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Analysis | Sep 24, 2021
We’ve asked four experts to give their takes on the key outcome of the elections and their impact on Russia’s foreign policy, particularly toward the U.S. and the West.
Digest | Sep 24, 2021
Post | Sep 21, 2021
The Levada Center recently polled Russians on their attitudes toward Russia’s general standing in the international community, as well as their attitudes toward strategic competitors and countries within the post-Soviet neighborhood. Polling shows an improvement in attitudes toward the U.S., EU and Ukraine following unfavorable public opinion trends in the spring of 2021. Likewise, positive attitudes toward Georgia have been making steady improvements since 2018. However, Russian attitudes toward China have worsened since the beginning of 2021.

When asked about Russia’s presence on the global stage, respondents feel that Russia is isolated and viewed as a competitor by developed nations. Nevertheless, a majority of Russians want a more positive relationship with the West.
Digest | Sep 17, 2021
Post | Sep 15, 2021
If geopolitics abhors vacuums, then who will fill the void created by the U.S. departure from Afghanistan? One player that may be in a position to fill some of that void is the Shanghai Security Organization (SCO), in my view. Since its prototype was established in 1996, the SCO has evolved into a viable organization for regional security and defense cooperation, and there is no doubt that most, if not all, of its members, share an urgent interest in keeping instability from spilling over from Afghanistan. However, while the SCO should be expected to try to act on that collective interest, it is doubtful that any of its members, even leading giants Russia and China, will be able to fully fill the shoes left by the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan.  

The change of power in Kabul has been quite abrupt, catching many regional watchers off guard, as evidenced, for instance, by a commentary published by the Diplomat in mid-July arguing that it was time for the SCO to accommodate the Ashraf Ghani government’s requests for Afghanistan to join the organization. In the wake of the subsequent demise of Ghani’s regime and the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul, there is hardly a neighboring country left that would not be interested in joining forces with some of the regional powers to defend themselves from threats emanating from the (yet again) destabilized Afghanistan. Individual SCO members are no exception, and there is no doubt they will devote the lion’s share of their Sept. 16-17 summit in Dushanbe to the Afghanistan formulating a collective strategy to respond to these threats. These threats include a deadly resurgence of al-Qaida, the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, a dramatic increase in the transit of refugees, and continued drug trafficking.
Analysis | Sep 15, 2021
The authorities are faced with the fiendish task of convincing democratic-minded voters that there is no point in voting, while making every effort to boost turnout among the conformist, state-dependent electorate.
Analysis | Sep 14, 2021
While schadenfreude and strategic anti-U.S. messaging is the most visible aspect of Russia’s immediate response, Moscow’s more material concerns—including regional instability and the spread of radical Islamic terrorism—should not be understated.
Analysis | Sep 12, 2021
In this episode of the SRB podcast, Michael Kofman and Dmitry Gorenburg discuss recent developments in the Russian military.