The Inquiry: Is Russia At War With The West?

Thursday 22 November



There are currently a number of serious allegations made in the West against Russia. They include the attempted murder of the former spy Sergei Skripal on British soil; interference in the 2016 US election and the hacking of the American electricity grid.

To some, it feels like the West is under attack. But do any of these actions amount to war?

In this edition of The Inquiry, Kavita Puri hears from four experts:

Olga Khovostunova, a Russian media analyst, describes the effect of the collapse of the Soviet Union on the psyche of President Putin and his close knit circle of security chiefs. For them, the threat from the West is real.

Norwegian foreign correspondent Oystein Borgen says Russia is engaged in a hybrid war with the West, in which Norway has become a little-known front line.

Lawyer Michael Schmitt, from the US Naval College, sets out how Russian security chiefs, almost certainly surrounded by a team of international law experts, operate in the grey zone of international law.

Political scientist Kimberley Marten explains how private military contractors operating in Ukraine, Libya, the Central African Republic and Syria give the Russian state plausible deniability in conflict zones.

This is the first programme of two about relations between Russia and the West. The next edition asks: is the West at war with Russia?

  • Presenter: Kavita Puri
  • Produced by Lucy Proctor for BBC World Service