Russian Domestic and Foreign Policy

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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The Return of Politics

An analysis of the upcoming Russian presidential elections by Kadri Liik, a senior researcher at ICDS. The author is positive that tomorrow’s elections will not be free and fair. The outcome is predetermined and everyone knows it. But, paradoxically, instead of throwing the country into prolonged stagnation, Vladimir Putin’s third election victory may signal a return of real politics to Russia and may lead to the re-establishment of a link between politics and policies that was lost long before Putin froze the whole political system.

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