Sergei Karaganov, Doctor of History, is Dean of the School of World Economics and International Relations at the National Research University–Higher School of Economics. He is also Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
To begin with, I would like to sum up some developments. It has become obvious that the United States has lost Iraq, and that the situation there is quickly sliding down into a civil war, which will involve adjacent countries.
It is unpopular now in most of Europe, including Russia, to cite with approval anything the American president says. In his recent national security strategy, though, he put forward an idea that many of us had thought about but very few of us had dared to pronounce openly.
Russia has reached a limit in conservative evolution. If we cross
this line, we will give the “knights and pages” of the Cold War in the West
an excuse for worsening relations with Russia. These people feel lost; they simply cannot live without an enemy, nor are they able to acknowledge past mistakes.
The recent changes in the world situation have brought about several historic challenges to Russia, causing it to amend its policy. The rapid redistribution of forces on the world arena in favor of “New Asia” requires that Russia revise its economic and political priorities.
The change of power in Tbilisi offers a good opportunity to assess Moscow’s policy toward Georgia and other post-Soviet states. Russia should start pursuing a friendly and indulgent policy toward Georgia, a policy befitting a strong state. Otherwise, the Tbilisi scenario may be repeated in Chisinau, Kiev or Minsk.
The 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg provides a historic opportunity for reviewing the record of Russia’s interaction with Europe and the rest of the world. Mapping out approaches to the future is definitely impossible without specific knowledge of the past; it is no less essential that we hold realistic assessments of the world we are now living in
The European Union has still failed to define its new strategy towards Moscow. The EU, by maintaining an arms-length relationship with Russia, is seriously weakening its own international standing, especially while international security and geopolitics are regaining priority status.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.