Strategic forecasting is that portion of intelligence that focuses on events that have broad and fundamental effects on the international system.
The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors.
In many respects, Yevgeny Primakov shaped the political philosophy of modern Russia's foreign policy, a country which is both the successor of multi-century history and a new state born in the breach of the old model.
References to international law are an important part of Russia’s official rhetoric. While criticizing other countries for violating international law, Russia’s leaders declare that Russia respects international law, protects it, and upholds its principles. However, a closer look at statements by top leaders reveal some changes not so much in their content as in their tone.
Russian foreign policy in the Putin era has drawn particular attention, and even praise, from the realist school of international relations scholars. John J. Mearsheimer, for example, has written that “Putin and his compatriots have been thinking and acting according to realist dictates” in their policy towards Ukraine.
As a manifestation of higher-order wisdom than just the election needs of concrete leaders or political parties, national interests should discipline politicians and significantly restrict the freedom of their action. The selfrestricting function of the declaration of national interests is particularly important for Russia.
Society is ready for new national interests to appear that will pave the way for effective and long-term policies “for all.” Now the situation hinges on those who will formulate them correctly.
Russia has already lost Ukraine – not now but years ago, for good or at least for long. Yet it is very likely that very soon the loss of Ukraine will no longer seem very important. Indeed, an ability to find and use one’s chance is much more important than emotions over phantom losses.
From the standpoint of peace prospects, the outcome of the end of the Cold War was quite acceptable for Russia. It is an entirely different matter as to how the opportunities for peaceful Russian-Western cooperation that opened up in the early 1990s were used and what has taken us to the crisis of 2014.
The year 2014 has gone down in history as a time of the collapse of the previous model of relations between Russia and the rest of the world. The year 2015 will most likely show that the changes are irreversible and have gone beyond the point of return. We can draw a line under the bygone era, but we still cannot say what the new one will be like.
The takeover of Crimea has put a definitive end to the Soviet state.
In the conditions of real confrontation with external “others” the modality of patriotic ideas is changing: what earlier had a shade of alarmism is now presented as a pressing challenge, to which Russia gives a proper response, thus affirming its independence.
Although the bipolar Cold-War-style mentality is still quite widespread among the rulers of Russian society, it is not a fundamental feature of their global viewpoint. Rather, Russia’s sense of being insulted and disappointed after it failed to join the “premier league” is behind this mindset.
Ukraine today has three systemic problems: national and territorial disintegration, economic insolvency, and social and political chaos. Their further aggravation is fraught with a major threat to stability and to the very existence of the Ukrainian state.
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.
The Russian leadership has been more accommodating to the new president of Ukraine than many anticipated. What will it take for Kiev and Moscow to mend their relationship?
Economic history provides many examples that undermine Weber’s postulate that economies based on the Protestant ethic are more productive. And the lessons of the global financial crisis of 1997-1998 refute the view that economies based on Confucian values (above all, the moral need for a high degree of family and personal savings) are more successful and stable.
While the American elites take time to debate and prioritize their national interests, there is no similar dialogue going on within Russian elites. As society at large did not form an appreciation of what Russia’s true interests are, we can’t see whether we are failing or succeeding.
We have almost forgotten that politics should have a value component (the fascination with perestroika proved to be short-lived). The absence of value guidelines beyond accounts of benefits and costs turns politics into a nasty parody of itself and deprives it of power and functionality.
Russia will remain a crucial interlocutor on nuclear policy, space, and various regional matters. As in the past, it will be able to block and delay global action with its Security Council veto. If its leaders want more than that, the changes this will require are relatively clear.
The elites tended to overestimate the potential and prospects of the protests; the opposition leaders underestimated the possible effects of their actions. This was the background against which political developments unfolded in 2012. And there is no reason to expect that anything will change fundamentally in the upcoming months.
In the long term, Sino-Russian relations will depend largely on whether Russia overcomes its current stagnation.
Like almost any other outstanding leader, Hugo Chavez polarized society, and assessments of his political legacy will differ dramatically.
Russia’s understanding of soft power differs radically from that of the West.
U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election in November generated hope for progress in U.S.-Russian relations. Only two months later, not a trace of that hope remains.
Barack Obama will soon embark on his second term. Liberated from thoughts of re-election, second-term presidents’ thoughts often turn to their legacy.
President Vladimir Putin’s first address to the Federal Assembly since his return to the presidency outlined his vision for the future of Russia.
Putin introduced the new notion of “geopolitical demand for Russia,” which “should be multiplied rather than simply preserved.”
The gossip about Putin’s health provided new hope for frustrated opponents of the regime both in Russia and abroad.
Separatism rears its head again. Secession petitions began circulating in many US states after President Barack Obama won reelection.
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.