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 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.
A careful management of diverging interests and lingering conflicts of Russia and China in Central Asia, and expanding economic links as a gradual approach to economic integration could amount to something the EU can learn—and benefit—from.
The views and opinions expressed in this Paper are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Valdai Discussion Club, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
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.
The problem is not rooted in Islam, it is rooted in the intractable economic and social problems faced by the majority of Third World countries. Moreover, the problem is multiplied by unprecedented population growth and an inevitable transformation of demographic processes.
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.
Why no new world order has been built since the end of the Cold War
The assistance of great powers is a major resource in the struggle against the growing threat of radical Islamism in Central Asia. In this context special credit goes to Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization as the main mechanism for protecting the region against possible invasions from Afghanistan and potential ISIS expansion.
The Silk Road Belt philosophy is consonant with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s original ideas and practices. The idea of a New Silk Road cannot and should not be considered as an antagonist to the SCO.
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.
Today post-Soviet Central Asian countries are facing problems caused by old security challenges and the emergence of completely new threats. These threats may influence the prospects of secular statehood in the region. This is a serious obstacle to modernization.
Russia has already made its turn towards Asia, and the important question now is how deep and successful it will be.
While the Energy Charter has faced its own crises during the last two decades, it is now time to take the opportunity of further strengthening the organization. The Energy Charter is up to the challenge and we are now only beginning to realize its potential of becoming a 21st-century governance power in the energy investment field.
New defense technologies often create the illusion of a possibility of “victorious” wars, which provokes ever new conflicts and wars. The number and scale of conflicts in the world will hardly decrease in the coming years, while the arms race will serve primarily the needs of the development of new areas and the goal of expanding the resource base for production.
In ten to fifteen years from now the generation of the elites that grew in the Soviet Union and that shares the same culture codes and the ability to communicate with each other like people of one country, and not like foreigners, will begin to leave the stage.
Ukraine’s economic position has long left much to be desired, but the prospects of receiving much needed economic assistance are vague.
The innovative process, especially one so weak and fragile as in Russia, is very sensitive to external factors; it requires that politicians work in calm and silence. So the first simple and inexpensive step would be to revise the diplomatic lexicon and style.
Direct benefits from participation in integration projects with Russia most often outweigh “birds in the bush,” promised “at the end of a long journey,” after the aspirant has fulfilled an endless and arbitrarily changed list of conditions.
The modern world is witnessing a shift of power in all spheres of public life towards supranational and transnational structures, and at the same time, growing aspirations of some regions of large states to gain autonomy or even independence.
Georgia was the first sovereign state to recognize the genocide against the Circassians. However, the recognition did not occur all of a sudden; certain steps were made back in the 1990s by parliaments of the North Caucasian republics.
Deng understood China much better than Gorbachev did the Soviet Union. Also, Deng was incomparably better positioned to manage the risky structural reform – even along just one (economic) dimension – than was Gorbachev.
Russia needs a Lee Kuan Yew style of state – with inevitable adjustments, because we are not Chinese. A strong, robust and honest state. A wise one. And tough, if need be.
Ukraine is always said to be at a “crossroads.” It has so many existential dilemmas of national identity and foreign policy direction. But this time its partners are demanding answers and its options really are narrowing. It is in danger of becoming a dysfunctional semi-autocracy and a double periphery rather than a mutual neighborhood.
What we observe in Turkey is the emergence of a middle power with an ambitious leader that may sometimes overjudge his own powers, but aiming to enhance the power position of his country during a period of a major world economic crisis and rapidly changing circumstances.
Given the crisis in the U.S. and the European Union, the continued health of Asia and emerging markets, and Russia’s effort to look East, it is not unimaginable that twenty years hence the world will see the rise of Russia and the beginning of an Asia-Pacific century, potentially impacting Russia, ASEAN and their mutual relations.
Illusory hopes that new technological possibilities will help create unlimited wealth have never come true. No invention can ensure a life of ease for decades. Of course, the world has changed – but, as the developments of recent years have shown, not to an extent that the established economic patterns should be discarded as worthless. The 21st-century world is a renewed yet still industrial world.
There is no greater joy for a Russian intellectual than to speculate about a decline of America. The problem is that the Russians still do not see any other worthy role for their country in the 21st century than the role of a superpower, as a state that realizes itself primarily through influence on global processes.
Many IT companies do not need Skolkovo’s Garden of Eden. Far more important to them are financial instruments (for example, lower taxes), mechanisms of interacting with other businesses, institutions and real investors and the selling of ideas. All this can be arranged in a long-distance mode.
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.