***** NOT A TEACHER *****
I would interpret it this way:
"Russia has been acting in ways that are NOT usual and NOT expected. So it's difficult for us to know (or guess) what it has been doing or planning during the last year."
The expression "outside the box" is used quite often:
Manager: Our business is losing customers. We have done everything to get customers: put advertisements in the newspapers, gone on the Internet, bought expensive TV time, etc. But nothing works.
Employee: Well, sir, maybe it's time that we start thinking outside the box. Let's think of something that no one has ever thought of before. Something that will get us a lot of customers and something that will shock our competition!
Student or Learner