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 growth of shale gas market segment is an indirect threat to Russia, which has already materialized. Also European power plants are increasingly switching from gas to coal on the back of increased imports of cheap American coal.
At the end of June a number of new faces appeared in the Government and in the Presidential Executive Office. The Economic Development Ministry got a new head, while Elvira Nabiullina took the helm of the Central Bank of Russia. All the new appointees have always strictly followed these rules in their previous positions.
Russia needs an anti-corruption law. Abuse of office is Russia’s biggest problem. Most corrupt officials not so much extort money, as do business under the laws that they themselves adopt. The State Duma is crowded with businessmen who lobby for the laws that serve their interests, and then revise them.
Economic interests and economic instruments to promote its political interests are becoming an increasingly important element of Russian foreign policy. Methods for establishing new political and economic regimes (Eurasian Union) are being used by Russia even more actively in the post-Soviet space.
More than 60 percent of Arctic oil and gas resources are deposited in areas which belong to or are claimed by the Russian Federation. It accounts for 375 billion barrels of oil. The general development of the hydrocarbon-driven economy in the Arctic must deal with energy security. It creates an ‘Arctic paradox’ whereby an increased utilization of off-shore hydrocarbons will contribute to climate change.
We have inner reserves which, apart from budget funds, include an enormous amount of people’s savings. If our banking system starts working more efficiently in engaging these savings into investment, it will probably be the most important contribution to investment growth. Moreover, billions of dollars are held in offshore accounts outside Russia, and millions of our compatriots live abroad.
Recent accusations about Skolkovo have attracted a great deal of attention and raised reasonable questions about the future of the project. With an ongoing investigation by the Investigative Committee of Russia regarding the project’s allegedly unreasonable expenses, the current situation seems challenging for its domestic and international partners. Yet the prospects are not as dim as many commentators try to make out.
Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.
Russia has become very adept in playing the diplomatic game, in which victory depends on choosing the right associate or partner. But there are a growing number of claimants to this role in the new horizontal and interdependent world. Aside Syria and Iran, being still important, the new venues for the application of practical diplomacy may well be Ukraine, the East China Sea and Afghanistan.
Other than Iran, no state near NATO poses a ballistic missile threat to the Alliance — with the exception of Russia. But the SM-3 interceptors to be deployed in phases 2 and 3 will be capable of engaging only medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which Russia has given up under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Edward Snowden is not an isolated case but part of an independent community which is increasingly resolute in asserting itself and rejecting “raison d’Etat” and behind-the-scenes manipulation. The direct results of Snowden’s disclosures are most clearly evident in the context of Russian-American relations. The Snowden case has humiliated Europe, which Putin took the opportunity to remind them of.