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Foreign Affairs: Analysis

08 december 2016

Italian Referendum Result: A Headache for Rome, or for Brussels?

Andrey Kortunov Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member


From the dim and distant days of the early Republic up to the era of the late Empire, the bright red standards of the Roman legions always bore four big letters embroidered in gold — SPQR. Historians still disagree over what this abbreviation means, but the majority share the view that SPQR stands for Senatus Populus Quiritium Romanus or Senatus Populusque Romanus — the Senate and Citizens of Rome or the Senate and People of Rome. It is significant that both these phrases start not with “the people” or “the citizens” but with “the Senate” in the sense of the chief symbol and foundation of Roman statehood. It was against the Senate — to be precise, the Italian Senate rather than the Roman one of old — that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pitted himself in the 4 December referendum.

Captain Smollet's Column

Vikings Have Got a Plan

Vikings Have Got a Plan

Storting adopted the Long Term Defense Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces. The Plan represents a historic increase in defence spending. Among major results, the Government has ordered new American antisubmarine aircraft.

Author: Alexander Yermakov.

Day Figure

Transport Revolution of the 20’s Might Decrease World Vehicle Fleet by 90%. Winners and Losers

Transport Revolution of the 20’s Might Decrease World Vehicle Fleet by 90%. Winners and Losers

World transport system is about to face a revolution due to the introduction of self-driving cars. By the end of the 2020’s cars with no driver will be able to deprive traditional vehicles like cars, trucks, and busses, of competitive advantage or even push them out of the market in the developed countries. Along with the positive changes, «transport revolution» will rise two challenges for Russia: decrease of the oil price and increase of the road quality requirements.

Author: Andrey Kortunov.

07 december 2016

Migration Crisis: International Cooperation and National Strategies

Vladimir Malakhov Doctor of Political Science, Leading researcher, RAS Institute of Philosophy


Migration has moved to the top of the global political agenda in recent times. The unprecedented influx of refugees to Europe, on the one hand, and the high rate of South–North economic migration on the other, have led to sharp political and public opinion divisions. Over the last year-and-a-half, the expressions “migration crisis” and “refugee crisis” have become firmly lodged in the political and journalist discourse. However, to what extent does the term “crisis” reflect the real state of affairs?

Eurasian Chronicle

Global Issues Overweigh the Allies

Global Issues Overweigh the Allies

Vladimir Putin signed Executive Order approving the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation. This wasn’t unexpected—the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov spoke about the preparation of the document in the spring. As the minister promised, the new concept, as prepared within his office, has turned out to be more global than its predecessor.

Author: Sergey Rekeda.

07 december 2016

The Northern Sea Route: National Regime in the Changing International Context

Julia Bobrova Ph.D. in Law, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation


Both the Arctic states and other members of the global community are becoming increasingly interested in the Arctic. The issues of developing the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the legal regulation of navigation in its waters are pending both for the Russian interests and in the international context, especially since the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) comes into force on 1 January 2017.

RIAC Reader

Anti-government extremist organizations in Syria

Anti-government extremist organizations in Syria

This longread describes the main anti-government groups – parties to the Syrian conflict (both currently existing and those which have already merged with other groups). The longread's authors attempted to trace their connections and the dynamics of their development. This is clearly a very ambitious task which goes beyond the current study. Yet the review covers the basic range of the main extremist groups participating in the Syrian crisis, thus enabling the reader to get as complete a picture of the current events as possible.

05 december 2016

The Iskanders in Armenia: Restoration of a Balance or a New Round of the Arms Race?

Mikael Zolyan Ph.D. in History, Associate Professor, Yerevan State Linguistic University


A military parade rehearsal is always a big deal. Yet the media’s interest in a rehearsal that took place in Yerevan on September 16, 2016 was not caused by the fact that Armenia was about to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its independence. The Russian-made Iskander missiles were spotted in the streets of Yerevan that day. Armenia’s Iskanders have remained in the crosshairs of attention of journalists and analysts alike ever since.

Beyond the Ocean Column

With Fear and Reproach

With Fear and Reproach

While Russia is popping champagne to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections, Latin America is taking safeguard measures in order to neutralize the potential political and economic risks from the billionaire’s presidency.

Author: Anastasia Borik.


The Balkans of the Internet

The Balkans of the Internet

The UK Parliament has just passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, also known as The Snooper’s Charter, on its third attempt; it is the most extreme surveillance initiative ever, giving government security services the power to hack and monitor information online traffic. This law brings about a drastic regulatory mechanism of Internet traffic monitoring into action (an innocent typo could lead to an administrative penalty). This way akin laws will soon appear in the countries of the Old World — that’s just a question of time, while the Internet segmentation has already started.

Author: Maria Gurova.

05 december 2016

Are Norms Liberal?

Ilya Ivanov Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, RIAC expert


In his extremely interesting and thought-provoking article, Andrey Kortunov identifies the three main components of the “liberal world order”: rationality, normativity and openness. While in my opinion, not a single manifestation of human activity, especially one as complicated and intricate as international relations, can be reduced to one or two ‘overarching theories,’ whether it be liberalism, realism or the Big Mac Index, one question in particular arises upon reading Mr. Kortunov’s article: What makes normativity inherent to liberalism? Are norms liberal?

02 december 2016

Russia and NATO in the Baltic

Ivan Timofeev PhD in Political Science, Director of Programs at Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Head of "Contemporary State" program at Valdai Discussion Club.


The Baltic of today is a most intricate area for Russia-NATO interaction. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, all of them members of the alliance, serve as its frontier zone in direct contact with its Eastern neighbor. The Ukraine events have drawn the Russia-NATO relationship into a deep systemic crisis, with Moscow seen by Brussels as the key security challenge, which implies that its containment has become an inherent component in their bilateral activities. The Russian view is symmetric, the only difference being in the fact that NATO and prospects for its expansion had been seen as a challenge long before the Ukraine predicament.

01 december 2016

Jiri Valenta: Deal-maker Trump Will Likely Choose Persuasion


In the time of international challenges, the collaboration between Russia and US become even more important. Many experts express concerns over Trump policies and his possibility to address key international agenda issues such as protracted conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. In an interview with RIAC Director General Dr. Andrey Kortunov, Dr. Jiri Valenta, CFR member, reflects on what made the victory of Donald Trump possible and shares his perspective on US – Russian rapprochement under President Trump, cooperation on security matters as well as relations between the leaders of Russia and the US.

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