Wednesday 08 Dec 2021 | 20:58 | SYDNEY
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Russia

Twenty years of BRICS

It is 20 years since Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill invented the BRIC economic grouping – Brazil, Russia, India and China – with South Africa added later to make up the BRICS. He celebrated this anniversary with a self-congratulatory article in the Financial Times, expressing his

Russia, more than China, leaves India with a dilemma

Ukraine and Taiwan are now the major focal points in the geopolitical arena, testing the diplomacy of the United States but also other nations – India as much as any. Where India-China relations have soured in recent years, in some ways making India’s response to the Taiwan issue more

The Kremlin may be tiring of the impasse in eastern Ukraine

Reports this month of a sizeable recent build-up of Russian military forces around Ukraine’s borders have aroused fears in Kiev and Western capitals of impending Russian military action in Ukraine.  Emphasising Washington’s “serious concerns”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Arms control is not just about arms

Relations between Russian and the United States have been rocky since the 2014 Crimean crisis. Washington imposed various sanctions on the Kremlin in the aftermath of the annexation, accusing it of violating Ukrainian sovereignty. US charges of Russian interferences in the 2016 and 2020 elections

Is Russia finally getting serious on climate change?

At last month’s annual Valdai forum in Russia, President Vladimir Putin said it was “impossible” to deny climate change when disasters had become “almost a norm”.  Acknowledging the reality and hazards of climate change is a big change for Russia’s leader.  But how

China’s education diplomacy in Central Asia

Once upon a time, parents in Central Asia sent their children to Moscow or St Petersburg for higher education. Now, some of them are opting for China instead. China has become an increasingly popular destination for many Central Asian students after Russia – meaning Chinese-educated Kazak and

China – a lonely superpower

As the United States, United Kingdom and Australia move to form a new AUKUS grouping, various reports have emerged of a “new Quad” led by China and featuring Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Iran’s imminent admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and plans for the four countries to

Lukashenko running on empty

Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko is under pressure and increasingly isolated. That makes him more dangerous. And it poses challenges, as well as opportunities, for his only ally, Russia. In August 2020, mass public protests calling for political change engulfed Belarus. The

Afghanistan: Russia faces its own risks and uncertainty

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan offers some opportunities to Russia – but exposes it to greater uncertainty and risk. Russia has long been ambivalent about the US/NATO force presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Moscow recognised, and valued, the stabilising role they played in the

Russia and Vietnam: An alliance of convenience

Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Southeast Asia, with Vietnam alone a major customer for Russia’s arms. While it is estimated that throughout the 1980s Moscow had provided Vietnam with an average of US$1 billion annually in military assistance and another US$1 billion annually

Why China and North Korea decided to renew a 60-year-old treaty

Sixty years have passed since the China-North Korea Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance was signed on 11 July 1961. On the anniversary this month, China’s President Xi Jinping and North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un pledged to renew the Treaty for another 20 years, as China and

Russia’s National Security Strategy: Same book, new cover

“The weak get beaten,” declared Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2004 after the Beslan tragedy. Russia’s recently-unveiled new National Security Strategy bears the stamp of Putin’s world view. It is not a revolutionary document, but builds on familiar themes identified in its 2015

Believing Biden

At the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s one-week visit across the continent and to the United Kingdom, Europeans appear to believe in the need to push back against the authoritarian China of Xi Jinping – a faith evident despite their mutual economic interests with Beijing along with a fear

Biden-Putin summit: Managing expectations

The United States and Russia are both carefully managing down expectations of any dramatic breakthroughs when US President Joe Biden meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva on 16 June – their first face-to-face contact since Biden took office. This is understandable and sensible.

Russia–China: An Unholy Alliance?

Russia and China’s verbal sparring with the US over competing visions of multilateralism last week in the UN Security Council exemplified the closer ties forged over recent years between Moscow and Beijing. The burgeoning relationship undoubtedly offers mutual advantage for both countries –

Sticks and carrots in Biden’s Russia strategy

The Biden administration’s recent comprehensive package of sanctions against Russian individuals and organisations is probably the clearest indication yet of a US decision to use sticks to moderate Moscow’s adventurism. But do these measures go far enough, and what will the US need to do next if

Russia’s Asia diplomacy

Russia’s long-serving Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shuttled between Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad in recent weeks, putting on a diplomatic display that could be described as admirably adroit as much as it was divisive. From China and India, Lavrov fulminated against a hostile America’s

Cracks beginning to appear in the Russia-India relationship

India’s annual summit with Russia was cancelled last year for the first time since its inception – the official reason, as was commonly blamed for many abandoned events, Covid-19. The summit’s cancellation was a rare hiccup in what has otherwise been a traditionally close partnership. Moscow

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

Palaces and protests: Where to next for Russia?

Large street protests swept more than a hundred Russian cities in late January. The rallies were sparked by the arrest and jailing of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the release of his widely viewed “Putin’s Palace” corruption exposé video on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, security

Russia vs the EU

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell visited Moscow this month intending to lodge a strong protest against the treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Russia. Not surprisingly, this was forcefully rebutted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei

The Donbass conflict: Waiting for escalation

Europe’s “forgotten war” between the Western-backed Ukraine and the Russian-sponsored, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic over the energy-rich Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has been “on hold” for six years. Despite the formal truce declared in

The ageing of the guard in Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Putin, who rose to power more than 20 years ago as symbol of youth, strength and vitality, is today confronting an uncomfortable truth. In short, his previously rock-solid regime is starting to look a bit tired. The Russian government’s recent violent crackdowns against protesters

Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean

Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually. Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with

Russia’s red star in the Red Sea

While the world’s attention in recent weeks has been firmly fixed on the United States’ presidential race, Russia under Vladimir Putin has made a number of surprising moves. One was a swift deployment of its peacekeepers to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, putting a stop for now to a bloody

A Biden presidency and US-Russia relations

Moscow’s muted reaction to Joe Biden’s election victory is unsurprising, and speaks volumes. The Kremlin is likely bracing itself for more confrontation with Washington, as US policy towards Russia hardens. That’s saying something. Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and revelations

Nagorno-Karabakh: Peace – for now

Six weeks of renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh ended last week after Russia brokered a trilateral agreement with the warring parties. Baku is trumpeting its victory on the field of battle and at the negotiating table, while Yerevan is

Why Russia will not return the Kuril Islands to Japan

The decades-old dispute between Russia and Japan over the status of the Kuril Islands is far from over. Tokyo, which refers to the islands as the Northern Territories, still insists on a peace treaty with Moscow that would result in Russia’s return of at least two out of four islands to Japan,

Russia’s troubled periphery

Unrest is roiling Russia’s near abroad, from its western flanks in Europe to the “’Stans” of Central Asia on China’s doorstep. For all their local particulars, these nations share a common historical legacy which continues to undermine stability in various ways.   In Belarus,

Protests and power struggles in Russia’s Far East

Rallies in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk have been overshadowed by the protests in Belarus, as well as the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Although anti-Kremlin protesters in the city of 600,000 still hold weekly demonstrations, demanding Russian authorities return

How Russia benefited from Belarus’s turmoil

Mass protests and nationwide strikes in Belarus did not result in the overthrow of President Alexander Lukashenko, but they have pushed the Eastern European country deeper into Russia’s geopolitical orbit. Moscow and Minsk have reportedly agreed on resuming Russia’s energy supplies to Belarus,

Why Navalny matters

European leaders and institutions reacted promptly to the shocking plight of the Russian pro-democracy campaigner Aleksei Navalny, as he lay in a coma in an Omsk hospital and local officials tried to obstruct his evacuation to Germany. The same could not be said of Vladimir Putin. During the two

The obstacles to Syrian aid

On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final

Australia’s Russia problem (and how to solve it)

The 2020 Defence Strategic Update goes some way to preparing Australia to compete in a new multipolar, Indo-Pacific–anchored strategic environment. But a notable absence from the document is Russia. This matters. Australians too often speak of Moscow’s irrelevance and weakness since the end of

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

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