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  • Author: Geoffrey Pridham
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union has a unique opportunity to develop a positive strategy towards Ukraine. A pro-EU government is now in power in Kyiv, there is a revived civil society pressing for democratic reforms and the actions by Russia have both reinforced Ukraine's pro-West line and led to the priority given Moscow being questioned by some member states. It is therefore essential to grant Ukraine a membership perspective to strengthen this trend and encourage Kyiv to confront and overcome the basic problems that face the country.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Moscow
  • Author: Andrey Makarychev, Alexandra Yatsyk
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the annexation of Crimea were two major international events in which Russia engaged in early 2014. In spite of all the divergence in the logic underpinning each of them, four concepts strongly resonate in both cases. First, in hosting the Olympics and in appropriating Crimea, Russia was motivated by solidifying its sovereignty as the key concept in its foreign and domestic policies. Second, the scenarios for both Sochi and Crimea were grounded in the idea of strengthening Russia as a political community through mechanisms of domestic consolidation (Sochi) and opposition to unfriendly external forces (the crisis in Ukraine). Third, Sochi and Crimea unveiled two different facets of the logic of normalisation aimed at proving - albeit by different means - Russia's great power status. Fourth, one of the major drivers of Russian policy in both cases were security concerns in Russia's southern flanks, though domestic security was also an important part of the agenda.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Ondrej Ditrych
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The crisis in Ukraine has turned the tables of the post-Cold War relationship between the United States and Russia. The ongoing transformation can result in a number of outcomes, which can be conceived in terms of scenarios of normalisation, escalation and 'cold peace' - the latter two scenarios being much more probable than the first. NATO ought to shore up its defences in Central and Eastern Europe while Washington and its allies engage in a comprehensive political strategy of 'new containment'. This means combining political and economic stabilisation of the transatlantic area with credible offers of benefits to partners in the East and pragmatic relations with Russia which are neither instrumentalised (as was the case with the 'reset') nor naïvely conceived as a 'partnership'.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Cold War, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Washington, Ukraine
  • Author: Alena Vysotskaya Guedes Vieira
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russia's actions towards Ukraine in 2013-14, which inaugurated a new Cold War in its relations with the West, presented a dilemma to Russia's allies: whether to align themselves with Russia's choices or pursue a more independent course of action. The leadership of Belarus, Russia's closest ally, chose the latter option both by establishing dialogue with the interim government and President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, considered illegitimate in Russia and, later, by being present at the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko on 7 June 2014 and downplaying Russia's position on the 'federalisation' of Ukraine as the only way out of the country's instability. The perspective of the intra-alliance security dilemma helps explain the divergence of views between Russia and Belarus, while pointing to the changing position of the parties towards the Eurasian integration project.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine
  • Author: Nicolo Sartori
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The unconventional oil and gas revolution is certainly a game changer in the current international political setting, since it will bring the United States close to energy self-sufficiency. However, it seems unlikely that this new energy status will dramatically redefine US foreign policy and security priorities. In strategic regions such as the Middle East, US interests are expected to remain unchanged, while the new energy status will contribute only in part to modifying the US approach towards the EU's energy posture vis-à-vis Russia. What the new American energy condition is likely to change are the tools and policy options available to Washington to cope with the strategic challenges - China's power in primis - emerging in the multipolar international relations system.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Washington
  • Author: Nikolay Kozhanov
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Russian government sincerely believes that Assad's removal from power would trigger the expansion of jihadism and instability in the Caucasus and southern Russia. Moscow is deeply concerned about the rise of Islamists in the Middle East, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia's efforts to support the most radical factions in Syria. At the same time, the obvious absence of the ideological background behind current Russian-Syrian relations makes them a trade item. Thus, official guarantees that the jihadists will not export their revolution elsewhere accompanied by promises to preserve some Russian economic positions in post-Assad Syria will probably create the necessary ground for the emergence of a compromise stance on Syria (including the issue of foreign intervention).
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Philip Hanson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Russian economy, though so far in better shape than Europe, is facing the possibility of very slow growth in the near future. Its tendency to volatility was demonstrated in 2008-09, when Russian GDP fell more than that of any other large country. Looking at that experience and at current concerns, it seems that Russia has both demand-side (slow world growth, uncertain future oil prices) and supply-side (falling labour-force) problems. The continuing failure to provide secure property rights for business probably compounds these difficulties.
  • Topic: Oil, Law
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russian society is awakening and issues of domestic political and economic performance have come under closer scrutiny. To respond to the change, the Kremlin has moved to modify its method of governance - and strengthen its instruments of control - but there can be no return to the past. How the political process will evolve, and what the results will be, is impossible to predict, but the change will impact on Russia's domestic and foreign policies. In the meantime, Russia's international partners will have to deal with a familiar set of policies aimed at balancing between Moscow's real needs, its views of Russia's role and the opportunities which present themselves.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Shamil Midkhatovich Yenikeyeff
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The geographic proximity of Central Asia to Russia, China, the Caucasus and the Caspian region, as well as to the Middle East, makes this oil and gas-producing region a crucial and ever-developing player in regional and global energy markets. The method by which Central Asian producers choose to develop their hydrocarbon resources and export infrastructure will have significant implications for the plans for diversification of oil and gas supplies of Europe, China and India, as well as for Russia's energy exports to Europe. It is still too early to tell whether the economic and political incentives are strong enough to promote cooperation between the various actors or whether the energy interests of these key external powers are so diverse as to clash in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Central Asia, Asia
  • Author: Gareth Winrow
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Officials in Ankara are pressing for Turkey to become a key energy hub for the transportation of hydrocarbons from the Caspian region and the Middle East to Europe. It appears that they are seeking to secure certain strategic and economic advantages. Turkey's increasing energy needs could be satisfied, re-export rights obtained, and ambitions to become a significant regional state fulfilled which could facilitate accession to the EU. It seems more likely, though, that Turkey will become an important energy transit state, especially for the Southern Gas Corridor. Here, Turkey could still diversify its gas imports and reduce dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Felix Hett
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The eagle in Russia's coat of arms has two heads and, on and off since its first sighting in the Middle Ages, scholars have been tempted to identify it with dualisms in Russian politics and society. Richard Sakwa, known to be a meticulous observer of both, doessoagaininhisnewbook,albeitinan innovative way.
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Harald Müller
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The 8th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) started on 5 May 2010. The mood was 'cautiously optimistic' as the parties had experienced a productive last preparatory phase. In contrast to the fatally failed 2005 conference, the agenda and rules of procedures had been agreed and conference officers designated. The new US–Russian disarmament treaties on strategic nuclear weapons (NSTART) and disposal of weapon plutonium contributed to raising optimistic expectations. President Barack Obama's commitment to a nuclear weapons free world had impressed many people.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: David Kerr
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russia did not join the West, nor did it join the East. Russia's commitment to its strategic autonomy and independent foreign and security policy requires the preservation of a 'middle continent' that bridges and transcends Europe and Asia. Russia pursues a restorationist strategy for Eurasia but faces a three-way struggle: for its own autonomy as a great power; for resistance to absorption within the US-centred system of common strategic space; and for management of the dynamics between the emergent powers through negotiation between strategic partnerships and regionalisms. This article examines these dilemmas in relation to Eastern Eurasia, and in particular the Sino-Russian relationship.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Nicu Popescu, Andrew Wilson
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) marks the most significant change to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) since it was launched in 2004. In the wake of the Georgia war in August 2008 and yet another gas crisis in January 2009, the EU clearly needs a more constructive policy towards Eastern Europe. But both the ENP and EaP are based on a contradiction. They offer only the remotest possibility of eventual accession to the EU, but are still based on "accession-light" assumptions, applying the conditionality model of the 1990s to weak states that are a long way from meeting the Copenhagen criteria. The priority in the eastern neighbourhood is not building potential members states but strengthening sovereignty, in the face of an increasingly assertive Russian neighbourhood policy. The game is playing the west off against Russia for geopolitical reward.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Georgia
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) is an innovative, multi-pronged action aimed at enhancing the domestic capacities of a state, as well as its ability to interconnect internationally and to deal with the risk of a terrorist attack involving nuclear or radioactive materials. The GICNT, a joint US-Russian initiative, has now evolved into an informal network of over 70 countries. It pursues it objective of boosting the protection, detection, prosecution and response capabilities of a state by fostering cooperation on three levels: between a government and its agencies; between government and the private sector; and between like-minded states. Given its comprehensive approach to the nuclear terrorism threat, the initiative has great potential. Nevertheless, structural flaws such as the absence of any evaluation mechanism and the exclusion of military-related nuclear materials and sites are likely to make its impact far less global than expected.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Giacomo Luciani
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Several Arab countries have recently manifested an interest in civilian nuclear energy. For some, like Egypt, this is the revival of an old interest, for others, notably the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it represents a clear reversal of previously held positions. This interest has been interpreted as an implicit threat to move in the direction of acquiring a military nuclear capability, in case Iran develops a bomb. Instead, the article argues that interest in nuclear energy has strong economic motivations for all Arab countries, although the position of the GCC is quite different from that of North Africa and Levant countries, from the point of view of both the cogency of motivation and the ability to concretely and rapidly launch a civilian nuclear program.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: F. Stephen Larrabee
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In the last eighteen months, missile defence has emerged as a controversial issue between the United States and its European allies. The administration's plans have provoked a major debate in Europe and the United States. Since the spring of 2007, however, the Bush administration has begun to develop a much more effective public outreach campaign designed to address public concerns. It has also sought to strengthen the link between its bilateral efforts at missile defence and those of NATO and made a number of important proposals designed to reduce Russian concerns.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe
  • Author: Paolo Calzini
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In recent years Russia has, thanks to the action of President Putin, witnessed a significant strengthening politically and economically. After years of crisis, this has finally ensured a condition of stability functional to the compromise that has arisen between the regime and society. The election of a new president, Medvedev, in March 2008, marks the beginning of a development phase that will be no less fraught with unknowns than the previous period and destined to create new challenges for the authorities, especially as concerns the social question, long kept on the margins of official policy. The operational plan for the social dimension envisaging a series of interventions aimed at solving the relative problems represents a commitment that could turn out to be crucial for the country's future.
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Nazrin Mehdiyeva
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The landslide victory of Dmitry Medvedev in the presidential election of 2 March was accompanied by discussions, particularly in Western analytical and media circles, of whether Vladimir Putin's successor is a democrat or nationalist, aWesterniser or a Slavophile. His pre-electoral policy statements and family life came under scrutiny and were weighed against Putin's warnings that for the West, Medvedev would be ''no easier'' to do business with than himself. While some did not hesitate to dub Medvedev a ''liberal'', others revelled in reports that suggested that the president-elect had been taking coaching lessons to imitate Putin's speech and gait, concluding with enviable confidence that he was ''less a pope than a popelet''.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Hiski Haukkala
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Russian attitude towards the European Neighbourhood Policy constitutes a serious obstacle to the realisation of the Union's agenda in its neighbourhood. The Russian challenge takes three main forms: 1) with Russia not a part of the EU's overall approach involving the principle of conditionality, the Union's legitimacy and international actorness in general is in danger of being undermined; 2) Russia is increasingly starting to put forward its own model of operation, thus hampering the realisation of the Union's goals in the neighbourhood; 3) Russia is engaging in business activities that are in effect undoing the ENP's energy component. There are no easy fixes to these problems. What the Union must do is believe in its own values and visions: it is only by example that it can promote its ideals outside its institutional boundaries
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Andrey S. Makarychev
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The search for common language has become a demanding issues in the Russia-EU relationship. One of the strongest messages contained in Russia's "sovereign democracy" concept is its desire to be regarded as a "normal" country, a full-fledged member of the international community. The concept embodies a search for its own subjectivity, which is ultimately felt to be a pre-condition for its self-assertion vis-agrave-vis Europe. Russia does not question any of the basic European norms; instead it seeks to offer an alternative version of each of them. For the Western audience, analysis of these concepts is essential for a better comprehension of Russia's foreign policy arguments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Valerio Fabbri
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: How capitalism was built : the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, Anders Åslund, Cambridge University Press, 2007
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Anne-Marie Le Gloannec
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The new French President's brash style is ruffling more than a feather on the international scene: while Nicolas Sarkozy has contributed to finding a solution to the Constitutional crisis and has brought France back into the European Union, he certainly does not always sound the good European he pretends to be. Too many ambiguities and inconsistencies pave his way. The same can be said for international politics: for instance, while the new President heralded human rights, he recently singled himself out by congratulating the election results in Russia. Is there a distinctive new French policy worldwide?
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Maurizio Massari
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Almost ten years have passed since the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Russia and the EU entered into force. The PCA, signed on June 1994, went into effect in December 1997 and will expire on 30 November 2007. Brussels and Moscow are now expected to take stock of what has been achieved in their relationship and agree on whether and how to update the PCA. While there has been significant progress in several areas of technical cooperation, the relationship has suffered from too many political ups and downs and a growing and mutual distrust. The failure at the 24 November 2006 Summit to agree on the launching of negotiations for a new comprehensive agreement – even though this was mostly due to a Polish veto – is however indicative of the patchy character of the EU-Russia relationship.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow, Brussels
  • Author: Fabrizio Tassinari, Marius Vahl
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union and Russia are preparing to negotiate a new comprehensive agreement at a time when their bilateral relations have become increasingly prickly. On the one hand, Vladimir Putin's Russia is perceived as having gone undesirably far in reverting to a semi-authoritarian state and in exerting economic and political pressures on some pro-Western, former Soviet states. On the other hand, the EU's Russia policy remains ambivalent because of the continuing deference towards Moscow of a number of large European countries and the confrontational posture of some new EU member states. Other factors add to this deteriorating state of affairs. For one, there are a number of legal complications coming from the shape and scope of the new agreement. Perhaps more importantly, there are several political uncertainties, first and foremost the definition of those "common values" upon which the new treaty should be based. To get out of this quandary, the two sides will have to scale down their ambitions on the new agreement. A mutually acceptable formula might imply the negotiation of a concise "framework" treaty, accompanied in due time by sector-specific agreements.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Soviet Union
  • Author: Philip Hanson
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since 2003, state control in the Russian economy has increased significantly. This has affected mainly but not only the oil industry. This policy development gives some grounds for concern about Russia's long-run growth. Its origins lie in power struggles within the political elite, in efforts by members of that elite to enrich themselves and in a profound distrust on the part of that elite of any sources of power that they do not themselves control. One result is that business confidence has been dented, the growth of oil output has slowed, and future GDP growth depends more heavily than before on further growth in oil prices.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Anna Matveeva
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Reversing the retreat of the Yeltsin era, Russia has returned to Central Asia proactively. Its presence is increasingly felt in the traditional - that is, security - field and in new fields of engagement, such as strategically-placed investment or construction of regionalism. The cultural and "civilisational" role has also gained more prominence. Moscow's policy reflects pragmatic opportunism, aimed at getting the utmost benefits for Russia from a region in which it holds many assets rather than at a revival of the former empire. There are limits however as to how far its engagement can go due to constraints posed by Central Asian realities and Russian domestic developments. So far, the advance has been greatly facilitated by the West's retreat, giving rise to perceptions of an unfolding "great game", while in reality a record of both competition and cooperation between Russia, China and the West is a normal state of affairs. Although Central Asian elites find it easier to deal with Moscow in the current political climate, they view its assertive role with caution and may turn to a rival suitor should the price for the relationship with Russia become too high.
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia