As Russia begins to wind down its military operation in Syria, it is time to assess what it has taught us about how the Russian military operates.
When it comes to Russia’s geopolitics, the international community has a lot to grumble about.
The Valdai Discussion Club hosted the 5th meeting of the Valdai Middle East dialogue, «The Middle East: From Violence to Security.» The following is a summary of the discussions and conclusions reached by its participants.
The norms regarding international responsibility are now reduced to defining the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts. Yet the main problem lies in the non-binding nature of the majority of decisions made by bodies of international justice and the incompetence of most of them.
The hackneyed saying “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” is as relevant today as never before, but there is no stopping to the audacious flight of imagination. Popular as it is, extrapolation of current trends to future periods does not work as something always gets in the way, while attempts to draw a completely different picture look like imaginative writing. And still we have taken the risk.
The Russian military campaign in Syria has been a major military and political event with significant regional and global consequences. It is post-Soviet Russia’s first openly-conducted full-scale military operation abroad.
The three pillars of Saudi power projection, namely Islam, oil, and the U.S. patronage, have grown considerably weaker in recent years. The era of checkbook diplomacy is truly over and Riyadh will have to invest more in diplomacy.
Whereas the short conflict with Georgia in 2008 resulted in a radical reform of Russia’s Air Force, the participation of Russian military aviation in the Syrian campaign will have even more far-reaching effects since the experience acquired during it is immeasurably greater.
The fast build-up of China’s military power is a natural and inevitable process, albeit belated. China is only bringing its military capability into line with the scale of its economy, territory and population. More importantly, it is taking systematic and very costly efforts to make its armed forces ready for active combat operations in remote regions of the world.
U.S.-Russian relations begin to resemble the Cold War, as the U.S. institutes containment policies in preparation for a long-term showdown. The issue then becomes who can hold out longer to demonstrate the resolve necessary to get the other side to back down.
In the fall of 2015, Russia resolved to raise the stakes in Syria by launching an air campaign at the request of Damascus.
President Putin's decision to start pulling Russian troops out of Syria made headlines around the world this week. But if one recalls official statements at the start of the operation and after it was in full force, the decision was to be expected.
Material for discussion at the middle east dialogue of the Valdai discussion club, Moscow, February 25-26, 2016
Faced with a crisis, the Russian authorities are trying to convince their people that all of Russia’s troubles come from abroad, but its main battles are also won there.
They agree on key points. And no one wants to see the region in chaos or run by the Islamic State.
Opinion polls show the fragility and inconsistency of many attitudes towards war. Currently, it is tentative catastrophism or, using the terminology of Shlapentokh, catastrophism of judgments but not action. It is hard to predict what will happen next.
Russia is seeking to consolidate itself and enhance resilience in preparation to defend its interests. This is not a traditional form of mobilization—that of a “nation in arms,” which is no longer politically sustainable—but represents more a “nation armed” to face the problems of the 21st century.
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.
Nearly a quarter of a century after US-led coalition forces relied extensively on information technology, hi-tech precision weapons and joined-up military doctrine to comprehensively defeat Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army in Operation Desert Storm, the concept, implications and legacy of the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs remains both contested and indistinct.
The year 2015 has demonstrated a severe imbalance in the world order and the impossibility of returning to interaction governed by old principles. As global players strive for a return to their individual perception of a “golden age,” Fyodor Lukyanov considers which geopolitical model appears the most likely in the near future.
Russia is ready for dialogue with the EU on a fundamentally new basis. A return to the relations we had three years ago is pointless and impossible. We must create a new format.
The “One Belt, One Road” strategic initiative is a focus and priority for China’s foreign strategy in the new century. What is particularly interesting is that this inter-regional cooperation initiative driven by concrete projects aims to link the Eurasian Economic Union with systemic policies and institutional designs.
In 2002, AKP government came to power, multidimensional and active foreign policy has been their vision. AKP government took politically and economically unstable country that’s why first years of AKP period, TFP was not active as they assumed. Ahmet Davuto?lu can be considered as an architect of new Turkish foreign policy under AKP period.
By the middle of the second decade of the 21st century it has become clear that the world is moving towards a balance of power that was more typical of the 17th and 18th centuries, with the appropriate geopolitical adjustments. Western influence, with its possibilities and military capabilities, is decreasing, while the East and the South are rising.
“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.
It’s easy to criticize the Nobel Peace Prize, for incontestable decisions are few and far between in its history. This prize is a political barometer and an indicator of the state of affairs in the world.
The Turkish Air Force’s attack on a Russian aircraft flying over Syria has jeopardized development prospects for Russia-Turkey cooperation in the gas sector.
While escalation of the conflict between Russia and Turkey is unlikely for now, so too is any full restoration of ties between the two estranged nations. What’s most likely is a new type of frozen conflict.
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.