Russia faces serious economic challenges, including a demographic crisis, corruption, weak enforcement of property rights, and over-reliance on hydrocarbons. A combination of structural political and economic reforms is required to save the country from stagnation.
While Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy, the international community has reason to worry that Iran’s nuclear program is developing technologies that would enable Tehran to build nuclear weapons.
The cumulative impact of the nuclear developments that occurred in 2012, from the disaster in Fukushima to Iran's continuing nuclear program, will make the world's nuclear future more uncertain.
Without intellectual efforts it is impossible to find a viable solution to the dire post-August 2008 reality, which put both Georgia and Russia in an extremely difficult situation.
After a year that included the Arab Awakening, the euro crisis, Japan’s nuclear catastrophe, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the unanticipated reaction to Russia’s recent parliamentary elections, there are many unanswered questions left for 2012.
Twenty years after the Soviet collapse, leaders of the five Central Asian republics have built functioning states but they have yet to fully implement democratic reforms, decentralize and share power, and develop strong intraregional relations.
The climate change negotiations in Durban did not succeed in developing a joint system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Developing and developed countries should consolidate their efforts to achieve a new global agreement.
Russia is the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer, and China is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing energy markets. The two are neighbors, yet their energy relationship is very thin. Instead, they compete for vast and largely unexplored Central Asian resources.
If Russia can create the right incentives for cutting energy consumption, it has the opportunity to become a leader in energy efficiency in the coming decade.
In the coming months, Washington will need to walk a fine line to maintain pressure on Iran while trying to prevent the nuclear crisis from escalating out of control.