Are Russians Ready for Lasting Change? (Carnegie Moscow Center)

The Russian public’s appetite for change has increased considerably in the past two years, according to a new poll by the Carnegie Moscow Center and the Levada Center. What kind of change do people want, and what are they prepared to do about it?

Andrei Kolesnikov

Denis Volkov

Election Interference and the Emperor’s New Clothes (CSIS)

As we approach the 2020 elections, an examination of Russian influence operations in 2016 suggests we are still vulnerable but not in ways people may expect. Explanations of what happened in 2016 usually involve two general hypotheses: the “Svengali effect,” where hapless citizens are mesmerized by evil external forces, or “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” where influence operations hold up a mirror for the voting public to see political nakedness. Naturally, the Svengali effect is easiest to accept, but it is also wrong.

James Andrew Lewis

Oil Spoils the Russia-Belarus Romance (Carnegie Moscow Center)

Belarus’s resolution to become less dependent on Russian oil has nothing to do with its economy. Minsk is making a political statement with the aim of depriving Moscow of one of its main bargaining chips in their relationship.

Artyom Shraibman

Russian strikes kill eight civilians in Syria’s Idlib: Monitor (Al Arabiya)

Russian air strikes in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib on Thursday killed eight civilians, including five children, a war monitor said.

Sanctions and the End of Trans-Atlanticism. Iran, Russia, and the Unintended Division of the West (IFRI)

Les sanctions secondaires sont devenues l’instrument principal de découplage des objectifs politiques poursuivis par les États-Unis et l’Union européenne vis-à-vis de l’Iran et de la Fédération de Russie.

Rawi ABDELAL, Aurélie BROS

With Putin’s Proposed Changes, Russia Begins Its Transition to One-Party Rule (BESA Center)

Vladimir Putin’s proposed changes to the Russian constitution portend a shift toward one-party rule and lay out a framework by which he can continue to be a major power broker well beyond the end of his presidential tenure in 2024.


Europe distancing itself from the US while moving closer to Russia (Global Times)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Moscow on January 11 and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly four hours. According to information revealed by German and Russian authorities, the atmosphere of the meeting was friendly, in contrast to the indifferent attitudes during the two leaders’ contacts over the last five years.

By Jin Feng

Russia’s Disinformation War Reaches Latin America, Challenging U.S. Influence (World Politics Review)

When a wave of popular protests erupted across South America last year, a number of officials in the region claimed the unrest was being promoted by a “foreign hand.” No one argued that the protest movements, from Chile to Colombia, were created entirely or even ignited by outside powers, but leaders like Chilean President Sebastian Pinera suggested the possibility that someone outside the region was pouring fuel on the fire.

Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is a regular contributor to CNN and The Washington Post. Her WPR column appears every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter at @fridaghitis.