Variability and Stability

23 june 2012

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 turbulent political season in Russia has not brought about dramatic changes in the system, yet it has demonstrated that stagnation should be least expected in the country and that, therefore, its foreign policy will change, as well – especially as the situation in the world keeps everyone in alert and ready for anything.

The turbulent political season in Russia has not brought about dramatic changes in the system, yet it has demonstrated that stagnation should be least expected in the country and that, therefore, its foreign policy will change, as well – especially as the situation in the world keeps everyone in alert and ready for anything.

Dmitry Yefremenko analyzes Russian developments in the context of the global turbulence and concludes that during Vladimir Putin’s presidency Russia most likely will not avoid major shocks and that the country’s foreign policy should help minimize risks. Andrei Tsygankov argues with those who believe that Russia’s foreign policy remains unchanged because it is guided by expansionist logic inherent in authoritarian regimes. Svetlana Babayeva discusses the now fashionable belief that social networking fosters democratic changes, and warns that the importance of this factor should not be overestimated. Nikolay Spasskiy reflects on the changes in Russia and expresses doubt that this country should follow in the footsteps of contemporary Europe.

Alexei Miller and Thomas Sherlock discuss, each in his own way, interrelationships between history and national identity. The Russian historian describes the process of creating national symbols, while his U.S. counterpart compares the ways Russia and America sanitize their pasts.

Mutual relationships in the Russia-U.S.-China triangle are gradually becoming the most prominent part of international relations. Xiong Guangkai writes about the responsibility shared by these three countries for world stability and that they do not have a right to groundless conflicts. Roderick MacFarquhar, in contrast, focuses on tensions and difficulties in the relations between the three states. Vassily Kashin analyzes how modern China views Russia and, through this prism, its own role in the world. Allen Lynch takes the reader back to the unending discussion of reforms, namely, why China’s path has proved to be more efficient than those of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia.

Kevin Ryan and Simon Saradzhyan suggest using the positive experience gained by Moscow and Washington in the most successful area of their mutual cooperation – space exploration – and repeating this success in missile defense. Andrei Bezrukov regrets that the American foreign policy is flying on “autopilot” to a preset trajectory and that it is unable to adequately respond to changes taking place in the world.

Yevgeny Vinokurov and Alexander Libman discuss a Russian foreign-policy priority that has been consistently translated into life by Moscow, namely, its desire for integration with its most important neighbors. This integration was launched by the establishment of the Customs Union. Ivlian Khaindrava writes about Caucasian politics which has inseparably linked two now unfriendly countries – Georgia and Russia. Andrei Baklanov analyzes problems brought about by the Syrian crisis, the most acute regional crisis of today. He recalls Moscow’s old idea, expressed back in the 1990s-early 2000s, to create a multilateral mechanism for maintaining security in the Middle East. The Syrian crisis has proved that this idea is still relevant. Kayhan Barzegar gives an Iranian view of the recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East, and denies allegations by Arab commentators that Tehran’s political presence and the Shia factor serve as catalysts for the unrest.

The instability in the region, which provides for the bulk of world energy supplies, has a huge impact on the situation in the raw materials markets. Our authors offer different views on how global energy trends may affect Russia’s relations with the European Union, its main client in this field. Frank Umbach is confident that Moscow’s reluctance to play by the rules of United Europe and to pay heed to changes caused by the emergence of a surplus of gas in the world will result in Russia losing its positions as the main energy supplier. Tedo Dzhaparidze and Ilia Roubanis note that both the European Union and Russia are now in weak positions because of the economic crisis, and that any politically motivated rivalry between them may cost them huge commercial losses.

In the next issue we will continue discussing opportunities that may open up for Russia’s foreign policy under the new president amid the changes in the world situation, and whether it has any alternatives.

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