Russia and the World 2015: IMEMO Forecast

Russia and the World 2015: IMEMO Forecast

In the final issue of our predecessor journal (Perspectives: Review of International Affairs – 02/2014), we published an abridged version of the Russian think tank IMEMO’s annual ‘Russia and the World’ forecast. This was the first time that any version of this report had appeared in English. The aim was to allow the work of Russian academics to be more widely available to and understood in the English speaking world, to provoke responses from scholars working elsewhere and to encourage dialogue between them.

This is how Editor-In-Chief, Benjamin Tallis, introduced the report – and excerpt of which appears below and which can also be downloaded in full:

The publication of IMEMO’s annual forecast provides a unique opportunity for the English-speaking world to gain insight into the thinking and perspective of an established part of the Russian academic and policy community on issues of great importance for European security and international affairs more widely.

This publication has not been peer-reviewed and instead seeks to provide a platform for the presentation of Russian scholarly work, with great policy relevance, to a wider audience. This dissemination does not equate to an endorsement, but rather is intended to provoke discussion and stimulate constructive debate between scholars in EU member states and their Russian counterparts. It is hoped that this mutual engagement will shed light on currently problematic issues and increase understanding of the different positions and potential trajectories that the current situation could take. 

The publication, which outlines the broad trajectories, causes and consequences of Russian geopolitics, political economy and foreign policy, provides many interesting insights and points of view. Many of these converge with diverse currents of Western thought and academic analysis, showing that there is not necessarily divide of opinion or analysis between the West and Russia and responses that highlight possibilities for rapprochement on this basis are welcome. However, there are also significant points of divergence, which we hope will be the starting point for other critical engagements that we will provide a channel for scholars and policy analysts to express in the hope of provoking productive discussion of these issues.

There are also numerous silences and omissions, notably in relation to the role of Russian domestic policy in creating the situations discussed in the forecast, which relates to the theoretical perspective of the authors and IMEMO’s institutional remit. However, as many readers will note, there are also significant silences regarding Russia’s role in the origination of the Ukrainian conflict and its continuation, but also with regard to Russia’s responsibility for the currently tense state of relations with the EU and the West more widely.

We therefore hope that you will take up this invitation to engage with IMEMO’s scholarly work and the interpretations and analyses they provide, for the first time, in English. We welcome critical interventions that seek to speak into and about these silences and the assumptions and positions that they may indicate. In the tense situation that we find ourselves at the time of writing, such dialogue and mutual engagement is more necessary than it has been for some time.


By: A.Dynkin, V.Baranovsky, I.Kobrinskaya, G.Machavariani, S.Afontsev, Ya.Mirkin, A.Kuznetsov, F.Voytolovsky, V.Shvydko, S.Utkin, V.Mikheev, S.Lukonin, Yu.Kvashnin, B.Frumkin, N.Toganova, V.Zhuravleva, I.Zviagelskaya

2015 might have been a year of triumph for Russia, as it will be the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the liberation of Auschwitz and the capture of Berlin by the Soviet Army. However, in 2014, while the world was commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, Russia’s relations with the West took a sharp turn for the worse. “Is there a way of avoiding a rerun of the Cold War?” was the question many soberly minded politicians and analysts in the West kept asking throughout 2014.2 Few, even Zbigniew Brzezinski3, who argued that without Ukraine, Russia would never be able to become an empire again, could foresee the role Ukraine would soon play in the transformation of the post-bipolar world order.

The Ukrainian crisis was the immediate trigger of the aggravation in relations between Russia and the West, only a tiny shift among far larger, tectonic processes. The way both Russia and the West approach the crisis and see its future settlement might have been very different from what it is, but for the chain of conflicts and revolutions that swept many post-Soviet states in recent years, not to mention the Arab Spring. The Ukrainian crisis accumulated all of the unresolved problems in relations between Russia and the West over the past quarter of a century, which was a period of “omissions” and wasted opportunities for Russia and the West to achieve genuine understanding and trust. All of the grievances, insults and misunderstandings that had piled up on both sides, in particular, in Russia, in 2014 suddenly emerged in the limelight of world politics, Ukraine being the focal point. The scale and severity of contradictions prompted some to speculate the “Cold War” was about to have a rerun.

1 IMEMO is the Russian Academic of Sciences Institute of World Economy and International Relations. See the full text of the forecast in Russian at This abridged version for Perspectives magazine was prepared by I. Kobrinskaya and B. Frumkin.

2 Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro. How to Avoid a New Cold War

3 Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books. 1997. ISBN 0-465-02725-3