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  • Author: Marco Siddi
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Gas trade between the European Union and Russia increased considerably in both 2016 and 2017, despite the ongoing political crisis. Simultaneously, two long-standing disputes in the EU-Russia gas relationship – regarding Gazprom’s monopolistic practices and the EU’s third energy package – were settled. Russian companies have invested in new infrastructural projects for the export of gas to Europe, including the launch of the Yamal LNG terminal in December 2017 and the construction of the TurkStream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. However, significant challenges remain for the relationship, most notably the intra-EU controversy on Nord Stream 2 and uncertainty about future gas transit in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Political Economy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Kremlin has cast a cloud over the horizon for millions of Russian citizens. People do not perceive the forthcoming pension reform as a necessary measure for sustaining economic and social stability. Rather, it has ignited a collective sense of anger among the people that they have been cast adrift by the elite
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Marcin Kaczmarski
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia and China play dissimilar roles in global governance and define their interests in this sphere in divergent ways. While the two states agree on certain international principles and norms, their engagement with global governance differs significantly. These differences pose the most serious long-term obstacle to closer cooperation between Moscow and Beijing
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China
  • Author: Toivo Martikainen, Katri Pynnöniemi, Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia has perceived itself as a great power and has sought international acknowledgement of its status for years. The fact that Moscow regards the post-Soviet space as its sphere of ‘privileged interests’ and the sovereignty of the other post-Soviet states as subordinate to Russia’s national interests is nothing new. Likewise, Russia has persistently objected to the dominant role played by the US in world politics, and the enlargement of NATO. It has attempted to influence the security policy orientation and political choices made by post-Soviet states, and other states neighbouring Russia, such as Finland. These goals are well-established and are likely to remain fundamentally un- changed for years to come.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Finland
  • Author: Veera Laine
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In recent years, the Russian state has been described as becoming “more nationalistic”. In the time period encompassing the Sochi Winter Olympics, the occupation of Crimea, the war in Donbas that continues to this day, air strikes in Syria, and the state seeking new legitimacy during the deepening economic crisis in Russia, many notions have been connected to growing nationalism. But nationalism as such is an ambiguous concept. Moreover, there is hardly any state in today’s global system that could be said to be totally devoid of nationalistic argumentation. Therefore, the way in which the Russian state leadership is using nationalism in order to achieve its political goals requires a critical empirical study. Authoritarianism, conservatism, and even imperialism have been discussed as “new” features of the Russian state. But the change in the self-understanding of the Russian state is not a result of one factor, such as strengthening national pride, but rather a wide range of ideas that have been reshuffled in relation to each other. This Working Paper focuses on the state-led nationalism in this changing ideational environment between the years 2012 and 2016, and how it has been received by the people.
  • Topic: Nationalism, International Affairs, Power Politics, Authoritarianism, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Kirill Rogov
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent 2016 Duma elections were planned by the Kremlin to attest to the fact that the period of troubled political development – which began during the previous 2011 Duma elections – is over. Further, the elections served to test Putin’s consolidated authoritarianism on the eve of the forthcoming presidential elections in 2018. While successful in terms of preserving full control over the new Duma, the election results nevertheless demonstrated that the patriotic enthusiasm evoked by the annexation of Crimea has largely been exhausted. The pressure on the opposition, new electoral rules and reliance on regions with so-called “administrative voting” secured a victory for the party of power, but in urban regions the turnout was very low and voting for the Kremlin’s party did not differ much from 2011 patterns. Although the direct effect of the economic crisis on people’s political attitudes is still moderate, the continued long-term stagnation in the Russian economy that started even before the fall in energy prices remains the major challenge for regime stability. Ambiguous election results force the Kremlin to seek new instruments of political consolidation. The Kremlin’s most probable strategy may be to combine toughening authoritarian institutions with maintaining high tension in the international arena in order to prolong the ‘rally around the flag’ effect domestically, by attempting or promising “authoritarian modernization” to gain support in urban regions. As the presidential election date approaches, both Putin’s foreign and economic policies could become even riskier than they have been to date.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Political Economy, International Affairs, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The traditional cornerstones of the popularity of the Putin regime – stability, growing prosperity, the increased status of Russia in international affairs – seem to be rapidly eroding, which has led many observers to predict major changes in Russia in the near future. However, there are significant structural issues – alongside the mechanisms of 'political technology' and the outright oppression of dissent – that support and maintain the Putin regime, regardless of its malfunctioning and undisputed failings. Even in the unlikely event of Putin suddenly disappearing from the political scene, significant hurdles remain for the restructuring of the Russian economy and political system. No major modernisation or reform mode is to be expected. The EU and Finland should base their policies on a realistic assessment of Russia's long-term trajectory. There are unlikely to be any shortcuts to success, and no western policy is likely to produce positive results in the short term. What is needed now is a long-term perspective and principled policies, while acknowledging that only the Russians can change Russia's political direction.
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi, Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Mika Aaltola, Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: New turbulence in the international environment is pushing Estonia and Finland closer together in the foreign and security policy domain. The Ukraine crisis has re-introduced old geopolitical constraints and concerns about national security and sovereignty, limiting the room for manoeuvre for small states. Estonia and Finland took similar positions on many key issues regarding the Ukraine crisis. The common ground is based on both countries' attachment to the liberal world order and Western structures. However, there are deep-rooted differences between the Estonian and Finnish positions on the way to handle Russia and the need to adjust security arrangements, notably the role of NATO in the Nordic-Baltic region. It is common in Finland to see Estonia's approach as unhelpfully hawkish, and common in Estonia to see Finland's approach as too accommodating towards Russia. Shared interests stem from an understanding that the weakening of the security of one country inevitably weakens the security of the other. As both countries are investing more in national security and defence, relevant bilateral cooperation is increasing.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although China's statements about the Ukrainian crisis have been weighed very carefully, there are concerns that China is drawing lessons such as 'might is right' and 'geopolitics is all that matters' from the crisis. The hawks in China have adopted a similar tone to that of the Kremlin, with both wishing to see a relatively diminished Western influence in the international arena. The Chinese Dream is all about national rejuvenation, which entails redressing past grievances. Nevertheless, the Dream need not turn into a nightmare for other powers. The increase in China's military budget does not indicate growing ambitions of a global power projection. China's primary concern remains stability both within and without its borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The destabilization of Ukraine and the possible escalation of the crisis have presented a direct security risk to the Visegrad countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - particularly concerning military security, the potential interruption of energy transit, and the possible influx of refugees. These factors have forced the Visegrad states to show unprecedented unity and activism in addressing the crisis. However, regarding the possibility of sanctioning Russia, the Visegrad Group is unable to take a joint position. The main reason for this is that Russia does not pose a direct military threat to the region. Consequently the individual policies of the Visegrad countries towards Russia are defined by a constellation of geopolitical concerns, normative motivations, business interests and domestic political ambitions, which are decidedly different in all four cases. Domestic political motivations, such as the will to increase domestic legitimacy, and concerns over the economic effects of sanctions, obviously influence the foreign policy actions of the Visegrad governments. However, Viktor Orbán of Hungary was the only one to break the Visegrad solidarity on Ukraine with his domestically-motivated remarks in May 2014 and demanding autonomy for Hungarians living in the Trans-Carpathian region. As most normative, business and domestic political motivations are of a lasting strategic nature, it is highly likely that the general incoherence of the Visegrad region regarding Russia will prevail.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Poland
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia is not likely to resort to overt political pressure on Georgia in the run-up to Georgia's signing of the Association Agreement with the EU (27 June), and the NATO Summit in Wales (4-5 September). This is partly due to its weak levers and the fact that they cannot be strengthened within a short time span. Instead, Russia is likely to apply a dual strategy by strengthening its indirect 'influence tools' that are operating within Georgian society, as well as by continuing dialogue and pragmatic cooperation with the Georgian leadership - at least for the time being. Moscow is likely to stand firm on the issue of the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In all likelihood, Russia will seek to increase its control over the territories, and to hamper any rapprochement between Georgia and the separatist territories. Despite the fact that the Russian intervention in Ukraine is likely to deter and delay substantial progress in the cooperation between Georgia and Russia, both sides seem to be willing to continue on the path of 'normalisation'. A practical compromise on the Georgian westward course seems to be emerging: in all likelihood Georgia will sign the Association Agreement with the EU without much Russian interference, but NATO will not offer Georgia a Membership Action Plan at the Summit.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Three articles written by Russian foreign policy analyst Sergei Karaganov and published at the turning points of the Ukraine conflict shed light on how the reasoning on Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine has evolved amid the conflict. The meaning of the conflict, as explained in the first essay, is that Russia is drawing a line of defence against Western interference in its sphere of interest. In the second essay, the assertion that with the Crimean operation Russia has forced the West to put an end to the Cold War, is reconfigured into a choice that Russia needs to make between the Western or non-Western path. Finally, in an essay written after the downing of flight MH17, it is argued that without de-escalation the situation in Donbass will become a threat to Russian national security. The evolution of the argumentation shows that some sort of 'reality check' has occurred in the vicinity of the general line. However, while the dangers inherent in the conflict are recognized, Karaganov fails to acknowledge Russia's active involvement in the conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Kristi Raik, Juha Jokela, Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU has responded to the Ukraine crisis with a set of political and economic sanctions against Russia which constitute a qualitatively new step in the EU sanctions policy. The EU sanctions against Russia are exceptional and have strategic importance due to a combination of three factors: big power rivalry, the context of a major European crisis with global ramifications, and the costs of the sanctions for the EU itself. The EU has managed to maintain its fragile unity and has applied its collective diplomatic and economic weight in very difficult circumstances. The sanctions have not provided an alternative to diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis - on the contrary, hardening sanctions have been used as a way to put pressure on Russia to seriously engage in diplomacy. The impact of the sanctions on daily developments in Ukraine has been limited and uncertain, but the sanctions have imposed a long-term cost on Russia for violating key international norms. The policy process of Russia sanctions has exposed problems of leadership and coordination. The latest reform of the EU foreign policy machinery has streamlined the preparation of sanctions, but the current system still lacks the necessary resources to match the growing importance of the EU sanctions policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Power Politics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With exciting economic opportunities and serious environmental challenges, the Arctic is transforming and re-emerging as a geopolitically important region. Major global players within and without the Arctic are paying greater attention to the region. While Russia is a traditional Arctic state with significant economic and security interests in the region, China, the US and the EU have also expressed their Arctic interests more explicitly. They are keen to tap into the economic potential and have a say in the way the region becomes accessed, exploited and governed. As a result, the Arctic is no longer a spatially or administratively confined region, but is instead taking its new form in the midst of contemporary global politics. The globalization and economization of the Arctic will most likely downplay environmentalism and reduce the relative influence of the indigenous people and small Arctic states in Arctic affairs. Arctic governance is also likely to turn more complex and complicated as the economic and political stakes are raised.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Maria Nozhenko
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Debates on nationalism acquired a great deal of significance in Russia in the summer of 2013, with the activities of right-wing nationalists increasing during this period too. Modern Russian nationalism has its roots in anti-immigrant sentiments, mainly as a consequence of failed nation-state building in the post-Soviet period. Most right-wing organisations are marginalised, with membership and support relatively low. But the anti-immigrant ideas which these organisations propagate currently enjoy high levels of support in Russian society. Over the past eight years, the activities of right-wing nationalists have been largely limited to 'the streets', due to the lack of opportunities open to nationalist parties to participate in electoral processes. The prospects for Russia's right-wing nationalist organisations will depend on the regime's approach to 'illegal' immigration, but also on the state's overall policy towards right-wing nationalism. Three scenarios are seen to be possible at this juncture: 'marginalised nationalists', 'underground nationalists', and 'incorporated nationalists'.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Politics, Immigration
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Following Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory in March 2012, the Russian political system has undergone significant change. The latest changes affect the way regional elections are conducted. However, a number of puzzles remain, not least the intentions of the Putin administration. Alongside liberalising reforms, such as the return of direct elections for regional governors and the easing of party registration requirements, we see new restrictions that close the political field. Nonetheless, the events of the past 20 months do reveal a distinct change in the reform process, as the Putin administration reluctantly adjusts to unfavourable political and economic conditions. In Putin's first two presidential terms, 2000-2008, reform was 'progressive', aimed at extending the Kremlin's power and authority. The latest changes, in contrast, are 'reactive' and involve an inevitable loss of control over political processes. One immediate implication is that political processes will become less predictable, as the Kremlin tries to reorganise its system of governance. But, in the longer-term there is a danger that the use of political reform as a substitute for democratic change will undermine the legitimacy of the entire political system.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Markku Lonkila
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Social media played an important role in the Moscow opposition demonstrations in December 2011, functioning both as an alternative arena for public debate and as a tool for mobilising the protests. In a matter of months, the political atmosphere in the country changed and the legitimacy of the Russian power vertical was called into question. Even before the Duma elections in 2011, social media had turned into an alternative forum for political debate in Russia. These media frayed the image of United Russia and Vladimir Putin, politicised new audiences, and helped to form both a collective 'anti' identity and networks among the protesters. The reports of the falsification of the Duma elections circulated through social media channels and exploded into anger on the part of the betrayed voters. Social media were put to good effect when making the practical arrangements for the protests, such as financing the street demonstrations and recruiting participants. Albeit crucial in mobilising discontent, social media is less well-suited to building lasting political structures. In the longer run, the conflict-torn opposition has to transform the protests into offline organisations and decide, among other things, who can represent the street protesters in negotiations with the power-holders. Imposing strict internet control in Russia does not seem likely since the Russian urban middle class is accustomed to seeking information and expressing itself freely on the net. Removing this freedom would lead to an increase in anti-government sentiments and the intensification of protests in big Russian cities.
  • Topic: Democratization, Science and Technology, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The return of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president and the probable end of Dmitri Medvedev's modernization project will increase the alienation within German-Russian relations. Germany's modernization partnership with Russia has produced limited results because the two sides have different views on the cooperation. While the German side wants to develop common projects of good practice which will modernize the Russian economy and politics, the Russian side is interested in technology transfer. The interest in and knowledge of Russia among German decision-makers is decreasing. Germany lacks vision and concepts on how to influence developments in Russia. This is also due to the resistance of the current Russian elite towards implementing political reforms. As a result, Russia is losing its most important advocate in the EU (also regarding energy policy). This will have a negative impact on EU-Russia relations because the EU lacks leadership on Russia. Ongoing changes in Russian society, which challenge the Putin system, will present an opportunity to find new allies in Russia for cooperation and modernization, which may increase Germany's interest in its large neighbour. But this will call for a more balanced approach between the Russian elites and society in Germany's Russia policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Social Stratification, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Russia is to follow an evolutionary path to democracy, then the regime must be ready to draw the so-called 'non-systemic' opposition into political processes. This gradualist formula for democratic change is also the formula for political stability. A number of liberalising reforms conducted by the regime in response to widespread protests following the December 2011 State Duma election gave grounds for optimism that this process is now underway. However, any hopes that these events would kick-start democratic reforms were short-lived. Rather than draw in opponents, the regime has sought to isolate them, using a combination of reform, non-reform, dividing tactics and repression. But the results have not been positive. The non-systemic opposition is under increasing pressure, having seen its options all but reduced to more protesting. It is also showing signs of radicalisation. At the same time, the Kremlin's uncompromising approach is undermining regime stability. The pressure is building in the Russian political system. The combination of repression and radicalisation could easily see political stagnation degenerate into instability and the EU should take this new dynamic into account in its future policy planning.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Democratization, Government, Political Economy, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Laura Solanko
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As was the case in most developing and transition countries, Russia's electricity sector was dominated by a vertically integrated, state-controlled monopoly. The common problems of ageing infrastructure, large distribution losses, very low retail tariffs, inefficient management and increasing tightness of supply encouraged many countries to embark on large reforms to liberalize their power sectors during the 1990s. In Russia, the reform started somewhat later, but to the surprise of many it has since proceeded very swiftly.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Transport is one of those few topics where the EU and Russia seem to have come to an agreement. The common understanding is that further integration of the transport systems and the removal of bottle necks serves the interests of both parties in the face of the expected increase in traffic volumes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Golts
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Contrary to the traditional behaviour during the election period, the Russian government is risking irritating the security ministries and agencies by conducting extremely painful reforms in the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. However, the authorities cannot avoid such reforms because of the total inefficiency of these two “power ministries”. In the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, the Defence Ministry decided to carry out the most radical military reform undertaken in Russia over the past 100 years. However, it is still unclear whether the reformers will be able to resolve the main problem concerning the military construction – the repeal of conscription. In contrast to the Armed Forces, the reform of the Ministry of the Interior does not even touch the major deficiencies in the law enforcement agencies, namely their centralization, lack of public control, and the prevalence of repressive functions over protection of citizens. The ongoing reform is merely a great purge. The country's leadership believes that by firing corrupt police officers, it can solve the problem of corruption in general. The reform of the Security Council and the rejection of any reform of the Ministry of the Interior troops is a prescription for possible public unrest rather than an attempt to improve inter-agency coordination. The genuine reason for these reforms is the complete exhaustion of Prime Minister Putin's model of organizing the security forces. Yet, the next president will need their complete loyalty because of the real possibility of public unrest in the next few years.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cooperation between the EU and Russia in the field of energy efficiency has come under the spotlight in the past two years. In Europe and Russia alike, enthusiasm and expectations are rising that energy efficiency will become an area for successful cooperation including the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernization and other frameworks for cooperation. Yet, the practicalities of that cooperation can still be characterized as being in the "pilot phase". This has become apparent in most of the interviews conducted during this study. Despite the enthusiasm, there is a noticeable and recurring feeling of uncertainty over how the cooperation might turn out in practice and whether the declared goals and intentions will be matched by material results. At the same time, the view that was also commonly expressed was that the actors involved in the cooperation activities were ready and willing to steer cooperation forwards onto a more project-oriented footing, not focusing on merely talking and exchanging views and experiences.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Many in Russia have expressed their disappointment with Putin's decision to run for a third presidential term.They claim that Putin is becoming the new Brezhnev and that the stability he was once praised for bringing about in Russia is now turning to stagnation. Cynicism and disillusionment with the Putin regime seem to be becoming more widespread in Russia. Ever-increasing corruption, lack of the rule of law and political competition as well as lack of innovation and dynamism in the economy all reinforce the general feeling of pessimism. One would expect that the weakening legitimacy of the regime would lead to vocal demands for change. However, this is not the case in Russia, where several historical, political, structural and sociological conditions make wider popular protests unlikely. The tragedy of today's Russia seems to be that the regime is too weak to reform itself, yet simultaneously strong enough to prevent viable alternatives to its rule from gaining ground. Despite the likelihood of a negative future trajectory, Putin's Russia seems set to drag on.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi, Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The political system that Vladimir Putin established during the first decade of the 2000s is often referred to as 'the power vertical'. The term suggests a stable, streamlined and effective centre-led system. Yet, this image does not quite correspond with Russian reality. The system creates inefficiency, encourages corruption and is hostile towards bottom-up political initiative. The current leadership acknowledges that Russian stability is on shaky ground and therefore the system is in need of modernization. The economy is clearly a priority for the leadership: it believes that the political system's modernization should emerge gradually and in a highly controlled fashion from economic achievements. The current system in Russia is hostile to innovation and prone to corruption and therefore Medvedev's modernization plan is unlikely to succeed unless transparency and open competition within the system are considerably enhanced. This will be difficult to achieve because the elite benefits from the current corrupt and non-transparent system where the lines of responsibility are unclear. The West should not expect dramatic changes and radical liberal reforms in Russia. Western actors should, nevertheless, actively support and encourage economic and political reforms in the country and engage with it through international cooperation on specific issues such as anti-corruption policy. By stepping up its engagement with Russia, the West can demonstrate that a prosperous, competitive and modern Russia is also in the interests of the West.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: To understand the political constraints on Russia's economic development, three dimensions should be explored simultaneously. The relations between Russia and the outside world (where Russia stands in comparison to others, and what it is prepared to do to advance its position), Russia's relations with its own past (the evolution of the Muscovite matrix), and the relations between ideas and political action (“the practical value of ideas in solving political dilemmas”). In this paper I will briefly discuss the first two aspects and then focus more closely on the third.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Mikael Mattlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A vigorous debate is raging on the EU's normative roles in the global context. The EU actively promotes its political values outside of the Union, especially with regard to prospective accession countries. Yet, a normative foreign policy approach encounters considerable challenges when confronted with major powers, such as China and Russia that do not always share the political values promoted by the EU. Attempts at pursuing a normative policy towards these countries often come across as unserious or half-hearted. This paper discusses EU normative policy towards China, identifying loss of the moral high ground, conflicting interests of EU members and lack of leverage towards China as the three main factors hampering it. The paper argues that instead of a half-hearted offensive normative approach towards China, the EU may be better off with a more determined policy of defensive normativity. More broadly, the EU faces a stark choice between its desire to be a Normative Power and its wish to be a Great Power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe
  • Author: Pavel K. Baev
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The maritime border delimitation deal between Russia and Norway sensationally announced by President Dmitri Medvedev in Oslo on 27 April 2010 and signed in Murmansk on 15 September 2010 warrants a re-appraisal of Russia's Arctic policy. The penchant for sensationalism often spills over from the media into policy analysis, which recycles perceptions of the 'struggle for resources' reaching the intensity of a 'great Arctic game' and escalating into a 'new Cold War'. In reality, however, Moscow has not overstepped the rules of international law and has remained committed to the 'club regulations' of several Arctic institutions, so 2010 might set the trend towards a de-escalation of tensions in the High North. It would have been too simplistic to explain away the pronounced emphasis on cooperation in Russia's foreign policy with references to the impact of the economic recession, which has undercut the previous rise of ambitious self-assertiveness. Rather, the Arctic policy is shaped by a dynamic interplay of poorly compatible Russian interests and intentions, and this paper seeks to demonstrate that this interplay cannot be reduced to an equation of security imperatives and economic drivers because immaterial ideas add to its complexity.
  • Topic: Cold War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The adoption of the new energy efficiency legislation in Russia in 2009 has led to anticipation that a new exciting avenue of cooperation is about to open up in Russia-EU relations. The EU has been called upon to support the Russian initiatives as they would make its energy relations with Russia more stable. Furthermore, because both Russia and the EU are working towards the same goal of making their respective economies more energy efficient, the two are natural partners. This partnership is often postulated in terms of transferring European investments and technologies to Russia’s emerging energy efficiency market.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Rumour has it that prior to his first visit to Beijing in spring 2008, President Medvedev instructed officials at the Ministry of Trade and Development to take a picture of Moscow that would aptly convey Russia's drive for modernization and innovation to his Chinese hosts. In carrying out his orders, employees from the ministry spent two months looking for a suitable place to photograph, but it is not known whether they were successful in their quest or not. Perhaps the story is only apocryphal, and no such order was ever given. Nevertheless, the anecdote has sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of the country's current leadership that there is actually not that much to see when it comes to the campaign for the 'technological modernization' of Russia.
  • Topic: Development, Emerging Markets, Markets, Political Economy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Moscow
  • Author: Igor Torbakov, Hanna Ojanen
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey is a country that appears destined to provoke debate. Ankara's recent foreign policy activism is a case in point. For quite some time, the Turkish top leadership has been tirelessly criss-crossing the globe – from Algeria to Saudi Arabia and from Russia to Azerbaijan. Everywhere they go, the Turks tend to air new diplomatic initiatives, offer mediation, advance blueprints for new regional security regimes and, last but not least, seek to boost trade ties. There is one feature, though, that cannot fail to catch the eye: almost all of Turkey's foreign policy moves over the last couple of years have a pronounced Eurasian and/or Middle Eastern bent.
  • Topic: Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Algeria, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Anna Korppoo
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Russian Cabinet discussed a draft 'climate doctrine' on 23 April 2009. The document, opened for comments 28 May 2009, is a political declaration on the approach to climate change. The debate around the doctrine was largely based on the scientific report published by the Hydrometeorological Service of Russia (Roshydromet) in February 2009. This document recognizes climate change as a human-induced phenomenon and acknowledges the main characteristics of the changes expected.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Sirke Mäkinen
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Stability has not been characteristic of the Russian party system: political parties have appeared and disappeared between the federal elections, both politicians and the electorate have changed their affiliation, and legislation regarding political parties and elections has been amended. During the 2000s, the party system has also undergone significant changes. Both the changed political culture and the creation of Putin's power vertical have required – and enabled – a stronger control of the party system by the executive power. We can even argue that the most important actor in the party system is the executive power and, in particular, the presidential administration. The parliamentary tool in the hands of the executive power is the United Russia Party, which received the majority of the seats in the State Duma in the last two elections in 2003 and 2007, and thus ensured a smooth process for adopting the bills prepared by the president, the presidential administration or the government. Economic growth and the popularity of Mr Putin have secured the survival of the current party system as part of the power vertical but now, with the consequences of the economic crisis and with a president more liberal in his rhetoric than his predecessor, there are expectations, and even some signs, of the liberalization of the party system.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Linda Jakobson, Anna Korppoo, Johannes Urpelainen, Antto Vihma, Alex Luta
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The fifteenth Conference of Parties to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009 has been set as the political deadline for establishing a comprehensive regime to address the dramatic threat of climate change and follow up the Kyoto Protocol. The EU has a convening role in the position formation for the negotiations as the newly elected presidential administration of the US will need all the time available to establish its position for Copenhagen.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, India
  • Author: Igor Torbakov, Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As the Kremlin believes that the global economic downturn is increasing the trend towards greater regionalism, the strategic conclusion is to strengthen Russia's position as the centre of its "own region" - post-Soviet Eurasia. In order to enhance its geopolitical posture in the ex-Soviet area, Russia has been pursuing a two- track policy: it is buying up assets from, and giving out loans to, its distressed neighbours on a massive scale. Several forces appear to be working at cross-purposes with the Kremlin's ambitions: 1) the state of Russia's own economic system; 2) the wiliness and cunning maneuvering of Moscow's "allies"; and 3) the growing competition on the part of the other centres of power - the European Union and China. Ultimately, the Kremlin's desperate efforts to turn Russia into a geopolitical leader of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are likely to be frustrated by Russia's lack of a coherent long-term strategy and by its socio-political system's dearth of appeal.
  • Topic: Globalization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Anna Korppoo
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The 10-15% reduction target by 2020 announced by Russia reflects neither the country's efficiency potential, nor modeled emissions trends. With emission reduction measures, Russia could commit to a target of ca. -30% by 2020. Transferring the surplus emission allowances Russia gained under the Kyoto Protocol due to the economic restructuring of the 1990s represents an extreme threat to both the environmental and market integrity of the Copenhagen agreement as it could be used to offset real domestic emission reduction measures in other countries. But it seems politically unlikely that Russia would join without transferring the surplus under the Copenhagen agreement. Countries should recognize the threat posed by the surplus, and offer a cooperative strategy to deal with it. However, pushing through a 'cancel or discount' approach to the surplus problem by three-quarter majority, which could be brought together without the co-operation of the surplus-holding countries, should be kept as a reserve strategy. More ambitious targets - beyond the 25-40% suggested by the IPCC - for the Annex I industrialized country group, especially for the surplus holding countries including Russia, could absorb the transferred surplus. However, given the current low pledges of Annex 1 countries, higher targets are unlikely to absorb the whole surplus, and therefore, a basket of approaches should be applied. To gain credibility on this issue of vis-à-vis Russia and to avoid Russia setting the tone, before Copenhagen the EU must adopt an internal solution to deal with the surplus of its new member states. If expecting to transfer the surpluses, the other surplus holding countries including Russia could announce national surplus use plans prior to the Copenhagen climate talks. In order to minimize a scenario of Russia blocking the Copenhagen process in the final hours, key countries should publically engage Russia on climate and the Copenhagen talks. Important Annex I countries, especially the US, should send very high-level representatives to Moscow like they have sent to China and India.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, India, Asia
  • Author: Minna-Mari Salminen
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Irrespective of the German election result, the “special relationship” between Germany and Russia will continue to thrive. The global economic crisis has served to forge even closer business ties between Germany and Russia. Several struggling German industries would now welcome Russian investment, and all in all German companies are expected to stay in the Russian market in anticipation of growth. Germany is likely to concentrate on economic relations with Russia, which have proved lucrative, and to confine criticism of Russian domestic affairs to rhetoric. Even if the German general foreign policy line becomes more Atlanticist than before, Germany's Russia policy will not lose its significance.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Germany
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Aleksandra Novikova, Maria Sharmina
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In June 2009, President Medvedev announced that the Russian Federation could limit its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions growth to-10 to 15% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. In August 2009, this commitment was confirmed by the Russian delegation as Russia's midterm target. Russia further committed to limiting emissions by 22-25% in comparison to the 1990 level by 2020 in the EU-Russia Summit in Stockholm in November.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Yury E. Fedorov
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In November 2009, the 'Law on Amendments to the “Law on Defence”' proposed by President Medvedev entered into force. It allows the Kremlin to dispatch troops outside Russia for four purposes: to counter armed attacks against Russian armed forces, other troops and bodies deployed beyond its borders; to counter or prevent an armed attack against another country if this country has requested Russia to do so; to protect Russian citizens abroad from an armed attack; and to combat piracy and guarantee the safety of shipping. The law is an attempt to close the gap between Moscow's strategic goals, primarily the establishment of its geopolitical dominance over the former Soviet republics, and Russia's legislation, which restricted its ability to deploy armed forces beyond national borders. In effect, the amended legislation enables the Kremlin to deploy its armed forces abroad in a wide range of situations, precisely because of a lack of clear criteria. The wording of 'Medvedev's amendments' sheds light on some plans and scenarios that may be taking shape in Moscow. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Russia may plan to ignite large-scale disturbances and ethnic clashes in Sevastopol or in Latvia and Estonia, which may be used as a pretext for Russian military intervention. A Russo-Ukrainian conflict in Crimea would pose not so much a military as a political challenge for Europe and the West. Even though Ukraine does not belong to these organizations, if NATO and the EU failed to respond to Russian intervention in Crimea with strong political and economic measures, their strategic relevance would be seriously undermined. If NATO did not defend its member states in the Baltic, the strategic role of the Alliance would be reduced to zero. The aforementioned scenarios fall into the worst-case category, yet there are numerous precedents in Russia's history which demonstrate that worst-case scenarios can become reality. European dependence on Russian energy supplies and interest in Russia's support in resolving the Iranian nuclear problem and the conflict in Afghanistan, as well as the Obama administration's interest in Russia's partnership in nuclear issues, constrain Western ability to respond. However, the West could and should make it quite clear that new Russia's military interventions will result in the country's political ostracization. Furthermore, the West could propose and develop an internationally recognised mechanism regulating the most important aspects of humanitarian intervention. In particular, it should minimise the ability of individual states to make unilateral decisions to intervene militarily if the UN Security Council were unable to make firm decisions. Such mechanisms could be discussed and developed in the frameworks of the UN, the OSCE, the so-called Corfu process and similar international forums.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Law
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia