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
Russia and Ukraine have discussed joint aircraft industry projects numerous times, but in the context of other problems, such as their gas disputes. The two sides brought more and more resources to the table, trying to get a better deal in the conflict. Antonov was just one of the tools used as a bargaining chip in gas price negotiations. Ultimately, the plane manufacturer found itself on the losing side.
Contrary to popular belief, Chinese tourism generates very little revenue for the Russian economy. The reason lies in the inner workings of the Chinese tourist economy in Russia, in which visitors are limited to package tours where most payments are made in China or through Chinese banks. The Russian authorities should recognize this problem and stop treating Chinese tourism as the new engine of economic growth.
Vladimir Putin is beginning his fourth term as president of Russia. Andrei Kolesnikov, the head of the Domestic Politics and Political Institutions program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, discusses the elections results, some surprises in the presidential race and what comes next for Russia.
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.
Russia is parting ways with both Ukraine and Belarus. This did not have to be a tragedy with Ukraine, and can still be handled amicably with Belarus. Moreover, an independent Ukrainian state and a Ukrainian political nation ease Russia’s transition from its post-imperial condition and facilitate the formation of a Russian political nation.
The conflict that will dominate Putin’s fourth term is not between the doves and hawks, but between two economic schools: the industrialists, who believe the economy is made up of manufacturing machines, and the liberals, who are convinced that it consists of money. No technocrat will be able to form an efficient team from people who have fundamentally different ideas of what the economy actually is.
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.
The Minsk agreements are not dead, nor is the conflict in Donbas frozen. Despite a recent diplomatic push, and given the lack of trust between Russia and the United States, and Ukraine’s resistance to the Minsk accords, the status quo is for the time being an acceptable option for all sides. Mired in the upcoming election cycle in 2019, Kiev can’t meet the political requirements of the agreements, and considers Donbas as collateral for its ongoing nation-building project. The recently approved deal to send U.S. lethal weapons to Ukraine will not change the situation in the conflict zone, but plans to increase Western aid directly to Donbas may slowly sway public opinion in eastern Ukraine.