Putin and Xi at their meeting in Moscow
The Sino-Russian partnership differs significantly from the Western community of nations. | Photo: kremlin.ru via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

Xi and Putin’s Strategic Tango: Unpacking the Complexities of Russia-China Relations After the 2023 Moscow Summit

The March 2023 state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Russia has attracted significant attention, and has been described as symbolic of growing cooperation between authoritarian states opposed to the current world order. However, as we argue in a recently-published article based on a review of Russian and Chinese expert statements, this partnership should best be understood as a limited, strategically motivated cooperation against shared threat perceptions. Meanwhile, there is much less agreement on normative questions, let alone a shared vision of an alternative world order.


Russia EU summit in Yekaterinenburg, photo taken from above of conference hall
Russia-EU summit in Yekaterinenburg, 2013. | Photo: kremlin.ru via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

The Perils of Ruxit: Russia’s Tension-Ridden Dissociation from the European Security Order

Are dissociation from shared international institutions and the escalation of inter-state conflicts between involved states causally interrelated? Processes of dissociation – defined as the intentional distancing from the core rules and norms of international institutions – occur rather often and might even become a dominant feature of world politics as de-globalisation proceeds. In particular, it remains unclear whether the management of such developments can eventually lead to partial reconciliation or if tensions between the involved states are destined to increase. To answer this question, the following blog entry, summarising the results of one of the case studies of Drifting apart project, analyses the process of Ruxit i.e., the development of relations between Russia and the West after the end of the Cold War.


Vladimir Putin's Face on a TV-Screen
September 21, 2022, Vladimir Putin, Delivers a Speech on Russian TV, Photo: Adrien Fillon, picture alliance | ZUMAPRESS.com

Putin’s Mobilisation, Annexation and Nuclear Threats: Last-Ditch Effort or More of the Same?

Just as leaders from across the world gathered in New York to address challenges to global peace and stability, the Russian president Putin declared mobilisation in Russia for the third time in its history. This step, which had formerly was ruled out by Russian officials, indicates that the Kremlin does not have any viable options but to escalate. Even though Putin still prefers to call the war a “special military operation”, he has virtually introduced martial laws across the entire spectrum of Russian economy and society, doubling down on the only gamble that he thinks can still pay off.


People holding signs saying "Russians Against War"
It is in Western countries’ long-term interest to invite Russians to experience other narratives than those distributed by the Kremlin. | Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona | Unsplash License

The Battle for Minds and Hearts of Russians and the Double-sided Effect of Sanctions

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine Western countries have imposed devastating sanctions on Russia. This blog argues that the current sanctions-regime help boost Kremlin-propaganda, ultimately diminishing the possibility that sanctions will procure a popular uprising or help stop the war. Western states and private organisations must avoid cultural and academic sanctions against Russians and explore ways of helping and influencing Russian civil society while comprehensive sanctions against Kremlin-linked entities are in place.


Wladimir Putin besucht Xi Jinping im Vorfeld der Olympischen Winterspiele 2022
Treffen Wladimir Putin mit Xi Jinping im Vorfeld der Olympischen Winterspiele 2022 in Peking | Photo: CC BY 4.0

A new Sino-Russian Entente? The limits of cooperation on Ukraine and beyond

As the military standoff over Ukraine continues, both sides have attempted to mobilize international support for their respective positions. While Kiev has received increasingly robust NATO backing, Russia has turned to its “strategic partner” China. A recently published joint Sino-Russian statement has fueled speculation that Beijing could weigh in on Moscow’s side and perhaps even lead to the resurgence of competition between ideological blocs in world politics. However, diverging interests on Ukraine limit such cooperation in the short term. A long-term alignment between both sides is a more serious possibility, but can still be influenced by Western policy choices.


Talks between Biden and Putin on December 7, 2021. | Photo: Kremlin.ru | CC BY 4.0

The Russian Military Build-Up Near the Ukrainian Border: Offensive Intentions or Diplomatic Signaling?

The recent build-up of Russian troops on the border to Ukraine is making waves in the political debate. Predominant views in the West share the assumption that Russia has offensive intentions and aims at revising the established status quo. This blog post argues that Moscow’s motives are not as straightforward as usually assumed in the West. In fact, Russia’s military behavior and its crisis diplomacy suggests that Moscow is more interested in sending a signal than in preparing for war.


Past German-Russia relations have surely also been shaped by the relationship between both countries’ long-standing leaders. With Angela Merkel not running for election again and the upcoming Greens, how will a future German approach towards Russia look like? | Photo: flickr, Lord Jim | CC BY 2.0

Green is the New Black? What might the “Green” German foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia look like?

The election of a new German Chancellor to replace Angela Merkel after more than 15 years in office is eagerly anticipated both at home and abroad. However, anyone expecting a drastic change in German foreign policy towards Russia will be most likely disappointed. At present, most signs indicate that relations between both countries will remain frosty or even deteriorate post-election, regardless of who ultimately prevails in the voters‘ preference. However, one uncertain variable in this otherwise predictable equation is the possible role played by the Green Party in shifting the country’s international course, as it most likely will become a part of a new German government after the election.


The President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu during her official visit to Kyiv, January 12, 2020.
The President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu during her official visit to Kyiv, January 12, 2020. | Photo: President of Ukraine | CC BY 4.0

Breaking the vicious circle: Can the new Moldovan president Sandu succeed in balancing relations with the EU and Russia?

For the first time in its history, the Republic of Moldova has voted for an openly pro-Western president. De­spite facing domestic and international difficulties, the newly elected Moldovan head of state Maia Sandu could manage to solve dire economic problems at home, while securing the support of both Russia and the European Union. This could have longstanding consequences for both the country itself and for all the other states of the common EU-Russian neighborhood.


Russia’s interest in this year’s US presidential elections seems to be low. | Photo: Unsplash/rob walsh | Free use

This time, Russia сould not care less

“Russian interference” became a buzzword in the 2016 US presidential election and throughout the four years of Trump’s presidency. In the run up to the 2020 election, purported or real threats from Moscow have been called out again, both by serious reports and rather questionable campaigns like a (privately funded) billboard in New York that – in reference to Trump’s alleged collusion with the Kremlin – warned that “Russian lessons are expensive”. In contrast to this preoccupation with Russia, the debate or rather the absence of debate in Moscow indicates a lack of interest in the US elections and points to the fact that Russian expectations are low.