Russia Analytical Report, Oct. 7-15, 2019

This Week’s Highlights:

  • One of America’s leading Russia experts, Thomas Graham, offers a comprehensive plan for normalizing U.S.-Russian relations. As part of this plan, “rather than trying to persuade Moscow to understand its own interests differently, Washington must demonstrate that those interests can be more safely pursued through both considered competition and cooperation with the United States.”
  • In previous Valdais, both Russian and Chinese speakers have explicitly denied that Russia and China will form an alliance, writes leading Russia expert Angela Stent. This time, these denials were absent. Based on what was said during the conference, one could conclude that the two countries are indeed moving toward some form of a formal alliance, Stent writes.
  • If ever there were a moment for U.S.-Russian dialogue about how to avoid miscalculation with doomsday weapons, it’s now, argues columnist David Ignatius. This dialogue, Ignatius writes, should begin with a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders who can talk with administration officials about strategic stability and prepare the way for eventual discussions between the U.S. and Russia.
  • Russian troops took up position in Syria between the government's army and Turkish-backed forces, filling a void created by departing U.S. troops and demonstrating the Kremlin's role as a power broker in the country's multisided conflict, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Nord Stream 2 booklets and promotional publications succeeded in convincing many Europeans that the project is about getting more Russian gas by an additional route, writes Mikhail Korchemkin, founder of East European Gas Analysis. In fact, Korchemkin argues, Nord Stream 2 is about diverting transit revenue from Ukraine and Slovakia to Germany and physically liquidating most of the pipelines taking gas to and through Ukraine.
  • Russia would need to be ready for a collapse of the peace process in eastern Ukraine under pressure from the nationalist opposition to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, while also facilitating the resettlement of this region’s residents in Russia, writes Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Russia does not need more land, but it certainly needs more people, according to Trenin.

I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security:

  • No significant commentary.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • No significant commentary.

Iran and its nuclear program:

“America’s Great Satan. The 40-Year Obsession With Iran,” Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2019The authors, the director of Dartmouth’s John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and a professor of international relations at Colby College, write:

  • “Sifting through the national security strategies of successive administrations, [future historians] would see Russia first as an arch-enemy of the United States, then as a friend and finally as a challenging nuisance. They would see China transform from a sometime partner to a great-power rival. North Korea would appear as a sideshow. Only one country would be depicted as a persistent and implacable foe: Iran. In its official rhetoric and strategic documents, Washington has, since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, consistently portrayed the country as a purely hostile and dangerous actor.”
  • “On 12 occasions over the last 18 years, the polling organization Gallup has asked Americans the question, ‘What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?’ Iran topped the list five times, ranking higher than China six times and higher than Russia eight times, despite not having nuclear weapons, a deep-water navy or the ability to project power in any serious fashion.”
  • “The United States—if not under Trump, then under his successor—has a compelling interest in finding a modus vivendi with Iran, just as it repeatedly sought to do with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. … A second U.S. goal must be to gain some leverage over Iranian foreign policy in order to reduce the likelihood of a conflict between Washington and Tehran.”
  • “Only when the U.S. embassy reopens in Tehran will there be enough regular, businesslike interactions between the two sides for the United States to influence Iranian decision-making. … The next administration should, at long last, give sustained engagement a try.”

New Cold War/saber rattling:

“AI Risks to Nuclear Deterrence Are Real,” Zachary Kallenborn, War on the Rocks, 10.10.19The author, a freelance researcher and analyst, writes:

  • “The likelihood of a successful decapitation strike decreases if an adversary must target more second-strike platforms. Each additional platform must be identified and attacked. The United States and allied nations could build additional decoy platforms, using advancements in AI, machine learning and robotics.”
  • “[U]nmanned undersea vehicles could be designed to emulate the signatures of nuclear submarines. Russia is reportedly doing exactly that. Such ‘sub-sinks’ could also be equipped with weapons and sensors to help identify and defend nuclear undersea platforms against conventional threats.”

NATO-Russia relations:

  • No significant commentary.

Missile defense:

  • No significant commentary.

Nuclear arms control:

“Trump Is Ignoring Arms Control. It’s a Dangerous Mistake,” David Ignatius, The Washington Post, 10.08.19The author, a veteran foreign correspondent-turned-columnist, writes:

  • “This week’s news that President Trump is considering abandoning the Open Skies Treaty probably brought a yawn from most observers. Arms-control agreements such as this seem to many people like yesterday’s problem.”
  • “But ignoring arms control is a dangerous mistake, especially now. We’re in a moment of strategic instability between the United States and Russia, when the two nations barely talk. At the same time, we have an erratic president who’s heading toward possible impeachment. Not a healthy mix.”
  • “If ever there were a moment for dialogue about how to avoid miscalculation with doomsday weapons, it’s now. This should begin with a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders—who can talk with administration officials about strategic stability and prepare the way for eventual discussions between the United States and Russia.”


  • No significant commentary.

Conflict in Syria:

“As US Pulls Out of Syria, Russian Forces Swoop In,” David Gauthier-Villars, Isabel Coles and Jared Malsin, Wall Street Journal, 10.15.19The authors, reporters and correspondents for the news outlet, write:

  • “Russian troops took up position in Syria between the government's army and Turkish-backed forces, filling a void created by departing U.S. troops and demonstrating the Kremlin's role as a power broker in the country's multisided conflict.”
  • “Once partners with the U.S. in the campaign against Islamic State, Kurdish fighters have sought to shield themselves from a week-old Turkish offensive by striking an alliance with Russia and Iranian-backed government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The details of the agreement aren't clear, but Syrian military convoys have begun moving into position across the northeast of the country, where the army had only a token presence since the start of the civil war.”
  • “That pullback has created an opening for Moscow to showcase its expanding clout in a region dominated for decades by American influence but now unsettled by President Trump's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and his stated desire to disengage from the Middle East.”
  • “‘The Russians think of themselves as the natural player in the grand design of the geopolitics of the region,’ said Malik R. Dahlan, a Saudi lawyer and senior fellow at the Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.”

“The Nonintervention Delusion. What War is Good For,” Richard Fontaine, Foreign Affairs, 10.15.19The author, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, writes:

  • “Despite the well-known failures of recent large-scale interventions, there is also a record of more successful ones—including the effort underway today in Syria.”  
  • “With the deployment of roughly 2,000 special operations forces, the United States armed, trained and advised up to 70,000 local Arab and Kurdish fighters. The operation has banished Iran, Russia and Syrian government forces from a third of the country, eliminated ISIS’ physical caliphate and forestalled its resurgence, deterred a Kurdish-Turkish clash and kept refugee flows in check. U.S. casualties and financial expenditures have been relatively low, and international support relatively high.”

Cyber security:

  • No significant commentary.

Elections interference:

  • No significant commentary.

Energy exports from CIS:

“With Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2, Putin Is Getting Ready to Put the Screws on Europe,” Mikhail Korchemkin, Foreign Policy, 10.07.19The author, founder and managing director of East European Gas Analysis, writes:

  • “The official rationale for the [Nord Stream 2] project is that Europe needs more gas, and this is the best way to get it. Yet the pipeline, combined with other planned projects, will actually reduce Russia’s export capacity. And even as Nord Stream 2 promises ‘the further diversification of energy routes to Europe,’ it will actually concentrate Russian gas exports into a single pipeline corridor in the Baltic Sea, where it will bypass Ukraine and reduce that country’s gas load to 10 percent of current capacity.”
  • “Nord Stream 2 booklets and promotional publications succeeded in convincing many Europeans that the project is about getting more Russian gas by an additional route. In fact, it is about diverting transit revenue from Ukraine and Slovakia to Germany and physically liquidating most of the pipelines taking gas to and through Ukraine.”

U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

“Let Russia Be Russia. The Case for a More Pragmatic Approach to Moscow,” Thomas Graham, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2019The author, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes:

  • “U.S. policy [toward Russia] across four administrations has failed because … it has rested on a persistent illusion: that the right U.S. strategy could fundamentally change Russia’s sense of its own interests and basic worldview. … Rather than trying to persuade Moscow to understand its own interests differently, Washington must demonstrate that those interests can be more safely pursued through both considered competition and cooperation with the United States.”
  • “The current strategy of punishing and ostracizing Russia is … flawed. … [I]t exaggerates Russian power and demonizes Putin, turning relations into a zero-sum struggle … [I]t imagines Russia as a pure kleptocracy … U.S. policymakers are also guilty of not reckoning seriously with Russia’s desire to be perceived as a great power.”
  • “Moscow’s more assertive foreign policy today is a reflection not of the country’s growing strength—in absolute terms, its power hasn’t increased much—but of the perception that U.S. disarray has magnified Russia’s relative power. … The challenge Russia now poses to the United States does not echo the existential struggle of the Cold War. Rather, the contest is a more limited competition between great powers with rival strategic imperatives and interests.”
  • “U.S. policymakers should give up any ambitions of expanding NATO farther into formerly Soviet spaces. … The recent election in Ukraine of a new president … has created an opening for a comprehensive resolution of the crisis. … If the United States deferred to Russia’s limited security interests in Syria and accepted Russia as a regional player, it could likely persuade the Kremlin to do more to check aggressive Iranian behavior.
  • “The United States should prolong New START … Policymakers need to develop a new arms control regime that encompasses novel, rapidly developing technologies and includes other major powers. … U.S. policymakers should help multiply Russia’s alternatives to China.”
  • “U.S. efforts to moderate competition on regional issues could incline Russia to curb its electoral meddling, but the problem won’t go away easily. … As the United States hardens its systems and educates its citizens, it should also involve Russia in establishing rules of the road in cyberspace.”

“America Needs Dialogue With Moscow: Sanctions have their place, but some of them are undermining trust without serving their purpose,” Jon Huntsman, Wall Street Journal, 10.08.19The author, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, writes:

  • “Having now completed my tenure in Moscow, it strikes me that the ‘duck and cover drill’ is a fitting metaphor for the defensive posture we as a country have taken in the U.S.-Russia relationship. We have practiced the same approach toward Russia so long that it has now become reflexive-and detrimental to our long-term interests.”
  • “For starters, let's dispel any lingering illusions about President Vladimir Putin and the layers of sanctions Russia is now under. The U.S., acting alone, won't succeed in changing his behavior or that of the Russian government. Only the Russian people are capable of this.”
  • “It's true that Mr. Putin runs the country with unrivaled strength. But his time will pass. We need to do less obsessing about Mr. Putin and more thinking about the institutions and generations that will outlast him. … We need more, not less, dialogue with Russia. But first, we need to allow space for discussion about Russia among ourselves.”
  • “In the U.S., sanctions have become our go-to foreign policy tool to admonish misbehavior. … Many of those [Russia] sanctions may be having the desired effect and should be maintained. But not all. It's time for an honest discussion about whether sanctions are achieving their aims. … Our goal should be a Russia that is both a better partner and a more responsible global citizen.”
  • “The U.S.-Russia relationship will continue to be what it has always been—by turns collaborative, competitive and adversarial. Smart diplomacy thus far has managed to keep us from war, but I worry the current estrangement will limit our options for strategic engagement in the years ahead.”

“What the Optimists Get Wrong About Conflict,” Tanisha M. Fazal and Paul Poast, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2019The authors, associate professors of political science, write:

  • “At a time of U.S.-Russian proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine, rising tensions between the United States and Iran, and an increasingly assertive China, underestimating the risk of future war could lead to fatal mistakes. New technologies, such as unmanned drones and cyberweapons, heighten this danger, as there is no consensus around how states should respond to their use.”
  • “Above all, overconfidence about the decline of war may lead states to underestimate how dangerously and quickly any clashes can escalate, with potentially disastrous consequences. It would not be the first time: the European powers that started World War I all set out to wage limited preventive wars, only to be locked into a regional conflagration. In fact, as the historian A. J. P. Taylor observed, ‘every war between Great Powers . . . started as a preventive war, not a war of conquest.’”
  • “Repeated enough, the claim that war is in decline could become a self-defeating prophecy, as political leaders engage in bombastic rhetoric, military spectacles and counterproductive wall building in ways that increase the risk of war.”

“Americans and Russians Should Be Friends—Even if Their Countries Aren’t,” Michael Carpenter and Spencer P. Boyer, FP, 10.14.19The authors, the senior director and a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, write:

  • “While it is not unusual for a relationship between two countries to blow hot or cold based on leadership dynamics, U.S.-Russia relations have received unprecedented scrutiny due to suspicions of collusion and obstruction.”
  • “The official relationship is not the only casualty. The ways in which the U.S. and Russian populations perceive each other are also deteriorating rapidly. Contrary to an early narrative of Russian appreciation for Trump because of his embrace of Putin, Russians’ favorability of the United States has dropped significantly—from 41 percent in 2017 to 26 percent in 2018, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center … In the United States, 64 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Russia, while only 21 percent have a favorable one. Travel between the two countries has also declined in recent years.”
  • “While frictions in the U.S.-Russia relationship are likely to persist as long as the Kremlin continues to attack Western democratic institutions, we should not write off the worsening ties between the countries’ populations as an inevitable consequence of geopolitics. The United States should urgently consider how to reinvigorate and recast public diplomacy programs in Russia to lay the groundwork for a better relationship in the future, particularly by fostering connections with the younger generation of Russians.”
  • “The United States must not give up on soft power as a relic of the past. It is still the country’s greatest advantage in a world where corrupt authoritarianism is the main alternative to liberal democracy.”

“Reclaiming Republican Foreign Policy,” Bill Weld, Foreign Affairs, 10.08.19The author, a 2020 Republican presidential candidate, writes:

  • “Both Russia and China dictate to their neighbors and seek veto power over other nations’ decisions about security, diplomacy and trade. … I do think it would be reasonable for the president to undertake direct talks with the leaders of Russia and China. … Great powers like China and Russia pose another challenge to the world order we have championed for the past century.”

II. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

“Valdai 2019: The Dawn of the East and the World Political Order,” Angela Stent, Russia Matters, 10.11.19The author, author of “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest,” writes:

  • “The message from this year’s annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club was clear: The U.S.-led hegemonic world order is over, Pax Americana is dead and soon Russia, along with China, will lead the way in promoting a new, ‘democratic’ word order. And what is a democratic world order? One in which independent states set the rules for ‘responsible behavior’ and the United States and allies can no longer dictate the rules.”
  • “This year’s Valdai, unlike all previous meetings, ignored the West, focusing entirely on Russia, Asia and the Middle East. … There was much mutual praise between Russian and Chinese officials and experts. … Based on what was said during the conference, one could conclude that the two countries are indeed moving toward some form of a formal alliance.”
  • “Putin praised U.S. President Donald Trump for his ‘brave actions’ in reaching out to North Korea to avoid war, a product of Trump’s ‘non-standard thinking.’ When asked how Russia would deal with an increasingly unpredictable United States during an election campaign and possible impeachment proceedings, he responded: ‘Life goes on and we will work with the United States.’”
  • “So, the official Valdai message was that Russia will soon bestride the globe, active in all corners of the world, leading a new, peaceful order with China, India and other players in this multipolar system.”

“Putin’s Russia Is a Middle Eastern Country,” Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 10.08.19The author, a columnist and veteran Russia watcher, writes:

  • “[The] annual session of the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin’s favorite platform for airing foreign policy ideas, was dedicated to ‘The Dawn of the East and the World Political Order.’ The intellectual debate centered, of course, on China and Russia’s strategic relationship to it.”
  • “But the underlying problem there is that Russia doesn’t have enough to offer China economically to be considered an equal partner. … Russia isn’t an irreplaceable market for Chinese goods, and it doesn’t have much valuable technology to transfer. … That raises the question of how Russia can leverage its military might, its one major advantage as a global power, to make a partnership with China more equal. And that’s where Russia’s Middle Eastern strategy comes in.”
  • “On a certain level, the Russian support of incumbents regardless of their reputations, and of what they do to their own people, is a demonstration of Moscow’s usefulness to China and other Asian countries. Putin’s other guests at the Valdai Club session included presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines—both strongmen who value Putin’s backing.”
  • “But the Middle East is not just Putin’s showroom for China’s benefit. It’s a region where he’s uniquely suited to playing politics. His interlocutors there are people who run their countries in a similar style, and most of them, like Putin, are in charge of commodity-based economies. The Russian leader blends right in—he can even quote the Koran with the best of them.”
  • “Putin’s Russia is not really a European, a Central Asian or an East Asian country, as its geography might suggest. It’s a Middle Eastern authoritarian regime. Its pivot to the Middle East is more natural than previous attempts to cozy up to the U.S. or the current overtures to China. Whether it’s in Russian national interests is a question for Putin’s successors to ponder.”

“Is Putin Over His Resentment?” Andrei Kortunov, The Moscow Times/Russian International Affairs Council, 10.15.19The author, the director-general of the Russian International Affairs Council, writes:

  • “Since this year’s Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club was dedicated to the East in the broad sense of the word, the West was not at the forefront of the Russian leader’s mind. However, the few times that it was mentioned, I got the sense that, quite untypically for the Russian narrative, he [Putin] was not dwelling too much on the countless slights that the United States and the European Union had inflicted upon Russia in Putin’s opinion.”
  • “I could not detect the usual resentment in Putin’s voice. … Is it a good thing that Russia appears to no longer harbor resentment towards to West? This may seem like a rhetorical question, but the answer is not so clear.”
  • “To rephrase the famous adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we can say that resentment is the sincerest form of respect. And if this is the case, then Russia’s abandonment of its grievances against the West is an indirect indication that it no longer respects the West. The West has lost its status as Russia’s oldest partner, to whom it can turn when searching for justice and wisdom.”
  • “Refusing to be offended as a matter, of course, does not mean forgetting about the injustices committed or forgiving foreign opponents. It simply means finding a more rational and effective way of responding to the inevitable injustices of world politics.”
  • “The words famously uttered by Chancellor of the Russian Empire Alexander Gorchakov, ‘Russia is not angry, Russia is focusing,’ are no less relevant today than they were a century and a half ago.”

“Russia Facing Europe: A Provisional Road Map,” Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow Center, 10.09.19The author, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, writes:

  • “Russia would do well to review its recent practical steps with a view to refocusing and energizing its policies toward the European Union. The obvious place to start is in Ukraine. After four-plus years of deadlock, Moscow needs to be proactive on Donbas. This means working closely with Kiev, Paris and Berlin within the Normandy format. … Stage-by-stage implementation of the Minsk agreement, using the Steinmeier formula to facilitate the process.”
  • “Quite separately, Moscow would need to complement its decision to facilitate the path to Russian citizenship for Donbas residents and other Ukrainians with a program to help with those individuals’ resettlement in Russia and integration into Russian society and its economy. Russia does not need more land, but it certainly needs more people. To put a fine point on it, it needs more Russian citizens inside Russia, not outside of it.”
  • “Moscow would also do well to abstain from overreacting to moves by NATO. The alliance’s continuing enlargement in the Balkans … is hardly a threat to Russian security. … What is possible and necessary ... is abstaining from attempts to interfere in voting mechanisms and, more broadly, from seeking to insert oneself into domestic political processes abroad.”
  • “On the issue of sanctions, there should again be no high expectations. For the sanctions issue to be revised within the EU, either or both … Germany and France—would have to advocate for it. This is unlikely.”
  • “The most that Russians can hope for is for Europe to seek to promote its economic interests with Russia when it is reasonably safe to do so. … Russia need not concern itself about a new security architecture in Europe: eventually, one will grow out of its ongoing confrontation with the United States, together with the combined impact of Moscow’s rapprochement with Beijing and the evolving rivalry between the United States and China.”

China-Russia: Allied or Aligned?

  • No significant commentary.


“Specter of Revolution Looms Over Moves Toward Peace in Ukraine,” Konstantin Skorkin, Carnegie Moscow Center, 10.10.19The author, a Ukrainian journalist, writes:

  • “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s team has come up against its first serious problems since triumphantly sweeping to power. Massive street protests have broken out in Kyiv under the slogan of ‘No Capitulation!’ in response to the Steinmeier formula signed in Minsk and aimed at ending the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region. There is even talk of another Maidan revolution.”
  • “Even under the most favorable circumstances, solving the problems that have formed in the Donbas over the last five years of the crisis will take time. Ukrainian society expects quick solutions from its new leader, but any kind of improvisation on such volatile ground is fraught with even bigger complications.”
  • “Zelenskiy will have to perform miracles to prevent internal destabilization within the country, and it’s by no means certain that he will cope with the task. Yet he has no other options, except to continue along the path of the peace process by trial and error. Zelenskiy’s opponents can accuse him of surrendering the national interests until they are blue in the face, but the opposition has no intelligible alternative, not counting a war until the bitter end for Ukrainians, or an endless situation of neither war nor peace that can only possibly suit shadowy figures on both sides.”

“Did Zelenskiy Give In to Moscow? It’s Too Early to Tell,” Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution, 10.09.19The author, a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings, writes:

  • “For more than five years, Russia has used its military and proxy forces to wage a low-intensity but still very real war in eastern Ukraine. Newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would like to end that conflict. On Oct. 1, he announced an agreement based on the ‘Steinmeier Formula’ to advance a settlement.”
  • “Angry crowds took to the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities over the weekend to denounce the agreement, equating it with capitulation to Moscow. But is it?”
  • “We do not know what the terms of special self-governing status are, just as we do not know whether Moscow would accept local elections in the Donbas only after it pulled out its forces and Ukraine had reestablished control. Depending on how these questions are answered, the Oct. 1 agreement could be good for Kyiv, or it could bad.”

“The Demolition of US Diplomacy: Not Since Joe McCarthy Has the State Department Suffered Such a Devastating Blow,” William J. Burns, Foreign Affairs, 10.14.19The author, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes:

  • “In my three and a half decades as a U.S. Foreign Service officer, proudly serving five presidents and ten secretaries of state from both parties, I’ve never seen an attack on diplomacy as damaging, to both the State Department as an institution and our international influence, as the one now underway.”
  • “The contemptible mistreatment of Marie Yovanovitch—the ambassador to Ukraine who was dismissed for getting in the way of the president’s scheme to solicit foreign interference in U.S. elections—is just the latest example of President Donald Trump’s dangerous brand of diplomatic malpractice. His is a diplomacy of narcissism, bent on advancing private interests at the expense of our national interests.”
  • “The president’s actions distort diplomatic practice and decapitate the American interest. Because of them, a new Ukrainian administration is all the more exposed to corruption and democratic backsliding, and all the more vulnerable to Russian manipulation and aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, professionally trained to manufacture compromising material on all sorts of opponents, couldn’t have produced a more disruptive document than the summary of the Trump-Zelenskiy call last July, which has sowed political dysfunction in both Washington and Kyiv.”

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

“A Consensus Proposal for a Revised Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia,” RAND Corporation, October 2019: The authors of the report write:

  • “Disputes over the regional order in post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia are at the core of the breakdown in relations between Russia and the West and have created major security and economic challenges for the states caught in between: first and foremost Ukraine, but also Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Current policy approaches toward the regional order … have exacerbated today's disorder and instability.”
  • “The authors of this volume offer a comprehensive proposal for revising the regional order. The proposal, which addresses the security architecture, economic integration, and regional conflicts, was devised by three groups of experts convened by the RAND Corporation and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung's Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe. Each group included representatives from the West, Russia and the states in between them.”
  • “The approach proposed by the authors would boost regional security, facilitate increased prosperity and better manage the long-standing conflicts in the region while increasing the chances of settling them. The revised order would thus limit the major-power confrontation in the region, stabilizing the overall competition between Russia and the West. Most importantly, the proposal would not cross any state's declared red lines, and thus might plausibly be acceptable to all of them. This vision for an alternative future would represent a significant improvement over the status quo.”

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Putin Has Achieved Everything He Wanted. But It Will Never Be Enough for Young Russians,” Ilya Klishin, The Moscow Times, 10.14.19The author, former digital director of the New York-based Russian-language RTVI channel, writes:

  • “If all this time Putin has been trying to build the new and improved Soviet Union that Brezhnev-era Komsomol youth had dreamed of seeing one day—one that was very similar to East Germany—then we must admit that he has more than succeeded. He has met all of the main criteria, and from the viewpoint of someone living in 1972, today’s Russia looks very impressive.”
  • “On the other hand, today’s youth take it all for granted—everything from the endless varieties of sausage to the flights to Berlin and beyond. And they have their own vision of Russia’s bright future. This conflict of paradigms causes the insurmountable gap that will continue to fuel protests. Putin sees these youth as spoiled good-for-nothings, while they view him, with his Brezhnev-era dreams, as a hopeless throwback.”

Defense and aerospace:

  • No significant commentary.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant commentary.