Imperial Restoration: Russia’s Foreign Policy Imperatives

Nikita Khrushchev Leonid Brezhnev
Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders review an army parade in Moscow’s Red Square, Russia, November 9, 1962 (Life/Stan Wayman)

Short of Westernizing and accepting that no European power has any designs on Russia anymore, the country’s strategic priority must be to restore preponderance in the “near abroad” in order to satisfy its insecurity complex. Once that it accomplished, Russia can start thinking about forming global alliances to challenge the world’s dominant oceanic power, America.

Even the Soviets, for all their early internationalist pretensions, found they could not ignore Russia’s geopolitical imperatives. The First World War had left Russia bereft of an empire. Finland, the Baltic states, the Western Borderlands, including Ukraine, and the Trans-Caucasus were all lost. Germany was defeated but the new states of Eastern Europe were too weak to resist it. Read more “Imperial Restoration: Russia’s Foreign Policy Imperatives”

Chinese Leader Follows Silk Road, Signs Energy Deals

While the American “pivot” to Asia seems stalled in light of the Syrian crisis, China’s pivot west, to Central Asia, is in full swing. Crisscrossing the region, in a path reminiscent of the Silk Road, President Xi Jingping has been making numerous well received speeches and deals from Ashgabat to Astana.

Unsurprisingly, many of the agreements arising from this trip relate to the energy sector. In Turkmenistan, the Chinese leader helped inaugurate the start of production at the world’s second largest gasfield, Galkynysh, while also finalizing a deal for the Chinese state-owned energy corporation, China National Petroleum Corp, to build facilities which should process 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Read more “Chinese Leader Follows Silk Road, Signs Energy Deals”

Medvedev Predicts Eurasian Union by 2015

Outgoing Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has given impetus to the Eurasian Union by declaring that it will be up and running in three years.

An idea that has been around the block several times, the union would encompass Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and have as observer countries Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine. The union would be one of a myriad of regional initiatives set up in the post-Soviet space. Whether there will be meaningful integration remains doubtful. Read more “Medvedev Predicts Eurasian Union by 2015”

Central Asian Battlefield 2027

Should revolution sweep Central Asia in a “Silk Road Awakening” next decade, its republics, rich in resources but impoverished in terms of infrastructure and institutions, could find themselves at the mercy of neighboring great powers descending upon the region like four “hungry hippos.”

This is the premise explored by a team of Georgetown University students participating in a grand strategy competition with the geopolitical analysis community Wikistrat. Their worst-case scenario? Continental Asia as a ticking time bomb.

Neighboring powers have been vying for influence in Central Asia since the demise of Soviet power there, inspiring some analysts to forecast a “New Great Game” in reminiscence of the Anglo-Russian power struggle during the nineteenth century.

As both the British and the Russians found out, Central Asia is a tar pit filled with confusing micro-nationalities, borders arbitrarily drawn without regard for ethnic divides and a geography that is bound to frustrate any attempt at military intervention. But it’s also rich in natural resources and could propel whichever country dominates it to the status of global power. China, Iran, Russia and Turkey each have a strong motive for building leverage in the region should an opportunity to do so present itself. Read more “Central Asian Battlefield 2027”

Clinton Visits Tumultuous Central Asia

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited different countries in Central Asia to push for improved political freedoms in the former Soviet republics and affirm their role as security partners of the United States. As the war in Afghanistan drags on, these countries, many of which are battling internal disorder, remain significant as part of America’s supply routes.

Clinton attended a summit of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kazakhstan Wednesday where she also spoke with the country’s president and foreign minister. She thanked Kazakhstan for cooperating with the West in the realm of nonproliferation. Earlier this year, she pointed out during a press conference, along with the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and the United States secured over ten metric tons of highly enriched uranium as well as three metric tons of weapons grade plutonium. “That is enough material to have made 775 nuclear weapons,” she said. “And now we are confident it will never fall into the wrong hands.” Read more “Clinton Visits Tumultuous Central Asia”