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 proposed new Russian foreign policy concept speaks of applying confidence and co-operation on the basis of pragmatism with Moscow’s European partners. Yet developments over the past year have prompted fears in Russia that an undeclared cold war is already being waged. The West’s pointed refusal to recognise Moscow’s concerns and Russia’s pointedly unfriendly actions have created an atmosphere of mutual mistrust.
The trialogue between Poland, Germany and Russia is a new phenomenon in European security policy. It is a very necessary and important instrument for the continuation of cooperation between the West and the European Union and Russia.
Britain’s return to active European politics does not bode well for Russia. With the leadership role being taken over by the French-British tandem, Russia's possibilities to continue pursuing its Euro-Atlantic strategy are narrowed, as London is working to reinforce the military and political capabilities of NATO.
The discord surrounding Syria and the upcoming presidential elections in Russia pushed news from the 48th Munich Security Conference into the background. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented in his Munich speech a program for Russian diplomacy for the near term. One priority is signing a "peace pact" for Europe.
Russia is ready to start talks on tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. It will hardly agree to reduce them because of NATO’s overwhelming conventional arms superiority but it is ready to discuss Article VII of the NPT Treaty, which spells out the rule for nuclear weapons deployment on the territory of non-nuclear countries.
Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.
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.