Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a
The collapse of the Soviet Union was – for Vladimir Putin – one of the greatest geopolitical disasters of the 20th century. Since the tumultuous 1990s, Russia has re-emerged as an important global actor, albeit with inherent state weaknesses, including, but not limited to, how Moscow is governed
Recent revelations make it clear that Iran’s willingness to confront the US following the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was not driven just by a mix of domestic considerations and a compelling desire to retaliate. Iran’s bluntly open challenge to the US may have been
There’s a telling scene in the recent sports documentary Icarus where the main protagonist of the film, Grigory Rodchenkov, sits at a table swirling containers of urine. “I am mafia, chased by WADA,” the former director of Russia’s anti-doping agency muses to himself. “In Russia, the
Over its 18-year existence, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has mostly been in the spotlight as a forum for security cooperation, starting with the 2001 Convention that branded crimes of extremism, separatism, and terrorism as extraditable offences. The region is still facing significant security
“Valiant breaks London–Cape record by 54 mins”, led the 9 July 1959 edition of the Cape Argus. The arrival of the sleek, white-painted, and still highly classified long-range British nuclear bomber, which represented the cutting edge of Britain’s new Cold War airborne nuclear deterrent, drew
On 3 October, Vladimir Putin confirmed that China and Russia have forged a multidimensional alliance in economics, politics, and defense. This announcement both confounds the many observers who refused to accept it as a possibility and significantly transforms the stakes not just in Asia, but in
Last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexei Pavlovsky, delivered a keynote address at the Australian National University on Russia’s strategic architect and former foreign minister, the late Yevgeny Primakov. Reflecting on the speech, it is evident that policy makers, pundits, and the
If there’s any indication of how Africa is moving up on everyone’s agenda, look no further than the first edition of the Russia-Africa Summit, which saw 43 African heads of state converging last week on Sochi. Beyond the fact that the summit reflects the brisk trade Moscow does with the
Last week in the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China blocked a resolution that would have demanded an end to fighting in the Syrian province of Idlib, the final stronghold of the opposition. It marks the 13th time that Russia has used its veto to block Security Council action on Syria
Episode 9 of the Lowy Institute’s new podcast, Rules Based Audio, is out today. In Kremlinology: What does Russia want? the dissident Russian journalist and academic Yevgenia Albats talks about how President Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics for two decades; and former
Last Tuesday (23 July) was a bad day in Northeast Asia, not just for what happened but what it foreshadows. Tensions are rising. After all, it’s not every day that a South Korean jet fighter fires across the bow of a Russian spy plane.
Tuesday’s first big event was the inaugural China-
The recent mini-series on the Chernobyl nuclear accident is a reminder that after 33 years the consequences of the accident are still very much with us. The costs to public health are extensively discussed, but the wider political consequences are also still felt. Chernobyl contributed to the
On 17 July 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, and 298 people were killed. The majority of the fatalities were Dutch citizens, followed by those of Malaysian and Australian nationality.
A Joint Investigative Team (“JIT”) was established with members of five
Lost amid the recent federal election, a new Russian ambassador to Australia was appointed. On 20 May, Dr Alexey Pavlovsky presented his diplomatic credentials to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove. The photo-op and ensuing discussion on Russia-Australia ties was buried in the flurry of the election,
Too often, the past is mistaken as a guide for the future, rather than as lesson from which to avoid making the same mistakes. Take the relationship between China and Russia as an example.
Too often judgements about the decisions of Russian and Chinese politicians are clouded by stereotypes of the
The test launch of a SpaceX astronaut capsule to the International Space Station (without astronauts aboard) is cause for celebration. It marks the debut of the first crew-carrying orbital spacecraft from America since the development of the Space Shuttle decades ago. But it also signifies the
Russia’s “hard” power is generally well-understood. President Vladimir Putin has ensured this is the case, particularly through his proclivity to showcase Russian strength in Ukraine and Syria. And who could forget Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons? Not Donald Trump: just last weekend,
As Beijing clamps down on air pollution, it is seeking to replace coal power plants with cleaner natural gas, especially for heating during winter. Consequently, China has intensified relations with Russia, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, to expand energy ties.
But although upping gas
Ten years ago, Vladivostok was the scene of street marches and demonstrations. The area known as the Russian Far East had experienced a long economic slump after the collapse of the old Soviet Union and anger had built. The demonstrations were eventually and brutally put down after riot police were
Last week, a diplomatic, security, and military storm began brewing between the Ukraine and Russia near the Sea of Azov.
On 25 November, two Ukrainian armed patrol boats and a tugboat sought to enter these waters, accessible only through the Strait of Kerch (controlled by Russia since
With its doctrine of scrupulous media balance – “they said, he said, we don’t know” – Western reporting on the latest phase in Russia’s relentless imperialist aggression against Ukraine has been as misleading as what has gone before.
Even the sight of Russian special forces swarming
Typically, Vladimir Putin answered Washington’s decision this month to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by making new nuclear threats against Europe. His posturing underscored why this was the right decision.
Better known as the INF Treaty, this agreement was signed in 1987
When people discuss Indo-Russian relations, they generally focus on Russia’s arms sales to India. However, India’s energy relations with Moscow also possess considerable and, arguably, growing significance.
This was revealed at the latest bilateral summit this month during Vladimir Putin
In late September, an interesting news story populated some portions of the internet.
A person purporting to be a (possibly retired) Russian fighter pilot flying one of Moscow’s most modern jets, a Su-35, claimed to have engaged in (and won) a mock air-combat against America’s premier fighter
The downing of a Russian Il-20 aircraft off the Syrian coast this week with the death of 15 personnel is another reminder of the cost to Moscow of its pro-regime military intervention. A little over six months ago, nearly 40 Russians died when a transport aircraft crashed on approach to
Russia’s Vostok-18 exercises have received significant attention, thanks mainly to the Kremlin’s grand announcements about their scale. If Russia’s defence ministry is to be believed, up to 300,000 military personnel from all services will take part. Notably, they will
What are we to make of Russia’s Vostok (East)-2018 exercise? From 11–15 September Russia’s Far East will host Vostok-2018 the largest Russian military exercise since Zapad (West)-1981. According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, this latest exercise will engage some 300,000 Russian
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month, one might wonder if the US and Russia are considering the formation of, if not an explicit partnership against China, then at least an informal condominium. Trump seemed to lend some credence to this speculation
The US will devote $700 billion to its budget for 2018, dwarfing Russia’s $66 billion effort, a trend that has been consistent for more than 25 years. Yet Russia’s military has been relatively successful in recent conflicts, while the US armed forces have not. American wars
On 8 November 2016 a combination of the American constitution and vox populi – with perhaps a little help from elsewhere – placed enough power in the hands of a roué real-estate tycoon to affect the lives of every one of the 7.6 billion individuals on planet Earth.
Events and trends
In December, two Russian strategic bombers made an unusual flight to the Indonesian airbase on Biak in the province of Papua, where they conducted an air alert drill. Across the Arafura Sea in Darwin, Royal Australian Air Force squadrons went into a state of heightened alert.
To the extent there
The Helsinki Summit, as it was dubbed, saw US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin come together with a formal agenda to discuss US-Russia relations, disarmament, the Syria and Ukraine crises, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. But the moment was judged as a contest and
Just as South Korea is an ally of the US yet doesn’t fully trust President Donald Trump, North Korea deals with Russia but does not completely trust Moscow. Pyongyang remembers well that North Korean gastarbeiters (guest workers) were once deported from Russia, and
US President Donald Trump evidently expects his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to be the easiest of his upcoming high-level meetings. If so, he has brought that condition upon himself.
Trump’s choleric, ignorant, menacing, and, to be honest, strategically illiterate ramblings about
When England struck their winning penalty against Colombia at the end of a tense night of football on Tuesday, old assumptions crumbled.
Had the team exorcised its fear of shoot-outs? Could they reach the final? And would the British Government really maintain its official boycott of Russia’s
Before a ball had even been kicked at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah was courted for a photo-op with Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Big international sports tournaments have been a familiar platform for countries to attempt to normalise global
Russia’s Navy is a highly visible and generally well-understood instrument of Moscow’s military power that has been on a slow process of re-equipment from its 1990s nadir. It now wields a fairly impressive range of capabilities, from new medium-sized ships, such as corvettes
On 26 May, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for what was their 21st bilateral meeting. For the most part, the outcomes of that meeting paint a sorry picture for the Abe administration.
No meaningful progress was made at the meeting on core
The attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in early March saw a global response sterner than many expected. More than 150 Russian diplomats were expelled from embassies worldwide.
Yet despite global condemnation, the assassinations appear to have continued. Russian
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has been ousted only six days into his term, and protests have been voluntarily suspended while the National Assembly decides on his successor.
But political uncertainty in Armenia jeopardises a fragile ceasefire with Azerbaijan over an
President Donald Trump is under enormous pressure to respond militarily to the latest provocation by the Assad regime, but he would do so against all of his instincts and earlier pronouncements to end US military involvement in the Syrian war.
Just days before the chemical attacks in Douma,
In the wake of the attempt on the life of Sergei Skripal, the ex-Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia in Britain, practically all Western countries joined to expel select Russian diplomats. This, however, was not the case with Japan and South Korea.
Perhaps more than any other countries, Japan and
It appears a new regional security order is encircling Syria as the civil war grinds into its seventh year. This shift was visible last week, when the leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russia met in Ankara to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis. The detailed talks covered de-escalation zones
The “bitter split among Australia academics” (reported in the Financial Times) with regard to attitudes towards China, and the Skripal poisoning incident that prompted an unprecedented number of European countries to take highly symbolic measures against Russia, have a common denominator
On Tuesday, the head of Britain’s Porton Down laboratory caused a stir when he admitted that his scientists had not identified the “precise source” of the Novichok nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and Skripal’s daughter Yulia, on 4 March. The comment
Australia, the US, and several EU nations joined forces with Britain this week to expel Russian diplomats from their nations. The decision is based on the widespread view that the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin is responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England earlier
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Myanmar recently in a clear display of Moscow’s pragmatism.
Many Western observers, especially from the US, present Vladimir Putin as either a Machiavellian mixer with almost superhuman abilities – he who put Donald Trump in the White House and