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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


Russia needs to defend its interests with an iron fist (by Karaganov S.A., Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE)

The Ukraine crisis has exposed the failure of post-cold war policies.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union was not viewed as a defeat by the Russian people, but the west treats Russia as a defeated nation all the same.

President Vladimir Putin has been trying to bring together most of the countries of the former Soviet Union in an economic alliance. This would have strengthened the region’s economic competitiveness and helped ward off the kind of instability that bedevilled the Weimar Republic after the dissolution of the German Empire. However, the west has done more or less everything it could to prevent this legitimate rapprochement.

The Ukrainian elite has been unable to steer its country towards a more prosperous future. In 1990 Ukraine’s gross domestic product per capita was similar to that of Belarus; today, it is half. Each change of government has brought a worse cadre of incompetents and thieves into Kiev’s corridors of power. The elections in 2004 – in which the west openly interfered – ushered in the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko: nationalist, unbelievably incompetent but staunchly pro-western. In 2010 he was replaced by Viktor Yanukovich, whose flaws were just as deep.

This discredited elite has clung to power by playing off Russia and the west, extracting favours in return for fleeting professions of allegiance. The last round came when the EU, humiliated by a string of rejections, offered an association deal that would have precluded Ukrainian participation in the Russian-led customs union. Mr Yanukovich, hoping either to secure a loan from the west or to blackmail Russia into generosity, pretended to embrace Europe. When Russia responded with the promise of a loan, Mr Yanukovich duly switched sides.

Demonstrators who were disgusted by this behaviour took to the streets of Kiev. Soon they were joined by murky rightwing fringe groups, who attacked police with firebombs on and off for weeks. The Russian government believes these protesters were openly supported by the west. Then the shooting began and Ukraine plunged deeper into chaos.

These events happened against the backdrop of a campaign of anti-Russian propaganda and smears that lasted for more than a year. I lived through two decades of the Cold War, but I am hard pressed to remember such an avalanche of lies. This took an especially vicious form during the Olympic Games in Sochi, which were a triumph for Russia and its athletes.

In Russia pundits saw a clear purpose in this campaign: to lay the ground for a new policy of containment. This refreshed memories of the double standards and lies that have been characteristic of the west’s behaviour for the past 20 years. We were reminded of the eastward expansion of Nato, over the pleas and protests of a weakened Russian state. Had Ukraine been absorbed into the alliance, Russia’s strategic position would have become intolerable.

When calls for reason proved powerless to stop Nato’s expansion, Russia halted it instead with an iron fist. In 2008 Russia responded to an attack by Georgian troops that killed Russian peacekeepers and scores of Ossetian civilians. Ukraine has since designated itself a nonaligned state, although Nato officials continued to try to lure it.

It is against this background that Russia’s actions over the past week must be seen. The iron fist is once again being shown to revanchists seeking consolation for the geopolitical and moral loses of the last decade. Of course, some in the Russian establishment also want to strengthen their positions or cover past mistakes by seeking confrontation with the west.

To prevent the situation from deteriorating further, all sides now need to calm down. A trilateral conversation on the future of Ukraine should take place between that country, Russia and the EU, as Moscow has repeatedly proposed.

The outline of a compromise is clear. A federal structure for Ukrainian institutions – and a switch to a parliamentary system in place of a presidential one – would enable the people of each region to make their own choices over language and cultural allegiance. Ownership and control of the gas transportation system should be shared between Ukraine and its neighbours. The country should be allowed to participate both in Russia’s customs union and the EU association deal.

The crisis has exposed the failure of our post-Cold War policies, but it can be put to constructive use. We should belatedly begin work towards the common goal of an Alliance of Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, in which people and trade would flow freely. We should merge the soft power of Europe with hard power and resources of Russia, as prominent Europeans and Mr Putin have often proposed.

Russia is at last turning economically towards the rising east. It will be a great loss – for Russians and other Europeans – if this shift is accompanied by political, social and even cultural estrangement.


Published in Financial Times: March 5, 2014.



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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