Join Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies for a lecture by Dr. Bobo Lo. He has written extensively on Russian foreign policy, and his latest book is titled "A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia Relationship Means for the World."
Russia's political leaders deny the existence of a supposedly new plan to use limited nuclear strikes in a local/regional conflict to shock an adversary into suing for peace. Has the U.S. misunderstood Russian intentions and plans?
Join Harvard's Davis Center for a book talk with Joshua Yaffa, Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker, on his first book, "Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition and Compromise in Putin's Russia," in conversation with Prof. Timothy Colton.
Join Harvard's Davis Center for a talk with Shoshana Keller on "Russia and Central Asia: Coexistence, Conquest, Convergence," which provides an overview of the relationship between two dynamic regions, highlighting the ways in which Russia and Central Asia have influenced and been influenced by Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Covering early coexistence in the seventeenth century to the present day, this synthesis seeks to encourage new ways of thinking about how the modern world developed.
Twenty years ago this month, resigning Russian President Boris Yeltsin tapped Vladimir Putin to be his successor. Unlike Yeltsin, who’d been a prominent political figure in Moscow for about a decade, Putin was still relatively unknown outside of Russia, having been appointed prime minister from obscurity in August 1999. There was one big question on the minds of Westerners trying to figure out where Russia was going and one of the first to ask it was former U.S. diplomat Thomas Graham: “Who is Vladimir Putin, and what does he believe in?” A few weeks later, American journalist Trudy Rubin famously put it more bluntly, asking a panel of Russian officials and businesspeople almost the same thing: “Who is Mr. Putin?” Instead of an answer, several journalists wrote later, “there was a pause.”
The new acting president’s opaqueness stirred up a storm of expert and press speculation about what a Putin presidency would mean for Russia. Below is a sampling of some of that discussion. Where possible, the predictions are paired with later statements on Putin to show the evolution or accuracy of the commentators’ thinking.
As we are all well aware, the original Cold War, which officially ended 40 years ago this month, featured a number of close calls that almost turned it into a hot war. Thankfully, neither the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 nor the Able Archer exercise of 1983 (nor any other perilous incidents), led to a war between Washington and Moscow. More recently, however, respected statesmen have again begun to sound alarms. “Not since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis has the risk of a U.S.-Russian confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons been as high as it is today,” former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn warned in a recent article in Foreign Affairs. I have expressed some doubts about this proposition, but it is nevertheless worth asking what it is—other than the fear of mutually assured destruction—that keeps the U.S. and Russia from stumbling into a war today or tomorrow. Part of the answer lies in the bilateral and multilateral agreements specifically designed to prevent incidents that could escalate into a war.
As is clear from the list below, there are at least half a dozen bilateral agreements between Moscow and Washington that have been concluded for the purposes of preventing dangerous military incidents. These deals include the 1972 U.S.-Soviet agreement on prevention of incidents on and over the high seas and the 1989 U.S.-Soviet agreement on prevention of dangerous military activities. Some other NATO members—including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Greece and Portugal—have agreements with Russia on prevention of incidents on the high seas that are similar to the 1972 agreement between Moscow and Washington, while Canada and Greece also have agreements with Russia on prevention of dangerous military activities. However, almost a dozen NATO members have no such agreements with Russia, even though they abut seas. These countries include Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia. Nor are there any multilateral NATO-Russia (or NATO-Collective Security Treaty Organization) agreements on prevention of dangerous military incidents, though a NATO-Russia Memorandum of Understanding on avoiding and managing such incidents has been discussed in Track II.
From the costs and benefits of Russia's intervention in Ukraine and the lessons of the Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan, to the pitfalls of Russia's national projects and the likelihood (or not) of a military alliance between Russia and China, Russia Matters' most popular reads of 2019 address a variety of challenging geopolitical questions. Click "Read More" to check them out.