The Valdai Discussion Club Foundation, in cooperation with its partners, launched a new research project on Eurasian integration with a workshop in Shanghai on November 16-17. The aim of the project is to examine the entire Eurasian space in four dimensions and from four perspectives. The four dimensions are economic, political, security and social; and the four perspectives are Russian, Central Asian, Chinese and EU/US.
Over 200 Russian and foreign experts attended the 10th meeting of the Valdai Club. The participants focus on analyzing the internal processes and external challenges to work out a vision of Russia in the future.
Evaluating Russia’s development index during the annual poll this year, experts of the Valdai Discussion Club spoke positively about the country's growing role in national, regional and global security, foreign policy and soft power. Most negative assessment was given to performance of Russia’s political institutions, public confidence in them and the dynamics of economic development.
The research poll analyses five basic valuable aspects of contemporary Russian identity. In particular, the respondents were proposed to reflect over following principal aspects: culture, religion, ethnicity, self-identification, patriotism etc.
This report is based on discussions held at the Valdai Club's Middle East Dialogue conference, which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on May 14-15, 2013. The event was attended by high-profile politicians from the Middle East and North Africa, including leaders of Islamist movements, as well as prominent experts, analysts and journalists from Russia and around the world.
The scale of the exercise, preparation of the logistical and transportation support, cancellation of leave for military personnel and the testing of strategic mobility all indicate that considerable planning went into this exercise; it is unlikely that was in fact a real “snap inspection.” It was politically calculated to show Russia’s neighbors in the Asia-Pacific that Moscow has the political will to defend far flung territory during a crisis.
The Russian Aerospace, Air and Anti-Missile Forces have not participated in any drills of such scope for more than twenty years. The question of which state or organization is capable of challenging Russia’s missile defense today has quite an obvious answer: the United States and NATO, respectively. Apparently, they were the “potential enemies” during the drills.
The Russian military will remain on track to be transformed away from the Soviet mobilization army to a more modern, more mobile, and more unified military force. All of these elements have recently been affirmed by the country’s top political leadership and by top officials at the MOD.
The Russian Mediterranean squadron will have six or seven warships and several support vessels that can operate in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, if need be. The US Sixth Fleet has from 40 to 50 warships, including one or two aircraft carriers. These are incomparable forces. The federal armament program provides for the presence of about 20 warships of various designations in the Black Sea by late 2020.
The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.
Moscow has announced its intention to establish a military air base on the territory of neighboring Belarus. This could very well be a response to U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe. The air base in Belarus is likely to act as a kind of shield against any potential unpleasantness that could arise over the ABM system in Poland.
The increase in transparency envisaged by the Arms Trade Treaty does not present a substantial threat to the Russian arms business. The treaty requires information on the amount of arms supplies rather than their cost, which could potentially threaten the commercial interests of Rosoboronexport.
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.
The structure of Nagorno-Karabakh is a Canton-like. There were regions dominated by the Azerbaijanis, there were regions dominated by the Armenians. Without the return of all the people who would like to go back there, we cannot talk about any recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh or discussions of this issue.
Violent suppression of protests can lead not to stabilization but just the opposite. It forces Yanukovych to seek solidarity only in Moscow. It puts Russia in a position where it will again be involved in Ukrainian politics. And in this murky swamp, we have repeatedly gotten bogged down.
The consequences of marketisation and competitive capitalism in Russia not only changed the form of inequalities but greatly amplified them both between and within regions. There is a polarisation between the rich and the poor in the richest areas which is paralleled, though to a slightly less unequal extent, in the poorer regions. The same economic principles work in all regions, despite some being more poorly endowed than others.