Russian Foreign Affairs – April-May, 2017

A map of several transport routes that China is developing under its One Belt One Road initiative. View full image here.

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
April-May, 2017

SSI-banner Russian foreign policy and foreign policies concerning Russia have been of particular interest to those following world affairs lately. With Russia’s more assertive stance on the world stage, Russia’s absorption of Crimea, and resulting sanctions, arms buildups, and global geopolitical restructuring and repositioning, keeping a close eye on this part of the world is especially important to understanding global security and international politics.

This free resource serves to track and analyze these issues as they develop in Eurasia.


Sergey Lavrov: The Interview
Paul Saunders, associate publisher of the National Interest, interviewed Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, March 24, 2017, in Moscow. Their wide-ranging and blunt conversation, which lasted over an hour, covered topics from Ukraine and Syria to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the future of U.S.-Russia cooperation.

Lavrov: Speech to Military Academy
The speech centers on where Russia’s perceives its place in the world.


Russia’s Efforts to “Destabilise Western Democracy” Increase Cyber Insecurity
Attacks on US and European targets have, in western eyes, made Russia the most feared state-sponsored cyber attacker.

Russia Hopes U.S. Will Dialogue on Cybersecurity
“Discussions on this issue should be held. The Russian side is ready for discussion, it is up to the U.S. to form a respective team and take a political decision,” the diplomat said.

Popular Russian Software Under FBI Scruitiny
Products from the company, Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, are widely used in homes, businesses and government agencies throughout the United States, including the Bureau of Prisons.

Suggestions on Russia-U.S. Cooperation in Cybersecurity
This report was put together by a Russian NGO working with an American NGO. The report argues that the first step to cooperation is deciding on what terminology and definitions can be agreed upon.

For Russia And U.S., Uneasy Cooperation On Cybercrime Is Now A Mess
The Americans are indicting hackers tied in some way to the FSB. The Russians, meanwhile, are charging some of those same individuals with treason.

US-Russia Relations

Rethinking Russia
Dmitri Trenin, of the Carnegie Moscow Center, explains current US-Russia relations in about six minutes. It’s worth your time.

How Did Russiagate Start?
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone investigates.

How Lawmakers are Reacting to Report of Trump Sharing Classified Intel with Russian Officials
Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern Monday night over reports that President Donald Trump Trump shared secret information about ISIS with Russians.

U.S., Russian Generals Communicating More To Avoid Mishaps In Syria
Russia & the U.S. regularly use the hotline to apprise the other of where planes and ground forces are located.

Moscow Readies a New, Hard-Line Ambassador for Washington
Antonov is a well-known figure among U.S. diplomatic and foreign policy hands, several of whom characterized him as a tough, well-prepared negotiator who can also act as an unrepentant propagandist when the need arises.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Visits Lend-Lease Monument in Fairbanks
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, visited a monument to cooperation between the United States and the former Soviet Union during World War II, highlighting a brief period of amicable relations between the two nations at a time when ties to Russia are proving a political liability for the White House.


Moscow’s English-Language Weekly To Change Hands, Cut Staff
The Moscow Times, once a Russia-based, English-language daily, continues to shrink.

Study Finds Russian Media Increased Foreign Language Broadcasts by 58 Percent
Since 2016, Russian media have expanded their coverage to include smaller languages such as Danish, Icelandic, Romanian and even Catalan.


Policy and Conflict Post SovietCentral Europe Raises Military Spending Amid Russia Fears
The study said spending in Central Europe increased 2.6 percent, the largest amount relative to population.

The Two Main Weaknesses of Russia’s Strong Navy
“Essentially, we have the disappearance of the Soviet blue water navy and the transition to something like a green water navy.”

More Armata Tanks, Less Warships
Russia has announced its 2018-2025 armament program.

Why is Putin Expanding Russia’s Armed Forces to 1.9 Million?
Russia has twice the territory and half the army of the U.S.

Russia Has One Super ‘Cannon’ That Can Kill Cities
In 2000, Tyulpans played a prominent role in the siege of Grozny in the second Chechen war, systematically “leveling” the city from afar according to one analyst.

One Belt-One Road (Russia-China Relations)

A Geographical Case for the “One Belt, One Road” and the Eurasian Economic Union
Moscow is the farthest capital city from the sea coast in Europe, while Bishkek is the farthest capital city from the coast in the world. This article argues that because of Eurasia’s massive geography, massive infrastructure is need if that geography will ever realize its economic potential.

Theresa Fallon On Understanding China’s One Belt, One Road Plan
A decenting case for the viability of the project.

Russia and China in the Age of Grand Eurasian Projects
This substantial academic study looks at prospects for integration between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union.

Ukraine (Domestic and Foreign Issues)

New Fighting in Ukraine’s Language War
Ukraine has recently blocked Russian-language social media sites and is preparing new legislation that would send “language inspectors” to schools, universities, and other government institutions to make sure that Russian is never used in these places.

Third Annual Ukrainian Municipal Survey
A large-scale poll of Ukrainians show them to be largely pessimistic about the national situation in their country, but overall more positive about the local situation.

Ukraine Is in the Middle of a Counterrevolution Again. Is Anyone Paying Attention?
“If you need a consensus on the most outstanding (reform) achievements, most Ukraine watchers would probably agree on four: the establishment of market prices on gas, a globally hailed e-procurement system, the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, and the launch of an electronic declaration system that discloses the assets of public officials. The last two are now at the epicenter of the biggest attempt to rollback reforms since the Maidan Revolution.”

EU Approves Visa-free Travel for Ukrainians
The bloc approved relaxed rules that will allow visa-free travel for up to 90 days after Kiev adopted anti-corruption measures and reforms.


Central-Asia-StudiesRussia Expels Estonian and Moldovan Diplomats
Russia has expelled seven foreign diplomats in a retaliatory move after Russian officials were asked to leave Estonia and Moldova earlier this week.

What Can Japan Offer Russia?
Russia’s main objectives are to attract Japanese investment into its national economic development programs and to continue to diversify its policies in the Asia-Pacific and on the international stage, where Japan plays an important and increasingly independent role.

Are the Littoral States Close to Signing an Agreement on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea?
The dispute over the legal status of the Caspian Sea has long hindered opportunities for regional cooperation, particularly with regard to the establishment of Trans-Caspian energy corridors, from Central Asia to Europe.

About the Author

Josh Wilson
Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs.