Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Morey


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 14 post-Soviet states adopted dramatically differing security strategies towards Russia: some sought security by bandwagoning with Russia while others strove to balance against it. Why did states with similar experiences under Soviet rule and similar asymmetric power positions vis-à-vis Russia adopt such diverse security strategies in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s disintegration? In contrast to prevailing theories focusing on power, economic interdependence, and cultural similarities, I propose that these variations in post-Soviet states’ security strategies can be best explained by their diverse experiences with national mobilization. The central argument of this study is that particular historical developments prime national mobilization, leading nations to see themselves as unique socio-political units worthy of independence and driving their leaders to interpret their former ruler as a primary security threat they must balance against. I test this national mobilization theory against its main alternatives through an in-depth analysis of the historical processes of national identity formation and recent security strategies of the post-Soviet states, shedding new light on mobilized identities’ role in international security. This dissertation includes a broad correlational analysis between the proposed causal factors and the fourteen weaker post-Soviet states’ foreign policy choices as well as two chapters containing in-depth case studies of Georgia and Kazakhstan, utilizing process tracing methods to test the specific causal mechanisms at play.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)