The conflict in Ukraine poses a complex problem for Western policy-makers. Responses have included sanctions on Russia, the suspension of institutional formats for relations between the West and Russia, and a diplomatic effort resulting in the Minsk agreements.
The time may have come to rethink our views on diplomatic and political initiatives
Some observers have concluded that the recent Moscow visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland signals a warming in U.S.-Russian relations. However, not all communications between states have the goal of reaching agreement on something.
If the West really wants to build a new relationship, then it has to understand Russia much better than it does today. Here are a few recommendations on what to avoid when patching up relations with Moscow.
Diplomats can work without any doctrines or concepts in turbulent or revolutionary times. Admittedly, the contrast between foreign policy conceptual basis and practice in the Russian case looks outrageous at present.
Current events could be compared to another of Russia's breaking points, 1917 — the point at which the Russian Empire was gone forever and its successor state became an international pariah.
The recognition of the new reality is practically common for all the leading politicians and expert political analysts. To credit of Russian diplomacy, it should be said that we were the first to notice this transformation of the world and formulated the requirements to the country’s foreign policy arising from it.
The crisis in Russian-American relations is not only a result of conflicting interests in Ukraine, but also of a misunderstanding of the logic and intentions of the other side.
It was not international diplomacy that has steered the situation over Ukraine into the condition of nearly systemic confrontation. The current state of affairs should be blamed squarely on the absence of diplomacy for nearly a quarter of a century.
Russia, Kennan argued, would seek to bring about the collapse of capitalism not by an armed attack, but by a mixture of bullying and subversion.
There is clear recognition in both Moscow and Tokyo that a Sino-centric continent is not in their interests. Russia and Japan are obliged to recalculate their strategies in order to adapt for a future geopolitical realignment in Asia. Both sides recognize the stakes and that the rules of the game are no longer static.
Bilateral relations have always been of tremendous significance to Kazakhstan and Russia, and they always will be. In a sense, they are more important than a multi-party integration. Our relations had existed before the establishment of the Customs Union and will continue.
Vladimir Putin's policies in Ukraine are not part of an attempt to expand Russia's empire westwards. He is simply trying to reduce the chaos caused by the massive incompetence of Ukraine's ruling elite
The diplomatic epic aimed at stopping the Syrian civil war has reached a critical point.
The energetic and driven McFaul did much to extricate Russian-US relations from the deadlock they were stuck in by the end of Bush’s second term.
Russia’s showing at the most recent Munich Security Conference shows that Russia still has a long way to go in developing soft power and improving its public diplomacy capacity.
Much has been written about the success of Russian diplomacy in 2013. And whether you greet it with glee or alarm, there is a sense that Russia is on the verge of something new.
The dawn of a unipolar world means that countries will have to settle arguments through talks again.
The main reserves for Russia’s foreign policy and its influence in the next decade lie more than ever in internal development. And this is also where the main threats are, fraught with the risk of losing political weight in the international arena and the status of great power.
A significant number of non-governmental actors can justifiably be regarded as an integral part of modern diplomacy, if by diplomacy we mean the communication system available to the international community.
Russian diplomacy continues to use purely political mechanisms of cooperation with regional players (negotiations, consultations, work in international organizations) and appeals to the status of “great power” whenever possible. However, this is not enough today to carry out regional priorities, even the very basic ones.
The meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a desert retreat near Palm Springs, California, last weekend caused hardly a stir in Russia.
Astana recently hosted a Customs Union summit. The integration project is taking shape on the fly, so each summit evokes a great deal of interest.
With respect to Russian-American relations, the positive atmosphere is due to the fact that the agenda has become very narrow.
The main impact of the Arab Spring has not been to increase, but to diminish the importance of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for the broader politics of the Arab World.
The general environment of U.S.-Russian relations up to 2020 will remain conflict-prone, especially as Russia and the United States lack a complex of stabilizing economic ties, like those in U.S.-Chinese relations. The nuclear missile parity remains the sole stabilizer.
The U.S. is going through a painful process of shifting from unilateral global domination towards creating a balance of power in various regions of the world in order to preserve its presence and influence. This means that, as before, we can expect ups and downs in U.S.-Russian relations.
What is the power of states today? What determines their might? Money, weapons, or the ability to manage information? Or is it something else?
The world is once again looking toward the Korean Peninsula with apprehension, though at this point it should be used to Pyongyang’s routine threats to wipe its enemies off the map.
In the long term, Sino-Russian relations will depend largely on whether Russia overcomes its current stagnation.
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.