How does Russia see the World? The debate on IMEMO Forecasts

How does Russia see the World? The debate on IMEMO Forecasts

The upcoming issue of New Perspectives will feature a forum on the second installment of the IMEMO Forecast – an analytical report on Russian foreign and security policy, geopolitics and political economy. It is already a second forum on the IMEMO Forecast that we have published, so it is time for a short recapitulation of the whole debate.

1. Russia and the World 2015 – IMEMO Forecast

This is how Editor-In-Chief, Benjamin Tallis, introduced the 2015 report – which can be downloaded in full from our website.

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This publication has not been peer-reviewed and instead seeks to provide a platform for the presentation of Russian scholarly work, with great policy relevance, to a wider audience.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.

2. Responses to ‘Russia and the World, 2015 – IMEMO Forecast

Editors Note, Benjamin Tallis

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. The forum that we present here is one of the results of this ongoing process, which also included the presentation of the report – with lively subsequent discussion – at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. The forum comprises responses to the IMEMO Forecast from leading scholars on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

We are delighted to present these responses – from Derek Averre, Vladimir Handl, Egbert Jahn and Iver B. Neumann – which offer a variety of perspectives on the forecast itself as well as on the issues it raises. On some issues there is consensus between IMEMO and the respondents, while other issues draw critique and still more have provoked mixed responses. We are sure that readers will find plenty to agree and disagree with in this composition of different perspectives and that they will prompt further discussion and engagement – which is greatly needed given the current state of relations within and between Russia and the world – in subsequent issues, on our blog and in other formats.

3. Russia and the World: 2016. IMEMO Forecast

A. Dynkin, V. Baranovsky, I. Kobrinskaya, G. Machavariany, S. Afontsev, A. Kuznetsov, F. Voytolovsky, V. Shvydko, S. Utkin, V. Mikheev, S. Lukonin, A. Federovsky, B. Frumkin, V. Zhuravleva, I. Zvyagelskaya, N. Toganova, Y. Kvashnin, A. Gushchin

This forecast examines the major trends in Russia’s relations with the world and in the Russian view of the world in 2016. The forecast looks firstly at Russia’s role in the world in the context of the extant and emergent state of geopolitics. In a confused international environment, caught between the multiple, discordant and disorderly games of checkers of the present and the emerging design of a new grand chessboard for international relations, Russia and the West have been forced into cooperation. While far from easy and far from guaranteed to work – or last – this situation does offer the possibility of overcoming divides to pursue mutual interests. These interests become particularly apparent in the context of increased shared threats and the need to act jointly against them, the uncertainties created by rising powers, and the difficulties that Russia finds itself in. The key role of new mega-regional trade agreements in this emerging great game is also emphasised in the subsequent sections of the forecast, which deal, respectively, with foreign policy and political economy. The foreign policy analysis sees the US in flux in a presidential election year, and the EU caught at the crossroads of its own failure to capitalise on integration and a migration crisis of unprecedented proportions. Meanwhile, foreign policy in the post-Soviet space is characterised more by stasis than by substantial change, with frozen conflicts and stagnant reforms in Ukraine and limited room for manoeuvre for other players the order of the day. The Russian involvement in the Middle East, however, is anything but stagnant, with the military operations in Syria having dramatic effects in both the situation in Syria and global and regional geopolitics. The sustainability of this quest for influence, however, is questioned by the attitude of other players, but also by Russia’s own internal weaknesses, notably its serious and deepening economic crisis.

4. Responses to Russia and the World: 2016. IMEMO Forecast

  • Sergei Prozorov – Russia and the Missing World
  • Mark Galeotti  – The Plaintive Voice of Russia’s Embattled Foreign Policy Establishment
  • Graeme Herd  -Russia at the Crossroads: Greater Kazakhstan or DPRK-lite?
  • Anatoly Reshetnikov  – Frozen Transition: Russia and Great Power Crisis Management
  • Alexander Duleba  – The “New Normal” in Russian Foreign Policy Thinking
  • Irina Kobrinskaya – Russia and the World – Having Reached the Bottom of the Problem, is the Way Now Upward?

Coming soon in New Perspectives 1/2016