Reading on Russia Roundup #57

Раньше над Неруссой мне удавалось летать только во снах… (Igor Shpilenok) [images]

Ты — мне, я — в ЦБ (Kommersant)

ЦБ подготовил «дорожную карту» по разработке правил работы онлайн-площадок, оказывающих услуги по организации взаимного финансирования (краудфандинга) включая сектор P2P (кредитование гражданами друг друга). Тестирование новых правил пройдет в течение года, по результатам появится профильный закон. Участвующие в эксперименте площадки должны раскрыть бенефициаров, увеличить капитал, идентифицировать инвесторов. Введение регулирования упорядочит рынок, признают эксперты, но может не понравиться международным игрокам. Впрочем, во многих странах, включая США, Великобританию и Италию, подобные правила уже есть.

A Roadmap for U.S.-Russia Relations (CSIS) [PDF]

The authors, a collection of experts on U.S.-Russia relations, argue that cooperation in areas of both mutual interest and difference are important to stabilizing the relationship and guarding against future conflict. Deepening and broadening the two countries’ economic relationship could act as a stabilizing force, and the authors provide detailed near-term and long-term recommendations. Cooperation in the energy sector, one of the first casualties of the current decline in the relationship, is still possible on the methodological and scientific level. The Arctic has remained “somewhat insulated from the overall decline in the relationship.” As such, it can be an area for constructive engagement, and both countries should work to keep the region stable and peaceful. The authors discuss the issue of Euro-Atlantic stability and provide recommendations for avoiding renewed conflict in the region, while the Middle East is an area of “overlapping and conflicting interests” for Russia and the U.S. Regarding strategic stability, the authors recommend “transition to a new paradigm.” Cybersecurity is an area of growing complexity, where the current level of cooperation is “reflective of the overall relationship.” Counterterrorism is an area for increased cooperation; however, the approaches Russia and the U.S. take to combat terrorism are different and at times conflicting.

The Problem Isn’t Putin, It’s Russia (Politico)

The author, a managing director at Kissinger Associates, Inc., writes that Washington’s problem is not so much with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but rather with Russia as a whole. The author points to the historically rocky relationship that began when the U.S. emerged as a world power in the late 19th century. The world has changed, but the two countries’ contentious areas remain constant: “values, zones of influence, the principles of world order.” Moments of cooperation have been brief, and not nearly as friendly as traditionally depicted. As the Soviet Union fell, the U.S. felt that its Cold War victory “meant that Russia, like all other countries, had little choice but to adopt the liberal democratic free-market order.” In the grip of societal and economic crisis, Russia “did not so much support as acquiesce” to these plans. Once crisis had abated, “historical tensions reemerged.” The author argues that the U.S. needs to accept that Russia will likely never be a liberal democracy and that Washington will have to contend with Russia, which will remain a major global player for a reasons ranging from its strategic geographic position to its adept use of emerging technologies. Currently, Washington’s preferred method of dealing with Russia is containment reinforced by sanctions, but this is not a sustainable option for the long term. The author suggests engaging with Russia “pragmatically and … managing the geopolitical rivalry” to reduce the risk of conflict. The U.S. should defend its interests, but be open to discussion and compromise. Both the U.S. and Russia “must recognize that the mounting global disorder necessitates a more balanced relationship that … would advance the interests of both.”

Just What Does He See in Him? 8 Theories on Trump’s Affection for Putin (Russia Matters)

Donald Trump’s seeming admiration for Vladimir Putin—whether real or imagined, reciprocal or unilateral—has spawned much speculation. The story dates back at least to 2013, when, ahead of the Miss Universe pageant he had brought to Moscow, Trump wondered if the Russian president would show up and “become my new best friend.” As president, amid mounting talk of possible collusion between his campaign and Russia, Trump has tried to distance himself from Putin—backtracking on earlier claims that they’d spoken “directly” and had a “relationship”—but the two leaders’ much-longer-than-planned July meeting in Germany and the bonhomie that followed suggest that the U.S. president’s positive feelings for Putin have endured.

So how to explain this apparent affection? We submit eight hypotheses, with the caveat that no single explanation will likely suffice and that a combination of the factors outlined below might be at play. And we’re asking readers to weigh in: Which do you think is the most plausible? Or perhaps you have your own theory? If so, select “Other” and explain in the comments.

Catherine, Lenin, and Robert E. Lee (Between Two Worlds)

The divisions now seem deeper than just political differences given the brutality of the last week of news. The nation seems more fragmented than simply divided. I really do not know how to explain these things to my Russian friends, because I do not understand what is going on in America myself.

‘Tank Tales’ by Kurt Volker (Gordon M. Hahn)

A new children’s book is out written by the Trump administration’s special envoy to Ukraine and former US ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker. His magical collection of fairy tales, titled “Tank Tales,” makes wonderful bed-time reading not just for children but also for parents, especially those with a keen sense of humor and employment in the defense industry, journalism, or the think tank milieu.

In Search of Russian Meddling (RIAC)

Today, The Washington Post published an article on contacts between a member of Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters and the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).

While writing the article, The Washington Post journalist contacted RIAC program director Ivan Timofeev. The WP’s editorial board received a detailed commentary on the subject. Unfortunately, a significant part of Ivan Timofeev’s comments were not reflected in the final article. Essentially, the article adapted them in such a way so as to make them fit the mantra of “Russian meddling.” Given today’s situation when one conspiracy theory is rapidly followed by another, clear and unbiased work with facts is a must. This is why we deem it necessary to comment on the article by mentioning, among other things, the comments that have been omitted by The Washington Post.


In other news

-Have you ever been hit in the face by a flying cicada before? No? Well thank your lucky stars you haven’t.

-The surgery went smoothly; I’m still waiting for the test results. In the meantime, I’m confined to my bedroom and will likely stay sedentary for the next week or so. Maybe I can finally catch up on some reading.

The funhouse mirror

You know, something just hit me (well, besides that damn cicada):

Is a student really qualified to maintain a blog like this?

On the one hand, I have stated in the past that I don’t expect Russia Reviewed to have any impact on academic/policy debate and that this blog serves to consolidate my own views of Russia. It’s also worth noting that never before have so many people with so little knowledge about the region posed as “experts” in the media and gotten away with it.

On the other hand, I’m an undergrad. A student. I know little to nothing compared to established thinkers. I write under a pseudonym. What authority do I have to publish any of this stuff?

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3 comments

  1. “Is a student really qualified to maintain a blog like this?”

    I see no reason why not. I think you are too harsh on yourself, J.T. You are not propagating some ideas, opinions, “deep and thoughtful political analysis” and all the other stuff that think-tankers churn out for money. Your blog is, in fact, extremely apolitical. You just review the books. You write that you “know little to nothing compared to established thinkers”, but does it really matter in the Russia-watching these days? 😉 Even those who do know something (or a lot) have to toe the mainstream narrative line, least they’d be proclaimed Heretics and excommunicated from the funding.

    P.S.
    I wish you speedy recovery after the surgery and no bad stuff in med test results.

    Liked by 1 person

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