Department of Political Science

The Russian Quest for Ontological Security: The Role of the Kosovo Crisis for the Reconstruction of Russia’s post-Soviet National Identity

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch

This paper argues that Russia’s decision to militarily intervene in the Kosovo crisis (1999) arose out of ontological, alongside material, insecurity. Whereas states’ material security essentially deals with national survival, ontological security concerns safety of the ‘national Self’. By supplementing the existing theories of geopolitics and regime security with the conceptual lens of ontological security, my interpretivist case study demonstrates why Russia, despite great risk and material costs, decided to militarily intervene and traces how Russian senses of ‘national Self’ were fundamentally reconstructed during intervention. I find that the anxiety arising from a future scenario of an already weak post-Soviet ‘Russian Self’ gradually being engulfed by a confident ‘Western Self’ played a significant role in Russia’s decision to occupy Slatina airbase. My analysis paradoxically shows how Russia’s material security decreased while its sense of ontological security increased. Thus, the intensified Russo-Western antagonism following intervention opened a ‘window of opportunity’ for Russian elite to reconstruct a more self-confident sense of ‘Russian Self’. The paper contributes to our understanding of how ontological insecurity, like material insecurity, can trigger military interventions and how such interventions can increase ontological security while simultaneously decreasing material security.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event11th Pan-European Conference on International Relations: The Politics of International Studies in an Age of Crises - Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 13 Sep 201716 Sep 2017


Conference11th Pan-European Conference on International Relations
Location Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals

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