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12.12.2017
The End of European Bilateralisms: Germany, France, and Russia

The End of European Bilateralisms: Germany, France, and Russia

Today German and French positions reflect much more the skepticism ingrained in the EU’s “five guiding principles for relations with Russia” than previous ideas of a strategic partnership with Moscow. This will render it impossible for Russia to simply return to traditional bilateralism. If, at some point in the future, a Russian leadership wants to normalize relations with the EU and rebuild European security, it will have to take into account, among many other things, the almost complete collapse of trust in its relations with Germany and France.
7.12.2017
Armenia’s “Both/And” Policy for Europe and Eurasia

Armenia’s “Both/And” Policy for Europe and Eurasia

Four years ago, Armenia’s failure to sign the EU Association Agreement was an early indication of the impending Ukraine crisis. Now, an Association Agreement-lite has been signed with Brussels. While this doesn’t represent a normalization of relations between Russia and the EU in the post-Soviet space, it’s important symbolically. Rather than an “either/or” approach to integration, the EU and Russia are gradually moving in the “both/and” direction.
5.12.2017
Why Belarus’s Leader Rejected a Long-Awaited Invitation to Brussels

Why Belarus’s Leader Rejected a Long-Awaited Invitation to Brussels

Alexander Lukashenko, who used to take offense at not being invited to the Eastern Partnership summits, declined an invitation to last month’s summit. This clearly demonstrates that the initiative has lost its value even in the eyes of its members, but it doesn’t mean that closer cooperation is impossible for Belarus and the EU. Both parties are simply coming to the realization that quick breakthroughs won’t happen.
1.12.2017
From Ambition to Style to Substance: Emmanuel Macron Makes His Mark on French Foreign Policy

From Ambition to Style to Substance: Emmanuel Macron Makes His Mark on French Foreign Policy

With Chancellor Merkel visibly weakened as a result of the recent Bundestag elections, President Macron has been free to take the lead in managing Europe’s difficult relations with Russia. His announced participation in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May 2018 can signal the resumption of full-scale dialogue between the estranged former partners, which might bring better understanding of the existing political differences between Europe and Russia, while allowing for expanded commercial and cultural contacts between them.
30.11.2017
Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow

Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow

Russian regional leaders are rediscovering their power and their ability to fight with Moscow over budgets and autonomy. Discontent over Moscow siphoning off regional funds has reached a breaking point, while Tatarstan is in a new contest with the center over regional language rights.
29.11.2017
The Luhansk Coup: Why Armed Conflict Erupted in Russia’s Puppet Regime

The Luhansk Coup: Why Armed Conflict Erupted in Russia’s Puppet Regime

Last week’s events change little on the ground in the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic.” They do, however, demonstrate the degree to which Moscow cannot control the strategically important region. Despite the Kremlin’s best efforts, conflict between local authorities grew so out of hand that Moscow was forced to send armed reinforcements.
28.11.2017
Nobody’s President? Putin Enters the Era of Transition

Nobody’s President? Putin Enters the Era of Transition

The 2018 election in Russia is turning into a real political event. Putin is an undeclared candidate and Navalny is an unregistered one, who will have a real influence. The Kremlin is now run by regents around a diminished president, and discussion is already focusing on what the post-Putin era will look like.
27.11.2017
Nobody’s Revolution: The Russian State and the Fight for Memory

Nobody’s Revolution: The Russian State and the Fight for Memory

In Russia, there is no particularly tense strife between supporters and opponents of the hundred-year-old revolution. But there is competition among the ruling political establishment and the oppositional intelligentsia on the topic of political repression. The regime is fighting back against the opposition’s monopoly on the right to represent the victims and name the state as the executioners’ successor.
22.11.2017
The Transnistrian Deadlock: Resolution Impalpable, War Improbable

The Transnistrian Deadlock: Resolution Impalpable, War Improbable

The conflict in Transnistria is far from both resolution and explosion. Convergence of international players’ interests in maintaining peace and high levels of connectivity between the Moldova and Transnistria has resulted in stability. But a conflict management strategy that relies upon a sub-optimal equilibrium is hardly enough—more needs to be done to prepare for a settlement in the long term.
21.11.2017
How Transitional Institutions Could Transform Russia’s Economy

How Transitional Institutions Could Transform Russia’s Economy

Transitional institutions cannot be effective unless economic agents are confident that the state will fulfill its commitments and that the rules of the game do not depend on the discretion of a ruler. Empirical evidence shows that democracy protects investors from expropriation better than dictatorships do, thereby resulting in faster economic growth.
16.11.2017
Alisher Usmanov: Uzbekistan’s Oligarch of Choice

Alisher Usmanov: Uzbekistan’s Oligarch of Choice

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is growing closer to Uzbekistan-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who could help the president solidify his power as he continues to struggle against the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB) and its chief, Rustam Inoyatov. However, any belief that oligarchs will help modernize Uzbekistan is naïve. They will simply assume the power once wielded by the SNB.
15.11.2017
Taking the Plunge: Russia’s New Managerial Class

Taking the Plunge: Russia’s New Managerial Class

Russian new regional governors are being given a version of Western-style management training perfected by Sberbank boss German Gref. They are like managerial special ops forces deployed behind enemy lines by Moscow.
14.11.2017
Russia and the West’s South Caucasus Dilemma

Russia and the West’s South Caucasus Dilemma

Russia and the West have a choice in the South Caucasus. They can either treat the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as being isolated from other conflicts—such as those in the Donbas and Transdniestria—or they can use it as an additional argument in their overall confrontation.
13.11.2017
Why the Kremlin Needs Sobchak

Why the Kremlin Needs Sobchak

Ksenia Sobchak’s run for the Russian presidency is not meant to siphon votes away from Alexei Navalny. The Kremlin’s aim is to create a pseudo-opposition, which will channel the discontents of the liberal urban electorate.
31.10.2017
Russia’s New Bureaucracy Means Tougher Times for Putin’s Friends

Russia’s New Bureaucracy Means Tougher Times for Putin’s Friends

The non-system elite makes a mistake by still treating Putin and the formal state as one and the same. We are witnessing a new era in which the powerful and ambitious non-system elite will face a solid, technocratic, and emotionless power vertical stuffed with “little people.” Putin’s associates will have to learn to adjust, or they’ll find themselves in deep trouble.
30.10.2017
What Does the Decline of Clans in the North Caucasus Mean for Moscow?

What Does the Decline of Clans in the North Caucasus Mean for Moscow?

Recent speculation that Russia wants to topple the “traditional” clan system in the North Caucasus misses the point: the clan system is in no way traditional, and it is collapsing on its own. The real question is whether the federal center will find other allies in the region when it falls.
27.10.2017
Croatia: Moscow’s New Ally, or a Brief Fling?

Croatia: Moscow’s New Ally, or a Brief Fling?

Despite a large-scale visit by the Croatian leadership to Russia, we shouldn’t expect breakthroughs in bilateral collaboration, or to see Croatia turn into a close Russian ally. Sanctions, falling oil prices, and long-term stagnation in both countries can’t be overcome by presidential meetings, and real economic ties between the two countries are still modest.
26.10.2017
The Instability Game: Easing Tensions Between Russia and the West in Moldova

The Instability Game: Easing Tensions Between Russia and the West in Moldova

To prevent further escalation, international actors should not play into Moldova’s divides. They must stop seeing Moldovan politicians as either friends or foes, and instead promote greater competition in the country’s politics. Otherwise, while pursuing their own geopolitical interests, Russia and the EU could both fall victim to manipulation by local politicians.
25.10.2017
Dagestan’s Main Problem Isn’t Clans. It’s the Russian System

Dagestan’s Main Problem Isn’t Clans. It’s the Russian System

Dagestan’s outgoing leader was also once presented as a figure who would instill order in the republic and combat clan rule. Indeed, Ramazan Abdulatipov tried to reform the regional elite. But clan rule, nepotism, corruption, and the threat of terrorism are still there four years later. It has proved impossible to modernize Dagestan without changing the Russian system as a whole.
24.10.2017
RIP Russian Banks: How to Resuscitate a Moribund System

RIP Russian Banks: How to Resuscitate a Moribund System

Watching the drama of Russia’s private banks collapsing one by one naturally triggers fear: of more than 3,000 registered banks, about 2,600 have already lost their licenses. After the bailout of Otkritie and BIN, the government’s share in Russia’s banking system assets exceeds 80 percent. Fixing Russia’s banking system requires addressing the deep and systematic flaws in the central bank and the financial sector at large.
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