Alexei Navalny believes that Russia spends too much effort and money on foreign adventures. Yet he cleaves to many establishment ideas about Russia’s role in its neighborhood and is far from advocating the kind of rapprochement with the West for which many foreign observers hope.
The Kerch Bridge is the conclusion of Crimea’s incorporation into Russia, both physically and politically. Any haggling over on what terms Russia might return Crimea to Ukraine is now definitively null and void.
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.
It’s hard to call Pashinyan left- or right-wing, pro-Western or pro-Russian. He has two images: one of a charismatic revolutionary, capable of getting people on the streets to rally behind him, and the other as a pragmatic politician ready to make compromises and form tactical unions.
The new Russian government will cease to be a place for formulating strategies and implementing policies. Instead, it will focus on creatively calculating and reporting Russia’s accomplishments to technically meet the president’s expectations.
Diverging narratives about history and about World War II in particular are causing a widening rift between the post-Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the older Western European nations of the EU.
The unexpected collapse of Armenia’s ruling regime is better understood if you study the story of Armenia’s break with the Soviet regime in 1988. The country has a legacy of peaceful protest, national solidarity, but is also trapped by a strong nationalist discourse.
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.
The banning of Telegram, one of the most popular messaging apps in Russia, is a serious blow to the public loyalty of ordinary people to the authorities. Ways of getting around the ban are being widely discussed in non-politicized chat groups, and even representatives of the powers that be are expressing discontent, both privately and in public. The move to block the secure messaging service has shown that people are prepared to ignore the ban and enter a gray area—and it’s the authorities themselves who have goaded people into this.
The symbolic and real dimensions of Russian politics are in radical contradiction of each other.
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.
It’s a cliché in the Western discussion about Russia to portray Putin as a god-like force in Russian life who demands unfailing obedience from oligarchs and little people alike. Yet recent spontaneous protests in Siberia and a small town near Moscow show how quickly average citizens can mobilize to rail against injustice and the stunning incompetence of their country’s rulers.
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 surge of third powers in the post-Soviet space is propelled by the twin engines of rising demand for alternatives to Russia and the West, and growing supply of new ambitious economic and political regional players. The overall effect of these trends is to offer most post-Soviet states an increasing array of foreign, economic, and political options, and a wider and more stable foundation for much-coveted multi-vectoral foreign policies in which they can more often say no, if they want to—to both Moscow and Western capitals.
Alexander Lukashenko has built a highly consolidated, adaptive authoritarian regime. Examining how the Belarusian political system is structured and how its relationships with its citizens, Russia, and the West have evolved may help shed light on possible paths that Minsk could take as Lukashenko ages and economic challenges continue to mount.
Central Asia currently resembles parts of the Middle East before the Arab Spring. In contrast to other parts of the post-Soviet space, where Russian and EU interests are in direct competition, the region has the potential to be a place of cooperation in the name of common goals.
To ensure its national security, Russia needs a comprehensive strategy in the South Caucasus region.
A well-established private sector makes the Donbas conflict different from the separatist conflicts of the early 1990s in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Private business is a strong pro-peace force because lawlessness, a fragile security environment, and a shrinking population and its impoverishment can be crippling to business operations. Engaging the private sector in conflict prevention can contribute to the recovery and consolidation of peace in the region