The Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2004. It was named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the club’s first meeting took place. The club’s goal is to promote dialogue betweenRussian and international intellectual elite, and to make an independent,unbiased scientific analysis of political, economic and social events inRussia and the rest of the world.
Over 800 representatives of the international scholarly community from almost 50 countries have taken part in the club’s work. They include professors of major world universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Stanford, Carleton University, the University of London, Cairo University, the University of Teheran, East China University, the University of Tokyo, Tel Aviv University, the University of Messina, Johns Hopkins University, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Sciences Po and the Sorbonne.
The intellectual potential of the Valdai Club is highly regarded both in Russia and abroad. The President and the Prime Minister of Russia meet with the club’s members, and politicians and public figures from Russia and other states take part in its work.
The club’s regional programs have drawn attention from the expert community, including the Eurasian dialogue, Asian dialogue, Euro-Atlantic dialogue, Mid-Eastern dialogue, the Russia Development Index and the Research Grant Program.
The club’s 10th annual meeting in September 2013 was a success, and opened new vistas for its activities. After observing its 10th anniversary, the club is continuing to develop. It is shifting from a format of telling the world about Russia to practical efforts to shape the global agenda. The Valdai Club has proved its worth as a discussion platform on Russian issues, and is aimed at consolidating the world intellectual elite to find ways of overcoming current global crises.
NATO says its wants to work with Moscow, but then announces plans to strengthen perimeter defenses in Eastern Europe, forming a 30,000-strong Response Force and a 5,000-strong Spearhead Force. There are plans to deploy six command-and-control centers in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and a new training center in Georgia.
International relations are going through a difficult phase. New dangerous hotbeds of tensions are arising in addition to already existing long-standing conflicts. Risks of inter-religious and inter-civilisational rifts are high.
There are a lot of stereotypes prevalent mostly within the intellectual milieu and related to an extremely naïve understanding of the modern world in general and of Russia in particular. One of these intellectual clichés is the claim that Russia is losing some “information war” waged in recent years by the West in the broad sense of the term and led by the United States, especially since the onset of the Ukrainian events.
Israel has always aspired to have as much maneuverability in its foreign policy as possible; and these days even more. Serious breakthroughs can be seen in Israel's outreach in Asia, particularly in the case of a tacit strategic alliance with India.