Nicolò Fasola

Russia's Way of War: What Can Strategic Culture Explain?nicolo fasola

Supervisors: Dr Derek Averre and Prof Mark Webber

Nicolò’s doctoral research aims at providing a theoretical account of Russia’s distinctive approach to war-fighting and its interrelation with the country’s self-perception and worldview.

Nicolò follows a three-step approach. Firstly, he researches the theory of strategic culture. Secondly, he infers the ultimate military-strategic beliefs informing Russia’s strategic culture from the analysis of a wide range of Russian primary sources and broad military practices. And thirdly, he tests his findings against three case studies - namely Russian military operations in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria.

Nicolò claims that Russia’s way of war has been considerably consistent in the timeframe 2008-2018. This continuity depends on the homeostatic tendencies of culture and the organisational dynamics of the security elite. The nature of Russia’s strategic culture can be explained by reference to the selective sedimentation of (military) historical experiences in Russia’s collective memory and their interaction with the country’s specific social organisation.

Short Biography

  • Nicolò completed a BA in International Studies and European Affairs (2015) and specialised as an area expert with the MA in Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe (2017).

    Nicolò occupied a number of positions that allowed him to gain direct experience of Eastern Europe. Inter alia, he worked at the Italian Embassy in Estonia, Prague’s Institute of International Relations (IIR), and NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He has recently conducted an EU-funded investigation into the state of regional integration in the Adriatic-Ionian area on behalf of UniAdrion.

    Nicolò writes for the online newspaper East Journal and is regularly interviewed by Milan’s Radio Panda 96.3.

Research interests

  • Russia’s foreign and security policy
  • NATO-Russia relations
  • Post-socialist transition(s)
  • IR theory and security studies

Conference papers

  • (forthcoming) ‘Sovereignty and (non-)intervention: nature and implications of the normative clash between NATO and Russia’, annual conference of the Transatlantic Studies Associations (TSA), University of Lancaster (GBR), 8-10 July 2019.
  • ‘NATO-Russia relations through the prism of strategic culture’, 12th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, EISA-CEEISA, University of Economics, Prague (CZE), 12-15 September 2018.


  • (co-author with Sonia Lucarelli) (under review) ‘Ups and downs of NATO-Russia relations: a cognitivist perspective’, Interdisciplinary Political Studies, vol. 5, no. 2.
  • (co-author with Sonia Lucarelli) (under review) ‘NATO-Russia relations through the prism of strategic culture’ in Bianchini, S. and Fiori, A. (eds) Shifting Boundaries in a Global World. Russia and China at the Crossroads between Regional and International Projections. Leiden, Boston: Brill.
  • (co-author with Sonia Lucarelli) (2018) ‘I rapporti tra Alleanza atlantica e Russia dalla fine della guerra fredda’ in Bianchini, S. and Fiori, A. (eds) Russia e Cina nel mondo globale. Due potenze tra dinamiche interne e internazionali. Roma: Carocci, pp. 133-148.
  • (2017) ‘Principles of Russian Military Thought’, Discussion Paper, Prague: Institute of International Relations (IIR).
  • (2017) ‘Zapad 2017: How Should the West Respond?’ European Security Spotlight, Prague: Institute of International Relations (IIR).

20+ commentaries for the online newspaper East Journal.


Contact details:


Twitter: @FasolaNicolo