Classes are ending. We had our final Post Soviet Eurasia and the SCO class today. For our last lecture, our professor spoke about Russia-NATO relations in the past and present.
Critical to Russian foreign policy is Halford Mackinder's Heartland Theory.
The heartland theory proposes that a land-based power would ultimately rule the world. In the heart of Eurasia lies a resource-rich "pivot area." He who rules Eastern Europe controls the Heartland. He who rules the Heartland commands the World Island. He who rules the World Island commands the World.
One can use the Heartland theory to trace the course of Russian self-perception and outward action through history.
As our professor posited today, during the Cold War, Russia did not view containment as a containment of communism; rather it viewed containment as America's attempt to contain Russia and its influence in the Heartland.
From the American perspective, the Cold War ended with the collapse of communism in Russia. However, since Russia defines the Cold War not as an ideological struggle, but as a vie for the Heartland, the Cold War tension continues. Russia will forever be defending its hold on the Heartland.
As someone who has studied the Cold War and its legacy, I was fascinated by this notion. I wish we had more classes to discuss this topic! I'm not ready to leave!