Sargsyan, Medvedev and Aliev. Photo: kremlin.ru/Wikimedia Commons.
Policymakers and analysts have spent the past two decades applying the same insights and settlement approaches to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the same limited impact. There is an underpinning perception that everything that could have been said has already been said. This, combined with a set of overused words such as ‘stalemate’, ‘deadlock’, ‘frozen’ and, more recently, ‘simmering conflict’ brings with it a certain level of fatigue and apathy on the part of the conflict parties and external observers.
However, tangible contextual changes within protracted conflicts often open up windows of opportunity for new dynamics in peace processes. In this respect, does Armenia’s stated intention to join the Russian-led Customs Union provide a window of opportunity for renewed mediation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? » More
The European Parliament on September 12 called on Russia to respect the right of EU Eastern Partnership members such as Ukraine to enter Association Agreements. The resolution, which received overwhelming support across the parliament’s political groups, called on Russia to not use trade sanctions to force Ukraine to choose the Eurasian over the European Union.
It is doubtful whether the resolution will have any impact in Moscow because Russian policies have been consistently heavy handed and counter-productive over the last quarter of a century. Besides predicting dire consequences of an economic collapse when Ukraine no longer has access to the CIS market following entry into an Association Agreement, Russian leaders are also claiming that Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine will split away. Sergei Glazyev, one of President Vladimir Putin’s senior advisers, said that Russia would be legally entitled to support eastern Ukraine in such a split, comparing this to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in the 1990s. » More
Market watching. Image by Rafael Matsunaga / Flickr.
After a decade of infatuation, investors have suddenly turned their backs on emerging markets. In the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – growth rates have quickly fallen and current-account balances have deteriorated. The surprise is not that the romance is over but that it could have lasted for so long.
From 2000 to 2008 the world went through one of the greatest commodity and credit booms of all times. Goldman Sachs preached that the BRICs were unstoppable (e.g. Wilson and Purushothaman 2003).
However, Genesis warns that after seven years of plenty, “seven years of famine will come and the famine will ravage the land”. Genesis appears to have described the combined commodity and credit cycle, from which the Brazil, Russia, India and China have benefited more than their due. » More
East Asia. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr.
Editor’s note: Our partners at the Pacific Forum have just released the latest edition of Comparative Connections. This triannual publication provides expert commentary on the current status of a selection of bilateral relationships across the Asia-Pacific region. Alongside a chronology of key events, a regional overview places recent developments into a broader and multilateral context. We publish a summary of the September 2013 issue below. The full issue is available for download here.
Regional Overview: Rebalance Continues Despite Distractions by Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman
It was a rough four months for the US as Washington struggled to convince Asian audiences that the “rebalance” is sustainable given renewed attention to the Middle East, even before the Syrian crises. US engagement in Asia was multidimensional with participation at several ministerial-level meetings, a visit by Vice President Biden, continued pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a show of military capability in Korea. But, it isn’t clear North Korea got the message. Kim Jong Un seems to have adopted his father’s play book: first create a crisis, make lots of threats, and follow up with a “smile diplomacy” campaign. So far, Washington has stuck to its game plan, insisting on a sign of genuine sincerity before opening a dialogue with Pyongyang. Finally, the US image in the region was damaged by revelations about classified NSA intelligence collection efforts. » More
Syrians hold photos of Assad and Putin during a pro-regime protest in front of the Russian embassy in Damascus, Syria, 2012. Photo: Freedom House/flickr.
This post originally appeared on the World blog at Blouin Global News.
Russia has been Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest protector. Although the British parliament’s decision not to intervene militarily in Syria has disappointed Washington, as of writing it seems unlikely to affect its resolution to strike against the Assad’s regime. When it does so, it will inevitably anger Moscow and further contribute to its belief that the United States seeks to be a “monopolar” power that acts however it wants on the world stage.
But why has Moscow been so stalwart in its support of an undeniably odious regime? It is possible to talk glibly of a natural affinity between autocrats (although Vladimir Putin clearly still commands the support of a clear majority of Russians) or a fear of some global swing against authoritarian regimes (though there are many dominos between Damascus and Moscow that would fall first), the answer is a mix of pragmatism, fear and geopolitics. » More