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.
It is 20 years since the attempted coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It failed, but new BBC interviews underline how fragile his hold on power had become - and how quickly and informally the eventual decision to disband the USSR was taken.
The Soviet Union’s disintegration is the history of a red tape society’s collapse. Experts in Russia and the West fear what they could unearth by studying this phenomenon. They might have to address the possibility that a similar process could emerge in other countries.
The Soviet regime died long before the Soviet Union collapsed as a geographical notion. I would say in 1989, when Gorbachev’s policies went from reforming the communist system to transforming it. This started something different, something un-Soviet and un-communist.
It was true that several tens of thousands of Muscovites were at the White House to show solidarity with Yeltsin and defend it. But this was a tiny proportion of the capital’s population. If everyone else was going about their normal business without protest, could the coup have succeeded?
By 1992 Russia was being given food aid by its former enemies: a degree of humiliation which people do not easily forget. There are many flaws in the Putin system. But it has restored Russian self respect, and laid the ground for future prosperity and reform.
August 1991 was a prologue to the end of the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the coup in Moscow, most Soviet republics, from Ukraine to Uzbekistan, proclaimed their independence. The unthinkable became inevitable. Nations that had issued their proclamations earlier, such as in the Baltic states or the Caucasus republics, could now enjoy independence.
The lessons of the August Putsch of ‘91 and the events surrounding it are something that we see today in many other countries. We see them today in Syria, we see developments in Tunisia, we have seen them in Ukraine, we have seen protests and demonstrations against the government and against the current order in several other countries.
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.
Russia should stop offering economic assistance to Ukraine. President Yanukovych desperately needs financial relief, and, in extremis, he can promise anything in return. Ukraine has entered uncharted waters. Whatever the outcome of the current political standoff in Kiev and of the forthcoming presidential elections, the economic situation of the country is very difficult.