The past few months have been characterised by diplomatic missteps and an increasing threat of war. It is our duty in Estonia to observe and analyse these developments, because global events undoubtedly affect Estonia’s security. Among other things, this issue of Diplomaatia focuses on Russia, and Iran’s relations with the West, especially the US.
Kalev Stoicescu, a research fellow of the International Centre for Defence and Security, writes about yet another Western charm offensive towards Russia. “The most important player in the West’s charm offensive … is US president Donald Trump, who must carry his Russian stigma until the end of his term (or terms) of office,” writes Stoicescu. “We know little of the subjects discussed at the Trump–Putin meeting last July in Helsinki, but some topics have been revealed indirectly over time.”
Karmo Tüür and Vootele Päi comment on Stoicescu’s article.
Estonia’s former ambassador to Turkey, Marin Mõttus, looks at Iran. “It would be a mistake to associate Iran with religious fanaticism in general: they are very pragmatic, if need be,” Mõttus writes. “The streets of Tehran seemed austere and grey but not depressing in the summer of 2019. People have learned to live with the forces in power—or in spite of them—using even the smallest of chances to provide meaning, taste and value to their lives.”
Radityo Dharmaputra, a doctoral student at the University of Tartu, analyses Russia’s foreign policy in Asia. “By forcing China into a corner, the US is pushing it into having no option other than to get closer to Russia. For China, the latter could act as an alternative supplier of energy amidst the potential disruption of trade with the US.”
Analyst Sergey Sukhankin writes about Russia’s strategic military exercise Tsentr. “Given the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities, which were allegedly organised by Yemen’s Houthi movement (Ansar Allah) with the support of Iran, several Russian experts have begun to discuss whether large, expensive and cumbersome military exercises like the recent Tsentr 2019 now serve any purpose and whether they should be optimised to match the changes in modern warfare,” he writes.
Researchers Vladimir Sazonov and Anton Paier write about the historical connections Italian left-wingers have with Russia. “The Kremlin had interests in Italy not only among far-left and far-right political forces,” they write. “Even liberals (among them left and right) and centrists are Moscow’s target audience, with whom Putin’s regime is trying to create good relations, even cooperation.”
Richard Weitz, senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, writes about US policy on the Arctic. Aimar Ventsel reviews new publications on international relations.