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Michael Filitis recently earned an MA in History and Political Science from the University of Chicago. He is currently SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholar for 2016-2017.

Russian Foreign Affairs in the News
November 2016
By Michael Filitis and Josh Wilson

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Russian foreign policy and foreign policies concerning Russia have been of particular interest to those following world affairs lately. With Russia's more assertive stance on the world stage, Russia's absorption of Crimea, and resulting sanctions, arms buildups, and global geopolitical restructuring and repositioning, keeping a close eye on this part of the world is especially important to understanding global security and international politics.

This resource from SRAS serves to track and analyze these issues as they develop in Eurasia.

For more on all these issues, see our coverage of How the News is Reported in Russia.


Meeting in France Signals Possible Future Cooperation between the US & Russia in Syria 

Donald Trump Jr. recently met with Randa Kassis—a Syrian politician with favorable views of Russia’s intervention in her country—at a hotel in Paris. Although the content of the conversation has not been revealed, Kassis’ close relationship with Russia (she is a personal friend of Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister) suggests that she may have acted as a liaison of sorts. Kassis and her small group of supporters style themselves as an “opposition” group, supporting the Syrian Army in the war, but insisting that political change would follow an Assad victory. However, they are the only opposition group holding this view. 

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Policy and Conflict Post Soviet

Possible Navalny Presidential Bid Opened by European Court of Human Rights

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s has announced his intentions to run in the 2018 presidential election. However, his plans are still in limbo due to a prior corruption conviction. Although found guilty by a Russian court in 2013 for “embezzling” funds during his tenure as a consultant for the timber company KirovLes, Navalny has since taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which ruled in his favor. A subsequent Russian re-trial is set to take place in Kirov. If cleared of the charges by a Russian court, he could pursue a presidential bid. Prior to the re-trial, Navalny demanded that a payment of 3.4 million rubles—the amount levied by the ECHR as restitution—be paid in full. Although no official statement was made concerning Navalny’s demand, he claims to have received the payment.

Putin Removes Russia from the International Criminal Court

On November 16, 2016 Putin signed an executive order to remove Russia’s signature from the founding document. Russia had never formally ratified the International Criminal Court treaty. Russia’s Foreign Ministry clarified this decision as being a consequence of the ICC’s lack of impartiality and efficacy. Some western observers, on the other hand, are viewing the move as a reaction to on-going claims of Russian war crimes in Syria and to statements released by the ICC that labeled the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea as an “armed conflict.”

Discussions Between Top Oil Producing Countries Stalls

A meeting to formulate a common plan between Russia and Saudi Arabia—aimed at shoring up falling oil prices—was stalled after Saudi Arabia pulled out of the discussion. While both Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to a production “freeze” at current output levels, Saudi Arabia cited disagreements among OPEC members about reductions in output.

Both Praise and Scorn Greet the Passing of Fidel Castro

Following the recent death of Fidel Castro, Russian politicians of all stripes commented on his legacy. While many Kremlin loyalists praised the former Cuban leader for maintaining the sovereignty of the island nation and for standing up to the United States, opposition leaders have tended to highlight the island’s poverty and isolation.

Oliver Stone’s Controversial New Documentary on the Ukrainian Crisis Reaches a Mass Russian Audience 

Russian television channel REN-TV broadcast Oliver Stone’s new documentary, Ukraine on Fire, to a nationwide audience. The film portrays a long-standing relationship between US intelligence services and Western-leaning Ukrainian nationalists, and claims that US collusion helped to orchestrate the Maidan protests, resulting in the subsequent crisis. The film has received sharp criticism in some circles for its “one-sided” portrayal of events.


More Articles

How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West
Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers.

Reviving the Art of Threat Inflation
“The art of creating threats has advanced tremendously since that primitive era.”

Russians’ Attitude to United States Shows Improvement
54 percent said they expected Russia-US relations to improve during Trump’s presidency. Only 2 percent said relations would further deteriorate and 27 percent said they expected no major changes.

France Closer to Electing pro-Russian President
The surprising victory of pro-Russian candidate Francois Fillon in the presidential primaries could turn Russia into a major policy issue in the 2017 French presidential campaign. 

Is A Russia-China Economic Alliance On The Horizon?
Combine this with China’s potentially shaky relations with America (depending on the results of the election), and a stronger economic alliance between China and Russia may be on the horizon.

Putin Ready to "Restore Relations" Under Trump
Russia is ready and looks forward to restoring bilateral relations with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, commenting on the news of Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election.

Trump Could Bring Russia in from the Cold
A US president who brought to the table a pragmatic business background rather than a defence specialist’s cold war hangover might have a better chance than his predecessors of starting to bring Russia finally in from the cold.

Global Warming is Waking Up Frozen Siberian Life
Ancient viruses, bacteria, plants, and even animals have been cryogenically frozen there for millennia—and now, they are waking up.


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