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  • Author: Simeon Djankov
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the 15 years of President Vladimir Putin's rule, state control over economic activity in Russia has increased and is greater today than in the immediate postcommunist era. The concentration of political and economic power in Putin's hands has led to an increasingly assertive foreign policy, using energy as a diplomatic tool, while plentiful revenues from extractive industries have obfuscated the need for structural reforms at home. The West's 2014 sanctions on Russia have brought about economic stagnation, and with few visible means of growth, the economy is likely to continue to struggle. Watching Europe struggle with its own growth, in part because of deficiencies in its economic model, Russia will not be convinced to divert from state capitalism without evidence of a different, successful economic model. Changing course can only be pursued in the presence of political competition; the current political landscape does not allow for such competition to flourish
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Peter Harrell
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: U.S. and European sanctions on Russia mark a significant evolution in the sanctions toolkit. Officials deployed novel types of financial and energy sanctions to create a regime that imposed significant costs on Russia while minimizing collateral impacts on the U.S. and European economies. The U.S. and European decision to create these new tools was driven by the need to take an innovative approach to sanctions against an economy twice the size of the combined gross domestic products (GDPs) of all other countries subject to significant U.S. economic sanctions and on Russian companies that play an important role in global markets. These developments, while tailored to Russia’s unique circumstances, hold important lessons for the future of sanctions policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: For the best part of the last two decades, EU-Russia summits have alternated between being upbeat events where new grand integration initiatives were launched – the creation of four common spaces in 2005, the partnership for modernisation in 2010 – and rather unfriendly encounters where success was seemingly measured on how impolite the partners could be to one another.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Balkan Devlen
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: From the start of the Ukrainian crisis Turkey kept a low profile and adopted a strategy best described as "don't poke the Russian bear". Russia is a major Turkish trading partner and Turkey relies heavily on Russian natural gas for its energy needs, while Turkish prime minister Erdogan has also been dealing with serious domestic challenges in the last year. Therefore, due to both external and internal factors, Turkey will avoid confronting Russia directly and will pass the buck to the U.S. and EU. In the short to medium term there are three plausible scenarios under which Turkey will change its current policy. They include the oppression of Crimean Tatars by the Russian authorities; military confrontation in the Black Sea between Russia and NATO; or a more unified, tougher stance against Russia by the West. In the long term Turkey most likely will revert to its traditional role of balancing Russia by strengthening its ties with the West, while reducing its energy dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Lysa John
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In July 2014, a new multilateral and Southern-led development bank is expected to be launched by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – better known as the BRICS. The BRICS Development Bank will provide a fresh source of finance for developing and emerging economies to meet their development needs. Little has been made public regarding the proposed Bank's core mandate or activities but while governments negotiate the technicalities of the Bank, it is critical that they also provide a solid vision of the principles, priorities and objectives on which the Bank's activities and operations will be premised. This policy brief recommends that these include commitments to: ending extreme poverty and inequality, with a special focus on gender equity and women's rights; aligning with environmental and social safeguards and establishing mechanisms for information sharing, accountability and redress; leadership on the sustainable development agenda; the creation of mechanisms for public consultation and debate; and the adoption a truly democratic governance structure.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues, International Cooperation, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, China, Europe, India, Asia, South Africa, Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: That nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the UK, U.S. and Germany) were extended beyond the 20 July 2014 deadline was neither unexpected nor unwelcome. The parties ha d made enough headway to justify the extension, which was envisioned in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that was signed in November 2013 and came into force in January, but given the political and technical complexity, they remain far apart on fundamental issues. Unless they learn the lessons of the last six months and change their approach for the next four, they will lose the opportunity for a resolution not just by the new 24 November deadline but for the foreseeable future. Both sides need to retreat from maximalist positions, particularly on Iran's enrichment program. Tehran should postpone plans for industrial- scale enrichment and accept greater constraints on the number of its centrifuges in return for P5+1 flexibility on the qualitative growth of its enrichment capacity through research and development.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Middle East, France
  • Author: Anna Gelpern
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The escalating crisis in Ukraine has prompted the United States and Europe to impose the toughest economic sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War. Continued instability and military conflict in eastern Ukraine are straining Ukrainian finances. Despite a generous international support package, the government faces shrinking revenues, rising costs, and a spike in foreign debt payments over the next two years.
  • Topic: Cold War, Debt, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Michael Emerson, Denis Cenusa, Tamara Kovziridse, Veronika Movchan
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: While EU and US sanctions against Russia over its aggression in Ukraine, and Russia's counter-sanctions, are much discussed due to their evident political significance, less attention has been given to Russia's punitive sanctions against the three Eastern European states – Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia – that have signed with the EU Association Agreements (AA), which include Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) provisions. This paper therefore documents these trade policy restrictions and embargoes imposed by Russia, and provides some first indications of their impact. The immediate impact on trade flows, especially for agri-food products, has been substantial, albeit with some leakage through Belarus. The main instrument for the Russian measures has been allegations of non-conformity with Russian technical standards, although the correlation of these allegations with movements in Russia's geopolitical postures makes it obvious that the Russian technical agencies are following political guidelines dressed up as scientific evidence. These measures also push the three states into diversifying their trade marketing efforts in favour of the EU and other world markets, with Georgia already having taken significant steps in this direction, since in its case the Russian sanctions date back to 2006. In the case of Ukraine, Russia's threat to cancel CIS free trade preferences infiltrated trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia, leading on 12 September to their proposed postponement until the end of 2015 of the 'provisional' implementation of a large part of the AA/DCFTA. This was immediately followed on 16 September by ratification of the AA/DCFTA by both the Rada in Kyiv and the European Parliament, which will lead to its full and definitive entry into force when the 28 EU member states have also ratified it. However Putin followed the day after with a letter to Poroshenko making an abusive interpretation of the 12 September understanding.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Power Politics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Ukraine has experienced a year of unprecedented political, economic, and military turmoil. The combination of Russian military aggression in the east and a legacy of destructive policies leading to pervasive corruption has plunged the country into an existential crisis. The West, meanwhile, has been largely paralyzed with uncertainty over how to assist Ukraine without reviving Cold War hostilities. Yet all is not lost for Ukraine. A tenuous ceasefire, along with the successful elections of President Petro Poroshenko in May and a new parliament in October offer an opportunity for economic reform. If the current ceasefire in the east holds, Ukraine has a great opportunity to break out of its vicious circle of economic underperformance. Yet, the window of opportunity is likely to be brief. The new government will have to act fast and hard on many fronts to succeed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Ryszarda Formuszewicz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The tougher tone in Germany’s policy towards Russia reflects changes in Berlin’s perception of the eastern giant and in its own self-perception as a power willing to play a more active international role. This readiness for leadership could cement Germany’s status as a key international player whilst handing it the influence necessary to secure its own primary economic interests vis-à-vis Russia. However, it will also require Germany to critically address the long-standing premises of its policy towards Russia, and its appetite to overturn old assumptions remains limited. Lessons drawn by Germany now, in particular with regards to the causes of the Ukraine crisis, will prevail as a guideline for its Russia policy, and as such will also be decisive in the prospects for Polish–German cooperation.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Power Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Germany
  • Author: Maya Rostowska
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the reigning consensus that the Russian economy is facing trouble ahead, some indicators suggest that the situation is not as dire as first appeared. Moreover, it may seem that the fiscal situation in the country—particularly its copious foreign currency reserves and substantial sovereign wealth funds—could still help extricate Russia from its economic difficulties. However, the very difficult budgetary situation in the regions and the staggering levels of debt of its companies suggest that economic problems could hit the country hard. Investors should remain vigilant of social and political tensions and the possible further deterioration of the business environment in Russia.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Politics, Governance, Budget
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Artur Kacprzyk
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In the context of the Ukraine crisis, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania have called for significant strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defence policy and for permanent deployments of Allied troops in the region. This position is, however, not shared by the rest of the Central and Eastern European NATO members. Similar to Western European countries, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia do not feel as threatened by Russia’s actions and do not support moves that could damage their political and economic relations with Moscow. Fundamental differences among the current positions of the regional Allies indicate a profound divide between Central and Eastern European NATO members.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Economics, Politics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since gaining independence in December 1991, Ukraine has vacillated between the European Union and Russia for economic and political cooperation. Until recently neither had offered Ukraine much, but in the last few months, things have heated up. Ukraine's intention to sign an Association Agreement for political association and economic integration with the European Union has raised a furor in the Kremlin, which is now trying to block Ukraine from aligning itself with the European Union. Moscow has imposed trade sanctions in clear violation of its obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is pursuing an intense confrontation.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, World Trade Organization, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Evanthia Balla
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The South Caucasus, situated as it is at the crossroads of Eurasia's major energy and transport corridors, continues to play a vital role in the world's security affairs. After the end of the cold war the South Caucasus emerged as a key region in the geopolitical contest among regional and global powers. The South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are constantly performing a balancing act in their relations with the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Iran. Armenia has developed strong political and economic ties with Iran in order to counter the Turkish-Azerbaijani axis. Azerbaijan seeks to reinforce its links with the West, especially the U.S., as its main extraregional source of diplomatic and economic support, while it remains cautious towards both Russian and Iranian ambitions in the region. Especially after the 2008 war with Russia and the loss of its provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia has reinforced its links to Western powers and structures while strengthening its ties with Turkey. Both Turkey and Iran are trying to increase their influence in the region, while promoting their national interests in the international arena.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Jakob Vestergaard, Robert Hunter Wade
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: More than three years after the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s governing body agreed to reform the organization's governance so as to better reflect the increasing economic weight of dynamic emerging market economies in the world economy, only microscopic changes have been made. Emerging market and developing countries (EMDCs) have become increasingly frustrated with Western states for clinging to their inherited power, in the IMF and other important international economic governance organizations. The emerging cooperation among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) – as seen in the advanced-stage negotiations to establish a Development Bank and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement – sends a “wake up and smell the coffee” call to the West, and the latter will carry a heavy responsibility for eroding global multilateral governance if it continues to drag its heels on the needed adjustments.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Monetary Fund, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Anita Sobják
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite months of internal political wrangling, Moldova seems to be making steady progress in its Association Agreement with the EU. But the domestic political crisis has revealed many truths about both Moldova's European policy and the EU's transformative power. As such, the road to the EU remains murky as long as several variables remain in place: the ongoing tensions in the governing alliance, lower public support for European integration in Moldova, and Russia's re-emerging leverage via Transnistria. That is why Poland, together with its partners, should look for new ways to keep Moldova as the pacesetter of the Eastern Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Adnan Vatansever, David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Europe's energy discourse has been unjustifiably preoccupied with concerns about potential physical disruptions of Russian gas. Yet, the real challenge for European-Russian energy relations, and in fact, for European energy security, lies in settling on a price that leaves both sides content. While Europe will come under increasing pressure to acquire affordable energy resources to enhance its competitiveness, Gazprom may find it increasingly difficult to deliver gas at lower prices in the coming years.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: As part of the United States plan to begin military withdrawals from Afghanistan in 2014, the Department of Defense (DOD) contracted with the Russian state owned arms dealer, Rosoboronexport, to provide helicopters to the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). DOD has continued and expanded its purchases from Rosoboronexport even while acknowledging that the Russian arms dealer has enabled mass atrocities by supplying Syria's Bashar al-Assad with weapons that have been used to murder Syrian civilians.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Human Rights, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The return of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president and the probable end of Dmitri Medvedev's modernization project will increase the alienation within German-Russian relations. Germany's modernization partnership with Russia has produced limited results because the two sides have different views on the cooperation. While the German side wants to develop common projects of good practice which will modernize the Russian economy and politics, the Russian side is interested in technology transfer. The interest in and knowledge of Russia among German decision-makers is decreasing. Germany lacks vision and concepts on how to influence developments in Russia. This is also due to the resistance of the current Russian elite towards implementing political reforms. As a result, Russia is losing its most important advocate in the EU (also regarding energy policy). This will have a negative impact on EU-Russia relations because the EU lacks leadership on Russia. Ongoing changes in Russian society, which challenge the Putin system, will present an opportunity to find new allies in Russia for cooperation and modernization, which may increase Germany's interest in its large neighbour. But this will call for a more balanced approach between the Russian elites and society in Germany's Russia policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Social Stratification, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany