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  • Author: Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cooperation between the EU and Russia in the field of energy efficiency has come under the spotlight in the past two years. In Europe and Russia alike, enthusiasm and expectations are rising that energy efficiency will become an area for successful cooperation including the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernization and other frameworks for cooperation. Yet, the practicalities of that cooperation can still be characterized as being in the "pilot phase". This has become apparent in most of the interviews conducted during this study. Despite the enthusiasm, there is a noticeable and recurring feeling of uncertainty over how the cooperation might turn out in practice and whether the declared goals and intentions will be matched by material results. At the same time, the view that was also commonly expressed was that the actors involved in the cooperation activities were ready and willing to steer cooperation forwards onto a more project-oriented footing, not focusing on merely talking and exchanging views and experiences.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Transport is one of those few topics where the EU and Russia seem to have come to an agreement. The common understanding is that further integration of the transport systems and the removal of bottle necks serves the interests of both parties in the face of the expected increase in traffic volumes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Golts
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Contrary to the traditional behaviour during the election period, the Russian government is risking irritating the security ministries and agencies by conducting extremely painful reforms in the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. However, the authorities cannot avoid such reforms because of the total inefficiency of these two “power ministries”. In the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, the Defence Ministry decided to carry out the most radical military reform undertaken in Russia over the past 100 years. However, it is still unclear whether the reformers will be able to resolve the main problem concerning the military construction – the repeal of conscription. In contrast to the Armed Forces, the reform of the Ministry of the Interior does not even touch the major deficiencies in the law enforcement agencies, namely their centralization, lack of public control, and the prevalence of repressive functions over protection of citizens. The ongoing reform is merely a great purge. The country's leadership believes that by firing corrupt police officers, it can solve the problem of corruption in general. The reform of the Security Council and the rejection of any reform of the Ministry of the Interior troops is a prescription for possible public unrest rather than an attempt to improve inter-agency coordination. The genuine reason for these reforms is the complete exhaustion of Prime Minister Putin's model of organizing the security forces. Yet, the next president will need their complete loyalty because of the real possibility of public unrest in the next few years.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Many in Russia have expressed their disappointment with Putin's decision to run for a third presidential term.They claim that Putin is becoming the new Brezhnev and that the stability he was once praised for bringing about in Russia is now turning to stagnation. Cynicism and disillusionment with the Putin regime seem to be becoming more widespread in Russia. Ever-increasing corruption, lack of the rule of law and political competition as well as lack of innovation and dynamism in the economy all reinforce the general feeling of pessimism. One would expect that the weakening legitimacy of the regime would lead to vocal demands for change. However, this is not the case in Russia, where several historical, political, structural and sociological conditions make wider popular protests unlikely. The tragedy of today's Russia seems to be that the regime is too weak to reform itself, yet simultaneously strong enough to prevent viable alternatives to its rule from gaining ground. Despite the likelihood of a negative future trajectory, Putin's Russia seems set to drag on.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: To understand the political constraints on Russia's economic development, three dimensions should be explored simultaneously. The relations between Russia and the outside world (where Russia stands in comparison to others, and what it is prepared to do to advance its position), Russia's relations with its own past (the evolution of the Muscovite matrix), and the relations between ideas and political action (“the practical value of ideas in solving political dilemmas”). In this paper I will briefly discuss the first two aspects and then focus more closely on the third.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Mikael Mattlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A vigorous debate is raging on the EU's normative roles in the global context. The EU actively promotes its political values outside of the Union, especially with regard to prospective accession countries. Yet, a normative foreign policy approach encounters considerable challenges when confronted with major powers, such as China and Russia that do not always share the political values promoted by the EU. Attempts at pursuing a normative policy towards these countries often come across as unserious or half-hearted. This paper discusses EU normative policy towards China, identifying loss of the moral high ground, conflicting interests of EU members and lack of leverage towards China as the three main factors hampering it. The paper argues that instead of a half-hearted offensive normative approach towards China, the EU may be better off with a more determined policy of defensive normativity. More broadly, the EU faces a stark choice between its desire to be a Normative Power and its wish to be a Great Power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi, Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The political system that Vladimir Putin established during the first decade of the 2000s is often referred to as 'the power vertical'. The term suggests a stable, streamlined and effective centre-led system. Yet, this image does not quite correspond with Russian reality. The system creates inefficiency, encourages corruption and is hostile towards bottom-up political initiative. The current leadership acknowledges that Russian stability is on shaky ground and therefore the system is in need of modernization. The economy is clearly a priority for the leadership: it believes that the political system's modernization should emerge gradually and in a highly controlled fashion from economic achievements. The current system in Russia is hostile to innovation and prone to corruption and therefore Medvedev's modernization plan is unlikely to succeed unless transparency and open competition within the system are considerably enhanced. This will be difficult to achieve because the elite benefits from the current corrupt and non-transparent system where the lines of responsibility are unclear. The West should not expect dramatic changes and radical liberal reforms in Russia. Western actors should, nevertheless, actively support and encourage economic and political reforms in the country and engage with it through international cooperation on specific issues such as anti-corruption policy. By stepping up its engagement with Russia, the West can demonstrate that a prosperous, competitive and modern Russia is also in the interests of the West.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Pavel K. Baev
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The maritime border delimitation deal between Russia and Norway sensationally announced by President Dmitri Medvedev in Oslo on 27 April 2010 and signed in Murmansk on 15 September 2010 warrants a re-appraisal of Russia's Arctic policy. The penchant for sensationalism often spills over from the media into policy analysis, which recycles perceptions of the 'struggle for resources' reaching the intensity of a 'great Arctic game' and escalating into a 'new Cold War'. In reality, however, Moscow has not overstepped the rules of international law and has remained committed to the 'club regulations' of several Arctic institutions, so 2010 might set the trend towards a de-escalation of tensions in the High North. It would have been too simplistic to explain away the pronounced emphasis on cooperation in Russia's foreign policy with references to the impact of the economic recession, which has undercut the previous rise of ambitious self-assertiveness. Rather, the Arctic policy is shaped by a dynamic interplay of poorly compatible Russian interests and intentions, and this paper seeks to demonstrate that this interplay cannot be reduced to an equation of security imperatives and economic drivers because immaterial ideas add to its complexity.
  • Topic: Cold War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The adoption of the new energy efficiency legislation in Russia in 2009 has led to anticipation that a new exciting avenue of cooperation is about to open up in Russia-EU relations. The EU has been called upon to support the Russian initiatives as they would make its energy relations with Russia more stable. Furthermore, because both Russia and the EU are working towards the same goal of making their respective economies more energy efficient, the two are natural partners. This partnership is often postulated in terms of transferring European investments and technologies to Russia’s emerging energy efficiency market.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Rumour has it that prior to his first visit to Beijing in spring 2008, President Medvedev instructed officials at the Ministry of Trade and Development to take a picture of Moscow that would aptly convey Russia's drive for modernization and innovation to his Chinese hosts. In carrying out his orders, employees from the ministry spent two months looking for a suitable place to photograph, but it is not known whether they were successful in their quest or not. Perhaps the story is only apocryphal, and no such order was ever given. Nevertheless, the anecdote has sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of the country's current leadership that there is actually not that much to see when it comes to the campaign for the 'technological modernization' of Russia.
  • Topic: Development, Emerging Markets, Markets, Political Economy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Moscow