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1626 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1618 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities


The opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in this section are for discussion purposes only and may not coincide with the position of the Russian Government and the Embassy


The Syrian conflict as a school of diplomacy

Article by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor of Russia in the Global Politics magazine

Russia remains a power not to be bypassed

It’s been more than a year since the disturbances in Syria, which sets the time record of the “Arab spring” — no one of the leaders has managed to hold out for so long since the beginning of the unrests. “The long-liver” has been the President of Yemen Abdallah Saleh; however, he left the country after the attempt on his life, and rather than trying to hold on to his power he employed some ingenious maneuvering to hand it over in a safe way. So he did, and obtained some guarantees in addition.

What is the reason for the relative stability of the Syrian regime?

Firstly, Syria has a significant social stratum that has something to lose. According to some estimates, there are about 15 to 20 per cent of Assad’s firm supporters, and about one third of the population fears that any change will bode ill. This one third contains influential minorities – Christians, including Armenians, Kurds, and Ismaelites, ets. All of them fear that an overthrow of the Allawites and a triumph of the Sunni majority will result in other groups being persecuted. For this reason, the population remains divided into two, which creates prerequisites for a long-time civil war and allows the official Damascus to invoke wide popular support.

Secondly, the balance of military forces has, to all appearances, tipped against the opposition. The taking of Homs has proved to be Assad’s important victory, which has, to a certain extent, changed the international attitude as well. As long as a month ago, they used to speak of a forthcoming collapse of his regime as a virtually accomplished fact, at present the comments are somewhat more restrained.

Thirdly, Assad benefited from the regional context. The operation in Libya was declared NATO’s success; however, it has cooled off the enthusiasm for military intervention. On the one hand, the Europeans, who bore the main burden of the conflict, simply have run out of funds and face the limits of their military potential. On the other hand, the growing Islamisation of all former secular dictatorships makes Western countries have second thoughts as to whether it is expedient to give too active a support to the opposition forces. And although Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf demand a rapid arming of the rebels which is welcomed by most passionate American democracy zealots, such as John McCain, the official Washington is biding its time.

Fourthly, Gaddafi’s Libya has lost all of its friends (as Jamahirya’s leader caused too much trouble for his neighbours and other countries). On the contrary, Assad’s Syria can not only count on backing from Iran and a cover from Russia and China, but also on silent neutrality from a majority of neighbouring states, from Iraq to Jordan, appalled by the prospect of a large-scale regional war.

And lastly, the adoption of the UN SC Resolution sanctioning military intervention in Libya now made Moscow and Beijing, who had abstained a year ago, refuse to support any document containing a slightest hint of use of force. From the point of view of Russia and China, NATO and other participants of the operation in Libya blatantly used the Resolution to justify an undisguised regime change.

It has been quite a while since Russia was last subject to such harsh criticism for its position on Syria. Moscow has been accused of complicity in killings motivated not only by personal liking for the tyrant, but also by gain from trade in arms. In particular, this was stated by the US Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice. Less emotional onlookers were puzzled why Russia would so persistently cling to an obviously doomed regime not willing to diversify its contacts and build a bridge to the future. Regardless of the threats of isolation, Moscow assumed a most uncompromising position.

In spite of everything, Russia has won the first round; however, this game is far from over. Certainly, if the gain is to be estimated solely in mercantile categories, then having business as usual with Damascus is now hardly possible. Although Assad is stubborn and quite efficient in his resistance, what he is trying to do is raising stakes to secure better terms for a deal on honourable capitulation rather than a victory over his opponents. The outside pressure will continue and they will not allow Assad to keep his power, but the conditions are yet to be determined. In any case, those who come to replace Bashar Al Assad will not be adherents of close relationship with Russia.

However, Moscow does not aim at preserving contacts with Damascus but at asserting its international standing. By not yielding to psychological and diplomatic pressure Russia proved that despite it had lost its positions in the Middle East (with Syria as the last close partner), it remains a power which is not to be bypassed on any count. It is not quite clear to what extent the West, Turkey and Arab states are willing to interfere in the Syrian affairs, while Russian diplomats have been unambiguously explicit in saying that they would not allow to legitimize this action through the UN Security Council. No one dares to act at his risk and expense without a UN sanction, despite the insistent calls for intervention from the Syrian opposition. As a result, Washington started talking of area of disagreement with Moscow narrowing, while the League of Arab states engaged in a dialogue with Russia.

All of this is hardly to imply that settlement in Syria has become more probable. The situation has gone too far and too much blood has been already spilled, while the sides have had zero willingness to compromise. However, the Syrian conflict has provided external players with a fair amount of food for thought. Just enough to avoid repeating the same mistakes in future.



The current round phase of Russia’s pivot to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000s as a largely belated economic response to the rise of Asia, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for the development of the country and primarily its eastern regions. This rise offered a chance to turn the territory beyond the Urals and the Russian Far East from predominantly an imperial burden or rear in the confrontation with the West, and sometimes the forefront in the rivalry with Japan or China, into a springboard for the development of the whole country.


Oleg Barabanov, Timofey Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Dmitry Suslov, Ivan Timofeev, Moscow, February 2017

18.02.2017 - Global riot and global order. Revolutionary situation in the world and what to do about it - report by Valdai discussion club

(Report in Russian, English version to be published shortly) Спустя много лет после студенческих волнений, которые охватили практически весь мир в 1968 году, активист тогдашнего движения Даниэль Кон-Бендит так вспоминал суть происходившего: «Это было восстание поколения, родившегося после Второй мировой войны, против общества, которое военное поколение построило после 1945 года». Бунт проявлялся по-разному– в зависимости от места действия. В Варшаве и Праге люди протестовали против коммунистического режима, в Париже и Франкфурте клеймил и буржуазно-консервативное засилье, в Сан-Франциско и Нью-Йорке возмущались милитаризмом и неравноправием, а в Исламабаде и Стамбуле отвергали власть военных. Всех объединяло нежелание житьпо-старому.«Мы были первым медиапоколением. СМИ играли большую роль, потому что они передавали искру жгучего неприятия, и она воспламеняла одну страну за другой», – вспоминал Кон-Бендит.

03.02.2017 - Sergei Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, "A view from Moscow"

The victory of Donald Trump reinforced international tendencies, which had been obvious for Russians and which had been guiding Russian behavior for last few years. Among them – deglobalization led by forces, which previously created it, but started to retreat from it, when they saw that it benefits others equally or more. The change in correlation of forces against the old world and towards Asia will continue, though at somewhat slower pace than in previous decades. China will continue to become in the very foreseeable future an equal to the U.S. in cumulative power. Europe of the EU will continue to muddle down. (Hopefully, not towards a collapse, but something leaner, more stable and healthier like a Common market, Schengen minus, two Eurozones or a Eurozone minus). The rivalry between the U.S. and China will continue to exacerbate. The confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, but will gradually dampen.

20.08.2015 - The Interview: Henry Kissinger

The National Interest’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Henry Kissinger in early July in New York.

10.08.2015 - "Shame on UK for Sham Litvinenko Trial", by William Dunkerley for "Eurasia review"

What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus. An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.

02.06.2015 - Eurasian Way Out of the European Crisis (Article by Sergei Karaganov, to be published in late June in "Russian in Global Affairs")

I have already written before that having emerged victorious from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.

13.03.2015 - NEW RULES OR NO RULES? XI Annual Valdai Discussion Club Meeting Participants' Report

In Search of an Order For those who believe in the magic of numbers, the year 2014 was further proof in its existence. The World War I centenary had been anticipated in awe and History, by taking another dramatic twist, confirmed the worst of expectations. It pronounced that centuries-old conflicts are still with us and that such concepts as the balance of powers, borders, and sovereignty are still relevant even in the era of a global interdependence.

15.09.2014 - Western delusions triggered this conflict and Russians will not yield (by Professor Sergey Karaganov for FT)

The west is without direction and losing sight of moral convictions, writes Sergey Karaganov

29.05.2014 - It’s not just about gas: why China needs Russia (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

In a pre-election article published a little over two years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia wanted to harness the Chinese wind for its sails of development. Every sailor knows that in stormy weather, and the world is a stormy place today, controlling a sailing ship is incredibly difficult. But by working skilfully there is a chance of inching one's goal much faster.

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