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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.
29.01.2018
The Grudinin Effect: A Populist Shakes up Russian Politics

The Grudinin Effect: A Populist Shakes up Russian Politics

The Communist Party’s new presidential candidate is far from a dull apparatchik. He’s a populist whose criticism of the authorities can appeal to different electoral groups. There has always been a demand for populism in Russia. If Pavel Grudinin can run an effective campaign—and his previous political experience suggests he can—it could lead to serious changes in the Russian political landscape.
25.01.2018
Project Inertia: The Outlook for Putin’s Fourth Term

Project Inertia: The Outlook for Putin’s Fourth Term

Do not expect modernization after Putin’s 2018 reelection. Instead, the system he built will function on autopilot as the Russian leader continues to lose direct control over events, ideas, and actions. But that doesn’t imply democratization. In essence, the head of state finds himself chained to the galley that he built himself.
24.01.2018
The Moldova-Transdniestria Dilemma: Local Politics and Conflict Resolution

The Moldova-Transdniestria Dilemma: Local Politics and Conflict Resolution

Moldova may appear to choose a geopolitical direction in the 2018 elections. A victory for the Socialists will be interpreted as a win for Moscow. Conversely, victory for either Plahotniuc’s or Sandu and Nastase’s followers will be trumpeted as a win for pro-Western forces. In either case, it is unlikely that the 2018 election will alter the fundamental divisions and balance in the Moldovan population. Only real reform, economic growth, and an end to the endemic corruption are likely to change that enduring reality.
23.01.2018
Navalny’s Blinkered Economic Program

Navalny’s Blinkered Economic Program

Most of Navalny’s economic proposals are seriously concerning and evocative of left-wing populist slogans. The policy platform contains outright errors, but its greatest problem is that it attacks all vocal parts of society in favor of a mythical “people.” Attracting voters with such a platform will prove to be difficult.
22.01.2018
The Problem With the Russian Judiciary

The Problem With the Russian Judiciary

The Russian court system paralyzed itself a long time ago. It doesn’t need outside experience; it doesn’t need experienced lawyers. It needs efficient personnel who know how to follow orders. The average judge renders a not-guilty verdict once every seven years. Judges understand that such a verdict will always be repealed and the repeal of a sentence is a stain on a judge’s record that could lead to penalties and even dismissal.
19.01.2018
ASEAN, Uzbek-Style: Tashkent’s New Ambitions in Central Asia

ASEAN, Uzbek-Style: Tashkent’s New Ambitions in Central Asia

Tashkent is trying to get across the message to its neighbors that economic prosperity is the key to everything, and that this goal is worth forgetting other petty grievances and putting major problematic issues on hold. By proposing the development of unified approaches to the joint exploitation of transboundary rivers, the integration of the national economies of countries in the region, and the development of cross-border trade, Uzbekistan hopes that it can fashion a new format of cooperation with Central Asia’s other republics.
18.01.2018
Putin 4.0: The President’s New Modus Operandi

Putin 4.0: The President’s New Modus Operandi

Vladimir Putin is sending out signals about how he sees his fourth presidential term. Domestic initiatives are not a presidential priority and will be dealt with at the technocratic level. In the political sphere, the real threat to Putin’s power comes from the moderate opposition. Above all, there is to be no more democratic window dressing. Preparations are well under way for a new act.
17.01.2018
An EU-Russia Modus Vivendi in the East?

An EU-Russia Modus Vivendi in the East?

There are signs that the EU and Russia are managing their relations better in their common neighborhood. Neither has achieved its ambitions in countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Although a “grand bargain” is not possible at the moment, the two sides have a common interest in halting a deterioration in relations.
16.01.2018
The Tragedy of Russian Foreign Policy. Book Review: “Different Times: Essays on Foreign Policy” by Anatoly Adamishin

The Tragedy of Russian Foreign Policy. Book Review: “Different Times: Essays on Foreign Policy” by Anatoly Adamishin

Russia is neither doomed to have adversarial relations with the West nor destined to have friendly ones with it: it is all in the hands of policymakers who need to learn, also from their own mistakes. Anatoly Adamishin’s book provides them with a rich body of experience to work from.
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