Unrest is roiling Russia’s near abroad, from its western flanks in Europe to the “’Stans” of Central Asia on China’s doorstep. For all their local particulars, these nations share a common historical legacy which continues to undermine stability in various ways.
The re-emergence of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September 2020 over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh has taken a much more deadly and destabilising turn than in previous recent outbreaks. A seemingly intractable conflict, dating back to well before the Soviet occupation of the
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic seen as Russia’s most loyal ally in Central Asia, has been rocked by unrest after a disputed parliamentary election held on 4 October. Moscow’s reactions to the Kyrgyz crisis have so far been relatively ambivalent, even though the nation hosts a Russian
Rallies in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk have been overshadowed by the protests in Belarus, as well as the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Although anti-Kremlin protesters in the city of 600,000 still hold weekly demonstrations, demanding Russian authorities return
Mass protests and nationwide strikes in Belarus did not result in the overthrow of President Alexander Lukashenko, but they have pushed the Eastern European country deeper into Russia’s geopolitical orbit. Moscow and Minsk have reportedly agreed on resuming Russia’s energy supplies to Belarus,
European leaders and institutions reacted promptly to the shocking plight of the Russian pro-democracy campaigner Aleksei Navalny, as he lay in a coma in an Omsk hospital and local officials tried to obstruct his evacuation to Germany. The same could not be said of Vladimir Putin. During the two
In this episode of COVIDcast, Ben Scott, Lowy Institute Director of the Rules Based Order Project, sat down with Bobo Lo to discuss Bobo’s new Lowy Institute Analysis: “Global Order in the Shadow of the Coronavirus: China, Russia and the West”.
On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final
The 2020 Defence Strategic Update goes some way to preparing Australia to compete in a new multipolar, Indo-Pacific–anchored strategic environment. But a notable absence from the document is Russia. This matters. Australians too often speak of Moscow’s irrelevance and weakness since the end of
One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the
Last month, US President Donald Trump surprised allies by calling for Russia and Australia to be admitted together with India and South Korea to an expanded G-7.
Writing in support of the idea, federal Liberal MP Dave Sharma has cast the argument as a reversal of Nixon’s 1972 opening to Mao’s
Book Review: Catherine Belton, Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (HarperCollins, 2020)
Last week, the Russian people voted to approve a constitutional amendment that resets the count on presidential term limits. President Vladimir Putin served his first
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