Monday 21 Jun 2021 | 10:37 | SYDNEY
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Russia

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

Book review: The making of Putin’s Russia

Book Review: Catherine Belton, Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (HarperCollins, 2020) Last week, the Russian people voted to approve a constitutional amendment that resets the count on presidential term limits. President Vladimir Putin served his first

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

Russia makes its presence known in Iran crisis

Recent revelations make it clear that Iran’s willingness to confront the US following the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was not driven just by a mix of domestic considerations and a compelling desire to retaliate. Iran’s bluntly open challenge to the US may have been

Russia is a special case when it comes to doping

There’s a telling scene in the recent sports documentary Icarus where the main protagonist of the film, Grigory Rodchenkov, sits at a table swirling containers of urine. “I am mafia, chased by WADA,” the former director of Russia’s anti-doping agency muses to himself. “In Russia, the

SCO-style economic cooperation: Treading slowly

Over its 18-year existence, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has mostly been in the spotlight as a forum for security cooperation, starting with the 2001 Convention that branded crimes of extremism, separatism, and terrorism as extraditable offences. The region is still facing significant security

Russia’s southern strategy

“Valiant breaks London–Cape record by 54 mins”, led the 9 July 1959 edition of the Cape Argus. The arrival of the sleek, white-painted, and still highly classified long-range British nuclear bomber, which represented the cutting edge of Britain’s new Cold War airborne nuclear deterrent, drew

What Russia wants in a multipolar world

Last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexei Pavlovsky, delivered a keynote address at the Australian National University on Russia’s strategic architect and former foreign minister, the late Yevgeny Primakov. Reflecting on the speech, it is evident that policy makers, pundits, and the

How Africa is breaking China’s neo-colonial shackles

If there’s any indication of how Africa is moving up on everyone’s agenda, look no further than the first edition of the Russia-Africa Summit, which saw 43 African heads of state converging last week on Sochi. Beyond the fact that the summit reflects the brisk trade Moscow does with the

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