Moscow and Beijing will continue to have their differences, and they are not entirely free from reciprocal phobias, but the chances of a China–Russia collision over those differences are being minimised by the US policy of dual containment.
The wave of landfill protests sweeping Russia is something new on the country’s political map. Fierce and intransigent, they have become a thorn in the side of the authorities—at least at a local level—and demonstrate a new kind of civic activism: one born out of garbage and demolition waste.
Pitched as a new Silk Road sweeping from Asia to Europe, China’s enormous Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious, multinational infrastructure project. Experts from four Carnegie global centers explain other countries’ perspectives.
A broad public discussion on Moscow’s foreign policy goals and objectives is long overdue. International issues are affecting the interests of Russian society as a whole more and more, making it necessary for private citizens to take a greater interest in their country’s conduct abroad, especially in the single continental space that is Greater Eurasia.
Despite Russia’s limited toolkit, growing alignment with China, and its broken relationship with the U.S., Moscow will not be written off by Washington and its allies when it comes to the diplomatic process on North Korea.
Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has formulated his ideal country as one that is neither a “corrupt partner of the West,” nor “Russia’s little sister.” This pragmatic kind of civil patriotism is close to the hearts of most Ukrainians, for whom the most important task right now is to fix the country’s domestic problems following the crusade-like presidency of Petro Poroshenko.
The Kremlin’s domestic policy bloc increasingly tries to run Russia as a corporation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they have resorted to typical corporate methods in the field of Internet control, electing to use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, which is not employed at a national level anywhere else in the world.
The Kremlin will soon wish it were still dealing with a Ukrainian president who so much resembled its own.
Kazakhstan’s power handover increasingly looks like a trap for Nazarbayev. He wants the process to go smoothly, as planned, but the entire system only works when he is at the helm. There is no one capable of replicating precisely what the first president conceived. Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan with an iron fist, but that fist is gradually growing weaker. As for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Dariga Nazarbayeva, their influence can buy them respect, but it doesn’t inspire fear.
The Russian authorities have never been inclined to consider Ukraine a truly separate state.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nostalgia for the Soviet Union appears unlimited, and he is now resurrecting perhaps its most notorious feature: the purge. Recalling the Stalin era, the recent arrests and imprisonment of numerous regime figures have fueled a pervasive sense of fear among the country’s elites.
With polls showing incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko heading for a major defeat in the runoff election, governors and ministers are looking for contacts with the likely winner and his team. The president has fired a series of governors to send a warning to the rest. But the message is too late and not convincing.
A new criterion for distinguishing between in-system and non-systemic opposition is emerging: if a candidate or party list has caused any problems, it must be disloyal and outside of the system, so it needs to be punished. This categorization is a matter of pure chance: after all, candidates and parties can win by doing nothing.
Abyzov’s arrest demonstrates that the prosecution of economic crimes is becoming chaotic, and that politics, which previously loomed large behind high-profile arrests, now appears only after the fact, as a secondary, albeit important, consequence.
Will Russia equally fall for a political outsider? Only time will tell.
The clash between the new populism of Zelenskiy, who staked everything on Russian-speaking Ukraine, and Poroshenko’s national-patriotic conservatism is leading to a partial resumption of the old standoff between the two Ukraines.
Ukraine is going to the polls amid stalled reforms, multiple corruption scandals, and low trust in political institutions. Despite this, more than 80 percent of voters plan to take part, and the election is truly competitive. And although one candidate is leading in the polls, top political operatives are predicting a different outcome.
The nonchalance with which the Russian ambassador and his sparring partners in Minsk are raising the stakes in their rhetoric is a symptom of deeper forces at work in Belarusian-Russian relations. Both sides are starting to sense that they have reached some kind of historic threshold. But the old format of friendship is so worn out that there is little to lose.
Unlike Nazarbayev, Putin was not as strongly affected by the death of the Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov and the ensuing division of power which ended badly for late president’s family. Will Putin even leave behind much that will need protection? It seems that his primary concern will not be family or the family business, but problems of another dimension: what will become of Crimea, Russia’s presence in Syria, and the country’s ability to assert its sovereignty and withstand the confrontation with the U.S. and NATO.
Over the next few years, the Kremlin will be able to observe what happens in practice when the informal authority of the nation’s leader and the post of president—the main instrument for creating that authority—are separated.