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  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Giorgio Bilanishvili, Zurab Batiashvili, Nika Petriashvili, Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: After the occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014, the epicenter of hostilities shifted to eastern Ukraine, specifically to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russian-speaking population was not loyal to Kyiv even before that but the events in Crimea and the Russian assistance invigorated the local separatists who, along with adventurers backed by the regular Russian troops, managed to gain control over parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The fighting turned out to be quite bloody and long lasting. There were large casualties on both sides, including civilians. Coupled with a high-profile incident of the downing of a passenger plane, it caused a wide international reverberation and world interest in resolving the conflict. The efforts of the leading OSCE countries had led to a certain agreement and the cessation of intense hostilities by September 2014. A quadripartite agreement (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) was achieved on the separation of the parties and a ceasefire. The line of contact was divided into sectors and precincts where a group of OSCE military observers began to monitor the “silence” regime. Since then, the intensity and scale of the hostilities have been significantly reduced. However, every now and then the situation would worsen which was followed by a new agreement on a ceasefire and the establishment of a “silence” regime. It should be noted that since March 2021, the number of incidents has increased dramatically. At the same time, regular Russian troops began to gather along Ukraine's eastern borders and Crimea.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Military Affairs, Conflict, Separatism, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea
  • Author: Giorgio Bilanishvili
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: On June 2, 2021, the new National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation was approved. It is a guiding document for Russia's security policy planning process; however, as a public document, it also has a significant political implication as it is saturated with political messages reflecting Russia's position on various important issues. Russia's new National Security Strategy is the fifth such document. The first document, which was approved as early as in 1997 by then President of Russia, B. Yeltsin, was called the Concept of National Security. At the beginning of 2000, the decree on the amendments to this document was signed by V. Putin who, at the time, was only the acting president of the Russian Federation. Afterwards, at a meeting of the Russian State Council in September 2008, then President, D. Medvedev, declared the need to develop a new strategy. It should be noted that this session was officially dedicated to the "conflict in South Ossetia." As a result, the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation, which was supposed to be active up until 2020, was approved in May 2009; however, this strategy did not last as far as 2020 - in late 2015, it was replaced by a new national security strategy developed by Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the armed aggression in eastern Ukraine. These events created a whole new reality which also strained relations between Russia and the West, eventually reflected in the strict tone towards the West in the 2015 National Security Strategy. As for the National Security Strategy, it was developed in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Law on Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation adopted in 2014. According to this law, the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation must be adjusted every six years. A new National Security Strategy was developed and approved on July 2, 2021, precisely in line with the requirement of this six-year period of the law.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Georgia, Crimea, Russian Federation
  • Author: Giorgi Badridze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: One of the fundamental problems of international relations is that people from the countries whose political system is based on the rule of law and human rights often do not understand the logic of conduct of authoritarian regimes. Incidentally, this is equally the case with the relatively conservative and completely liberal observers. Such misunderstanding has, on many occasions, produced catastrophic outcomes. The most vivid illustration of this is the 1930’s policy of appeasement. Despite the facts that Nevil Chamberlain was motivated by the noble goal of averting the war, the wrongful assessment of the Hitler regime brought about the bloodiest war in history. In this paper, I will attempt to evaluate some aspects of Russian foreign policy which, in my humble opinion, are misunderstood in the West and have resulted in serious complications for Russia’s neighbors and the West itself and which continues to represent a clear and present danger. Naturally, I do not intend to diminish the achievements of generations of brilliant diplomats, analysts and political leaders whose wisdom, vision and courage contributed to many triumphs of Western civilization in its struggle with tyrannies. Today, the world needs precisely the type of leaders who would be ready to see the reality that the ideals of human dignity, freedom and democracy are again under threat and that they must be defended.
  • Topic: International Relations, Authoritarianism, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Harriman Institute
  • Abstract: Join us for a meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Series, co-hosted by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. In this second event of the academic year, our panelists will discuss the status of Russian relations with Central Asia and Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal. Moderated by Joshua Tucker (NYU Jordan Center) and Alexander Cooley (Harriman Institute). The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the dramatic collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul has ushered in another period of Taliban rule. Regional powers and neighbors have been anticipating the U.S. exit for some time: Russia remains a critical player in the region and, even before the U.S. withdrawal, had demonstrated a pragmatic approach to engaging with the Taliban. What is Moscow’s plan for dealing with the new Afghan government and what are its overall priorities in the region? How will this affect Russia’s relations with the Central Asian states and China? And are there any prospects for renewed cooperation between Moscow and Washington on counterterrorism issues in this period of uncertainty and potential instability? Please join this distinguished group of academic experts who will explore the new complex dynamics of a post-American Afghanistan and Central Asia. This event is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Speakers Ivan Safranchuk, Director of the Center of Euro-Asian Research and Senior Fellow with the Institute for International Studies, MGIMO Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University Artemy Kalinovsky, Professor of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Studies, Temple University Ekaterina Stepanova, Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Unit, National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moderated by: Alexander Cooley, Director of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University Joshua Tucker, Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University
  • Topic: International Relations, Military Strategy, Governance, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joanna Hosa, Tefta Kelmendi, Pavel Slunkin
  • Publication Date: 11-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Young diplomats in Eastern Partnership countries are optimistic and pro-European. Many of them want the EU to become a bolder geopolitical actor. They often criticise their countries’ leaderships and prefer to trust institutions rather than individuals. Most young diplomats tend to link success in foreign policy with domestic reforms. Russia is losing support among them, but it maintains a significant presence on the ground in their countries. Young diplomats see China as an attractive economic player but a controversial political partner. They would like to maintain good relations with the US, but the confrontation between Washington and Moscow forces some Eastern Partnership countries to take the Russian side.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Reform, Partnerships, Youth
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Carl Bildt, Gustav Gressel, Kadri Liik, Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: In recent years, the EU has based its Russia policy on modest sanctions, periodic offers of engagement, and a careful accommodation of Russian strategic sensitivities. But the Russian approach to the EU has been much less calibrated, involving deliberate attempts to disrupt the bloc’s influence in large swathes of its neighbourhood. The EU should push back against, contain, and engage with Russia, bracing itself for rocky diplomatic interactions with the country. The bloc should reframe how it speaks of human rights and democracy, while developing closer security and military links with select neighbours in the Balkans, its eastern neighbourhood, and the Middle East and Africa. The EU should continue to selectively engage with Russia’s government and society through multilateral institutions, simplified visa procedures, and dialogue with a wide spectrum of organisations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, European Union, Multilateralism, Strategic Accommodation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Robert Greenway
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The Abraham Accords constitute the beginning of a transformation of a region that has confounded many, and that will continue to be a vital battleground astride the security and economic interests of world powers. American leadership was a necessary but alone insufficient condition to the emergence of this agreement. American leadership will remain essential to its growth and evolution. The alignment of our regional partners and allies in both economic and security domains will ensure that the agreement endures. It will also incentivize others to join us in pooling critical capacities to advance and defend mutual interests. This transformation serves to constrain Iran – the threat from which has been recognized as causal – even as it constrains the malign influence and predatory practices of China and Russia. They will continue to manufacture and exploit fissures among the U.S. and its regional partners if we fail to exploit the favorable shift in the region’s security and economic architecture. On the other hand, appropriate support will allow the Abraham Accords to advance and secure America’s interests with the use of significantly fewer resources and with more capable partners integrated as never before.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Paul Stronski, Richard Sokolsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, and especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the Kremlin has intensified its engagement with international institutions. This paper evaluates the drivers of this involvement, Russian views of three of these organizations, and Moscow’s success in achieving its objectives.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Multilateralism, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus