The vote to Leave was mainly a protest vote. It was the vote of people who hated “Brussels” and the European Union, but hated London and the international financial system just as much. The black irony of this is that it is precisely the social category of working-class protest voters who are likely to suffer when Britain loses the privileged access it currently has to the EU’s single market.
Boris Yeltsin’s reelection in 1996, hailed as a triumph of democracy, now looks like a Pyrrhic victory. The means by which the process was manipulated set a precedent for the Putin era.
A referendum on South Ossetia’s incorporation into the Russian Federation has been postponed until after the presidential election in the region due in early 2017. This means that there is still a large question mark over the optimum relationship between Russia and South Ossetia.
Trade relations between the EU and Russia will likely remain stable for many years, even as the overall volume of bilateral trade gradually contracts. The EU will grow less dependent on Russia for energy security, while Russia will become less reliant on European finance, industry, and infrastructure.
The construction of a new pipeline that will send Caspian natural gas to southern Europe is making Gazprom executives uneasy. Once the pipeline is completed, Gazprom will lose its monopoly in southern Europe and may have to resort to price dumping to stay competitive.
The sympathy expressed by President Putin and the Russian media for the victims of the Orlando attack gives Russia the opportunity to discard its discredited homophobic policies and to attempt a similar offer of rapprochement to the one Putin extended after the September 11 attacks.
The annexation of Crimea in March 2014 fundamentally changed Russia’s political climate: support for Vladimir Putin’s regime rose and remains high, despite a certain cooldown in recent months. Discontent is building but remains far from boiling point, and we are unlikely to see large-scale protest voting or mass rallies in the parliamentary elections this fall.
Russia has finally hit on a security agenda of interest to its Asian partners. Buoyed by its success in Syria, Moscow is presenting itself as a standard-bearer in the war on Islamic terrorism and a source of cutting-edge practices for ASEAN countries that are facing this problem. The Syrian campaign is also helping to promote Russian military technology on Asian markets.
Evidently, most of Uzbekistan’s economic indicators are subject to statistical manipulations, be it a 90 percent voter turnout for presidential elections or refrigerator manufacturing, where a 50-fold increase was reported. In this context, numbers on labor migration out of the country shed more light on the efficiency of Karimov’s economic model than all of his statistical data.
Lukashenko has used a recent audience with the Pope as a way to enhance Belarus’s ties with the West. But the West no longer expects Minsk to be a close ally and to embrace European standards. Instead, it’s expected to be a source of stability. This mismatch in expectations will soon come to a head and the rapprochement will grind to a halt.
A recent memorandum of cooperation signed by Moscow and Beijing has Russians worried about Chinese “colonization” of the Far East. However, a careful analysis of the situation suggests there is little reason for Russians to fear Chinese industrial expansionism.
The central aim of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Greece was to declare the spiritual unity of two Orthodox nations, Greece and Russia. But Putin’s pilgrimage showed the limitations of that message. Greek Orthodoxy is fully compatible with its democracy and place in Europe.
The new propagandists who dominated the Russian media were formed by the experience of the trauma of the 1990s and the loss of the certainties of the Soviet past. Their ideology is a fusion of Soviet and imperial Russian ideas. Its chief intellectual weakness is that it must link Russian success to the failure of the West and democracy.
The primaries have once again highlighted the Kremlin’s domestic policy tactics. First, the administration announces a large project, makes promises, and even begins to deliver on them. Then, fears of failure and loss of control set in, and all work grinds to a halt.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has contradicted himself several times on the issue of the status of Crimea. His ambiguities have helped him to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and to forge a new relationship with the West.
Changes passed in a recent referendum amending Tajikistan’s constitution allow President Emomali Rahmon to run for office an infinite number of times and pave the way for his family to take over the reins of power. The veteran president is adept at protecting his regime and keeping his powerful neighbours at bay.
Unlike in the Cold War, the current Russia-United States confrontation is asymmetrical, which carries different dangers. Cooperation will remain limited and Barack Obama’s successor will most likely take a harsher stance on Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s decision to pardon Nadezhda Savchenko was a purely pragmatic one. Left with no viable alternatives to freeing the Ukrainian pilot, Putin was forced to make a concession that may not sit well with the Russian population, which has come to see Savchenko as a symbol of the “Kiev junta.”
Some Russian experts are predicting that the current Russian regime will last another ten years. Change is inevitable, but no one can forecast what form it will take. In the short term, the trend is for inertia and no change.
Russia’s unpredictability means there is a lack of clarity on the direction the country will take after 2018. Is NATO membership really crucial for Finland and Sweden in the long term if Russia follows the best-case scenario, or even if it enters a state of inertia?
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