Foreign Policy Blogs

Russia & Central Asia

End of an era as Berezovsky dies

End of an era as Berezovsky dies

He was the original oligarch: a talented mathematician who had used his smarts and ruthlessness to amass an enormous fortune in the wreckage of the Soviet Union. Eventually, he became one of Russia’s most powerful men, a courtier to former president Boris Yeltsin. Boris Berezovsky went on to survive assassination attempts ...

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What their reaction to the Cyprus bank tax says about Russia’s government – and the opposition

What their reaction to the Cyprus bank tax says about Russia’s government – and the opposition

They said it couldn’t be done. But at last, the Kremlin and some of its fiercest liberal critics have found themselves on the same team. The fact that the issue in question is their opposition to the proposed Cypriot bank levies says as much about the regime as ...

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Nine Pictures About The U.S. in Afghanistan

Nine Pictures About The U.S. in Afghanistan

A picture of an Afghan soldier; A picture of U.S Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel after touching down in Afghanistan; a picture of Afghan president Hamid Karzai; a picture of members of the Taliban (as represented in their own promotional ...

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Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Earlier posts have commented on the Obama administration’s defective foreign policy apparatus as well as its highly dysfunctional management of the war in Afghanistan (here and here).  Both problems are conjoined, a point that is amply underscored in Vali Nasr’s forthcoming book, The Dispensable Nation.  Nasr ...

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Stalin who?

Stalin who?

Today is 60 years since the death of Joseph Stalin. How do we know this? Well, it’s on the front page of the BBC, there’s an article in the Telegraph, Reuters, the Atlantic and pretty much everywhere else. Except Russia itself, that is, where the event hardly attracted any attention ...

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Putin’s (grey) Heir Apparent?

Putin’s (grey) Heir Apparent?

Is this the face of Russia’s next president? According to a report quoted in today’s Moscow Times, Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin has become the favorite to succeed Putin in 2018. Sobyanin? “Sobyanin is a figure who could please both the main tycoons in the energy industry and those who took part in dividing the spoils inherited from [former ...

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Is Russia Becoming a Theocracy?

Is Russia Becoming a Theocracy?

This weekend the Russian Orthodox Church held its Bishops Council at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In his speech to the assembly, president Putin said that, of course, Russia is not a theocracy but: “We are a secular state of course, and cannot allow state life and church life ...

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Hagel on Russia: Engagement, not Isolation

Hagel on Russia: Engagement, not Isolation

“The worst thing we can do, the most dangerous thing we can do is continue to isolate nations, is to continue to not engage nations. Great powers engage.” Foreign Policy compiled a list of “Ten Hagel Quotes You Need to Know,” including the above quote from a keynote speech ...

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Depardieu, Depardon’t

Depardieu, Depardon’t

Okay, I know everyone has had enough of the Depardieu story by now, but that’s no reason to pass up an opportunity for blatant self promotion! In today’s International Herald Tribune, I ask whether the fat Frenchman may not simply be the corporeal embodiment of modern neoliberal capitalism. And now ...

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Welcome, Comrade Depardieu!

Welcome, Comrade Depardieu!

As a third of young Russian graduates consider fleeing Russia for better opportunities abroad, Putin has received a welcome boost to his deadly whataboutist arsenal. An enormous, large-nosed, drunk boost. Its name? Depardieu. He may not look like Dean Reed, but hey, ...

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Putin orders 2013 to begin

Putin orders 2013 to begin

How you usher in the new year says a lot about a country. In the capital of capitalism, Americans huddle amidst the neon billboards of Times Square; according to wine-growing tradition, the Spanish eat a dozen grapes; Italians tuck into a stuffed pig trotter accompanied by lentils, symbols ...

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Will the Iraqi Endgame be repeated in Afghanistan?

Will the Iraqi Endgame be repeated in Afghanistan?

Even as President Obama trumpets his plans to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in two years’ time, he also insists (though in a sotto voce way) that he wants to maintain a limited but long-term military presence focused on counter-terrorism missions and training Afghan security forces.  ...

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Anti-corruption drive, political purge, or popularity ploy?

Anti-corruption drive, political purge, or popularity ploy?

Heads are rolling in Moscow. Over the past two months, two Russian ministers and the chief of the army have lost their jobs. The October resignation of regional development minister Oleg Govorun was but a prelude to the recent high profile ousting of the reformist defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The latter ostensibly ...

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Bird Injury: Putin Officially a Lame Duck

Bird Injury: Putin Officially a Lame Duck

Looks like Putin’s infamous crane flight has claimed another victim. Two months after his unauthorised sequel to Fly Away Home, which reportedly resulted in several of the endangered birds getting killed and maimed, the Russian president has mysteriously cancelled a spate of domestic events ...

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Obama and Afghanistan: An Update

Obama and Afghanistan: An Update

There are several updates to the key points I outlined in last week’s post about President Obama’s handling of the Afghan war. The first concerns the success of the surge of 30,000 extra troops that Mr. Obama announced in December 2009, most of which were deployed in ...

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