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  • Author: Mykola Sunhurovskyi
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: This question arises after reviewing numerous comments by domestic and foreign experts on Russia amassing its troops near the border with Ukraine. Most assessments in different variations boil down to the statement that this is nothing but the Kremlin’s informational and psychological operation (bluff) to step up pressure on Ukraine and its Western partners for them to cede down.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Leonid Issaev
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria was perceived by the world community as a demonstration of strength, unveiling Moscow and the Kremlin's readiness to defend its interests in the Middle East by military means. It is not surprising that the Russian military presence in Syria has generated a lot of speculation about the possibility of a repetition of the Syrian ‘scenario’ in other hot spots in the region, such as Yemen. We believe that such generalizations are inaccurate and simplify the multifaceted situation. First of all, the Syrian case is rather an exception for Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist ideology, Russia became more pragmatic, its policy got rid of the prefix ‘pro’, and, in principle, it is trying to serve its own interests. It is not surprising that the rejection of messianic ideas forced Russia to reconsider its attitude to conflicts, including ones in the Middle East. The best example of Russian pragmatism is the Kremlin's policy on the Yemeni crisis since its beginning in 2011 until now.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Nawar Samad
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: A Russian business delegation visited Lebanon in late June 2021 to offer support to the country by cultivating projects in the oil sector, development plans for the energy industry as well as the ports in Beirut and Tripoli. For the past two years, Lebanon, which is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its history, and has been trying to secure international aid to survive, is now facing the attractive Russian economic bailout offer. Although such an offer is welcomed by Lebanon, the Russian initiative raises concerns across the West, and particularly in the United States, which is in control of Lebanon’s banking system and still has significant influence on the state’s politics and financial sector. The United States believes that it is not possible to dissociate this Russian offer from Moscow’s desire to expand its influence in a region, in which it already established military presence and gained access to the Eastern Mediterranean, where a conflict is underway over investment of newly-discovered gas fields.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Financial Crisis, Gas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Vladimer Papava, Vakhtang Charaia
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis caused by it presented the world with numerous severe problems. This economic crisis will henceforth also be referred to as the “coronomic crisis” which is based on the concept of “coronomics.” This term was created through the combination of the two words corona and economics and introduced in order to draw attention to the problem of the influence of the spread of the coronavirus on economies. One of the problems exacerbated by the coronomic crisis is the quick and significant growth of the public debt (the sum of the government’s domestic and external debts). It must be pointed out that according to standards, the overall external debt of a country is divided into several components: government, central bank, commercial banks, company loans and other sectors. The traditional question is as follows: should certain states fear the growth of the public debt despite the fact that the interest rate of the loans may not be particularly high? In a standard case, the answer to this question is yes;4 however, certain specific issues require clarification. For example, the proven indicator of public debt – its ratio to the gross domestic product (GDP),5 does not allow for the comparison of specific countries with one another, let alone being an impeccable measure of their success or failure. The analysis of a state’s economic capabilities is absolutely necessary as debts are taken both by rich as well as poor countries during extreme difficulties (like a pandemic) and economic advancement alike (for example, for infrastructural development).
  • Topic: GDP, COVID-19, Public Debt, Economic Crisis
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Giorgi Badridze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: One of the fundamental problems of international relations is that people from the countries whose political system is based on the rule of law and human rights often do not understand the logic of conduct of authoritarian regimes. Incidentally, this is equally the case with the relatively conservative and completely liberal observers. Such misunderstanding has, on many occasions, produced catastrophic outcomes. The most vivid illustration of this is the 1930’s policy of appeasement. Despite the facts that Nevil Chamberlain was motivated by the noble goal of averting the war, the wrongful assessment of the Hitler regime brought about the bloodiest war in history. In this paper, I will attempt to evaluate some aspects of Russian foreign policy which, in my humble opinion, are misunderstood in the West and have resulted in serious complications for Russia’s neighbors and the West itself and which continues to represent a clear and present danger. Naturally, I do not intend to diminish the achievements of generations of brilliant diplomats, analysts and political leaders whose wisdom, vision and courage contributed to many triumphs of Western civilization in its struggle with tyrannies. Today, the world needs precisely the type of leaders who would be ready to see the reality that the ideals of human dignity, freedom and democracy are again under threat and that they must be defended.
  • Topic: International Relations, Authoritarianism, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Tato Kvamladze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: Some defense economists argue that the full-scale self-sufficiency of the defense industry, which can also be termed defense autarky, may not be necessary for future wars. Due to weapon systems becoming increasingly sophisticated and highly technological, producing these systems requires the growing importation of components and sub-systems for the manufacturing of indigenous and advanced weapons and equipment; even the United States defense contractors import components and sub-systems from many different foreign countries. “The transformation of arms production has created opportunities for many states. Through defense industrial partnerships, recipient states can now exploit foreign component technology and technical knowledge to produce advanced military systems.” Therefore, no country has a comprehensive domestic defense-industrial base (DIB) because all countries rely on technology imports. Even though defense autarky is not necessary, some countries with strong or moderate economies are still trying to develop an autonomous DIB to decrease the influence of arms supplier countries. However, even countries with developed economies have weaknesses in designing, developing and producing advanced weapon systems because they “suffer from shortages of skilled personnel and sufficient scientific and technical infrastructure to pursue breakthroughs and applied research in many critical defense technologies.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Affairs, Defense Industry
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: China and Russia want to maintain Germany’s political status quo: Centrist, at times mercantilist policies, have often worked in their favor. Now, with the Green Party ascendant and public opinion shifting, neither Russia nor China can be sure that classic "centrism” will emerge after September. Russia and China will increase their influence and interference efforts in the run-up to the election and beyond, using informational, political, and cyber tactics, and economic and political networks.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Public Opinion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm, Denis Volkov, Stepan Goncharov
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: As Russia and China grow closer through economic ties, a joint Chicago Council on Global Affairs-Levada Analytical Center survey finds that the Russian public sees little downside to the growing bilateral relationship. With China and Russia on the outs with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have broadened bilateral economic and military cooperation over the last few years. Recent cooperation has included energy and infrastructure projects, and even a little bit of panda diplomacy. While some observers warn about the potential risk that Russia may grow too dependent on Beijing, a joint Chicago Council on Global Affairs-Levada Analytical Center survey finds that the Russian public sees little downside to the growing bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, Survey
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Asia