20 Years of Leading Analysis
 
  • The World Is Getting Used to the Ukrainian Crisis

    Posted by: Alexey Malashenko August 21, 2014

    How effective the anti-Russian sanctions adopted in the West is a subject of current debate. Some—primarily the authors of the sanctions—believe that these measures weaken the ruling regime and can force it to make concessions or will eventually lead to its collapse. Others claim that the sanctions only strengthen Putin since they validate his main premise that Russia is being surrounded by enemies, and help to consolidate the people around him, thus boosting his popularity to unprecedented heights. In other words, they maintain that the more sanctions are imposed on Russia, the stronger and longer the Putin rule will be. In fact, some even think it may never actually end.

    How is Putin’s entourage reacting to the sanctions? If we listen to the politicians’ public pronouncements, one may get the impression that they are not afraid of the sanctions and consider them an ineffective tool  not capable of inflicting serious damage on the Russian economy. Moreover, they seem to enjoy the sanctions, deriving a certain sadomasochistic pleasure from being spanked by the West. But, as we know, the Kremlin has a few towers, and each of them may have its own view of the situation. Those responsible for economics and finances know full well that if the sanctions intensify and impact the oil and gas sectors directly, the Russian economy will be seriously hurt. According to Alexey Ulyukayev, in the first five months of 2014, capital flight reached 80 billion dollars, and investment growth is expected to decrease 1.6 times this year. These figures will not be changed by repeating “Crimea is ours, and Donbas will be too.”

    Thus, Putin’s domestic political success is going to morph into an economic collapse. But this collapse is not yet in sight, while the success is already quite tangible.

    It is often said that Putin has found himself in a no-win situation in Ukraine: whatever he does will lead to negative results. The same can be said of the European and American approaches. Incidentally, a similar situation now exists in the Middle East where no resolution of the crisis is in sight. Paradoxically, a series of catastrophes in the Middle East may become the only avenue for cooperation between Russia and the West. After all, both the United States and Russia supply weapons to thwart the ISIS insurgency in Iraq. The Syrian issue can also be resolved only through the interaction of external actors. Otherwise, the Arab Spring (the term that has fallen out of use of late) will become an endless source of new threats.

    Finally, we need to reflect on another, possibly unexpected and not immediately obvious, turn in the Ukrainian conflict. We are starting to get used to it. It is no longer a short-lived, unexpected crisis; it is becoming, or may have already become, a stable fixture of the geopolitical landscape. Both sides are starting to treat the confrontation between Russia and the West as something routine.

    Politicians and the public are bracing themselves for just permanently living with it. Russia and the West will exist in parallel universes, even though they may agree on certain issues. It will be very hard to bridge this mutual isolation in the future. Europeans will come to see Putin and Russia’s political system as immutable. Incidentally, the issues of Ukraine, Donbas, sanctions, and counter-sanctions are off the first pages already. They are not as interesting and exciting now as they were a few months ago.

    Habit is second nature. Both sides are psychologically prepared to reject each other. If the West and Russia get used to this state of affairs and start to consider it the new norm, the consequences may be quite unappealing.

     
     
     
  • Shevardnadze’s Lessons For Ukraine

    Posted by: Thomas de Waal Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    As Petro Poroshenko embarks on a long steep journey as leader of Ukraine, he would do well to study Eduard Shevardnadze's statecraft in Georgia, with both his great successes and the later disappointments.

     
     
  • Missile Seasoning Spices Up the Ukrainian Dish

    Posted by: Alexei Arbatov Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2

    The tensions between Russia and the West heightened over the issues of compliance with the INF treaty. In this case, it would not be prudent for Russia to seriously compromise its long-term security yet again while pursuing tactical goals or relying on superficial arguments.

     
     
  • The Russian Convoy

    Posted by: Dmitri Trenin Monday, August 18, 2014 1

    While Kiev is desperate to achieve a full military victory almost at any cost, Moscow is reaching out with humanitarian aid, confusing and confounding its opponents. As to the war there, it still continues.

     
     
  • Georgia-Russia: Six Years After the War

    Posted by: George Volski Friday, August 15, 2014

    It has been six years since the end of the Russia-Georgia war, but its effects still pervade political debates between the Georgian Dream coalition and the once powerful Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM).

     
     
  • Putin Brings Armenian and Azeri Leaders Together, But No Solution to Karabakh in Sight

    Posted by: Alexey Malashenko Thursday, August 14, 2014

    The Sochi meeting between Russia’s, Armenia’s, and Azerbaijan’s presidents is but one episode in the series of Russia’s protracted peacemaking efforts. Rather, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict serves as a great pretext for Russia’s presence in the South Caucasus.

     
     
  • Out of Ideas in Sochi

    Posted by: Thomas de Waal Wednesday, August 13, 2014 4

    Putin enjoyed his moment in the media limelight as a peace-maker over Karabakh. But the lack of substance from the summit suggests that Russia is as out of ideas as anyone else on the Karabakh conflict.

     
     
  • Sanctioned Russia: A New Testing Ground for Chinese Yuan

    Posted by: Alexander Gabuev Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1

    As new rounds of Western sanctions seem more likely, some large Russian companies are moving their cash reserves away from Western banks and currencies. In the long run dependence on China’s money and its financial institutions may be a new reality for Russian leaders for decades.

     
     
  • Silence in the Air on Eastern Ukraine

    Posted by: Dmitri Trenin Monday, August 11, 2014 4

    While European mainstream media’s focus has been on the developments in Gaza and in northern Iraq, they have been giving only scant attention recently to the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine.

     
     
  • Hot Summer in Ukraine

    Posted by: Balázs Jarábik Friday, August 08, 2014 2

    Ukraine’s political heat wave will last well into the coming fall and winter—unless Ukraine, the West, and Russia change their current course.

     
     

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