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  • Author: Makysm Bielawski
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: We are witnessing how the authoritarian states of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are trying to destroy the unity of democratic Europe by means of economic expansion. Therefore, the infrastructure projects are used for this purpose. Consequently, it is appropriate to equate “Nord Stream-2” and "Belt and Road Initiative". If the projects are implemented, the EU security will be unbalanced; as a result, it will affect the interests of the USA. The American government, regardless the party affiliation, is aware of such challenges. Therefore, obviously, after the inauguration of the new President of the United States, the containment policy of JSC “Gazprom” will only enhance. This will be facilitated by the position of Joseph Biden, which he has voiced on several occasions since 2015 during negotiations with the EU leadership and which is generally described as “unprofitable agreement”.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Natural Resources, European Union, Gas
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine
  • 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: Oleksiy Melnyk
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: The current reaction of the West to provocative threats by Russia is both prompt and concrete, but for political statements to reach the desired effect, they must be supplemented by substantial practical steps.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Nona Mikhelidze
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 25 March, one month after Russia registered its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced a week of paid national holiday and invited Russians to stay home in a televised address to the nation. Further measures were subsequently introduced to limit the spread of the virus, while authorities prepared emergency plans to safeguard socio-economic conditions in the country. Initiatives included providing a new support package to businesses hit by the pandemic, a monthly bonus to medical personnel and the construction of new hospitals, following the Chinese model. Meanwhile, the constitutional referendum meant to extend Putin’s term limit as president was postponed. Originally scheduled for 22 April, this delay is due to Putin’s concern for public health and the multidimensional impact of the pandemic, a perfect storm involving quarantine measures, declining living standards, inflation and a weakened exchange rate, rising prices and increased job insecurity. Taken together, these challenges could jeopardise the outcome of the referendum. A recent poll conducted by the Levada Center in March highlighted a very slim majority (45 per cent) in favour of Putin’s constitutional amendments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Soft Power, Coronavirus, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: It is not the caliphate that the world’s Muslim powerhouses are fighting about. Instead, they are engaged in a deepening religious soft power struggle for geopolitical influence and dominance. This battle for the soul of Islam pits rival Middle Eastern and Asian powers against one another: Turkey, seat of the Islamic world’s last true caliphate; Saudi Arabia, home to the faith’s holy cities; the United Arab Emirates, propagator of a militantly statist interpretation of Islam; Qatar with its less strict version of Wahhabism and penchant for political Islam; Indonesia, promoting a humanitarian, pluralistic notion of Islam that reaches out to other faiths as well as non-Muslim centre-right forces across the globe; Morocco which uses religion as a way to position itself as the face of moderate Islam; and Shia Iran with its derailed revolution. In the ultimate analysis, no clear winner may emerge. Yet, the course of the battle could determine the degree to which Islam will be defined by either one or more competing stripes of ultra-conservativism—statist forms of the faith that preach absolute obedience to political rulers and/or reduce religious establishments to pawns of the state.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Islam, Politics, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On August 26, Politico reported that U.S. service members were injured after an altercation with Russian forces in northeast Syria. This pattern of Russian challenges to U.S. forces was enabled by the Trump administration’s decision to retreat from parts of northern Syria in 2019, allowing Russia to fill the void. Until this decision was made, the two countries had agreed to make the Euphrates River the deconfliction line to keep U.S. and Russian forces separated. Russia stayed on the west side of the river, and the United on the east side, where this incident took place. Robert Hamilton, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the story and warned that it will not be a one-off incident: “We need to respond to this immediately and forcefully. Russian forces deliberately escalated against U.S. partners when I was running the ground deconfliction cell for Syria in 2017, but tended to be careful when U.S. forces were present. Unless we make it clear that we’ll defend ourselves, these escalations will continue with dangerous and unpredictable results.” Below, we offer readers an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Hamilton from a forthcoming edited volume on Russia’s Way of War in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though analysts tend to portray Russia’s foreign policy as truly global (that is, independent of Europe, the US, and China), the country is plainly tilting toward Asia. The Russian political elite does its best to hide this development, but the country is accumulating more interests and freedom to act in Asia than in Europe or anywhere else.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Turkeyscope Dr. Soner Cagaptay analyzes the evolution of Turkey's foreign policy with respect to both Syria and Libya.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Makysm Bielawski
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: Stalin proposed to use energy resources in order to solve geopolitical problems, leveling the needs of the state, immediately after the end of World War II. Hegemony above everything. For the first time such political tools of influence was tested in 1948, despite the acute shortage in domestic market, through supplying the oil and oil products to Finland and Bulgaria. Along with energy supplies, Finland made concessions to the Soviet Union and undertook to renounce NATO membership and remain a de jure non-aligned state.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, History
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The rise of Asia is the central challenge of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, calling into question long-standing assumptions about Russia’s place in the world. Moscow is now more committed to engagement with the Asia-Pacific than it has ever been. This reflects belated recognition of the region’s critical importance in global affairs. Russia’s ambition to become a major player in the Asia-Pacific faces considerable hurdles. Overcoming them will depend on larger changes in its foreign policy mindset — an uncertain prospect at best.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Economy, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Russian foreign policy since the mid-2000s tends to be perceived in contradictory terms: as either a negative for Russia or the product of a grand strategic vision on the part of the Russian leadership. It is also often falsely perceived as representing a break with the past. Moscow’s foreign policy moves need to be viewed with a balanced perspective and should be placed in their historical context.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, History, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Putin’s foreign policy will remain grounded in long-standing assumptions about Russia, the West, and international order. There will be broad continuity in Russian foreign policy over the course of Vladimir Putin’s current presidential term. Any policy changes will be stylistic, not transformative. The Kremlin is committed to asserting Russia as a global power, although it will be tactically flexible in pursuing this ambition. Putin will present different faces to the West: sometimes accommodating, at other times assertive and even confrontational. But there will be no compromise on core principles.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Grand Strategy, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Daria Kazarinova
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: t the end of the second decade of the 21st century, problems of global security have become the main issues on the agenda of all regions of the world. Russia’s relations with the West have already entered the stage of the so-called new Cold War “with the elements of arms race, remilitarization and the split of the European continent, under the severance of political and economic contacts between the leaders of rival countries and the degradation of diplomacy”.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Several weeks after winning a plurality in Bulgaria’s late March parliamentary election, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov did something unprecedented: he brought the nationalist United Patriots (Obedineni Patrioti) into his coalition government. The United Patriots is an electoral alliance of three parties, the IMRO[2]-Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO-Bulgarsko Natsionalno Dvizhenie), the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (Natzionalen Front za Spasenie na Bulgaria), and Attack (Attaka). Their inclusion in the coalition government has given rise to concern among Bulgaria’s NATO allies (and many Bulgarian themselves) about what the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Korneliya Ninova called Mr. Borissov’s “floating majority, his unprincipled alliance”[3] (plavashti mnozinstva, bezprintsipni sŭyuzi). That concern is well placed for several reasons. Only a few years ago, even the nationalist IMRO-BND and NFSB excluded the radical Ataka[4] from their electoral alliance dubbed the “Patriotic Front” (Patriotichen front) because of Ataka’s positions on Russia and NATO. Even then, however, the Patriotic Front’s “nationalist profile” (natsionalisticheskiyat profil) was so far to Bulgaria’s political right to cause Mr. Borissov to exclude the Patriotic Front from his coalition government. He did so with the active encouragement of his center-right European People’s Party allies across the European Union. “Nothing against the PF, but unfortunately the things Valeri Simeonov [a PF leader, more about whom anon] proposes do not correspond to our Euro-Atlantic orientation,” said Mr. Borissov at the time.[5]
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Bulgaria
  • Author: Pietro A. Shakarian
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia and Turkey have been improving their relationship since June 2016, the Kurdish question presents a potential challenge to their attempts to strengthen their ties. Reconciling Kurdish aspirations with Turkish fears will be a top priority for Moscow in its effort to broker a post-war peace in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Pavel Koshkin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: After the victory of republican Donald Trump at the 2016 presidential election followed by the series of probes into the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the American domestic affairs, Russia turned into political mainstream in the U.S. However, the revived interest toward this country failed to translate into increasing funding of Russia Studies programs. And here is why.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Academia, Area Studies
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Pavel Koshkin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: 2017 brought both successes and disappointments to Russia on the international arena. Moscow succeeded in establishing dialogue with its rivals in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It also participated in the Astana peace talks to come up with a compromise with Ankara and Tehran on Syria. Besides, Russia together with its Syrian allies defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS). Afterwards, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced about the partial withdrawal of the Russian troops from Syria. One of the biggest challenges became the strengthening of the American sanctions against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Russia dossier probe conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congress is also a very important event, because it could deepen the crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. Parliamentary and presidential elections in Europe also matter: They took place amidst the buzz about the Russian cyber threat and hackers, and this indicates that there is not trust toward Russia in European countries today.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Elections, Islamic State, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Alexander Pivovarenko
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: May 5, Vyacheslav Volodin, the State Duma’s Speaker, paid a significant visit to Serbia for working negotiations with President-Elect Aleksandar Vučić, acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, President of the National Assembly Maja Gojkovic, Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej and other officials. The parliamentary delegation’s trip came at a difficult time. Montenegro’s accession to NATO and internal political changes in Macedonia are reconfiguring the military and political landscape of the region. All the events are unfolding amid a massive information campaign mounted by the mass media and Western pundits capitalizing on the issue of Russian influence in the Balkans, with yet another information attack being launched on the day of Volodin’s visit. Moreover, Russia’s relations with Montenegro have reached their lowest point over the past year. In its turn, Serbia is completing the phase of consolidation of Vučić’s regime. The agenda includes the creation of a new government, which may require new parliamentary elections. It is noteworthy that the President-Elect, however, fails to command total popular support. At the same time, Vučić is singled out for allegations and fierce criticism for embracing Euro-Atlantic integration. When it comes to Russia’s assets and liabilities in the Balkans, Volodin’s stay in Serbia, therefore, was of particular importance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Parliamentarism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Serbia, Montenegro
  • Author: Nikolay Pakhomov
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The US Constitution vests the president, the head of the executive branch, with considerable power to formulate the country’s foreign policy. Regardless of the proactive stance of some Congressmen in dealing with external issues, America’s foreign policy has historically been shaped by presidents, their temperament, experience, ideological leanings, and quite often it has been affected by their domestic policy. The latter can be central to understanding and forecasting the Trump administration’s steps related to Russia. Nowadays only the elites can initiate and introduce changes in the US-Russian interaction. Economic cooperation is also limited.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Donald Trump, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Akop Gabrielyan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: ANALYSISOPINION NATO-Russia Relations: Overcoming Agony 17.07.2017Featured Image Akop A. Gabrielyan – the founder and the leader of the “Consensus” youth NGO, expert in the policy of the post-soviet states. If anything, the central tenet of the Hippocratic oath: first do no harm – Primum non nocere – is the first motto to be applied to today’s dialogue between Russia and NATO, a military and political organization. The dialogue essentially boiling down to interaction between Russia and the United States, the alliance’s leader, has offered fewer grounds for optimism over the years. Noticeably worse relations, whose downward spiraling trend is too serious a phenomenon to be even referred to as “the Cold War”, are degenerating into an agony. This is testified by some experts predicting an unavoidable military conflict and a real deterioration in the situation amid the Ukraine and Syria conflicts that Russia and NATO (the US) treat differently. For instance, Moscow officially suspended a deal with the US to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria in response to America’s attitude towards April’s deadly chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Partnerships, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, United States of America
  • Author: Fernanda Magnotta, Roman Chukov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Last Friday, during the G20 summit, the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time. The meeting was surrounded by expectations and marked by all types of speculation. The bilateral relationship has been controversial since the Obama administration, but the polemics have gained momentum in last year’s election when Trump came to power. Trump’s agenda becomes even more critical as he has been waging a war on the American media since the campaign. Trump popularized the term “fake news” by accusing the CNN network of making up facts, and made the “post-truth” concept the word of the year of 2016, according to Oxford University. In addition, he decided to communicate directly with the American society through Twitter not to depend on the curatorship of the country’s major media outlets.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nikolay Pakhomov
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: When US President Trump on August 2 signed a bill that reinforces and expands to some extent sanctions on Moscow, the anti-Russian campaign emerged somewhat divorced from real policy-making. The bill has clarified the Congress position on the matter, with the ongoing investigation into Trump’s and his acolytes’ alleged ties with Russia shifting public attention to the legal aspect. While lambasting Trump, some intellectuals seek to establish nominal correlations between the US president and Russia and to draw historical parallels between the two countries. This clearly creative approach on the part of experts and pundits produces remarkable results.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, History, Donald Trump, Boris Yeltsin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Velikaya
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia seems to have finally realized in recent years that nation branding, seen as a set of actions to improve country’s image abroad, is a form of investment, not a cost. In order to analyze the Russian approach to nation branding, it is necessary to highlight several dimensions: economic, scientific, cultural, sport, media, and development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Foreign Direct Investment, Public Opinion, Economy, Soft Power, Cultural Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Lada Kochtcheeva
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: With the advance of globalization, the spread of new technologies and communication, diffusion of power to non-state actors, as well as the emergence of new forms of rivalry and statecraft, the concept of “gray zone” conflict has very recently produced substantial debates in the US and internationally. Most analysts do not view this phenomenon as entirely new, but they distinguish certain characteristics of gray zone and argue that it will progressively depict and challenge the international system in the near future. The gray zone form of conflict is usually defined by the presence of several crucial elements including rising revisionist states that seek to alter some aspect of the existing, status quo international order, incremental or gradual strategy often ambiguous, and unconventional tools, which are short of outright war. Actors using a gray zone method strive to achieve their goals while minimizing the scope and scale of actual fighting[3]. Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe are often described by the theorists of gray zone conflict as using multi-instrument strategies while employing direct action. China’s use of incremental approaches to produce a critical basis for its claims in the South China Sea also represents a prominent example of the gray zone conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Conflict, Gray Zone
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Maxim A. Suchkov
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The American military strike on a Syrian airbase has rather demonstrated President Trump’s burning desire to adopt a more hawkish stance – both at home and abroad – than has been launched merely in retaliation for the terrible chemical attack. At home, it was a gimmick to consolidate his position in Congress, secure bipartisan support (primarily GOP’s approval), cement his voting base, and shed the image of the Kremlin’s lackey, which has increasingly been weakening his presidential mandate and left little room for political maneuver. Moreover, this step was due to receive the approbation of the major “domestic sponsors”, including the military-industrial complex, the oil industry, and financiers. Finally, it can be treated as the comeback of the “strong leader”, the translation of Trump’s election pledge into a policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Conflict, Syrian War, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The July 15 attempted coup, which exposed rifts within the Turkish military, coupled with the August 9 meeting between Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the Turkish incursion into Syria on August 24, appear to signal a change in trajectory for Turkey’s Syria policy. Since Erdogan’s ouster of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in May 2015, Turkey has already implemented some significant foreign policy shifts, including normalization with Israel and a desire to mend ties with Russia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Civil War, Peace Studies, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Yan Vaslavskiy
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The 13th Valdai Discussion Club session was held in Sochi October 24-27. Ever since its establishment in 2004, the Club has gained the reputation, first of all, as a forum for Russian and foreign experts to compare notes on a wide range of international issues. Secondly, the President of Russia drops into the exclusive club on quite a regular basis.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia