Ukraine’s new president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has promised to open talks with Moscow on repairing the frayed Russia-Ukraine relationship. With fighting continuing in the eastern parts of the country, the economy headed toward collapse and Western rhetoric of support unmatched by concrete deeds and dollars, Poroshenko and his team might want to consider learning from how another mid-sized Eurasian state has managed its relationship with the Russian bear. This week, in a ceremony in Astana overshadowed by the events in Ukraine, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the agreements formally creating the Eurasian Economic Union, along with the presidents of Russia and […]

On May 21, after a decade of arduous negotiations, Russia finally signed a gas deal with China. The agreement foresees the delivery of 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Siberian gas a year to China for 30 years, starting around 2018. Media commentators have been quick to call the deal “historic,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin trumpeted it as “the biggest contract in the history of the gas sector of the former USSR.” With the deal’s value of $400 billion and the involvement in it of two major non-Western powers, one might be tempted to see the agreement as an […]

I had the opportunity to spend part of last week in Russia, giving a talk at the Moscow Carnegie Center on U.S.-Russia security cooperation after Ukraine, and attending the third annual Moscow International Security Conference, organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. The difference between the two audiences was striking: The talk at Carnegie attracted mostly members of the liberal intelligentsia eager to manage the Ukraine crisis in a way that preserves U.S.-Russian cooperation in some areas; in contrast, the Russians who addressed the conference, including top officials of the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries as well as the armed services, […]

Russia and India are reportedly considering a $30 billion oil pipeline that would transit through China’s Xinjiang province. When seen in the context of other bilateral hydrocarbon initiatives between India and Russia, the discussions, first reported in late March, show that Russia is cultivating India in addition to China as part of its accelerated move away from dependence on European markets amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. For its part, India, which has been on the lookout for stable sources of hydrocarbons outside the Middle East, finds a natural fit in Russia, given the two countries’ traditional ties and Russia’s vast […]

Less than a year ago, Armenia appeared well on its way to taking its first substantial step in years toward European integration. Negotiations with the European Union had been finalized, and all but minor details had been overcome for Yerevan’s initialing of an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the European Union at the November 2013 Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. For the briefest of moments, Armenia looked ready to venture outside of the pro-Russia system within which it had long been firmly ensconced. But in early September, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced during […]

As the diplomatic showdown between the United States and Russia drags on, both governments are seeking ways to exert leverage and impose costs on each other. This is having consequences for areas of longer-term cooperation between the two countries. One of these areas is space. Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of Russia’s space program as well as its defense industry—and a target of U.S. sanctions—announced new limits on space cooperation with the United States at a press conference last week. Rogozin said Russia would not cooperate with the United States on the International Space Station (ISS) after […]

While most Americans have been absorbed over the past month in the usual medley of celebrity scandals, from Donald Sterling’s racist comments to Jay Z’s family troubles, the Obama administration has quietly hinted at two changes in its approach to U.S. foreign policy that, if followed to their logical conclusion, signal a major reorientation in how Washington plans to conduct international affairs. The first, in response to the crisis in Ukraine, has been, as Peter Baker of the New York Times described it, to develop “an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment” for dealing with Russia. The […]

Putin’s ‘New Cold War’ a Pale Shadow of the Original

Tensions between Moscow and Washington are nothing new, but the growing level of animosity and the dangerous escalation around the political turmoil in Ukraine have ended any remaining illusion that the U.S. and Russia could develop a partnership, working together without rancor toward common goals on the global stage. Now that Ukraine stands on the edge of civil war, with the two sides clearly delineated—one supported, even controlled, by Russia, the other backed by the U.S. and its Western allies—it looks as if the world has undergone a geopolitical backflip. The calendar seems to have been returned to something resembling […]

The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, albeit with junior status for Moscow outside its Eurasian region, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the United States again, but its goals and some of its capabilities still exceed those of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other typical regional powers. Not […]

No matter whether the crisis in Ukraine begins to de-escalate in the coming days, Vladimir Putin, with his 19th century outlook, has demonstrated the hollowness of the West’s 21st century approach to Euro-Atlantic security. The twin pillars of the European security establishment—NATO and the EU—have been unable to respond effectively because their assumptions about the nature of conflict and the burdens that members ought to bear to provide for the common defense, formed out of the experiences of the mid-to-late 20th century, have not been updated. For all the exalted talk about NATO as the mailed fist of the West, […]

“Russia fulfilled none of its commitments. None. Zero.” Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, that was how Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland described Russia’s implementation of the Geneva agreement reached on April 17 to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine. In response, she said, the administration will continue its policy of “steadily raising the economic costs” for Russia, including targeted sanctions on Russian entities and individuals. One target of more muscular sanctions will be the Russian defense industry. A White House statement announced that the departments of State and Commerce would pursue a “tightened policy to deny […]

One of the effects of the Western military drawdown from Afghanistan has been to strengthen Russian-Indian security ties. Whereas New Delhi has tried in recent years to diversity its defense relationships, including by seeking out better ties with the United States, the need to prevent the pro-Pakistani Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan has given a second wind to its security alignment with Moscow. Until now, their mutual engagement regarding Afghanistan was mostly diplomatic. But media reports have now emerged of a new arms-transfer arrangement in which India will buy weapons from Russia for delivery to the Afghan military […]

In Ukraine, language politics is so contentious that politicians will go to almost any lengths to deny that the issue even exists. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko once dismissed regional divisions between Eastern and Western Ukraine as “children’s fairytales.” More recently, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko told a German news magazine that people in the East and South of Ukraine “are only superficially concerned about language, history and national identity.” Ukrainian politicians commonly say that the language issue only comes up during election campaigns, but then these same politicians have also come to blows in the parliament over this issue. This […]

In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Finland and Sweden are facing increasing pressure to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as full members. While the NATO debate has been simmering in both countries for some time, especially after Russian bombers practiced attacks against targets in Sweden in an exercise during Easter last year, Stockholm and Helsinki are now being encouraged to seriously consider membership by their Nordic and Baltic neighbors, as well as the United States. NATO leaders and security experts believe that the Ukraine crisis has exposed a real vulnerability on NATO’s northern flank, where Sweden and Finland […]

“Russia, whatever they’re doing right now, is not the Soviet Union,” said Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith yesterday at a discussion of the U.S. defense budget. Although most of his congressional colleagues would likely agree with that statement, there is no consensus on Capitol Hill about how to respond to a crisis in Ukraine that appears to leave the United States with few options. And while the differences in large part follow party lines, internal divisions within each camp have also surfaced. Democrats appear to generally support, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, the Obama administration’s approach of gradually increasing pressure […]

China and Russia have launched a global campaign to regulate content on the Internet that, if successful, would slowly destroy cyberspace as a means of self-expression, freedom and unregulated speech. While they are still far from achieving their goals, Moscow and Beijing sense an opportunity in the outraged reaction to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks to change the global conversation and continue nudging stakeholders in the direction of censorship as the universal default norm. The Russian and Chinese governments already heavily regulate the Internet at home, but they are increasingly seeking to use international forums, organizations and […]