A short summary can be a good start to answer the question. In August 1991, President George H. W. Bush delivered a speech to the Kiev Parliament in which he urged Ukrainians to seek autonomy rather than independence. He feared that the disintegration of the USSR would destabilise the entire region. He went unheard; and a new phase began, in which Ukraine started fluctuating, depending on its leaders, between the West and the East.
“Friends are revealed in misfortune”. This is what the Chinese President Xi Jinping declared at the opening of the Eastern Economic Forum taking place on 11–13 September 2018 in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. And friends are indeed necessary to counter a powerful enemy.
The 2008 August war with Russia, which provoked hundreds of casualties and a huge flow of displaced people, also had some unexpected consequences for the quality of democracy in Georgia. The president at that time was Mikhail Saakashvili who, on the wave of the 2003 “Rose Revolution”, promised to lead the country toward a modern and democratic future.
In the contemporary history of US-Russia relations, practically every presidential meeting runs the risk of being pinned to a reference point in Cold War history. The coming summit between Presidents Putin and Trump - their third personal encounter but first as a separate meeting - is no exception. Some in Russia liken the importance of this summit to the face-to-face meetings between Nikita Khrushchev and Dwight Eisenhower during the first official visit by the Soviet leader to the US in September 1959.
The upcoming meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping is the main political event of the year in terms of Russian-Chinese relations. On the agenda there is the implementation of the agreement to reach a $200 bln bilateral trade level by 2020, the task that was assigned by the leaders of two countries. The key precondition for the success of this agreement is shifting to a new model of cooperation, with more connected production chains and diverse investment ties.
On May 20th, a group of four attacked the Archangel Michael Orthodox Church in the downtown of Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city. The attack came during a mass and killed a churchgoer and two police officers who came to the rescue.
The conflict in Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine that takes its name from the Don River coal basin, is possibly the most difficult diplomatic issue for Russia. Compared to other foreign policy issues, it has been more costly as well as more complicated. At the moment, no exit strategy seems evident, even if increasingly desirable.
Since the late 1990s, Russia began to challenge the legitimacy of the new US-centric international order, together with its unipolar perspective, undisputed at the time. However, it was only after Putin’s rise to power in 2000 that Moscow started to effectively pursue this narrative and to demand that the West, and Washington in particular, acknowledged its own strategic interests.
Attempts by Washington and Brussels to push Russia to the fringes of global politics because of the Ukrainian crisis seem to have failed. Thanks to its important role in mediating the Iranian nuclear agreement, and to its unexpected military intervention in Syria, Moscow proved once again to be a key player in international politics.
However, Russia’s recovered assertiveness may represents a challenge to the uncertain leadership of the West. This report aims to gauging Russia’s current role in the light of recent developments on the international stage. The overall Russian foreign policy strategy is examined by taking into account its most important issues: Ukraine and the relationship with the West; the Middle East (intervention in Syria, and ongoing relations with Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia); the development of the Eurasian Economic Union; the Russian pivot towards Asia, and China in particular. The volume also analyzes if and to what extent Moscow can fulfill its ambitions in a context of falling oil prices and international sanctions.
Russia’s military intervention in Syria at the end of September 2015 undoubtedly strengthened and sustained the Bashar Al-Assad regime. For the first time since the height of the Cold War Russian military personnel were actively involved in the Middle East as a combatant force with significant political leverage to counterbalance the roles of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the Syrian conflict and thus the wider Middle East.