Professor, director of Research on Terrorism and International Relations at King’s College, London, senior fellow of the New America Foundation Fund, Washington. Member of the Valdai Discussion Club.
Selected publications: Author of several books devoted to the former Soviet Union, including “Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power”(1998), “Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry”(1999), “Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism” (2004), and “Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World”(2006) (co-author).
On the tenth anniversary of the Club’s formation, the Valdai this year was much larger than before. This year the Kremlin’s main target audience was not the international participants and their audiences, but the Russian population. Part of the message the government wanted to get across of course concerned building up the image of Putin and Russia as important, respected and responsible actors on the world stage.
Many Russians, who reasonably enough compare Russia with its neighbours and not with the West, still find this enough to support Putin. Above all, perhaps, the President has based much of his image for the past 12 years on the contrast with his predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
Rather than a future in which Chinese hegemony will replace that of the United States, we seem to be rapidly entering a world in which no country will exercise anything resembling true world leadership. This bears a sinister resemblance to the 1920s, when the United States replaced Britain as the world’s leading economic power, but was wholly unwilling to shoulder additional burdens of global leadership.
United Russia played an important part in pulling the political system together, and, generally, in helping to restore the authority of the government and the state. In what form it will continue and what its agenda will be is difficult to say, as Mr. Putin will clearly be in power for at least six years, and possibly twelve.
What the United States is doing is clearly a threat, if only in the long term, to the nuclear balance of power. As such, it challenges the agreed order that Moscow and Washington drew up a long time ago to govern their respective nuclear deterrents.
The U.S. strategy of subordinating and marginalizing Russia not just on the world stage but within Russia's own region came to an end in 2008-2010 with the Georgian war and the global economic crisis. These events finished off at least for a generation – and probably forever – the desire of European Union states for further eastward expansion.
The first impression on meeting Vladimir Putin is how short he. Immediately counter-balancing this is an impression of intense physical energy, intensely controlled. At 58, and after 11 years in power, Putin still looks as if he were in his late 40s, and fit enough to keep going in power for a great many years to come.