Vladimir Putin took Russia to war to keep the North Caucasus Russian. “The collapse of the Soviet Union ends in Grozny,” said the Kremlin. Moscow was torn. Liberals said let the rebellious regions go. Russian nationalists said not one centimeter more of Russian land would be let go after 1991.
Over a decade later Putin has won the war but not the argument. In 2011 the Russian flag flies in the North Caucasus. There is a Vladimir Putin Avenue in Grozny. Russian troops control all major towns and roads. Yet something has changed. More Russians than ever are beginning to ask themselves if they actual want the region in Russia – and if letting it go could make them stronger.
Russia has been badly hit by the financial crisis. Twenty years has gone by since the collapse of the Soviet Union and mentalities have started to shift. Russians are asking themselves if they should be paying
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Recently, with Jonas Parello Plesner, I wrote a policy paper in which we suggested that China’s reaction to Libya was something that reflected the glimmers of a new foreign policy direction for China. While I have since had some push back from foreign friends who tell me that we are focusing too much on one instance to read a bigger trend, I listened to an interesting presentation by a Chinese friend the other day in which he berated his leadership for their incapacity to act on the international stage.
The presentation came during a two-day conference on what Afghanistan was going to look like post- the US withdrawal. The event itself was a small discussion with long presentations and short discussions. Two elements leapt out at me: first was the fact that over two days of discussions (with mostly Chinese speakers) there was next to no outline of what a Chinese strategy towards
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On a recent trip to China, I asked Chinese thinkers and researchers how do they see Europe, Russia, the Putin-Medvedev dynamic and the post-Soviet space. Virtually all were very positive about Russia. Despite a lack of trust between Beijing and Moscow, the relationship seems to be better than almost any time in modern history – economic exchanges are booming (increased by 43% in 2010 reaching $55 bn), and China’s border with Russia is one of China’s most stable. But scratching a bit deeper beyond the surface the picture is unsurprisingly more mixed. And not necessarily reassuring for Russia. As a Chinese put it, the relationship is good because ‘we know that when two tigers fight, both are likely to be wounded, and we want to
July 1st marks the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 90th Birthday, and the country is gradually gearing up for the big event, with large red Communist party flags going up all over the place. I noticed a giant flag appear on the huge shopping mall near me: a somewhat incongruous location for the hammer and sickle logo of socialism to appear, but strangely in keeping with the slightly surreal nature of this anniversary.
The mall itself has a certain history. Ba Bai Ban (八佰伴) was one of the first giant malls to appear in Shanghai (and I believe China), established in December 1995 by a Japanese company. It has eight floors of retail space and is somewhat comparable to something like Selfridges in London – selling high end consumer goods with concessions inside dedicated to recognisable brands like Hugo Boss, Zegna, and so on. According to a factoid I picked up online, it remains a
Ahead of this week's European Council, Thomas Klau wrote a commentary calling on European leaders at the Council meeting to act boldly rather than simply trying to buy more time. Thomas also gave his thoughts on the crisis in a new French language podcast. Meanwhile, ahead of next week's publication of a new essay collection called 'What does Germany think about Europe?', Ulrike Guérot wrote in her latest ‘Germany in Europe’ blog post that it is time for a bit more far-sighted patriotism among her countrymen and women.
Wen Jiabao arrives in Europe today for a visit timed to coincide with the crucial Council meeting. In a podcast recorded yesterday, Jonas-Parello Plesner talks about the visit, and the release from custody in China of artist Ai Weiwei.Yesterday, ECFR also published a new issue of China Analysis, this time examining the future of China’s power supplies. China’s
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