Paul Michael Graystone

From 'Bridge of Cooperation' to Russia's Baltic Bastion: Exploring the Role of State Identity in Contemporary Russian Security Policy in Kaliningrad, 2000-2018

Supervisors: Dr Cerwyn Moore and Dr Paul Richardson

This project aims to examine the evolution of Russia's Kaliningrad policy from 2000-2018, using a social constructivist framework. Social constructivism draws attention to identity-based politics at the level of the state, and provides the theoretical basis for studying the impact of ideational factors upon Russian security policy. Specifically, the thesis will examine the role of Russia's identity discourses on the issue of great power status in informing Russia's conceptualisation of itself as a security actor and how, in turn, this has framed the development of Russia's Kaliningrad policy. In order to capture and analyse the interconnectedness between these two dynamics, a case study method will be adopted which will be qualitative and deductive in nature as it seeks to test a theoretical framework against a single phenomenon, in this case Russia's Kaliningrad policy.

The research methodology will therefore combine open primary source research and political discourse analysis, while a process of methodological triangulation will also be employed to strengthen the analysis by using secondary sources and fieldwork interviews to contextualise the study. Through this analysis, the thesis will present a theoretically-grounded explanation of how ideational dynamics drive contemporary Russian security policy, which would impact how we read Russia as a security actor. This is particularly important in light of the Ukraine Crisis in 2014, which has led to Kaliningrad becoming a flashpoint of insecurity between Russia and the West, driving a security dilemma in the Baltic Sea Region. It will also engage with broader issues within the field of Russian Security Studies, including Russia's threat perceptions and security prioritisation, and the ways in which states deal with their exclaves from a security perspective.


Paul gained a BA in War Studies from the University of Kent, in which he sought to specialise in 20th Century Russian military history with a particular focus on the First World War, after which Paul then moved to UCL SSEES to complete his MA in Russian Studies, transitioning to studying contemporary Russian politics and international relations. Paul's doctoral research project is funded by a studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Project Reference: 2237433).

Teaching responsibilities

Paul is currently employed as a PGTA on the module ‘Understanding Politics I: The Big Questions in Contemporary Europe’ at UCL SSEES.


  • MA Social Research (University of Birmingham)
  • MA Russian Studies (School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL)
  • BA War Studies (University of Kent)

Research interests

  • Russia and Eurasia
  • Identity-building Practises
  • Memory
  • Political Geography
  • Discourse Analysis

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