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.
The Russian political system is hard to understand, but not impossible to understand. The simplistic interpretation of a “Tsar ruling alone” shows its limits every time it is recalled to explain the Kremlin’s latest decision in foreign or domestic policy.
The current elites lack Primakov’s ability to find a balance between national and international interests, see a better future, and choose the best way to achieve it. It is this ability that has placed Primakov among the brilliant representatives of realist thought.
The Ukraine conflict reinforced the desire of Kremlin policymakers to establish connections with a range of anti-status-quo groups in Europe.
For the UN to continue to be truly indispensable, international officials and national governments, members of the academic elite and civil society leaders will have to reach consensus on the way ahead, avoiding over-ambitious plans, but also half-measures portrayed as full-fledged reforms.
The ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a stark reminder that shifts in political tone and military tactics do not necessarily correlate with each other or represent substantive shifts in a state’s foreign policy goals.
A political counter-revolution against the European Union is underway. Brexit is likely to be seen in hindsight as just the first of many tremors leading up to a larger political earthquake that will be felt all over the European continent.
In the future, a duumvirate may emerge in Central Asia, in which China will provide investment and resources, and Russia will contribute security and geopolitical stability.
The North Korean issue has become an irritant not only in relations between “continental” and “oceanic” powers, but also within each of the camps and specifically between the United States and South Korea, and Russia and China.
If there is a key lesson to be drawn from the history of international relations, it is that, in extremis, political and security considerations almost inevitably triumph over economic considerations. Nothing is less certain.
Russia and Iran have found themselves to be partners of convenience in Syria. Their interaction is limited due to different motives behind their interference in the conflict and the possibility to harm their relations with third states.
The Baltic Sea region is gradually becoming center stage in the clash of interests between Russia and NATO members. There is an obvious need for a document on mutual understanding between Russia and NATO to resolve dangerous incidents. The assessment of any actions of one party or another should be strictly legal.
Last year’s incident with the Russian Su-24 jet instantly changed the very nature of Russia-Turkey relations. What used to be viewed by the leaders of the two countries as a strategic partnership was replaced with harsh confrontation.
Since July 2014, when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down over the Donbas, the European Union has demonstrated an unprecedented level of solidarity with Ukraine that extends far beyond macroeconomic and technical assistance.
Russia’s use of soft power in Georgia has become an obligatory talking point in discussion of the two countries’ relations.
On July 14, 2015, the United States, Russia, China, France, UK, Germany, the European Union and Iran concluded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the “Iran deal,” with the goal of ending the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program.
When it comes to Russia’s geopolitics, the international community has a lot to grumble about.
G20 must complement its core composition with a consultative network that reaches out to other governments, business, civil society, and think tanks. Its aim should be to consult and cultivate, not command and control, so that others believe they have a genuine voice and are legitimate stakeholders.
Neither Ukraine nor Syria has eased psychological tension so far. The United States and partly Russia do not think they have reached the dangerous point. Apparently they still need a bigger crisis to finally settle their issues.
The principle stated by George Orwell that all are equal but some are more equal than others seems to have been adopted at the international level. This is vividly borne out by the outcome of American interference in the Middle East countries and elsewhere. Russia will continue to espouse the principles of law and justice in international affairs.
In the fall of 2015, Russia resolved to raise the stakes in Syria by launching an air campaign at the request of Damascus.
Russia’s active involvement in the Syrian conflict and, specifically, employment of its Caspian Flotilla for destroying Islamic State targets, has changed the balance of power in the Caspian region significantly, and highlighted the need to re-examine its legal status and security.
Propaganda attracts friends, repels doubters, and hardens opponents. However, prolonged self-communication, endless self-presentation, and the fanning of tensions, which are typical of trolling, result in mutual isolation and the collapse of the international relations system.
The Russian elite have realized that the country will have to live in a new reality that differs from the past rosy dreams of integration with the West, while preserving its independence and sovereignty. Yet they have not yet used the confrontation and the growth of patriotism for an economic revival.
Valdai Discussion Club Report
In 2015, the global context fever continued. It was characterised by non-linearity and unpredictability with opposite processes going on simultaneously and relationship between countries becoming increasingly tangled and complex.
In the early 1990s, scholars, journalists, and political observers predicted that the new Central Asian states would descend into chaos and break apart. More than 20 years later, Central Asia’s states seem relatively stable, both at their political centers and outlying territories, including states like Tajikistan that were once embroiled in civil war.
Latin America, the former laboratory for neoliberal experiments, has become in the last 15 years a fascinating territory of alternative policies that pursue a more inclusive and egalitarian society, based on a just wealth distribution and more social rights for vulnerable people.
The Russian operation in Syria is an indisputable milestone in the country's political development. For the first time in over a quarter of a century, the Kremlin is officially conducting a high-scale military operation abroad, motivated not by peacekeeping and "peace enforcement", but by strategic reasons.
There is no doubt that the international nuclear non-proliferation regime entered a new phase in May 2015. The situation has worsened, and it will be more and more difficult and expensive to correct it. The cooling of international relations will make the NPT situation extremely fragile.
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.
Contemporary international relations are experiencing a period of turbulence and transition from a unipolar world to a world with multiple centers of power with strengthened role of regionalization. In these circumstances relatively small states try to maximize the resource of geopolitical identity to conduct their foreign policies.
In the old days coal miners took a caged canary down into mines. If the canary suddenly dropped dead, that meant that the deadly gas, carbon monoxide, was slowly seeping into the shaft... An order of magnitude increase in killing rampages in America over the last several decades is like canaries suddenly starting to drop dead all around us. It is an early indicator of much worse troubles to come.
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.