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.
Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl disaster, Eastern Europe is still clinging to nuclear power. The anti-nuclear movement is essentially non-existent, but experts say 'green' energy is still a viable alternative. Belarus and Ukraine also see nuclear power as the way forward. Ukraine has four nuclear plants and there are plans for a Russian firm to build two more reactors at one of them.
After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Poland saw itself as being the leading state in East-Central Europe. The objective clash of interests between Warsaw and Russia has its roots in that perception. First, Poland is interested in seeing a strengthened U.S. presence in Eastern Europe and NATO mechanisms. Poland’s political elite feel they need a powerful ally to counterbalance Russia and Germany.
According to one likely scenario for the period up to 2035, European economies will continue to experience moderate growth. Because energy intensity will decrease, overall energy demand will more or less stagnate. But gas demand will grow because gas will come to substitute coal and nuclear energy in electricity production. By 2035, European gas demand is likely to have increased by about 100 bcm.
Any oil price rise as the result of Libyan chaos will benefit Russia’s economy. Russia can afford much more when oil is $110/barrel than when it is at $60/barrel. For Russian officials who might see international relations as a zero-sum, a lengthy American entanglement might seem beneficial.
Washington and Moscow should quickly launch a new round of negotiations aimed at further reductions of their nuclear forces. They should aim for a limit of no more than 1000 deployed strategic warheads, with corresponding reductions in deployed strategic delivery vehicles.
The situation in Japan, unless it deteriorates dramatically, is unlikely to seriously influence the development and modernization plans of those countries that have been developing the nuclear power industry for a long time. The main reason is that no alternative energy source on the table today can match nuclear power in capacity terms.
Today, nine states, including North Korea, possess nuclear weapons, with five of them located in Asia. With the exception of China, four of these countries are not signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty: India, Pakistan and Israel never signed it, while North Korea pulled out of it in 2003. With collective security such a hard goal to achieve, no one wants to be the first to give up the nuclear sword.
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.
Russia has surged ahead on the foreign policy stage, but this is not enough to remain a great power. The tough-minded policies and masterful diplomacy of Russia’s leadership have maximized the country’s position in the world, and are now the main source of its international influence and prestige. Russia’s foreign policy in the next decade depends entirely on what happens at home.