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21.03.2018
Russia and Ukraine: From Brothers to Neighbors

Russia and Ukraine: From Brothers to Neighbors

Russia is parting ways with both Ukraine and Belarus. This did not have to be a tragedy with Ukraine, and can still be handled amicably with Belarus. Moreover, an independent Ukrainian state and a Ukrainian political nation ease Russia’s transition from its post-imperial condition and facilitate the formation of a Russian political nation.
20.03.2018
Russia’s Impossible Coalition: Putin’s New Politics

Russia’s Impossible Coalition: Putin’s New Politics

The conflict that will dominate Putin’s fourth term is not between the doves and hawks, but between two economic schools: the industrialists, who believe the economy is made up of manufacturing machines, and the liberals, who are convinced that it consists of money. No technocrat will be able to form an efficient team from people who have fundamentally different ideas of what the economy actually is.
19.03.2018
A Historical Interlocutor: How Willing is Italy to Support Russia?

A Historical Interlocutor: How Willing is Italy to Support Russia?

Virtually all of Italy’s political forces want to increase cooperation with Russia. But the Kremlin would be unwise to read too much into this. Rome values preserving mutual understanding with the European Union and the United States over advocating for lifting sanctions. A positive relationship with Italy is an important asset for Russian foreign policy, but it isn’t a game-changer.
16.03.2018
Donbas Diplomacy: Ukraine Bides Its Time

Donbas Diplomacy: Ukraine Bides Its Time

The Minsk agreements are not dead, nor is the conflict in Donbas frozen. Despite a recent diplomatic push, and given the lack of trust between Russia and the United States, and Ukraine’s resistance to the Minsk accords, the status quo is for the time being an acceptable option for all sides. Mired in the upcoming election cycle in 2019, Kiev can’t meet the political requirements of the agreements, and considers Donbas as collateral for its ongoing nation-building project. The recently approved deal to send U.S. lethal weapons to Ukraine will not change the situation in the conflict zone, but plans to increase Western aid directly to Donbas may slowly sway public opinion in eastern Ukraine.
15.03.2018
Conflicting Realities in Russia and the EU’s Shared Neighborhood

Conflicting Realities in Russia and the EU’s Shared Neighborhood

Precisely because the conflict with Georgia now has a lower profile than Ukraine, the EU and Russia might start exploring ways to minimize the risk of confrontation and even test approaches for accommodation. Using the provisions of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement signed with Georgia EU can underscore its commitment to human rights and propose technical solutions that would improve the lives of residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in terms of access to education, healthcare, and freedom of movement and trade.
12.03.2018
Ukraine at a Crossroads: Scenarios for the Reintegration of Donbas

Ukraine at a Crossroads: Scenarios for the Reintegration of Donbas

The priority now is not only a ceasefire, but also the articulation of strong political incentives for the breakaway regions to finally begin disarmament and reintegration. This is first and foremost a task for the Ukrainian authorities, who will have to overcome the taboo and establish a legal framework for reintegration.
9.03.2018
A Hi-Tech Russian Doll: Putin’s Fourth-Term Reboot

A Hi-Tech Russian Doll: Putin’s Fourth-Term Reboot

Putin’s goal is now neither to recreate the USSR, nor to become part of the West. Rather, the ambition is to build an economic and technological “West” inside Russia, while continuing an aggressive posture towards the West on the outside.
7.03.2018
Saving the INF Treaty

Saving the INF Treaty

Washington has accused Moscow of violating the INF Treaty. The Kremlin has threatened to withdraw. Without new agreements and measures to ensure compliance with INF amid changing technological and political realities, arms control is in trouble.
5.03.2018
Why Spain Doesn’t Fear the “Russian Threat”

Why Spain Doesn’t Fear the “Russian Threat”

Spain is a member of both the EU and NATO, yet its stance on Russia remains surprisingly benevolent. Even rumors of Russian interference in the Catalan crisis have not changed this. Moscow’s ties with Madrid could provide a valuable foundation for future engagement with Europe.
20.02.2018
The Karabakh Conflict as “Project Minimum”

The Karabakh Conflict as “Project Minimum”

Moscow has never pulled the strings in the Karabakh conflict, but it remains the most influential outside actor. A Karabakh peace process will remain “Project Minimum” for Russia, the United States, and France, unless its key actors, local and international, decide to rethink their strategic priorities.
16.02.2018
A Counter-Elite Takes Power—the New Leaders of the Donbas

A Counter-Elite Takes Power—the New Leaders of the Donbas

The power vacuum caused by the Maidan protests of 2014 allowed marginal political figures in the Donbas to capitalize on longtime discontent with the omnipotent Party of Regions and its local bosses. Almost none of the former regional leaders managed to find a place in the new political reality, but their authoritarian model left a useful blueprint for the new leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.
15.02.2018
History Is the Future: Russia in Search of the Lost Empire

History Is the Future: Russia in Search of the Lost Empire

Andrei Kolesnikov, in his review of books by Shaun Walker, Masha Gessen, and historian Serhii Plokhy, analyzes the authors’ view on the phenomenon of the influence of the past on the present and future of Russia.
13.02.2018
Why Georgia’s Lessons for Russia Don’t Apply in Ukraine

Why Georgia’s Lessons for Russia Don’t Apply in Ukraine

Those in Moscow who believe that all is not lost for Russia in Ukraine, citing the example of Georgia, which is gradually normalizing relations with Russia despite the 2008 war, are being overly optimistic. While the current animosity in Russian-Ukrainian relations will almost certainly cool down in a few years, the underlying foundation of that relationship has been fundamentally altered. Most crucially, Ukraine’s economic dependence on Russia has been decreasing—and with it, Russian leverage over its neighbor.
12.02.2018
A New Role for United Russia

A New Role for United Russia

United Russia’s new leader, Andrei Turchak, is asserting the independence of the pro-presidential party as a distinct force in domestic politics. As the ruling regime’s power vertical begins to fragment, United Russia will now seek to take credit for its own contribution to Vladimir Putin’s victory.
8.02.2018
The Confrontation Between the West and Russia: A Tale of Concentric Circles

The Confrontation Between the West and Russia: A Tale of Concentric Circles

Much like Europeans do not fully grasp the angst generated by prospects of Western-incited regime change in Russia, Russians dismiss far too easily how toxic in the EU is Moscow’s political and financial backing of European extreme right-wing movements. Both are viewed as direct threats to existential interests. So long as that deep-seated mistrust regarding each other’s destructive intent toward one another prevails, channels for cooperation will remain limited, and cooperation at the global level will be ad hoc and transactional.
7.02.2018
Easing Tensions in the Western Balkans

Easing Tensions in the Western Balkans

Even under the best of circumstances, the relationship in the Balkans between Russia, on the one hand, and the EU and the United States, on the other, is bound to be contentious. However, decisionmakers on both sides can craft policies to dial tensions down and pursue common interests where they do exist.
5.02.2018
Making Sense of the U.S. National Defense Strategy

Making Sense of the U.S. National Defense Strategy

Many of the threats and missions identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy Summary are similar to those of earlier defense strategies. But the priorities have changed dramatically. The 2018 NDS declares that “interstate strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary national security concern,” and the United States is in a “long-term strategic competition” with its main adversaries Russia and China.
2.02.2018
Highs and Lows: Russia’s Foreign Policy at the start of 2018

Highs and Lows: Russia’s Foreign Policy at the start of 2018

The most memorable developments in Russia’s foreign policy in the past year include a breakthrough in the Middle East; a further escalation of the confrontation with the United States; continued alienation from Europe; and a tactical advance in Asia. Russia has significantly expanded its foreign policy arsenal, but there is still a sharp contrast between the country’s foreign policy ambitions and the limited capabilities of its economy.
1.02.2018
Pragmatic Symbolism: What Zeman’s Victory in the Czech Republic Means for Russia

Pragmatic Symbolism: What Zeman’s Victory in the Czech Republic Means for Russia

When making pro-Russian statements, the Czech president has domestic policy goals in mind. Zeman wants to demonstrate that he represents ordinary people and is prepared to stand up to the elites. He is indicating that he will put the Czech Republic’s practical interests before abstract universal values, and focus on the national economy rather than empty intellectual discussions.
31.01.2018
Changing Speeds: What Do Debates on EU Reform Mean for Russia?

Changing Speeds: What Do Debates on EU Reform Mean for Russia?

Russia should do its best to stop being one of the threats that the EU takes into account when determining its development trajectory. Long-term modernization and reform programs are long-term specifically because they structure cooperation for decades ahead, building paradigms that are difficult to escape from, even for the mutually beneficial improvement of relations.
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