Posts Tagged

Russia

The India-Pakistan conflict is one of the most enduring rivalries of the post-World War era. The two nuclear states have fought four wars, and smaller-scale skirmishes are common occurrences. Since the nuclearization of the two countries in 1998, the nuclear stalemate has been one of the most important facet of this ongoing rivalry. Apart from Kashmir, over which three wars have been fought, constant cross-border terrorist attacks in India have severely limited and disrupted initiatives to defuse the situation. Recently, tensions have flared up because of the decision by the Indian government to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special status within the Indian republic. This move has infuriated Pakistan, vowing to …

As the war in eastern Ukraine drags into its sixth year, all the attempts to end it have so far failed. But in a significant development on October 1, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced his provisional agreement to hold local elections in the currently occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, collectively known as Donbas. The war in the Donbas began when mass protests in support of greater territorial autonomy escalated into a separatist crisis in the spring of 2014. Russia has been supporting the rebels in the Donbas since the inception of the war, which by now has claimed more than 13,000 lives. In an attempt to end the conflict, Ukraine and Russia signed two agreements in Minsk in 2014 …

As expected, the recent NATO Summit was dominated by President Trump’s blunt criticisms of allies. He accused European member states of taking advantage of the United States, of failing to follow through on the 2014 agreement to raise defence spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP, and cozied up to Russia, perhaps most shockingly given the accusations levelled at his own campaign, of colluding with Russia. The basis for these accusations should be taken seriously, even if the latent threat of the United States withdrawing from NATO and the capricious means of delivery seem designed more to appeal to American domestic political interests than to truly illicit reform of the organisation. Cutting through the hyperbole, we see that there …

Despite the fact that other countries of the Western Balkans are already part of NATO and the EU, Serbia is pursuing close ties both with Eastern and Western powers. Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, has stated that “Serbia should not be asked to choose between the West and Russia.” According to her, Serbia is pursuing a “balanced foreign policy.” Such a policy is not necessarily new, as during the Cold War, the former Yugoslavia cooperated with both the East and the West. But in today’s contentious geostrategic climate, such a “neutral” policy means precariously walking on a tightrope bedeviled by pitfalls and competing interests. The EU’s Increasingly Ambiguous Appeal For centuries, Serbia has been Russia’s main ally in the Balkans. …

The Russian newspaper Vedomosti recently reported something that may strike many as rather odd. Drawing on a range of internal sources, the paper claimed that the Russian Presidential Administration was increasingly using members of the Federation Council – the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly, whose members are colloquially referred to as “senators” – to introduce bills into the federal legislature. This use of senators as law-making proxies is puzzling because of the President’s formal law-making powers: According to article 104, section 1 of the Russian Constitution, the President of the Russian Federation has the “power to initiate legislation”. In practice, this means the President has the authority to introduce bills into the State Duma – the lower chamber of the …

By all accounts the relationship between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin holds the makings of a dark, Hollywood thriller. Trump is a US President at war with his own intelligence agencies, whilst denying – only to later admit – Russian interference in the election. Freshly inaugurated, he already faces comparisons to a modern-day Manchurian Candidate, referring to the 1959 novel about a brainwashed president controlled by sinister, external forces. But how fair is this? And do we really know what the Russians are up to? As a political scientist, my research examines the tools of contemporary warfare and influence used by the Kremlin. Thus far I have identified over 40 tools of Russian state power, military and non-military. The …
Vyacheslav Volodin (Photo credit: Kremlin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0)

Vyacheslav Volodin has big plans for the State Duma. Since his October 5 election, the new chairman of the Federal Assembly’s lower chamber has directed a raft of changes aimed, it seems, at improving the Duma’s political stature. These reforms touch on all the core functions of legislatures: representation and linkage; executive oversight and control; and policy-making. The past proliferation of derogatory monikers like “rubber stamp,” “rabid printer,” and legal “conveyor” belt reflect the popular perception that the contemporary Russian federal legislature is an ineffectual institution – a body stuffed with inactive deputies, whose task is simply to distract citizens from real decision-making processes. In August 2016 – the month before parliamentary elections – only 37 percent of respondents to a Levada survey approved of the …

On Sept. 18, Russians went to the polls to elect the State Duma — the lower chamber of the bicameral Federal Assembly. In an earlier post, I set out what to expect from the vote. In this post, I discuss what to make of the results. The first session of the Duma’s seventh convocation will take place Wednesday. Here are six things you need to know. 1) United Russia, the pro-Putin “party of power,” won a supermajority.  United Russia (UR) will take 344 out of 450 Duma seats. UR candidates secured pluralities in 203 of the 225 single-mandate races. The party also received 140 of the 225 positions that were elected via a nationwide contest, in which seats are assigned in proportion …