The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is on its deathbed. Some celebrate its increasingly likely demise, dismissing the decades-old treaty as antiquated and irrelevant to today’s realities. However, the mode of the INF treaty’s death bodes ill for the future of arms control, U.S.-Russian relations, and global security.
Originally published in Valdai Discussion Club
Concerns continued to grow over tensions within Ingushetia and with its neighbouring republic Chechnya over controversial Sept 2018 border delineation deal between the two republics. After late March mass protests in Ingushetia against border deal, during which reports emerged of clashes with police and some police refusing to stop protests, security forces reportedly searched homes of five Ingush activists, members of NGO Ingush Congress of National Unity, 3 April, and detained two activists. Several activists also fined or jailed early April over March rallies; eight reportedly sent to Kabardino-Balkaria regional capital Nalchik for pre-trial detention; arrests continued throughout month. Protesters planned more demonstrations, but authorities denied permits. Chechnya and Dagestan 16 April announced they had suspended ongoing negotiations over border delineation in light of unrest in Ingushetia. Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) 23 April detained five suspected members of Islamic State (ISIS) in Dagestan and Chechen capitals, alleged to have been planning terrorist attacks including one involving a drone, and seized arms, ammunition and bomb components. National Antiterrorism Committee 3 April reported that police had shot dead two suspected militants in Kabardino-Balkaria who refused order to stop their car and opened fire on police. Russian Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev 19 April reported that in 2018 security services had killed 64 alleged militants and detained and convicted 285 in North Caucasus, and disrupted 37 terrorist cells. U.S. imposed travel ban on Chechen PM Muslim Khuchiyev, citing “credible information” that he “was involved in torture”; Moscow said decision reflected “further deteriorating” bilateral relations and said it would “not be left unanswered”.
With living conditions worsening, and crossfire still claiming casualties, people residing in eastern Ukraine’s conflict zone feel increasingly abandoned by the central government. Reintegrating the area requires Russian withdrawal, but in the meantime Kyiv can and should better protect civilians and meet humanitarian needs.
Much of north-eastern Syria has been safe during the civil war. But in the event of U.S. military withdrawal, a mad scramble for control could be unleashed. Washington and Moscow should help their respective allies in Syria reach a decentralisation deal for the area.
The Kremlin is fostering a culture of military-tinged patriotism, partly to rally support for armed interventions abroad. The sentiment springs from pride in Russia’s past as a global power and desire to reclaim that status. Its possible co-optation by far-right nationalists, however, should worry Moscow.
Rivalry persists between Russia and Turkey in their shared neighbourhood of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus. But Moscow-Ankara relations have warmed overall. Building on their wider rapprochement, the two powers can work together to tamp down flare-ups of regional conflicts.
As the Syrian regime masses its forces to recapture the country’s south west from the opposition, another humanitarian disaster looms. The U.S., Russia and Jordan, which brokered a south-western ceasefire in 2017, should urgently extend that truce in preparation for a broader settlement.
China and Russia’s separate visions for Central Asia could transform the region’s political and economic landscape as well as relations between the two Eurasian giants. To the smaller, embryonic Central Asian nation states, the new geopolitical realities could offer both economic prosperity as well as worsening instability and conflict.
[Russia is] targeting the [African] regimes that do have not have very good relations with the west or who are dissatisfied with west like Sudan, Zimbabwe and CAR.
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship.
The current situation does not contribute to the post-war reconciliation [between Russia and Georgia] - it only fuels conflict with an increasing feeling of injustice for [people] living near the dividing line.
[The] assumption that [President Putin has] a grand evil plan only feeds the domestic myth of a Russia under siege.
Russia needs both the Syrian regime and Turkey. So it has to give a little bit to both and it has to ... make them equally angry, if that's what it wants.
In the end [Moscow] will want a political solution in Syria, and economic reconstruction. For that they will need European input and money and investment.
Originally published in Russia File
Originally published in Time
Crisis Group's Europe & Central Asia Program Director Magdalena Grono talks about the relations between Russia and Turkey as they reflect on the Black Sea and the South Caucasus.