Power politics is not “back” after having been away on some vacation. It has always been here. What is different today is that power plays are more visible because other countries are pushing back harder.
In the next three to five years, Ukraine’s political system will most likely be a mosaic of virtually independent autonomous territories nominally united in a single state. Such a compromise would be acceptable to all the main actors – Moscow, the West, and the central Ukrainian government.
Mounting economic problems will exacerbate Ukrainians’ ressentiment towards the West as well as mistrust and even hatred towards their own political elites. Russia should make use of Ukrainian society’s disappointment with Ukrainian nationalism and pro-European liberalism.
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.
I have already written before that having emerged from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.
The BRICS can serve as a locomotive for Russia’s geopolitical rise in the 21st century. This development will not necessarily imply a deterioration of relations with the West, which would be almost inevitable if Moscow were to face it alone.
Can Turkey become another Ukraine for Russia? Such speculation would be premature at this point. Today the choice of Turkey as a transit country for the transportation of Russian hydrocarbons to Europe looks strategically sound.
A conviction formed over time that the United States was abusing the friendship offered by Russia. It was the position of the U.S. and its allies on Yugoslavia and NATO expansion that made both the general public in Russia and its elites take a critical view of Washington’s policy.
The last twenty-five years have largely been wasted. The world has become a more dangerous place, Europe is about to split up and become weaker or even slide into a large-scale war. Unless Europe works out a new ambitious and unifying idea, the Ukrainian crisis and its demons will continue spreading.
This report was prepared following the conclusions of XI annual Valdai Discussion Club meeting.
What has been done since 2008 can probably be considered the most ambitious, consistent and effective military reform in Russia. The decisive turn from the traditional mobilizational army allowed Russia to create permanent and high readiness forces well adapted for operation in the post-Soviet region.
The following speech was delivered on November 8, 2014 at the New Policy Forum symposium in Berlin
The Ukrainian crisis is just the latest example of this failure of the Russian Federation and the West to create a post-Cold War world order
It is essential that Russia avoid unilateral involvement in Afghan affairs, which otherwise would have adverse consequences for Russia’s national interests both regionally and internationally. And this is the scenario the U.S. is likely to try to push forward given current tense U.S.-Russia relations.
As long as the fundamental restructuring of the global system is not reflected in people’s outlook (and this will take decades), the vacuum in the inner sanctum of Russian national consciousness will continue to be filled by the West.
Germany would not “divorce” the U.S. to embrace Russia. Still, a monogamous relationship between Washington and Berlin could well be transformed to a peculiar menage a trois, in which Moscow could find its role in sharing influence and possibly even domination in East/Central European space.
Creating substituting production capacities, operating a semi-isolated financial system, spending resources to overcome trade barriers and looking for new markets will require enormous and unjustified expenditures, which will inevitably affect the competitiveness of Russia’s national economy and lead to the impoverishment of the population.
The Ukrainian crisis is just ushering in a series of conflicts amid which a polycentric system of international relations will form. An effective multilateral mechanism must be created for preventing and settling crises in Europe and North Eurasia.
Moscow appeared to be unprepared for polycentrism as it has not yet grasped its basic rule, which was well known to Russian chancellors of the 19th century: one should make compromises on individual issues in order to have closer relations with other centers of power than they have among themselves.
The recent sinking of the Mistral deal, in which France was to have supplied Russia with high-tech assault craft for 1.2 billion euros ($1.66 billion), was heralded as a political victory for the West.
Islamic State fighters have plenty of reason to hate Putin in light of Russia supplying their foe Syrian President Bashar Assad with weapons throughout that country's conflict, and it would be a mistake to assume their video warning is an empty threat.
To talk of a “point of no return” is unconstructive and ignores the complex reality of international negotiations and conflict resolution
The political crisis that erupted in Ukraine in early 2014 has ended the period in Russian-Western relations that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression.
The Ukraine crisis was not an isolated spat or a tragic misunderstanding, but rather the last straw—for both sides. The failure to achieve an acceptable post–Cold War settlement produced an unanchored relationship between the West and Russia.
While the West accuses Russia of territorial ambitions in Ukraine, it is actually the U.S. and NATO that have forced Russia’s hand in the post-Soviet space.
Armenia, opting for self-restraint of its own accord, minimized its risks and losses. As to whether the Armenian-style Finlandization can be an example for other former Soviet republics would depend not only on their own choice.
Instead of chauvinism and chaos Russia needs a third alternative. And that is a combination of moderate patriotism and moderate liberalism manifesting itself in the commitment to freer life by law, without corruption, but with mature self-government.
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.