Opinion: Russia returns to Africa
Russia is making a big push for closer ties with African countries. It aims to gain access to energy resources and in return offers military support and arms sales. Its goals are not only economic, however. It wants to show its people and the world that it is still a global power, as well as challenge the U.S., Europe and China as they make their own inroads on the continent.
Russia’s ‘food superpower’ vision: opportunities and pitfalls
After harboring visions of becoming an economic and energy superpower, Russia now wants agriculture to fuel its rise. In recent years, its production of grains, especially wheat, has rocketed. But absorbing the increase, whether through domestic consumption or through exports, poses some big challenges. And even if it overcomes those, Russia’s agriculture sector is likely to remain dependent on unprocessed products.
GIS Dossier: The many faces of Vladimir Putin
The West still lacks a Russia policy that would go beyond demonization of Vladimir Putin, or punishment and containment attempts. The Kremlin’s top man is proving to be one of the most resourceful and undaunted Russian rulers in generations.
Russia breaks its social contract
In two decades of rule, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ensured stability by offering Russians an implicit social contract – a modest but secure social safety net in exchange for carte blanche in politics. Now, the country’s deepening financial and demographic crisis has put an end to this, forcing the government to make plans for increasing taxes and raising the retirement age by as much as eight years. No matter how cleverly handled, these austerity measures could trigger a serious backlash.
Armenia’s velvet revolution poses long-term risks
On the surface, the overthrow of Armenia’s longtime ruler Serzh Sargsyan poses no threat to Russia’s geopolitical position in the South Caucasus. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, elevated to the premiership by popular revolt, keeps stressing his exclusively domestic agenda and desire for close ties with Russia. But the long run, reforms that tackle corruption among the local political and business elites work against Moscow’s interests.
What Lukashenko learned from Crimea
Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko is still coming to terms with what Russia’s intervention in Ukraine means for his own autocratic rule. Recent events in Armenia show that his overthrow might not occur on the back of Russian tanks, but via a hybridized “color” revolution capitalizing on social discontent. Lukashenko has responded by cozying up to the EU and easing pressure on the opposition at home, but it may not be enough to save him.