Russia and Central Asia

Foreign Affairs Article

Putin's Foreign Policy

Author: Fyodor Lukyanov

In February, Moscow and Washington issued a joint statement announcing the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria—a truce agreed to by major world powers, regional players, and most of the participants in the Syrian civil war. Given the fierce mutual recriminations that have become typical of U.S.-Russian relations in recent years, the tone of the statement suggested a surprising degree of common cause.

See more in Russian Federation; Politics and Strategy

Foreign Affairs Article

How Putin Silences Dissent

Author: Maria Lipman

In December 2015, the Russian antigraft activist Alexey Navalny released adocumentary in which he exposed the corrupt business dealings of the children of Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general—the top law enforcement official in the country. In the film, Navalny accuses Chaika’s son Artem of “continuously exploit[ing] the protection that his father, the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, gives him to extort from and steal other people’s companies.”

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Op-Ed

Under Russia’s Shadow

Author: Max Boot
Weekly Standard

In the 20th century, few nations suffered as much as the Baltic republics—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Their brief taste of freedom, made possible by the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917-1918, was snuffed out in 1940 when Russian armies marched back in, this time under the banner of the commissars rather than the czars. When the German Army invaded the following year, many Balts saw them as liberators. But the cruel nature of Nazi rule soon became apparent. 

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Defense and Security

Foreign Affairs Article

Putin’s Power Play in Syria

Author: Angela E. Stent

At the end of September, Russia began conducting air strikes in Syria, ostensibly to combat terrorist groups. The strikes constitute Russia’s biggest intervention in the Middle East in decades. Its unanticipated military foray into Syria has transformed the civil war there into a proxy U.S.-Russian conflict and has raised the stakes in the ongoing standoff between Moscow and Washington.

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Wars and Warfare

News Release

U.S. Cold War Focus on Stability in the Middle East Provides Lessons for Today, Say Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon in New Book

“The underreported story of the Cold War is that the United States succeeded in achieving many of its objectives in the Middle East,” argue Ray Takeyh, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Steven Simon, visiting scholar at Dartmouth College. Cutting against conventional wisdom, the authors shed new light on the makings of the modern Middle East and draw lessons for U.S. strategy today.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Russian Federation; Defense and Security; Politics and Strategy

Op-Ed

An Earful for Vladimir Putin in Latest ‘Direct Line’ Call-In Show

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

It’s easy to snicker at Vladimir Putin’s annual televised call-in extravaganza, known as “Direct Line.” The show’s campy, “Dear Leader” deference would hardly be greater if Kim Jong Un were its star. Still, Mr. Putin’s performance is a valuable political barometer. The questions allowed and the answers they generate tell us how the Kremlin views the country’s mind and mood.

See more in Russian Federation; Presidents and Chiefs of State

News Release

State Capitalism Threatens Global Security and Prosperity, Argues Kurlantzick in New Book

Over the past two decades, many developing countries have turned away from free market capitalism and toward modern state capitalism, which is a combination of traditional state economic planning and elements of free market competition. In his new book, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick argues that modern state capitalism is ultimately “more protectionist, more dangerous to global security and prosperity, and more threatening to political freedom” than free market economics.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Russian Federation; Economics

Article

Falling Oil Prices, the Saudis, and the Soviets

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

With oil prices collapsing, Saudi Arabia is facing similar problems that the Soviet Union faced decades ago. Saudi policymakers’ economic reform strategies also echo those of  Mikhail Gorbachev. However, different from Gorbachev’s Soviet Union, Saud Arabia’s foreign policy is both confrontational and interventionist. Saudi seeks change, but hopes to keep it in bounds, and may want the world to remain a dangerous place.

See more in Saudi Arabia; Oil; Russian Federation

Event

Censorship and Free Expression in Modern Russia

Speaker: Ilya Danishevsky
Speaker: Anna Nemzer
Speaker: Maria Stepanova
Speaker: Ludmila Ulitskaya
Presider: Kimberly Marten

Four Russian literary figures share their experience as creative intellectuals in modern Russia and provide their perspective on the Russian government’s use of media, literature, and other forms of creative expression to regulate the narrative of the past and the present.

See more in Russian Federation; Culture and Foreign Policy