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  • Author: Toivo Martikainen, Katri Pynnöniemi, Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia has perceived itself as a great power and has sought international acknowledgement of its status for years. The fact that Moscow regards the post-Soviet space as its sphere of ‘privileged interests’ and the sovereignty of the other post-Soviet states as subordinate to Russia’s national interests is nothing new. Likewise, Russia has persistently objected to the dominant role played by the US in world politics, and the enlargement of NATO. It has attempted to influence the security policy orientation and political choices made by post-Soviet states, and other states neighbouring Russia, such as Finland. These goals are well-established and are likely to remain fundamentally un- changed for years to come.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Finland
  • 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: 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: Varun Sahni
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The statement by India's national security adviser on March 6th 2014 referring to "legitimate" Russian interest in Ukraine was unsurprisingly criticised in the West, but appreciated in Russia. Most observers missed other important elements in the statement: reference to Ukraine's internal issues; recognition that both Russian and other interests were involved; and emphasis on a peaceful settlement, reconciliation and negotiation. Debate on the Ukrainian crisis has been largely absent in India due to preoccupation with national elections, widespread consensus that Russia is a dependable "friend of India", and sneaking admiration of President Putin for his "decisiveness" in promoting Russia's interests and open defiance of the West. While China and Pakistan have deployed historical/ethno-cultural arguments to dispute Indian sovereignty over territories that India considers its own, India has consistently rejected claims to alter the territorial status quo on grounds of kinship across sovereign borders.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, India, Asia
  • Author: Chris Alden
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Assessments of the official Chinese reaction to the crisis in Ukraine have focused primarily on China's abstention in the vote on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russian actions and, to a lesser degree, on the three-pronged Chinese proposal for addressing the crisis. However, by examining an array of Chinese sources, including media reports, editorials, and research think-tank publications, a number of viewpoints are presented that provide a better sense of the scope of Chinese thinking on the subject. These concentrate on the notion of Chinese neutrality, Western interference, the domestic sources of the Ukrainian crisis, and possible policy options available to Chinese decision-makers. Understanding these provides a more nuanced understanding of Chinese reactions to the Ukrainian crisis and its possible significance for China.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth Sidiropoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: South Africa did not join in the chorus of condemnation against Russia's annexation of the Crimea, instead adopting a position that in part mirrored language used by Russia to explain its actions, but in other ways reflected key principles of South African foreign policy. Together with its fellow BRICS members, South Africa opposed the imposition of sanctions and was critical of suggestions that Russia might be excluded from the G-20 Summit in Australia later in the year. Non-interference in the internal affairs of states and the inviolability of borders have been central organising principles of African affairs since decolonisation. South Africa's approach must be understood in the context of a desire to see the balance of forces change to reflect the rise of emerging powers. The West's unilateral actions since the end of the cold war have not sat well with the South African government. Civil society elements aligned to the ruling tripartite alliance have condemned what they perceive as Western propaganda against Russia and the West's involvement in stirring unrest in Maidan Square, Kiev. Furthermore, from a realpolitik perspective, South Africa accords its alliance with the BRICS states high priority. Yet, as a relatively small country, it is in South Africa's interests to encourage adherence to a set of global rules that are respected by all.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa
  • 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: Steven Blockmans
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine has unleashed a storm of grief and anger in the EU and around the world. Heads of state and government have joined the public outcry and called for tough action against those directly and indirectly responsible for this heinous crime. The EU's reaction, however, has been lame so far by comparison.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Maria Raquel Freire
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: TThis policy brief focuses on the interplay of external actors in the South Caucasus, i.e. the EU, NATO and Russia, looking specifically at how political and security relations have been shaped. Three main issues are highlighted: firstly, that the South Caucasus is a heterogeneous area and that the concept of being a region in its own right is underdeveloped; secondly, that despite the enlarged involvement of international players in the area, the South Caucasian countries retain agency and are not mere agents of foreign role-players; and, thirdly, that the area is characterised by processes of competition and collaboration that do not necessarily meet common agendas, despite shared interests regarding regional stability. The paths of the three South Caucasian republics has been different, with Armenia being dependent on Russia, Azerbaijan pursuing a policy of independence regarding external players, and Georgia assuming a pro-Western, anti-Russian position. The lack of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, EU involvement in crisis management in the wake of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia, a diminished NATO presence and increased Russian assertiveness in the area are central elements to understanding ongoing policies and practices. This complex framework suggests the need to address challenges and opportunities in the South Caucasus in terms of the complexity of the actors and factors at play.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With exciting economic opportunities and serious environmental challenges, the Arctic is transforming and re-emerging as a geopolitically important region. Major global players within and without the Arctic are paying greater attention to the region. While Russia is a traditional Arctic state with significant economic and security interests in the region, China, the US and the EU have also expressed their Arctic interests more explicitly. They are keen to tap into the economic potential and have a say in the way the region becomes accessed, exploited and governed. As a result, the Arctic is no longer a spatially or administratively confined region, but is instead taking its new form in the midst of contemporary global politics. The globalization and economization of the Arctic will most likely downplay environmentalism and reduce the relative influence of the indigenous people and small Arctic states in Arctic affairs. Arctic governance is also likely to turn more complex and complicated as the economic and political stakes are raised.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Ondřej Ditrych
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The Putin regime seems to have chosen to publicly expose Ryan Fogle not simply as a “tit-for-tat” for the embarrassing release of footage by the FBI of the meetings of “illegals” detained in the U.S. (2010) with Russian diplomats, but to gesture toward domestic audiences and to humiliate the U.S. in order to weaken its position in mutual negotiations, knowing that Washington may not be in the position to retaliate.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Intelligence, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Daniel Gorevan
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The world was rightly appalled by the use of chemical weapons in Damascus on 21 August 2013. If the recent diplomatic initiatives by the USA and Russia mean that these weapons are never again used, it would be a great achievement. But it won't be enough.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Crime, Human Rights, International Law, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Russia, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • 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: Paul Richardson
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For the first time in its history, Russia this year assumed the leadership of a major Asia- Pacific forum—APEC. In September the organization's annual summit will be held in Vladivostok and through this congress Russia hopes to demonstrate to the world, and its own citizens, that the country is once again a power in both Europe and Asia. It is a bold vision, which is bound to Russia's national development strategy and Great Power aspirations. As one Russian diplomat told this author, if Russia really becomes involved in Asia it could change the country and also the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, International Affairs, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Andrei Makarychev, Alexander Sergunin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This policy brief analyses the state of EU–Russian relations as seen from the vantage point of the summit held on June 9-10 in Nizhny Novgorod. We describe the political context in which the summit was embedded, the anticipations it evoked from the both sides, its outcomes and some perspectives for the nearest future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Ellie Fogarty
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: International interest in Antarctica is rising. Major powers such as China and Russia have voiced their interest in the continent's resource potential, strongly suggesting the current prohibition of resource exploitation will be revisited after 2048. These developments pose a potential threat to the longevity of the Antarctic Treaty System as well as Australia's dormant claim to 42 per cent of the continent. Australia has limited Antarctic presence and capability, and posits its policy in terms of science and environmental management rather than national security. This raises questions about its ability to preserve its sovereignty claim.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Australia
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin, Samuel A. Greene
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The rising costs of economic and political uncertainty in Russia are bringing a new, if tentative, willingness in Moscow to engage in real policy analysis. As it reels from a series of shocks, Russia risks falling further behind a world that is rethinking trade, security, nuclear nonproliferation, climate change, and other priorities. Western capitals seeking real engagement with Russia would do best to place relations with Moscow on an institutional, rather than a personal, footing. As the Kremlin struggles to formulate clear positions on emerging issues, Western policy makers must work with Russia's independent voices to ensure that the country's interests are duly represented at global policy tables.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Ross Wilson, Damon Wilson
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Kyrgyzstan is lurching forward, its future uncertain. Eleven weeks after street protests forced the collapse of the regime of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and three weeks after the worst ethnic violence in the country's history, a measure of security-enforced calm has returned. The apparently successful June 27 referendum on a new constitution and mandate for Interim President Roza Otunbayeva will provide legitimacy and confidence to the government. But Otunbayeva and the group around her appear to underestimate the difficulties they face and to overestimate their ability to control events. They will have to work hard to overcome divisions among their ranks, staggering political and economic challenges, the risks of renewed violence in the south and antipathy toward Kyrgyzstan elsewhere in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With Washington's influence on the Caspian region at its lowest ebb in many years, the Obama administration could reverse this trend with a new approach that accepts Russia's presence and China's interest as historical and geographical givens and emphasizes short- and medium-term problem solving in multilateral and bilateral settings instead of long-term political and economic transformations. The United States can accomplish more in the Caspian region by focusing on military reform and building security capacity than on forming military alliances. The United States should switch from a multiple pipeline strategy to a policy that advances competition by promoting market pricing for energy producers, consumers, and transit states. The United States could facilitate the introduction of renewable sources of energy as a stimulus to economic recovery and a source of enhanced social security. The United States should develop a nuanced strategy that encourages political development through social and educational programs and local capacity building. The Obama administration should name a high-level official as a presidential envoy to this region.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Washington, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There are voices in the Obama Administration who believe that the Kremlin is able and willing to exert pressure on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, perceived geopolitical and economic benefits in the unstable Persian Gulf, in which American influence is on the wane, outweigh Russia's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. The Kremlin sees Iran not as a threat but as a partner or an ad-hoc ally to challenge U.S. influence. Today, both Russia and Iran favor a strategy of "multipolarity," both in the Middle East and worldwide. This strategy seeks to dilute American power, revise current international financial institutions, and weaken or neuter NATO and the OSCE, while forging a counterbalance to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Russian technological aid is evident throughout the Iranian missile and space programs. Russian scientists and expertise have played a direct and indirect role in these programs for years. According to some reports, Russian specialists are helping to develop the longer-range Shahab-5, and Russia has exported missile production facilities to Iran. Moscow has signed a contract to sell advanced long-range S-300 air-defense systems to Iran. Once Iran has air defenses to repel Israeli or American air strikes and nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, it will possess the capacity to destroy Israel (an openly stated goal of the regime) and strike targets throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Beyond that, if and when an ICBM capability is achieved, Tehran will be able to threaten the U.S. homeland directly. Given the substantial Russian interests and ambitions, any grand bargain would almost certainly require an excessively high price paid by the United States to the detriment of its friends and allies. Russia simply does not view the situation through the same lens as the U.S.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East