On taking power in 1917 the Bolsheviks were faced from the outset with a very insecure environment, something that would continue with various levels of threat throughout the entire Soviet era. This fact would have a fundamental and lasting impact on Soviet perceptions and policies in the security domain. From a realist perspective the international system of anarchy and the security dilemma this creates inevitably led to Soviet Russia seeking security through military means and alliances. Despite the rhetoric, and as noted in previous chapters, to a certain extent the practice of seeking to spread communism overseas, the logic of international politics, always pulled the Soviet leadership back, using whatever means were required, to defending the “national interest” (for which read state interest) as the first priority. In the realm of international security the question most often asked was whether communism served the state, or did the state serve communism? In other words, was the Soviet leadership in its foreign and security policies motivated chiefly by ideological, or state interests? This was never a simple question to answer, and even with access to key archival materials since the Soviet Union expired there is still no consensus on this matter. However, the wrong question was being posed. The question is not really one of an either/or kind, but rather: to what degree in any particular instance did ideology and state interests count? The evidence shows that both ideational and material interests were at work.
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