A new military buildup in the Balkans
Throughout the world, military spending is reaching new heights, as countries beef up their defense forces. The trend is evident in the Balkans, where both Russia and NATO plan to build new bases and countries in the region reverse their postwar demilitarization. With Kosovo deciding to create its own army and a dangerous land-swap deal with Serbia on the table, tensions are rising.
Essay: As Russian history repeats itself, Putin becomes Yeltsin
Russia’s pension reform continues to reverberate in domestic politics. For the first time ever, President Vladimir Putin has assumed full personal responsibility for an unpopular decision that directly infringes on the lives of most Russians. The effects are already visible in his slumping popularity and in the startling results of gubernatorial elections in several regions. Mr. Putin could be looking for an electoral out as he follows the downhill path of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.
Russia’s new government shows tensions beneath the surface
It has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reelection means another term in office for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his government. To some, the lack of new faces shows the regime is headed for a period of inertia and stagnation. This view is understandable, but it is wrong.
Europe and the potential for a Trump-Putin deal
Given United States President Donald Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, European leaders are worried that a deal to normalize relations between the two countries could be in the works, causing upheaval in decades of value-based Western policies. While there is certainly reason for concern, the obstacles to such a deal being struck are huge.
Russia feels the political heat as regional and pension debt explodes
As the Russian economy moves further into recession, the Kremlin is looking ahead to next year’s parliamentary elections with mounting concern. It fears that growing economic hardship will cause people to turn against the government. Last month’s regional elections showed just how far the authorities are willing to go to prevent the remnants of Russia’s political o...
False dawn for Russia’s economy as cheap oil backs Kremlin into a corner
The Russian economy relies heavily on oil exports. Although some of its indicators suggest a temporary respite, continued low oil prices would leave Russia trapped with a weakened ruble and spiralling inflation. The consequences for Russia and President Vladimir Putin could be dire. Recent economic data show the Russian e...
Turkey grapples to support Crimean Tatars without risking Russian business ties
The partnership of old rivals, Russia and Turkey, has never been put to a greater test in the Black Sea region than it has since Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014. In Turkey, it revived memories of Russia's expansionism, as well as highlighting Ankara's limited capacity to react forcefully. Turkey condemned the...
Russia’s food sanctions - Do they make any sense?
Just over a year has now passed since the tragic downing, on July 17, 2014, of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. The atrocity triggered a war of sanctions and counter-sanctions between Russia and the West that has since wrought much damage, on trade and on political relations. From a Russian perspective, imposing sanctions...
Russian auto industry hammered by downturn and deficient policy
As the Russian economy sustains the dual blows of sanctions and depressed oil prices, consumer spending is down as shoppers feel the pinch. But the heaviest damage is being sustained by manufacturing, especially the automotive industry. With foreign brands scaling down their operations in Russia, the car business is backsliding fast. ...