This month, Saudi Arabia reportedly offered to buy up to $15 billion worth of Russian arms if Russia would reduce its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an email interview, Andrej Kreutz, an expert on Russia-Middle East relations and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Calgary, explained the recent trajectory of Russian-Saudi relations. WPR: What has been the trajectory of Russian-Saudi relations in the past few years? Andrej Kreutz: Between 2003 and 2010, there was some noticeable rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which have historically had somewhat conflicting, albeit nuanced, relations. Major signs of this gradual warming […]

A pedestrian walks near an electric market board in Tokyo, Sept. 16, 2008 (AP photo by Katsumi Kasahara).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. It’s been almost five years now since the global financial and economic crisis formally began with Lehman Brothers’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, hyperconnected world, five years is an eternity. In autumn of that year, the iPhone was barely one year old and only in its second iteration. No one had ever shared a photo of their dessert on Instagram because the service was […]

The Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, November 2008, Washington, D.C. (White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian).

One notable feature of the global economy over the half-decade since the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been the fluctuating fortunes of international economic cooperation in general and of the G-20 in particular. The G-20’s public reputation has taken a roller-coaster ride from hero to zero. The story of this rise and fall is also the story of the changing balance of (economic) power in the post-crisis global economy, and of the implications that this shift has had for how the world economy works—and how it doesn’t. This story began when the onset of the financial crisis prompted the elevation […]

On Aug. 13, Vladimir Putin made his first visit to Baku in seven years, marking only his third trip to Azerbaijan as president of Russia—a gap reflecting the complex and sometimes strained relationship between Moscow and Baku. The two have grown apart due to Russia’s closer ties with Armenia as well as Azerbaijan’s westward-oriented energy focus. Azerbaijan’s leaders have been trying to leverage their country’s pivotal location, energy resources and other assets to help manage their volatile neighborhood. Meanwhile, they are pursuing their own regional objectives, which focus on recovering territories occupied by Armenia, averting a war with Iran while […]

Believers in international cooperation need to be optimists. It takes faith and patience to endure the endless conferences, committees and communiques that make up multilateral diplomacy. But even upbeat advocates of global governance are liable to feel gloomy about the prospects for two major meetings scheduled for next month. The first is the annual G-20 summit, to be hosted by Russia in St. Petersburg on Sept. 5-6. The second is the gathering of world leaders for the opening of the new session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York beginning Sept. 24. Both events are more likely to highlight […]

Russia has been sending some confusing signals on Iran in recent weeks. Rumors began to circulate that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be heading to Tehran to meet with newly inaugurated President Hasan Rouhani—with some even predicting that Putin would “drop in” on Iran this week after completing his visit to Azerbaijan to confer with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Stories were also released that Russia was reconsidering its unilaterally imposed boycott on selling advanced S-300 air defense systems to Tehran, or at least replacing them with another variant, the Antei-2500 system, as a way to get Iran to drop its […]

British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to gather evidence on whether the additional checks Spain has imposed on its border with Gibraltar are politically motivated. Cameron’s request is part of an escalating dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain over Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory surrounded by Spanish territory. Spain, which claims sovereignty over Gibraltar, a small peninsula off Spain’s southern coast, cited concerns over smuggling as the reason it was imposing additional checks at the border. In separate email interviews, Pawel Swidlicki, research analyst at Open Europe, and Alejandro Baron, a researcher […]

Having discussed Russia’s policies toward Iran in my last column, I thought it would be instructive to analyze China’s policies toward the Islamic Republic to highlight the similarities and differences in their approaches, which are often overlooked. Beijing shares many of Moscow’s concerns, both regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the West’s reaction to it. But Chinese policymakers are often more timid than their Russian counterparts in defying Western preferences, even as they are at times bolder in seeking advantage from the crisis. During the past decade, China has joined Russia in opposing Iran’s efforts to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies but […]

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Seven years ago, the dominant Democratic narrative explaining the decline in America’s standing in the world was due largely to Republican incompetence in foreign policy matters, with the Iraq War presented as Exhibit A. If Democrats returned to power, it was intimated, the United States would regain its international position. American allies, starting with the Europeans, would fall in line to support U.S. security initiatives; multilateral institutions would work because Democrats would demonstrate their superior negotiating techniques; and when it came to dealing with “difficult” regimes like China or Russia, Democrats would show the “cowboys” in the George W. Bush […]

Five years ago, Georgian forces crossed into the Moscow-backed separatist territory of South Ossetia, seeking to clamp down on attacks against ethnic Georgian villages along the de facto boundaries and re-establish authority over the breakaway region. Russia’s response was swift: Its troops poured into South Ossetia, pushing out Georgia’s overmatched military. When the guns were finally silenced after the short but fierce war, hundreds had been killed or wounded and tens of thousands of civilians were displaced. Although the global community refused to follow Moscow’s lead in recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s other separatist province, the […]

They have been overlooked by the international media, whose gaze has been fixed on Tahrir Square in Cairo and Taksim Square in Istanbul. But Bulgaria’s ongoing anti-government protests, which entered their 50th day last week, are indicative of a broader disillusionment with the political and economic elite seen all over Southeastern Europe. The concept of a state “captured” by business interests may resonate well beyond Bulgaria’s borders. The question is whether real change to how politics and the economy are run will come about. The demonstrations are Bulgaria’s biggest since 1997, when economic crisis brought citizens to the street and […]

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Many countries have welcomed the election of Iran’s newly inaugurated president, Hasan Rouhani, while remaining cautious about the prospects for major shifts in Iranian policy as a result of his victory. But few countries have responded as erratically as Russia. Recent weeks have seen media reports that President Vladimir Putin would visit Tehran and that Moscow would sell Iran advanced weaponry—only to be retracted days later. Russia’s interests regarding Iran are complex and often conflicting, explaining Russian policymakers’ seemingly erratic behavior. Moscow has six core goals regarding Iran: supporting nonproliferation, preventing war or regime change, maintaining regional security, minimizing sanctions, […]

U.S.-Russia relations can’t catch a break. No sooner is one set of difficulties navigated than another wave of troubles appears on the horizon. Earlier this year, differences over Syria appeared to be the rock upon which the bilateral relationship would founder, as America’s insistence on supporting the opposition seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad—and Moscow’s absolute refusal to abandon the regime in Damascus—seemed to put both countries on a collision course. Then the flight of NSA contractor Edward Snowden from the long hand of U.S. justice to a limbo in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport threatened relations, […]