Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Vaughn P. Shannon, Ph.D. (Committee Chair); Pramod Kantha, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Liam Anderson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


How alliance structures form and why states balance, bandwagon, or remain neutral against other states is an enduring and important question in international relations. This thesis adds to the discussion of how states make alliance decisions by testing whether perceptions matter in predicting state balancing behavior and by proposing a new theoretical framework which allows for a better understanding of the mechanisms which drive the perception of aggressive intentions as a factor within Stephen Walt’s balance of threat theory. In this thesis, I explore the construction of threat through a comparative case study analysis of border states of Russia following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine to explore how differing states responded with varying levels of threat perception of Russia and how actions and characteristics of these states shaped their differing responses in balancing. The case studies for this analysis include Ukraine, Finland, and Mongolia in relation to their perception of threat of Russian aggressive intentions.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded