Russia

Vladimir Putin Thinks in Terms of Empire

Russian President Vladimir Putin interprets the nation not as a civil phenomenon, but as an ethno-religious community. This imperial mentality is incompatible with modern international law and is dangerous for all of Russia’s neighbours.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with US President Joe Biden prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.

The Biden-Putin Summit: No Rolling Over, No Rolling Back

‘I did what I came here to do’ is exactly what Ronald Reagan might have said. But whilst Reagan had a talent for making toughness sound affable, the challenge for Joseph Biden after his two and a half hour summit with Vladimir Putin on 16 June 2021 will be to persuade his home base, and Putin himself, that he will show toughness through deeds and substance. When he told the State Department on 5 February that ‘the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions are over’, he faced no such challenge. But Biden now has a credibility problem in both Washington and Moscow.

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Dialogue with Russia. Russia Needs to Reset Relations with the West.

Moscow’s resurgent foreign policy and the undemocratic rule of President Vladimir Putin ended the relatively friendly relations that had been possible between Russia and the West in the 1990s. In the seven years since Russia annexed Crimea and started a war of attrition against Ukraine, the security situation in the transatlantic region has continuously deteriorated. The Kremlin has demonstrated hostility towards the West, crises and security issues have continued to multiply instead of being resolved, and the risk of outright conflict has come close to Cold War peaks. There is an obvious and urgent need to lower tensions, but Moscow prefers to demonstrate its readiness to escalate.

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Responding to a Dictator’s Stunts: A No-Thrill Flight Without a Destination?

It is quite extraordinary to see a state being rebuffed by Hamas, berated by the Ryanair CEO, admired by a boss of a Russian state propaganda outlet and prompting an immediate response from the EU that goes beyond “deep concern”—all within 36 hours of a major civil aviation incident. Whatever the reaction, we must give it to them: the regime in Minsk played by the “book of rogues” as a deserving and almost exemplary disciple of its big brother in Moscow. Can it be stopped from attempting similar stunts in the future? Probably not, so we will have to be prepared.

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Russian forces landing a shore during a military drill along the Opuk training ground not far from the town of Kerch, on the Kerch Peninsula in the east of the occupied Crimea. The announcement by Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergey Shoygu, on 22 April that Russia would be withdrawing the forces it had assembled for the ‘snap exercises’ launched on 7 April has been met by as much confusion as relief.

Ukraine: A Crisis Recedes, a Fog of Ambiguity Descends

The announcement by Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergey Shoygu, on 22 April that Russia would be withdrawing the forces it had assembled for the ‘snap exercises’ launched on 7 April has been met by as much confusion as relief. In the time that has passed since that announcement, statements by the Biden administration and the proposed Biden-Putin summit have increased confusion rather than dispelled it.

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Some Initial Lessons Identified for the West from Russia’s Action against Ukraine

The exact reasons for the build-up of Russian forces in and around Ukraine are known only to President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, but it would be unwise to believe that there is no link between this show of force and the signals Moscow receives from Kyiv and Western capitals. Western nations should not be or appear to be deterred by Russian information operations and troop build-ups.

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