March 11, 2016

A Look to the East, but Not Only Towards Russia

Reuters/Scanpix

Thoroughness has never hurt anyone, and the March issue of Diplomaatia looks to the east again. Not, though, just to Russia, whose behaviour is causing anxiety to us and the rest of the world; there are important countries there other than Russia.

First, however, ethnologist Aimar Ventsel explores a lesser-known side of Russia. Various research trips have taken him away from the centres and he claims that the Russian state has ceased to exist in many regions.
“I have seen Siberian villages where the entire way of life appears stuck in the post-war years—overpopulated barracks leaning to one side, village streets blackened with coal dust, and people with no money whatsoever, as a result of which they live on seasonal credits. In all these places, the state has given up on its obligations towards its citizens, in return granting them the freedom to break the law within certain limits,” he writes.
Experts Jüri Luik, Raivo Vare and Taavi Minnik comment on Ventsel’s article.
Energy specialist Andres Mäe discusses the impact of sanctions on the Russian oil sector. “The financial restrictions have already had an impact on the oil industry since the lack of funds is forcing Russian oil producers to reduce necessary investment, which will inevitably lead to a decrease in production, exports and tax revenue,” he says.
This leads us away from Russia. Kazakh diplomats and political scientists Rustem S. Kurmanghuzin and Kamilla Sheryazdanova, who recently visited Estonia, have written two articles about Kazakhstan’s complicated foreign political choices vis-à-vis the European Union, Russia and Asia.
“The Eurasia strategy has been a crucial component of Kazakhstan’s geopolitics, and will remain so. The increasing relevance of this strategy is primarily related to key factors such as the country’s position at the heart of the continent, being landlocked and away from the world’s transport and communication arteries, and its multi-ethnic and religiously diverse population,” says Kamilla Sheryazdanova.
The articles by the Kazakh researchers are introduced by Aimar Ventsel, who has recently visited Kazakhstan several times.
Economist Ivar Raig takes an in-depth look at Britain’s intention to hold a referendum on the country’s European Union membership. “It cannot be ruled out that the UK’s departure will trigger the start of EU reforms with the current leaders towards a renewed federalisation and a ‘united states of Europe’,” says Raig.

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