The political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was one of the major contributing factors to the "hyper-depression" that afflicted not only Russia but all the other constituent republics in the 1990s. The Soviet economy had been an integrated whole; an aircraft might have its engines sourced from Ukraine, its aluminium body from Russia, and its navigational ball-bearings from Latvia. Suddenly, border restrictions and tariffs appeared overnight, adding even more complexity and headaches to a chaotic economic situation. Although the region was in for a world of hurt either way, as economies made their screeching transitions to capitalism, disintegration served only to further accentuate the economic and social pain. In this respect, Putin was correct to call the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the 20th century's greatest geopolitical tragedies.
In the introduction to this Panel, Vlad Sobell writes: "On future occasions, Russia might well require Washington to cooperate in similar circumstances; and if such is the case, its handling of the Snowden affair could prove decisive as to how Washington chooses to respond."
Okay, let's get one thing clear from the get go: The Russian law requiring NGOs to declare themselves "foreign agents" if they engage in political activities and receive financing from abroad, is not illegitimate. At least, not unless you also consider the US' Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) - which does practically the same thing - to be also illegitimate.
I think we have to make a distinction here between "soft" soft power and "hard" soft power.
China’s economy in real terms will overtake that of the US by the mid-2010’s, if it hasn’t already. It’s already bigger in a range of industries, from traditional heavy industry (steel, coal) to consumption (car sales, e-commerce). Its manufacturing wages have caught up with Mexico’s, which is a quintessential middle-income country. If the average Chinese is now about as prosperous as the average Mexican, then the PRC’s total GDP – taking into account its vast population – is now well ahead of America’s.
London has a reputation as a "safe sanctuary" for shady people of means from the ex-USSR and other less-developed places, and I think it's loath to lose it – as it would by extraditing the likes of Borodin – in return for the chance of improving its relations with Russia.
The new foreign-policy concept is a long-overdue adjustment to international realities. There can be no meaningful "strategic partnership" between Russia and the US or indeed Russia and the West in general, when their respective core values have diverged from each other so much.
Freedom House bias: if a country has oil and is 'unfriendly' with the West, it urgently needs a color revolution
‘If Russia were “mafia state” it is frequently painted as by the West, why would its anti-corruption laws and transparency indicators be steadily improving?’
It is true that many Muslims in the Middle East want their aging strongman rulers out, and democracy in. Even Osama bin Laden, who purportedly “hates us for our freedom”, once mused that the reason Spain has a bigger economy than the entire Arab world combined was because “the ruler there is accountable.”And this is also part of the reason why we should refrain from fetishizing “democracy” as the solution to all the region’s ills.