Coming on the heels of Berlin’s decision to phase out nuclear power, the recently signed memorandum of understanding between German utility RWE and Russia’s state-owned Gazprom to negotiate a joint venture on downstream gas and power plants could spell bad news for Europe on three levels. First, if it bears fruit, the partnership will undermine European diversification efforts, since RWE was the leading utility behind the European Union’s Nabucco pipeline designed to tap new Central Asian supplies. Second, it will bolster oil-indexed pricing schemes against the impact of wholesale spot prices, serving to keep prices on an “artificial” footing. Third, […]

Matthew C. DuPée’s WPR briefing last week on Afghanistan’s counternarcotics efforts skillfully analyzes how U.S, U.N. and Afghan policies are failing to achieve an enduring reduction in the country’s opium production. Now neighboring governments, especially Russia, are growing increasingly worried that NATO’s withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan will force them to confront the problem largely by themselves. At present, the main threat Russia faces from Afghanistan comes in the form of Afghan narcotics exports. According to the United Nations, Russians are consuming much of the recent surge in Afghan narcotics production, which has occurred despite stagnant or even declining […]

The Nord Stream natural gas pipeline has the potential to deliver much of northern Europe’s natural gas requirements from a reliable source in Siberia to the German coast. It is one of Russian energy giant Gazprom’s best-planned and most-ambitious projects, involving a consortium of construction firms around the Baltic region and investors from Europe’s major energy firms. Yet when the first of the project’s two planned pipelines through the Baltic Sea was completed in May, it became apparent that Nord Stream’s cost was much higher than originally projected. Though the impact will be felt by all of the project’s European […]

One sign of how good relations between Russia and the United States have become is that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spent three days in high-level meetings in Washington without attracting much attention from the American news media. Bilateral ties may finally be evolving, at least for now, into a more mature, almost normal relationship between two great powers sharing common interests as well as limited areas of disagreement. Lavrov discussed a range of important issues with his American interlocutors, including Libya, Syria, Iran, Korea, Afghanistan, South Sudan, terrorism, the Israel-Palestine peace process, the United Nations and even Alaska and […]

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Last month, Russia announced that it had successfully tested its Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. In an email interview, Dmitri Titoff, a Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy analyst, and Richard Weitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor, discussed Russia’s ballistic missile modernization program. WPR: What is the current state of Russia’s ballistic missile arsenal? Dmitri Titoff and Richard Weitz: Like their Soviet predecessors, Russian government leaders consider having a powerful arsenal of long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads their highest priority. Not only do they represent the core of Russia’s nuclear deterrent against […]

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Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has set a timer in motion for resolving the outstanding differences between the North Atlantic alliance and Russia over a proposed ballistic missile defense system in Europe. Since the architecture for this shield is expected to be finalized at the May 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, Rogozin said that time is running out to determine what role, if any, Russia will play in the system. “Our current dialogue on missile defense is very difficult,” Rogozin said, “but we must finally either agree or disagree by the end of this year.” If not, Rogozin warns […]

For the past 20 years, American and Russian policymakers have been searching for “the big thing” that would serve as the foundation for an effective and durable partnership between the two countries. In the months following Sept. 11, for instance, there was a sense that the “war on terror” might recreate a “grand alliance” between Moscow and Washington akin to the World War II partnership against the Nazis. But grandiose schemes for a revamped European security architecture and even a U.S.-Russia strategic alliance have foundered because realities could never match the rhetoric. Learning from these missteps, the Obama and Medvedev […]