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  • Author: Philip Remler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The central task for Russian foreign policy in the era of President Vladimir Putin has been to regain the undisputed recognition that Russia is a world power like the Soviet Union before it, a status to which Russia feels entitled.1 The United Nations (UN) is Russia’s most important venue for putting its global aspirations and achievements on display. Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council boosts its claim to be part of a global oligarchy and grants it the power to veto or undermine initiatives that it deems contrary to its interests. The concepts underlying Russia’s use of the UN to promote its aspirations form the subject of this paper. Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, devotes great resources to its missions at the UN, especially New York and Geneva. It traditionally cultivates extensive expertise among its mission members, appointing them to UN postings several times over their careers and leaving them in place for long periods. Russian diplomats are noted for their abilities in drafting highly technical UN documents in English—none more so than Sergey Lavrov, currently Russia’s foreign minister and formerly its permanent representative to the UN from 1994 to 2004.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Power Politics, Law, Geopolitics, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Nations
  • Author: Andrew Weiss
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A blend of new threats and opportunities is causing Moscow to take greater risks and embrace more flamboyant policies in Europe. The Kremlin’s relationships with Italy and Austria shine a spotlight on how Europe’s domestic troubles have opened many doors for Moscow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Populism, Far Right
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy, Austria
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2015 Russian military intervention in Syria was a pivotal moment for Moscow’s Middle East policy. Largely absent from the Middle East for the better part of the previous two decades, Russia intervened to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime and reasserted itself as a major player in the region’s power politics. Moscow’s bold use of military power positioned it as an important actor in the Middle East. The intervention took place against the backdrop of a United States pulling back from the Middle East and growing uncertainty about its future role there. The geopolitical realignment and instability caused by the civil wars in Libya and Syria and the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia have opened opportunities for Russia to rebuild some of the old relationships and to build new ones. The most dramatic turnaround in relations in recent years has occurred between Russia and Israel. The new quality of the relationship owes a great deal to the personal diplomacy between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Russia’s emergence as a major presence in Syria has meant that the Israelis now have no choice but to maintain good relations with their new “neighbor.” Some Israeli officials hope that Moscow will help them deal with the biggest threat they face from Syria—Iran and its client Hezbollah. So far, Russia has delivered some, but far from all that Israel wants from it, and there are precious few signs that Russia intends to break with Iran, its partner and key ally in Syria. Russian-Iranian relations have undergone an unusual transformation as a result of the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war. Their joint victory is likely to lead to a divergence of their interests. Russia is interested in returning Syria to the status quo ante and reaping the benefits of peace and reconstruction. Iran is interested in exploiting Syria as a platform in its campaign against Israel. Russia lacks the military muscle and the diplomatic leverage to influence Iran. That poses a big obstacle to Moscow’s ambitions in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Saunders, John Van Oudenaren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the National Interest
  • Abstract: The report provides a synthesis of Japanese and American expert perspectives on the recent history, current state and future prospects for Japan-Russia relations. The authors examine the political, diplomatic, security, economic and energy dynamics of this important, but understudied relationship. They also assess how the Japan-Russia relationship fits within the broader geopolitical context of the Asia-Pacific region, factoring in structural determinants such as China’s rise and the level of U.S. presence in the region. Finally, the authors consider potential policy implications for the United States, paying special attention to how shifts in relations between Tokyo and Moscow could impact the U.S.-Japan alliance. As Saunders observes in his introduction to the volume, the currently shifting strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, which is a central factor in Tokyo and Moscow’s efforts to foster constructive relations, also raises a host of questions for the US-Japan alliance. What are the prospects for Japan-Russia relations? What are Russian and Japanese objectives in their bilateral relations? How does the Trump administration view a possible improvement in Russia-Japan relations and to what extent will U.S. officials seek to limit such developments? Is the U.S.-Russia relationship likely to worsen and in so doing to spur further China-Russia cooperation? Could a better Russia-Japan relationship weaken the U.S.-Japan alliance? Or might it in fact serve some U.S. interests?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: For more than half a decade Ukraine has been one of epicenters on the map of geopolitical crises in the world and consequently drawn a lot of international attention worldwide. Ever since it gained its independence form the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was a of the country also changed. Ukraine has been dominated by Russia as the Russian Empire penetrated deep toward the Black Sea in the 17th century, and the position of inferiority towards Moscow was also the case in the USSR. The first upheaval dubbed the Orange Revolution sort of buffer zone between the West and East, between the United States and European allies on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other. With the change of political elites and their political preferences, the orientation in 2004, brought to power Viktor Yushchenko, who tried to conduct reforms and bring Ukraine closer to the West, but the effect of his Presidency were ephemeral. President Viktor Yanukovych turned Ukraine’s sight towards Russia again, but also kept the process of EU association alive before suddenly deciding not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU just days before the planned signing ceremony on 29th November 2013. This Yanukovych’s abrupt turn from EU in favor of stronger ties with Russia triggered the wave of massive public demonstrations which later become known as the Euromaidan and subsequently the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014. The Euromaidan Revolution toppled Yanukovych and the new pro-Western government was formed. Russia soon reacted to the change of tide in Ukraine by annexing the Crimean peninsula in March and soon the armed conflict between the pro- Western government in Kiev and Russia backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts broke out. Ever since the spring of 2014, Ukraine has been engulfed in a brutal conflict in the east of the country that is hampering its efforts to reform and get closer to the EU. Nonetheless, Ukrainian leadership is under the new President Volodymir Zelensky is striving to forge stronger links with the West and the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea
  • Author: Nikos Tsafos
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue Russian energy has divided the transatlantic alliance for over 60 years. Tensions normally just simmer, but they flare up when a new project is proposed, especially after a political crisis. In the 1960s, it was the prospect of increased Soviet oil exports following the Cuban missile crisis. In the 1980s, it was more Soviet gas for Western Europe after the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and martial law had been declared in Poland. Today, it is the proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its war against Ukraine (among other actions). Disagreements are natural in a broad alliance with diverse interests and perspectives. But it is now almost impossible to discuss Russian gas with any sense of calm (increasingly true for all things related to Russia). Russian initiatives are infused with perceptions and fears that range from the simple and legitimate to the obscure and far-fetched. In reality, arguments about Russian gas are rarely about Russian gas; they are about history, strategy, and geopolitics. Gas is just the spark. The end result is confusion and discord at a time when the transatlantic alliance has enough problems—without needing to add gas to the fire. It is time to separate Russian gas from the broader Russia agenda. Doing so will boost energy security, protect and strengthen the transatlantic alliance, and allow us to focus where the West can resist Russian power more meaningfully. This argument rests on three propositions. First, that energy does not give Russia as much power as we usually assume; second, that an antagonistic strategy is unlikely to be sustained or succeed in bringing about change, whether in energy or geopolitics; and third, that the best response to Russian gas is a set of policies that Europe should pursue anyway and that are unrelated to Russia. In short, we need to radically rethink Russian gas; how much it matters; and what the United States and Europe should do about it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Gas, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document briefly outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, International Affairs, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, European Union
  • Author: Robert Barić
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: Recent Polish proposal for financing permanent US military presence in Poland isn't motivated only to counter current Russian aggressive posture. This offer is a part of a wider Poland strategy for achieving long term security. In pursuing this strategy, Warsaw risks not only to undermine NATO cohesion, but also to deepen growing East-West divide inside the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Imperialism, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland
  • Author: Nikolay Kozhanov
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Russia and the West: Reality Check." The current level of Russian presence in the Middle East is unprecedented for the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. Records of diplomatic and political contacts show increased exchange of multilevel delegations between Russia and the main regional countries. After 2012, Moscow has attempted to cultivate deeper involvement in regional issues and to establish contacts with forces in the Middle East which it considers as legitimate. Moreover, on September 30, 2015, Russia launched air strikes against Syrian groupings fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Before that time, Russia had tried to avoid any fully-fledged involvement in the military conflicts in the region. It was also the first time when it adopted an American military strategy by putting the main accent on the use of air power instead of ground forces. Under these circumstances, the turmoil in the Middle East, which poses a political and security challenge to the EU and United States, makes it crucial to know whether Russia could be a reliable partner in helping the West to stabilize the region or whether, on the contrary, Moscow will play the role of a troublemaker.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, United States of America, European Union, Gulf Cooperation Council