search of similarities. Balance of power considerations, a fear of encirclement, a fear of unwanted political systems spreading to Moscow, and the idea that the United States still is the main enemy are all similarities which the two cases share. The Soviet Union might be a relic of the past, but its views and perceptions are not.