The Russian government may not yet describe itself as a superpower, but its latest military exercise, “Stability 2008,” clearly aims to affirm Russia’s global military reach. The exercise’s hypothetical scenario posited a local conflict (e.g., over Georgia) that escalates into a world war, pitting Russia and its ally, Belarus, in a conflict with the West in which both sides employ land, air, maritime, and eventually nuclear forces. All three components of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent (bombers, submarines, and land forces) participated in the maneuvers, which were the largest conducted on Russian territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union in […]

On Sept. 28, Belarus, a country branded by the U.S. government as “the last true dictatorship” in Europe, held elections for its 110-seat lower house of parliament. Despite some improvements, independent observers said the voting was neither free, nor fair. In an attempt to mend fences with the West, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had invited more than 900 international observers to monitor the voting, stressing his commitment to a democratic ballot. Seventy-six out of 276 registered candidates represented parties critical of the ruling regime, and a few opposition representatives were placed in precinct electoral committees — a clear departure from […]

Channeling the Rise of the Rest

As sometimes happens when blogging, I read a Fareed Zakaria article on the two presidential candidates’ vision of the world, had a quick thought about whether the U.S. can counter or only channel the emerging powers, dashed it off and largely forgot about it. Then Nikolas Gvosdev happened across my post, had a less hurried thought about the relative “brittleness” of Russia and China and the implications for countering vs. channeling them, and developed it. And before you know it, Kal at The Moor Next Door has a leisurely and very well formulated thought about the limits of both China […]

EU Deploys Observer Mission to Georgia

Apparently, not only are Russian forces protecting South Ossetai and Abkhazia from aggression, they’re also protecting the EU observer mission that deploys today: “To some extent EU officials are frightened by the very mechanism of the transfer of power, as well as by how they can keep the situation in the region under control,” [Russian general Anatoly Nogovitsyn] told Interfax on Tuesday. “They requested that Russians ensure their security there.” Seriously, though, the mission is taking gradual control of the buffer zones around the two provinces, in advance of Russia fulfilling its promised withdrawal from Georgian territory by Oct. 10. […]

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