Russian Foreign Affairs – February, 2016

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
February 2016

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


Privatization of Major Russian Companies

Russia’s continued economic troubles, linked primarily to low oil prices and international sanctions, have caused some major budget shortcomings over the past year. To help shore up the budget, Moscow is seriously considering selling stakes in several major Russian companies. This has been considered before over the last 15 years, but always called off before actual implementation. Many analysts assert, however, that the government, lacking other major funding sources, will have follow through this time. Among the included companies are the oil company Rosneft, the bank Sberbank, and the airline Aeroflot. The plan could raise as much as 1 trillion Rubles ($12.5 billion), but it will still not be enough by itself to balance the budget.

Syria Ceasefire

On February 26, Russia and the United States agreed to a deal that will cease hostilities in the region of Syria. This ceasefire will include the Syrian government and the many rebel groups, but will not include terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (ISIL). This truce is set to last for two weeks, allowing humanitarian aid to reach some of the most devastated areas of the country. Of course, there is serious concern whether the ceasefire will actually last the set timeframe, especially with so many armed factions involved. More optimistic opinions see this as a first step toward a more concrete diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

President Putin’s speech announcing the ceasefire can be seen below with English subtitles.

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill Meet in Cuba

On February 6, the Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders met for the first time, discussing the need for greater unity between Christians and calling for an end to conflict, especially in Syria.

The two branches of Christianity have been officially separated for almost 1,000 years since the Great Schism of 1054.

Historically, there has been a substantial divide between the churches, both for theological and geopolitical reasons. The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed concern over Catholic expansion into traditionally Orthodox realms.


Other Articles

Russian Stategic Culture 2.0
“Russia achieves military victory, then refuses to press the advantage militarily but instead halts to convert military success into diplomatic success. I think that this pattern reveals something about Russian objectives and how Moscow views the use of force in international relations.”

US Top Commander: No Working With Russia
Breedlove warned that Russia is “weaponizing” the Syrian refugee crisis. Russian airstrikes are hitting civilians, causing them to flee and overwhelm Europe.

House Armed Services Committee Testimony
Dr. Fiona Hill advises the US legislature to apply a “judicious balance of elements of deterrence, defense, and constraint, along with clear incentives, and direct engagement with Putin and his inner circle.”

Pentagon Wants “Exotic New Weapons” to Deter Russia and China
Drones, cybersecurity defence, and smart weapons are on the Pentagon’s wish list.

Tajiks Fear Weaker Russian Presence
Locals in Tajikistan are worried about the possible reduction of Russian servicemen in the country, as the Islamic State militant organization grows in strength in neighboring Afghanistan.

Russia Wants to Fly over US with Advanced Digital Camera
Russia and the United States are signatories to the Open Skies Treaty. Senior intelligence and military officials, however, worry that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.

Russian Aggression Drives Increase in European Defense Spending
In southeastern Europe, an area covering Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, the rise will be 9.2 percent, while Western Europe will see a rise of 2.7 percent.

Medvedev Mistranslated; Nearly Starts WWIII
A German periodical stated that Medvedev said that the conflict in Syria would result in another world war. Medvedev only said it was another war on earth.

World Sees Russia as Competitor, Foe: Poll of Russians
Over 40 percent of Russians think that Western nations perceive their motherland as a competitor, while 30 percent think Russia is viewed more as a foe by the West.

Mir Legacy at Risk
Soviet space station Mir hosted astronauts from a significant number of countries – laying the foundation for the ISS. But how long will this collaborative spirit last?

About the Author

Jonathon Rainey
Jonathan Rainey majored in History and English at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. While at Francis Marion, he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, National History Honors Society and worked as a reporter for The Patriot, the university's newspaper. Jonathan will be serving as an SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar in Vladivostok for the 2015-2016 school year.
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.