In 2014, ordinary people in Russia were called upon to be active and create history. But you can’t be active on the geopolitical stage while remaining passive in domestic politics. People are starting to apply their newly found political activity to the agenda at home.
By inviting Putin to Versailles, Macron threw his hat in the ring for the role of a new geopolitical leader in Europe. He made this decision in the context of not just bilateral relations but also France’s relations with the West and the EU. Macron is trying to demonstrate his ability to confront the bad guys, draw red lines, and differentiate between pragmatic objectives and overarching values.
The main cause of the latest crisis in Macedonia is neither Russia’s machinations nor enmity between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Macedonians: it is the EU’s unfulfilled promise that Macedonia has a European future.
The recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that took place in Beijing is China’s claim to a more prominent role in determining the rules of the game on a global stage. But in the unpredictable world of Chinese politics, the forum was as much about President Xi Jinping’s standing and an attempt to curtail speculation that he is not in total control.
Should Trump be ready to offer Kim Jong-un US security guarantees for his regime in exchange for limiting North Korea’s missile program so that the US West Coast remains safe from North Korean projectiles, Russia could also offer to host a six-party summit in Vladivostok so close to the two Koreas, as well as China and Japan.
The 2018 presidential election in Russia is expected to go ahead without a hitch for Putin, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see other problems in 2018. The real challenge will be the mismatch between the public’s expectations and the decisions that the regime will inevitably have to make after the election.
In its clumsy attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities of the Sino-Russian axis, the Trump administration misunderstands not only the strength of relations, but also its own desirability as a useful ally.
It will take years for Russia to increase trade with China. To do so, Russia will need to strengthen its institutions, overcome non-tariff barriers to the Chinese market, and enhance its reputation among Chinese investors.
Russia has never received so much attention from the West, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Overshadowed by allegations of interference in Western democracies, is the story of Russia’s own social and political awakening.
Twenty-five years after the end of the Soviet Union, Moscow is certainly ready to overcome its old Soviet image. That may have been on the authorities’ minds when they drew up the redevelopment plan. But the only way the authorities could think of redesigning the urban landscape was through Soviet tactics.
In the absence of a real political contest, Russia’s 2018 presidential election will be more or less a referendum on public confidence in Putin.
At the Belt Road Forum in Beijing, Vladimir Putin once again reaffirmed his personal relations with Xi Jinping without getting into economic specifics. But still, the Russian President managed to get special attention. Russia needs to be satisfied with its political gains from the forum.
Russia has played it cool in the current North Korea crisis, convinced that the spike in tensions will soon subside. Moscow, however, is under no illusion: The security situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to deteriorate and the next alert is just around the corner.
The window of opportunity for improving Russo-Japanese relations is still open, at least for now. Russia’s main objectives are to attract Japanese investment into its national economic development programs and to continue to diversify its policies in the Asia-Pacific and on the international stage, where Japan plays an important and increasingly independent role.
Even as Russia officially proclaims moral conservatism, the official tactic of nominating a wheelchair-bound singer for the Eurovision Song Contest suggests a different approach. A political gambit reflects a wider trend. Much of Russian society is becoming more tolerant of difference and more Europeanized than it has been for a century.
The conflict between the United States and Russia is a conflict between dominance and leadership, as far the U.S. is concerned, and Russia’s yearning for a global oligarchy.
Moscow, with its 13 million residents, is Russia’s most progressive city. But its citizens are not homogenous and cohesive. But after the authorities began intruding on their private space, Muscovites started to unite. They are no longer a resource supporting the political regime. The movement to defend private property rights just might give birth to a sense of civic pride.
A localized civil society movement in Moscow is pushing for the government to curb unfair urban development practices and give residents greater autonomy over their own neighborhoods.
The authorities are in a no-win situation as a result of their unpopular plans to demolish five-story residential buildings in Moscow. If they stick to their guns, angry urbanites are bound to take to the streets in protest. If they yield to public demands, they’ll demonstrate the effectiveness of mass protests.
The Sino-Russian swap agreement of 2014 was signed right before a major geo-political crisis and the depreciation of the Russian currency. Although the idea of an escape from the U.S. dollar in bilateral payments is quite positive, the deal could not help improve bilateral trade and investment.