Russian Domestic and Foreign Policy

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A Failure of Personalised Services: Prioritising Regime Security over Public Safety 

Despite its vigilant security apparatus with extensive surveillance networks, Russia was unable to prevent the terrorist attack on the concert hall close to its capital. The question is why it failed. Why is the Federal Security Service (FSB), tasked with combating terrorism, now downplaying the involvement of the Islamic State? What effect will this tragedy have on Putin’s regime? To address these questions, it is essential to understand Russia’s distinctive approach to counterterrorism.

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Putin’s Henchmen: the Russian National Guard in the Invasion of Ukraine

As the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) poured into Ukraine alongside Moscow’s regular troops on 24 February 2022, President Vladimir Putin’s key assumptions about the war became evident: the so-called “special military operation” had to result in Kyiv’s rapid capitulation, with the Russian National Guard performing key occupation duties and quelling any Ukrainian protests against the new authorities. As this plan failed, National Guard units would suddenly find themselves in a conventional war they had neither the training nor the equipment to fight.

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Russia’s Federal Subjects at War: Background and Implications

Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine is a collective enterprise involving all levels of power in Putin’s regime. From high-level officials planning at the top, to bureaucrats implementing policies at the bottom, collaboration along the hierarchy has enabled this disastrous war. One essential link in this chain are Russia’s governors. Russia’s eighty-three federal states are diverse in their administrative status, and in their cultural and economic profile, but their leaders are all part of a system that is meant to facilitate the federalisation of the Kremlin’s policies. The war is no different. What has been their role in the war? How have they facilitated Russia’s Ukraine invasion? This report describes and analyses the ways Russian governors have contributed to the war, drawing implications for policymakers.

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Putin’s War in Ukraine: Alternative Russian Futures, Assumptions and Risk Calculus

Russia’s “besieged fortress” narrative generates grievances and resentments that enable President Putin to claim that Russia is “rising from its knees.” In this supposed existential construct, only Putin himself as a strong protector leader ensures regime continuity, stability, a sphere of influence and Russia’s strategic autonomy. If at some level Putin perceives Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a breakout from “encirclement,” all is not “going according to plan.”

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A War of the Final Soviet Generation: Russia’s Demography, Society, and Aggression Against Ukraine

What is the attitude of Russian society towards the war? If it supports the war, why? These questions started swirling immediately after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, at least several major opinion polls have been conducted to find answers. However, many experts doubt the validity of those surveys, since the atmosphere of total censorship, repression, and fear strongly affects the sincerity of respondents.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a joint press conference, in Moscow, Russia on February 7, 2022.

What Went Wrong with Macron’s Diplomacy vis à vis Russia?

In recent weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a leading role in European diplomatic efforts to get the Russia-Ukraine conflict back from the brink of a major war. He deserves credit for his efforts to de-escalate tensions and strengthen Europe’s role in discussions over European security. However, his activity has met with a considerable degree of suspicion especially in Central and Eastern European countries, at least partly for legitimate reasons. This analysis examines three sets of explanations for this suspicion.

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Putin’s Russia as the Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, as Oscar Wilde depicted him, was a brilliantly handsome young man, whose every sin aged his portrait, not the man himself. In the end, Dorian died, having stabbed his monster of a portrait. Wilde’s philosophical novel is a description of false beauty, sinful life, the desire to live forever, and, lastly, paranoia that culminates in a physical suicide and symbolic rebirth.

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