Cover: Soviet Crisis Prevention and Management

Soviet Crisis Prevention and Management

Why and When Do the Soviet Leaders Take Risks?

Published 1986

by Hannes Adomeit


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This paper reviews Soviet behavior in international crises to determine both the patterns of Soviet behavior and their underlying determinants. Specifically, it considers whether Soviet leaders typically initiate or react to challenges and dangers; how the Soviet Union has attempted to manage the risks of crisis and conflict; whether the Soviets have generally been well prepared to cope with crises, and the effect their degree of control has had on their behavior; their use of verbal and nonverbal threats; the extent to which Soviet leaders rely on secrecy, deception, and surprise in or prior to an international crisis; whether Soviets prefer to create a fait accompli; whether Soviets observe certain "rules" or "conventions" in Soviet-American crises; and whether Soviet crisis behavior has varied under different leaderships. The author concludes that, in major superpower crises, Soviet leaders have typically preferred to achieve foreign policy objectives by the threat of military force rather than by the actual use of force, and have been conscious of whether their actions would be regarded by the adversary as an unacceptable threat to his vital interests and an intolerable change of the status quo.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper (Soviet) series. The occasional paper series was a product of RAND from 1985 to 1992. It included the occasional paper education (OPE) and occasional paper Soviet (OPS), which was issued jointly by the RAND/UCLA Center for Soviet Studies (CSS) to facilitate the exchange of ideas among those who shared the research interests of the Center and of scholars participating in its research and seminar programs.

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