The study relies on the assumption that, to some extent, the current misinterpretations and unrealistic expectations between Russia and the West are caused by linguistic and conceptual differences between the opponents. Thus, the aim of the study is to discuss the ways how Russia linguistically and conceptually understands and construes the terms normative power, deterrence, and sanctions. As the authors see it, deterrence, normative power, and sanctions constitute the three main elements in the toolbox used by the Western world in international relations to achieve its goals. However, none of these three terms has a clear and easily understandable meaning in the Russian language, furthermore, Russia’s psychological pattern does not overlap with the one of the Western countries, which makes it difficult to believe that these three elements have a chance to succeed in practice. The indication that the EU and NATO seek to move forward in terms of progress in the relations with Russia entails that challenges and limitations need to be accepted. It seems that normative power is the least likely to be accepted by Russian politicians and members of society out of the three aforementioned elements considering that its translation in the Russian language is linguistically complicated for Russians to understand and it is loaded with negative undertone of domination and disrespect. In this respect, sanctions might have slightly more chances to succeed, as Russia does not question the legitimacy of sanctions, furthermore, Russia might be motivated to find mutual understanding and search for compromises for this matter.
This current study aims to assess the credibility of the deterrence posture provided by NATO in avoiding Russia’s potential aggression against the Baltic countries; what could the aggression scenarios look like; what should be done to increase the credibility of NATO’s deterrence strategy and the ability of the Baltic countries to employ additional deterrence instruments. The focus of the analysis is on four components: capability (both nuclear and conventional military capabilities), communication, cohesion, and interdependence/acceptance of norms. In this way, the authors build-up their own framework to cover both the physical capabilities of potential parties to the conflict and behaviouralethical aspects related to the current security environment. The article demonstrates the challenges for the Alliance’s deterrence strategy and makes several suggestions of how to increase the credibility of NATO’s deterrence strategy to avoid Russia’s potential aggression.