The decision to annul the opposition’s victory in Chi?inau’s mayoral election is among the most confrontational taken by Moldova’s self-avowedly pro-European authorities. But the convergence of internal and external factors that the anti-government protests need to succeed has not yet occurred. The defeat of anti-government forces shortly before decisive parliamentary elections will leave Moldovan society even more apathetic.
Since 2014, Russia and the US have been engaged in a hybrid war, characterized by conflict in financial, technological, and ideological spheres. Regardless of the results of the summit, this hybrid war is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. However, the relationship can and must be stabilized through clear understanding by both parties of the other side’s behavior and motivations
The events of the last four years in Russia show that its fabled stability and lack of change have stopped being the top political value. Today, the Russian regime is more ready than ever for transformation. Before, any decisions had to be approved by the president and were made at a snail’s pace because Putin had no time. Now, it’s the other way around: decisions are made quickly precisely because Putin has no time.
Vladimir Putin learned the art of political survival in the Kremlin of the 1990s. Little wonder that he has decided to keep on his former co-conspirator from that era, Valentin Yumashev.
Even under the best of circumstances, the relationship in the Balkans between Russia, on the one hand, and the EU and the United States, on the other, is bound to be contentious. However, decisionmakers on both sides can craft policies to dial tensions down and pursue common interests where they do exist.
Dimitar Bechev is a Research Fellow at the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Rival Power: Russia in Southeast Europe (Yale, 2017)
Much like Europeans do not fully grasp the angst generated by prospects of Western-incited regime change in Russia, Russians dismiss far too easily how toxic in the EU is Moscow’s political and financial backing of European extreme right-wing movements. Both are viewed as direct threats to existential interests. So long as that deep-seated mistrust regarding each other’s destructive intent toward one another prevails, channels for cooperation will remain limited, and cooperation at the global level will be ad hoc and transactional.
Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen, and Special Adviser to EU HRVP Federica Mogherini, on behalf of whom she wrote the European Global Strategy and is now working on its implementation, notably in the field of security and defence. Previously she held research positions at the Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels, the Transatlantic Academy, Washington and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence. Her research interests include European foreign policy, conflict resolution, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Russians have traditionally had strong yet contrary feelings about change, both longing for and fearing the transformation of the country. In the late 1980s, the last major era of radical change when the Soviet Communist system began to fall apart, the rock singer Viktor Tsoi sang words that all of Russia knew by heart: “Change! Our hearts demand it. Change! Our eyes demand it!” Attitudes are different now. After a long period of political stability dominated by one leader, President Vladimir Putin, the March 2018 election promises only a formal imitation of change, as Putin is universally expected to win another term. But against the backdrop of renewed protests, the Russian election raises the question of what will come next for the country as its long-serving leader begins his final term.
Andrei Kolesnikov is a senior fellow and the chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. His research focuses on the major trends shaping Russian domestic politics, with particular focus on the fallout from the Ukraine crisis and ideological shifts inside Russian society.
Denis Volkov is a sociologist and an expert at the Levada Center in Moscow.
Many of the threats and missions identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy Summary are similar to those of earlier defense strategies. But the priorities have changed dramatically. The 2018 NDS declares that “interstate strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary national security concern,” and the United States is in a “long-term strategic competition” with its main adversaries Russia and China.
Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired) is an associate fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former defense attaché to Russia and deputy director of Army strategy, plans, and policy, G35.
The most memorable developments in Russia’s foreign policy in the past year include a breakthrough in the Middle East; a further escalation of the confrontation with the United States; continued alienation from Europe; and a tactical advance in Asia. Russia has significantly expanded its foreign policy arsenal, but there is still a sharp contrast between the country’s foreign policy ambitions and the limited capabilities of its economy.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been with the center since its inception. He also chairs the research council and the Foreign and Security Policy Program. He retired from the Russian Army in 1993. From 1993–1997, Trenin held a post as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Europe in Moscow. In 1993, he was a senior research fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome.