Last week, when the head of the Russian navy, Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov, was quoted saying that Russia was seeking access to naval maintenance and supply facilities in Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles, the Russian government quickly denied the reports. The Russian navy abandoned almost all such overseas facilities more than a decade ago to save money and because it no longer had a global mission. Significantly, however, the government has not challenged Chirkov’s statement that Russia would construct new aircraft carriers starting after 2020. “At the moment,” Chirkov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, “the construction bureau has […]

As Syria’s crisis descends into an increasingly bloody civil war, emerging fault lines have been reinforced both within the country and across the region. Once a close partner to the Syrian government, neighboring Turkey has now become a wary adversary. Meanwhile, bitter divisions at the U.N. Security Council have all but paralyzed the international community. And even if an intervention were to be approved, it would face serious obstacles. This World Politics Review special report examines Syria’s downward spiral. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber?Try our subscription […]

A remarkable transformation is underway in a country where most people were nomadic herders a generation ago. Mongolia has the fastest-growing economy in the world, with GDP increasing by more than 17 percent last year. It sits on vast precious metal and mineral resources: The 10 biggest deposits alone are estimated to be worth almost $1.5 trillion. Given all this wealth in a country of only 3 million people, Mongolia has the potential to become an Asian version of Norway. However, popular anger is growing as fast as the economy. Despite the “gold rush,” the poverty rate increased between 2008 […]

In a significant foreign policy breakthrough, the Russian Duma voted last week to ratify the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization, resolving an issue that had been a point of contention between Russia and the West since the 1990s. Russia’s accession negotiations, which opened in 1995 and were completed in November 2011, were the longest and arguably the thorniest in WTO history. Economic and political disputes, not to mention the Russia-Georgia War of 2008, repeatedly delayed Russian accession. With Russia now set to formally enter the WTO in August, it is worth examining what the move will mean for […]

If the critics of the United Nations were to design a scenario to make the organization seem absolutely irrelevant, it would look a lot like this week’s debacle over Syria. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council was meant to vote on a Western resolution to impose sanctions on Syria unless the government of embattled President Bashar al-Assad ceased significant military operations within 10 days. The vote was delayed after three high-ranking members of Assad’s inner circle, including his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajiha, were killed in Damascus that day. But with fighting escalating in Syria, the […]

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During the Soviet era, Russian trade unions were state run and had nothing to do with helping workers fight for their rights against employers. That changed following the Soviet Union’s collapse. This report by Euronews takes an in-depth look at the evolution of Russian trade unions and the battles they face today.

In late-June, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed accords green-lighting the much-anticipated $7 billion Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which will ferry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field through neighboring Georgia to Turkey and from there to European markets. While the deal has been described as a deathblow to the once highly touted European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline consortium, TANAP’s emergence alongside a host of other alternative and unconventional energy options is also endangering Russia’s near-monopoly in the European natural gas market. In its original form, Nabucco, named for Verdi’s famous opera, was billed as a means […]

Uzbekistan formally withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on June 28. In an email interview, Alexander Cooley, the Tow professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, discussed Uzbekistan’s rationale for leaving the Russian-backed security organization. WPR: What were the causes, both underlying and immediate, behind Uzbekistan’s exit from the CSTO? Alexander Cooley: Uzbekistan had been a nonenthusiastic member of the Russian-led CSTO since 2006, when it rejoined the organization after falling out with the West over the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May 2005. However, Tashkent has long […]

Uzbekistan’s decision to withdraw from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) highlights the dilemma confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin as he tries to strengthen Moscow’s pre-eminence among the former Soviet republics through the region’s multiple multilateral institutions. The CSTO and other Moscow-led regional organizations have important symbolic value to Russia regardless of their actual effectiveness, because they affirm Moscow’s strategic primacy in the former Soviet space. The other member states accept this arrangement since it can yield some tangible benefits, such as economic and military assistance, as long as it does not overly constrain their freedom of action. The […]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mongolia on Monday on the second day of her Asia tour intended to boost U.S. economic engagement with the region. She praised the Asian country as a model of democracy and called it an “inspiration.” By visiting Mongolia, Clinton aimed to put to rest the idea that democracy is a Western ideal in conflict with Asian values, explained Stephen Noerper, senior vice president of the Korea Society. “It provided the U.S. with an opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate Mongolia on its path toward democracy and to quietly acknowledge the fragility of that and […]

There are two simultaneous and contradictory trends occurring right now in the international system. The first is the diffusion of power, as reflected by the displacement of the old Group of Seven, which at its founding in the 1970s comprised the bulk of the world’s productive capacity, by the Group of 20, where there is no longer one dominant power capable of driving the global agenda. The second is the reality that the United States still far outstrips any other one state or group of states in terms of capabilities, ranging from the power of its currency to its ability […]