Pavel Salin is Director of the Center for Political Studies at the Financial University under the Russian Government. He holds a Doctorate in Law.
A “free agent” in the present world may be any influential actor in international processes. To effectively use the “free agent” concept, it is necessary to renounce zero-sum thinking where the West’s gain is necessarily perceived as Russia’s loss, and vice versa.
In addition to purely economic arguments, one needs some ideological basis for a Eurasian Union. The other factor is whether or not the integration policy will be continued after a new generation of the elites comes to power, and the nature of relationships between new leaders.
Russia has a chance to position itself as a neutral force in the region, which can be capitalized into essential geopolitical and purely economic benefits in conditions of a standoff between two blocs, especially those that hypothetically are equal in strength.
The world crisis has spurred the already high rate of processes taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, forcing its transformation into a major center of world politics.
Russian elites are undisturbed by the “creeping Chinese expansion” in the Far East and even facilitate it as best they can, since they are satisfied with the role the Beijing Consensus accords to them. Have the West in general and the U.S. in particular anything to offer Moscow as grounds for “friendship against China” instead of the mythical “Chinese threat”?
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.