The results of Russia's recent regional elections are of less importance than the fact that United Russia is gradually transforming from a monolithic bureaucracy under strict Kremlin control into something resembling a true political party.
Dmitry Medvedev's recent surge in official activity is simply a PR ploy to shift focus away from Vladimir Putin as Russia's financial crisis deepens. It does not indicate any serious political or personal changes.
As protests against Moscow spread throughout Russia, regional governors loyal to the Kremlin, but lacking proven leadership skills, may be unable to meet the challenge posed by angry citizens.
The Obama administration needs a new approach to the Caspian region that provides opportunities for local leaders to engage with the United States in economic and political development.
In the wake of Kyrgyzstan’s decision to close its American airbase the U.S. must find a Central Asian location for its logistical operations outside of Afghanistan to ensure they remain uninterrupted in case the war deteriorates further.
The Kremlin maintains control over the Russian media by exerting pressure over media tycoons and station owners while avoiding direct repression. As a result, although the national media serves as a tool for government propaganda, there has been relatively little popular discontent.
Recent Russian protests are likely meant to test the response of the authorities rather than indicate people have reached their breaking point.
Russia's focus on America as its main adversary distorts Moscow’s strategic worldview, leads to misallocation of resources and ultimate frustration over the essential disequilibrium between the two former Cold War rivals.
U.S. President Obama will engage with Russia on key issues regarding U.S.-Russian relations, such as ballistic missile defense and NATO's future relations with Ukraine and Georgia, in conjunction with European allies.
U.S. President Barack Obama should pledge to keep U.S.-Russia relations at the top of his busy agenda. Ending American neglect of its relations with Russia is what is needed to mend the countries’ bleak relations. A constructive foreign policy toward Russia can begin with negotiating and renewing the 1991 START treaty as well as creating a meaningful Euro-Atlantic alliance that includes Russia.
Barack Obama’s term as U.S. president is likely to signal a change in U.S.-Russian relations, with U.S. foreign policy emphasizing pragmatism over ideology.
The debate in Washington and European capitals has recently centered on how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of a military surge. The real question, however, is how combat troops should be used - to pursue the Taliban, or secure key areas to allow institutions to develop. The main policy objective must be the development of a government that can survive U.S. withdrawal.
President-elect Obama will inherit a number of foreign policy challenges from the Bush administration when he takes office. Key areas where the new administration must focus to reverse the Bush administration's failings include Afghanistan, diplomacy, unilateralism, arms control, and climate change.
Due to the current economic crisis, Vladimir Putin is facing, for the first time since his rise to power, the prospect of real political instability. Although Putin has depended on a ‘vertical’ type of government, the logic of this crisis demands flexibility, effective feedback, and broad dialogue with the nation.
Russia must aim for modernization and use its foreign policy to achieve rapprochement with Europe, North America and the economically and politically developed world at large.
Preventing Russia’s economic, social, and political collapse requires effective leadership, cooperation and patience, and government acknowledgment that the crisis has domestic dimensions.
Eastern European and Baltic countries that have recently joined NATO and the European Union have undergone social and economic reforms, but they have also faced significant challenges along the way. Can their experience be of use to Russia?
Successive U.S. administrations have forfeited the chance to integrate Russia into the West first afforded by the collapse of Communism and again by 9/11. The United States has either neglected Russia or openly disregarded its overtures and warnings on a range of regional concerns. President-elect Obama needs a comprehensive approach to Russia based on a shared vision of European security.
Weakened by the economic crisis, President Medvedev and the Kremlin do not want to risk any chance of allowing popular dissent to develop in Russia's regions. But by attacking its opponents the Kremlin is showing its helplessness. Before the crisis it had hoped to modernize the country, now it must resort to damage control.
Nearly 86,000 people have signed a letter asking President Medvedev to pardon Svetlana Bakhmina, a former lawyer for Yukos. Bakhmina, who is due to give birth within weeks, is in a prison camp. Yet Medvedev continues to ignore the call for mercy from thousands of Bakhmina's supporters and thus stands personally responsible for her suffering.