About Eternal Issues in Real Time

18 december 2014

Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club. Research Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

Resume: The events of this year have raised questions about fundamental concepts of international relations – War and Peace, the State, and International Law. These reflections evoke an especially philosophical mood in contrast to what is happening in world politics today, where all actors obviously lack a long-term vision and strategy.

The events of this year have raised questions about fundamental concepts of international relations – War and Peace, the State, and International Law. These reflections evoke an especially philosophical mood in contrast to what is happening in world politics today, where all actors obviously lack a long-term vision and strategy. Decisions are being made reactively, ad hoc, without analyzing the consequences at least for the medium term. Meanwhile, the chaotic global environment affects all of these eternal basic principles, undermining the supports of world order.

Internal processes come into resonance with external ones, and the delicate margins that keep them separate are disappearing. The State as an institution is being attacked from all sides. Military and non-military challenges alternate, leaving governments confused as to how to respond to them.

The authors of this issue analyze the phenomenon of “new war.” Mikhail Barabanov discusses the results of the Ukrainian campaign from the point of view of reforms carried out in the Russian Armed Forces, and comes to the conclusion that the reforms have paid off. Sergei Minasyan looks at the same events through the prism of the history of conflicts in the post-Soviet space over the last 25 years and finds similarities and striking differences between them. Sergei Markedonov writes about the new unrecognized territories that have emerged in the east of Ukraine. Their future is dim as they may get stuck halfway on the road to sovereignty for quite a long while. Nikolay Silayev predicts that the 21st century will see an expansion of stateless territories which will be governed on entirely different principles. “Hybrid wars” and “hybrid politics” cause the emergence of “hybrid states.”

Sergei Karaganov analyzes what has happened in the world over the past year. The current instability will last long because it is rooted not in Ukraine but in the lack of solid foundation for political development of all major actors in world politics and of international institutions.

Russia is no exception. Olga Malinova reflects on its “mobilizational identity” – how the aggravating external environment impacts self-identification of Russians and why they need some “dope” to get united. Alexei Miller explores the changes that have taken place in Russia’s historical policy over the past year. He concludes that historical memory policy is facing its deepest crisis of the post-Soviet era.

Eduard Ponarin and Boris Sokolov survey the evolution of the Russian establishment’s attitude to the West since the collapse of the Soviet Union and why it is now so negative.

Dmitry Suslov discusses the principles by which Moscow and Washington are guided in their policies and predicts a long confrontation between them. Sergei Afontsev analyzes the infeasibility of statements repeatedly made nowadays in the heat of discussions about the need to abandon the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency.

Evgeny Vinokurov is convinced that the current all-out crisis calls for breakthrough solutions – for example, integration of the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. Yulia Litvinova and Igor Makarov write about the inherent opportunities of the Far North of Eurasia and economic benefits of the Northern Sea Route. Alexander Gabuyev discusses difficulties faced by Russian businesses as they get reoriented towards China.

Alexander Aksenyonok and Irina Zvyagelskaya revisit the phenomenon of revolutions, specifically the recent ones – in the Middle East and Ukraine – and conclude that social upheavals increasingly often fail to bring the anticipated result – renovation. Nikita Mendkovich offers his vision of the outcome of the withdrawal of Western coalition forces from Afghanistan, and warns about the possibility of an upsurge of Islamic extremism and its spilling over into Central Asia.

Next year we will continue to monitor world events. It will surely be as thrilling as the outgoing one – and very difficult.

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