The story of Brexit since the referendum vote has so far been that of a stalemate. There are two major factions in the British elite: those that see a strategic interest in remaining with the EU, and those who forecast the EU’s decline and thus believe that Britain is better abandoning a sinking ship sooner than later. The current situation with regards to Brexit can be boiled down to a simple fact: neither of these two factions so far currently holds the resources to defeat the other.
On January 8, Gazprom launched Russia’s first FSRU to ship liquefied natural gas to the Kaliningrad region. The vessel Marshal Vasilevskiy, constructed by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, is able to transport up to 3.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Kaliningrad which is enough to cover any potential increase in the regional gas demand. Russia’s western exclave is a dynamic and rapidly growing regional gas market – last November Governor Anton Alikhanov said the regional gas consumption would reach 2.48 bcm in 2018. Furthermore, gas demand is expected to reach at least 3 bcm/year in the near future, while pipeline transiting via Lithuania has a (limited) operational capacity of 2.5 bcm/year. Therefore, a new source of gas – in the form of LNG – will mitigate potential deficit in the region.
On Tuesday night, Theresa May’s Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by the House of Commons. Mrs May’s crushing loss is the the biggest defeat inflicted on any UK government by parliament. The prime minister is now in a race against time to revamp and revive her deal before Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on March 29.
The year 2019 can be described, with good reason, as the Year of Africa in Russian foreign policy. The first full-scale Russia-Africa Summit has been planned for the summer. It will be accompanied by a business forum and a meeting of civil society and NGOs and it is expected to bolster youth and university cooperation. These plans, if they are implemented, will signify Russia’s return to Africa. Russia’s involvement in international African development programs plummeted after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. We must now make up for lost time.
2019 started out with the most important event for Russia’s energy security. Russia’s first floating regasification unit was commissioned at the port of Kaliningrad. The Marshal Vasilevsky ship named after the Soviet military leader, who led the general staff and the Koenigsberg Offensive during the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, can transport and store liquefied natural gas and regasify LNG to supply consumers with household-grade methane in gaseous state.
On 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union diminishing the number of its ‘member states’ to 27. While the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains unresolved, even greater uncertainty faces the Union. Pundits and academics alike agonize over whether the UK’s absence will remove one barrier to greater harmonization between the member states; that is, to a strengthening of the federal nature of the Union. Others contend that its exit is yet another step in the unraveling of the Union consequent on the energizing of Eurosceptic movements to secure greater sovereignty for the member states. Without a doubt, the current pattern of political and economic differentiation between the member states has been dealt a heavy blow by the British vote to exit. The question is also raised as to whether the European Union will be able to forge a sustainable pattern of agreements with outside states, particularly the UK.
The structure of the international system is undergoing transformation of a scale unprecedented in recent times. This change has been brought about by the relative decline in the dominance of the US and the rise of other powers like China, Russia, and India. The world is moving towards multipolarity, admittedly an asymmetrical one, but also one which could coalesce into a bipolarity between the US and China in the long run.
The changing nature of the world order and the uncertainty this brings into international affairs is pushing countries to hedge their bets by investing in multilateral and bilateral economic projects as well as creating new groupings – regional and global. India sees many benefits in joining such organizations and has joined quite a few in recent times, albeit for different purposes. This paper looks at India’s historic and current approaches towards multilateralism, the importance of Eurasia in Indian foreign policy and its aims in joining several multilateral organizations in Eurasia.
On January 9, the Valdai Club held an expert discussion, titled “The Arrival of Global Politics: Diversity of Strategic Cultures and Its Impact on International Affairs” as part of the Raisina Dialogue international conference in New Delhi. It was the first experience of the Club’s partnership with the Observer Research Foundation, the conference organizer.