Russian Foreign Affairs – March, 2016

Map of the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
March 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.


SSI-banner Russia Begins Syrian Exit?

President Vladimir Putin stated this month that the Syrian campaign has achieved its main objectives and that the Russian forces stationed in the region will begin a drawdown. Over the past six months, Russia has supported its key ally in the region, Syria, to push back against rebel groups and the Islamic State.

However, Reuters has published an article stating that Russia has actually been delivering more supplies to its naval port in Tartus on the Mediterranean coast than it has been shipping out, leading to questions about how whether Russia is really drawing down or not.

Sergey Lavrov’s Article on Russian Foreign Policy

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov published a lengthy article on Russia’s current position in the global arena and how Lavrov views his country’s role in foreign affairs. He offers a sweeping historical context, starting with the very foundation of Kievan Rus, moving through the Mongol occupation, Peter the Great’s modernization, the Crimean War, and right up through World War II and the Soviet era. His main thesis is centered around Russia’s unique position in geopolitics and its history of overcoming tremendous difficulties while maintaining its status as a global power. Finally, he maintains that Russia seeks to work in concert with Europe and the West to find peaceful solutions to the world’s major issues.

New Russian Naval Base in the Kuril Islands Considered

The Russian Navy is in the early stages of planning a new naval facility on the Kuril Island chain, which is currently the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. Currently, Russia is only planning to deploy several new coastal missile systems to the islands, but the navy is also exploring potential sites for construction of a more substantial base in the Greater Kuril Ridge.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming months. Reportedly, negotiations on the Kuril Islands are on the agenda.

Policy and Conflict Post SovietOther Issues

Growing the Next Generation of Russia Experts
Russia experts complain that the US lacks Russia experts.

Cybersecurity in Russian-U.S. Relations
While the United States is concerned primarily with threats to technology and economic well-being, Russia is also concerned about activities that threaten interference in Russian sovereign affairs.

“Let Russia’s Planes Keep Flying Over US”
Editorial: The Pentagon dithered while Moscow upgraded. It’s time to catch up — not scrap the Open Skies Treaty.

US Returns Stolen Historic Documents to Russia
The U.S. today handed back more than two dozen historic documents stolen from Russia’s state archives during the 1990s amid the chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Four Reasons Why Russia Has Withdrawn from Syria
Russia has emerged from the Syrian adventure as a pivotal power in the Middle East and has put to rest the notion that it can be diplomatically isolated.

Rebirth of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
Before Russia annexed Crimea, Ukraine allowed Russia to keep ships there, but largely prevented vessels from being added. Much of the fleet spent 25 years rusting away at their moorings.

Pentagon Readies More Robust U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe
The Pentagon plans to defend Eastern European allies with American troops, tanks and other armored vehicles in hopes of deterring Russian aggression.

At Least 32 Killed in Heavy Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh
The Armenian and Azerbaijani forces both say the other started renewed fighting in one the former USSR’s frozen conflicts.

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.