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Category: Russia and Eurasia

March 27, 2023

Dictators, Summits, and War Crimes

Where is the Sino-Russian partnership going? And what does it — and Putin’s indictment for war crimes — mean for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine?

March 1, 2023

For Xi and China, Putin's War is a Geopolitical Minefield

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 upended international politics and scrambled the strategic calculations of many states, few more seriously than China. Beijing is now scrambling to limit the fallout of the conflict on its core strategic and economic interests.

Feb. 2, 2023

The Inhospitable Sea: Toward a New U.S. Strategy for the Black Sea Region

The Black Sea region (BSR) has become a central fault line in the strategic competition between Russia and the West. The war in Ukraine is forcing the United States and NATO to devote more attention to the region, one which NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg recognized has “vital strategic importance” to the alliance.

Jan. 25, 2023

The Realist Case for Ukraine

Despite US support and Ukrainian valor, the war is now approaching a second year, and several observers in the United States and in Europe have become increasingly alarmed at the consequence of a longer war. None of these concerns should be dismissed out of hand. Each, however, rests on problematic assumptions. The realist case for aiding Ukraine accepts Mearsheimer’s insight about the tragic structural nature of international politics, particularly the danger of a sustained period of great-power competition with both Russia and China—as well as the continued threat that Vladimir Putin’s Russia poses to peace and stability in Europe. It acknowledges that Ukraine’s resilience and ingenuity provide an opportunity to, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put it “weaken Russia” and reshape the global balance of power in favor of the United States and its allies.

Jan. 9, 2023

Let's Make a Deal? Ukraine and the Poor Prospects for Negotiations with Putin

Ukraine has defied expectations and admirably defended its sovereignty. It still has quite a way to go to eject Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and hirelings. A bitter frozen conflict could last for some time despite the tenacious and creative defense of Ukraine’s determined military. But it is time to start thinking about the end game. Sketching out the compromises and hard choices for Russia’s termination of its “Special Military Operation” is not an exercise in optimism or wishful thinking. Understanding what the West desires out of this conflict and what is the objective in terms of relations with a defeated Russia is a clear strategic question for US policymakers at this point in time.

Dec. 12, 2022

America's Great-Power Challenge: Managing Russia's Decline and China's Rise

Russia is in strategic trouble. Vladimir Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine has weakened Russia’s global posture and eroded the carefully honed image of great-power prowess Putin cultivated for two decades. But Russia’s loss of relative power is not necessarily America’s gain. Modern geopolitics has returned to the framework of past multipolar, great-power competitions, the last of which was contested prior to World War II. American policymakers must help manage Moscow’s strategic malpractice in a manner that does not harm Washington’s prospects for success in the long-term Sino-American rivalry.

Oct. 11, 2022

As Russia Reels, Eurasia Roils

In trying and failing to reclaim Russian imperial influence over Ukraine, Moscow is actively accelerating the decline of its influence throughout Eurasia, including the former Soviet countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Perceiving the fragility of Russian power, governments across the region have begun creating facts on the ground in ways that Russia’s post-imperial power long prevented.

Sept. 7, 2022

The East Wind Prevails? Russia's Response to China's Eurasian Ambitions

Deference to Chinese aspirations in Eurasia is integral to Moscow’s pursuit of closer relations with Beijing. Yet China’s pursuit of regional, and ultimately global, influence is at odds with Russia’s longstanding ambition to maintain post-Soviet Eurasia as a strategic glacis and sphere of ‘privileged interests’. Russia has consequently sought to shape and channel Chinese engagement in line with its own interests, with mixed results. Disappointments with the effects of Chinese economic and political influence on Russian equities, limits on Sino–Russian coordination, and the interest of Eurasia’s smaller states contributed to a growing wariness on Russia’s part. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine and attendant confrontation with the West have left Russia more dependent on China, even as China itself has become more realistic about the prospects for Eurasian integration.

July 15, 2022

The War in Ukraine and Eurasia's New Imperial Moment

Eurasia contains four states whose leaders portray their countries as the center of distinct regional orders, consciously evoking their imperial history as a justification to be something greater than ordinary states. China, Iran, Russia and Turkey are thus at least in part “revisionist” powers. Unless Russia’s imperial war in Ukraine is soundly defeated, the world should be prepared for further bouts of Eurasian empire rebuilding.

April 29, 2022

America Needs a Comprehensive Compellence Strategy Against Russia

One month before the war started, FPRI’s Rob Lee argued that Moscow’s compellence strategy would include the use of military force directly against Kyiv or more likely by punitive raids deep into the eastern half of Ukraine. He argued, “By inflicting heavy losses on the Ukrainian military, taking prisoners of war, and degrading Kyiv’s defense capabilities, Russia could potentially alter Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s incentive structure sufficiently to induce painful concessions.” Despite Ukraine’s successful effort to turn back Russian forces around Kyiv, Russia’s compellence strategy has not yet failed. As a result, it needs to be undercut by NATO with a more comprehensive approach.