Valdai Discussion Club Report
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.
One can find too much proof of Russophobia in mainstream Western media that prevents straight thinking. It is not about the winning the war on terror or containing the climate change, it is about the winning the war against Russia.
“Fifty years ago the streets of Leningrad taught me a lesson: if a fight is inevitable, hit first.” These words by Vladimir Putin have become a most quoted phrase of the past fall. Said at the Valdai International Discussion Club, it unambiguously conveys the underlying principle of Russia’s current foreign policy.
The Syrian crisis has deteriorated dramatically, moving from armed struggle mostly against non-state, and therefore barely identifiable, groups to a direct clash between major military powers.
The recent series of terrorist attacks in France has forced Russia and the West to recognize the undeniable fact that there is a common enemy – international terrorism, represented first and foremost by ISIS.
The attacks will almost inevitably lead to an escalation of war in Iraq and Syria, as well as to changes in the balance of forces in the Middle East as a whole.
Russia and the West fundamentally differ in their interpretations and responses to the crash of a Russian civilian airliner in Egypt. As a result, they are losing another opportunity to unite against the global threat posed by ISIS.
After the Ukraine crisis and military intervention in Syria, the key principles and ideas underpinning Russian foreign policy are becoming easier to understand.
In the recent years, a trend towards a narrowing of the sphere of individual freedoms has been observed throughout the world. At the same time, we see the expansion of sovereign freedoms — the sphere where government allows itself to interfere with a citizen’s private life.
Russia appears to be considering various political resolutions to the Syrian crisis, possibly including one without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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.
The Middle East is one of the most turbulent regions in the world today, engulfed by a wave of conflict and violence that threatens international security.
The SCO is essentially a regional cooperative association, and as such it is often perceived as a potential center of the burgeoning multipolar world, capable of providing an alternative – or a counterbalance – to the US and its allies.
Theoretically, a convergence of Russia’s and the U.S.’s vital interests may pave the way to mending fences between the two countries, with joint counteraction to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda being the most evident opportunity to start such a rapprochement.
The Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam a little more than ten years ago, had much in common with the satirists of Charlie Hebdo
Central Asian countries should be prepared for any scenario and should try to prevent the most dangerous upheavals in Afghanistan. In particular, they can strengthen their own defense capabilities and establish close cooperation with Kabul to combat regional terrorism.
Significant terrorist acts in Russia and the United States usually have the same effect. The same thing happened as recently as last spring, after the terrorist attack in Boston, as a trail was found leading back to the Caucasus.
Russia’s differences with Western countries and the US on the Syrian question, for example, are conceptual in nature.
Political power was the focus of 2012. Three of the world’s most powerful countries underwent a change in government.
Last Tuesday, September 11, while the United States was commemorating the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, anti-American demonstrations erupted at U.S. consulates in Libya and Egypt.
Rather than a future in which Chinese hegemony will replace that of the United States, we seem to be rapidly entering a world in which no country will exercise anything resembling true world leadership. This bears a sinister resemblance to the 1920s, when the United States replaced Britain as the world’s leading economic power, but was wholly unwilling to shoulder additional burdens of global leadership.
The 9/11 tragedy was an opportunity for Russia and the United States to significantly improve relations. But was there ever such an opportunity?
The tragic events in Europe can be compared to those in the United States. There is a growing gap between the elite and the electorate whose sense of stability has been profoundly shaken.
The Euronews TV channel quoted a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars standing in a crowd outside the White House on Monday.
Among the respondents favoring Chechen secession only a very small number believe that Chechnya should be entitled to independence by virtue of its right to self-determination. Remarkably, these respondents have Russia’s interests in mind (“It would be better for Russia”), not Chechnya’s.
International terrorism was at the forefront of global politics in the first decade of this young century. The concept is actually relatively new.
News about Russia’s alleged intention to contribute forces to the Western coalition in Afghanistan has made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic in the past few days.
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.