America’s withdrawal creates an opportunity and a challenge for Moscow.
There’s one thing the Kremlin wants even more than sowing chaos in the United States: Keeping Trump in the White House.
The purchase of a stake in Arctic LNG 2 by a Japanese consortium is certainly a significant step in the development of economic ties between Russia and Japan, but if the Russian government doesn’t quickly begin work on improving the country’s investment climate, this deal will not be the start of a torrent of Japanese investment, but rather a small island of success in a vast sea of missed opportunities.
Street protests in Ukraine and the threat of destabilization are working to strengthen the authoritarian tendencies of President Zelensky’s rule. He sees that everywhere he has not managed to install his power vertical and his people, the seed of chaos and sabotage is germinating.
Russia need not concern itself about a new security architecture in Europe: eventually, one will grow out of its ongoing confrontation with the United States, together with the combined impact of Moscow’s rapprochement with Beijing and the evolving rivalry between the United States and China.
Two things have become clear following the dismissal of the head of Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory. First, Ukraine’s history politics must become more inclusive, and move away from the extremes of revolutionary fervor and the principles of party affiliation. Second, if the institute cannot be closed down, then it must be radically reformed. Above all, it must not be allowed to be monopolized by representatives of a single political persuasion.
Kolomoisky has been making use of his ambiguous position as the future president’s business partner since the very start of Zelensky’s election campaign, but this didn’t prevent Zelensky from sweeping to victory in the elections. Now, however, the trickster oligarch is becoming increasingly toxic for Zelensky’s team, not only within the country but also abroad.
Russian officialdom has lately developed an enormous appetite—bordering on patriotic hysteria—for historical politics.
With sharp twists and turns reminiscent of the jagged angles of Russian mountain ranges, China’s image in Russia has drastically changed since the founding of the People’s Republic of China seventy years ago.
Spending the surplus in the National Wealth Fund (NWF) via government decrees is the last chance for the state capitalists to get large sums of money for practically nothing, without looking beyond 2024. Meanwhile, it is the government that will have to bear the political risks of dispensing the NWF to the chosen few in full view of a society that is irate and becoming poorer for the fifth year in a row.
An open letter written by Russian Orthodox priests in defense of those imprisoned over recent protests in Moscow is that rare case when the use of the word “unprecedented” is no exaggeration. It’s the first time ever that the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have taken collective action that was not sanctioned by the church authorities.
There’s no desperation or desire from the Belarusian side right now to obtain concessions from Moscow at any price. The damage to Belarus’s economy from Russia’s “tax maneuver” is serious, but not fatal. The cumulation of these losses will only anger Lukashenko and make him less prepared to compromise.
By September, the criminal cases brought against Moscow protesters had stopped being described as a “second Bolotnaya case,” and rightly so, because it was a false analogy. We have entered a new phase, in which we are seeing political protest cases that would previously have been classified as administrative violations be reassigned en masse as more serious crimes.
During the recent protests in Moscow, a clash has been taking place between the two middle classes: one born of the market economy, and one for which the only possible social elevator is the state itself.
The near-identical results of gubernatorial runners-up Mikhail Amosov and Nadezhda Tikhonova show once again that people were following the tactic of voting for anyone except acting governor Alexander Beglov, and that left with two other options, voters simply tossed a coin. For the first time in the city’s history, we have seen clearly expressed protest voting.
The outcome of Russia’s latest regional elections, especially in Moscow and Khabarovsk, throws into question plans to reduce the proportion of seats allocated by party list voting in favor of more single-mandate districts ahead of elections to the State Duma in 2021. It turns out that when faced with a strong protest mood like in Khabarovsk, or heavily mobilized protests amid a low turnout like in Moscow, these maneuvers don’t help.
There’s one thing that perhaps says more about the investment climate in Russia’s Far East than all the swish presentations put together, and that’s the unfinished buildings of two five-star Hyatt hotels in Vladivostok.
For the Kremlin, key conditions for the prisoner exchange were President Zelensky’s reference to joint work by two states and two presidents, recognition that there were advantages to the swap for both sides, and the exclusion of the exchange from the victory/defeat paradigm.
After two months of trial and error in dealing with the Moscow protests, it looks like the Russian authorities have started to define their red lines. As before, the slightest physical resistance to the authorities is met with harsh punishment, but the siloviki have stopped short of openly fabricating cases: not for the sake of society, but because this concerns the president too. The level of repression is abating, together with the displeasure of the civilian section of the elite closest to the president, which had been alarmed by the siloviki’s attempts to alter the status quo.
As European leaders make it increasingly clear that rapid EU membership for the Western Balkans is out of the question, there is speculation that other global powers may also reconsider their strategies in the region. Due to its longstanding ties with the Balkans and vast experience in meddling, Russia sparks particular fear in the West.