In the decades I spent working with the United States, I acquired quite a large circle of contacts in Washington. Collectively, they represent the so-called American establishment. Today, I’d like to address these Washingtonians as one individual, whom I’ll name John for the sake of simplicity.
The United States’ latest round of sanctions has hit Russia hard. In the future, the Russian state will have to share the emerging risks and minimize socioeconomic consequences for the impacted regions and industries. This will lead to a new wave of property redistribution based upon state — not economic — interests.
While the proxy war in Syria does hold the potential for a clash between U.S. and Russian forces, it is only one of several theaters in which a larger conflict between the two countries is playing out.
Many more Russian oligarchs, bureaucrats, companies, and businesses can expect to appear on future U.S. sanctions lists. Russia, not seeing an immediate catastrophic effect, will respond to new sanctions by searching for more enemies within and ramping up anti-American propaganda. The United States, which loses nothing from this policy, isn’t likely to initiate change, so it will be up to the Kremlin to change its approach—before it’s too late.
The One World of Pax Americana that has existed since the end of the Cold War is already history. US global dominance is still in place, but the peace has been shattered again. The new era is not a replay of the 20th century contest. It may be equally dangerous, but in its own way.
Policymakers need to learn from their military subordinates: They should keep their heads cool and think of the consequences of their actions, both intended and unintended.
The Russian authorities refrain from engaging with the West’s military and political intellectual elite at the Munich Security Conference and similar forums because they’re convinced that the Russophobe audiences there will never change their minds. This belief is more a reflection of the Russian political system, in which the government doesn’t really consider expert and public opinion when formulating its foreign policy. This approach is to a large extent responsible for the miscalculations and errors that led to the current situation in Russia’s relations with the West.
Virtually all of Italy’s political forces want to increase cooperation with Russia. But the Kremlin would be unwise to read too much into this. Rome values preserving mutual understanding with the European Union and the United States over advocating for lifting sanctions. A positive relationship with Italy is an important asset for Russian foreign policy, but it isn’t a game-changer.
China and Russia have been cooperating closely over the past three decades. But since the Ukraine crisis, the process has become more dynamic. Moscow and Beijing are now coordinating their policies on a wider range of issues.
With US-Russian relations already confrontational and Sino-US relations becoming visibly more tense, the context for major power interaction on the North Korean nuclear issue has substantially changed from what it was only five years ago.