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Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

The West’s Crisis of Confidence

Posted by hkarner - 20. April 2018

Carl Bildt was Sweden’s foreign minister from 2006 to October 2014 and Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden’s EU accession. A renowned international diplomat, he served as EU Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Special Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-Chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference. He is Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe.

Even barring worst-case scenarios, the West will be facing a new world with new aspirants making new demands about the future. So it would be a fateful mistake to abandon the ideas and institutions that delivered prosperity and stability in previous decades.

STOCKHOLM – In an age defined by US President Donald Trump’s rage, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revisionism, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unbridled ambition, the international order is becoming increasingly disorderly, dysfunctional, and even dangerous. How did we arrive at this state of affairs? And how can we leave it behind?

Until recently, the era following World War II was a time of benevolent liberal internationalism. The postwar order had begun to take shape as early as 1941, when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill drafted the Atlantic Charter on a ship anchored in Canada’s Placentia Bay. Though Hitler had been victorious on the battlefields of Europe, Churchill and Roosevelt were determined not only to defeat the Nazi onslaught, but also to lay the groundwork for a future of peace and democracy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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U.S.-Russia Tensions Catch Up With Metals Tycoon Oleg Deripaska

Posted by hkarner - 18. April 2018

Date: 17-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Proximity to President Vladimir Putin helped billionaire but is now a liability

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and eight of his companies this month, among other Russian targets.

Last fall, Oleg Deripaska ramped up Russia’s presence in Western markets when he pulled off London’s second-biggest corporate listing of the year. Now the metals billionaire is on a U.S. sanctions list and that firm has lost roughly half its value.

The reversal of fortune reflects the arc of the Kremlin’s efforts to build political and financial relations with the West over the past two decades.

Mr. Deripaska’s proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin helped lure Western financiers seeking to invest in Russian commodity riches. He used wealth and influence to build bridges with Western elites, throwing lavish parties at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and rubbing elbows with senior politicians, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and George Osborne, then British member of parliament and a future chancellor of the exchequer.

On April 6, Mr. Deripaska’s ties to Mr. Putin became his biggest liability. The Trump administration levied sanctions against him and more than three dozen other Russian officials, tycoons and companies in response to what it calls Russia’s “malign activity,” including meddling in U.S. elections, which Russia denies. Mr. Deripaska said the reasons for blacklisting him are “groundless, ridiculous and absurd.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What Putin Won in Russia’s Election

Posted by hkarner - 23. März 2018

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics and The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, is Professor of International Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.

Over the course of his 18 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has veered from embracing the West to vilifying it. His reelection – with record-high turnout and support – suggests that his bet on nationalism has paid off handsomely, and that Russia is headed for a long period of stagnation.

MOSCOW – At the beginning of his presidency in the early 2000s, Vladimir Putin was a pro-Western island in a sea of anti-Western Russian elites. As I observed at the time, his desire to “anchor Russia firmly to the West” stood in stark contrast to the country’s traditional notions of security. But after Sunday’s presidential election, in which Putin cemented his vision of Russia as a military bastion, it is clear that now his island is nationalism, and will remain so for as long as he rules the Kremlin.

The danger this poses is all too clear. After 18 years in power, Putin now goes even further than his Soviet predecessors in casually raising the prospect of a nuclear conflict with the West. This aggressive rhetoric seems to have served him well in the election, the result of which has essentially granted him carte blanche for his fourth term. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Putin’s Key Oligarch Escapes Sanctions

Posted by hkarner - 18. März 2018

Date: 17-03-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder aids Russia’s ambitions in Eastern Europe, but has dodged Western attention.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2017.

Hitting upon a potent response to Vladimir Putin were Obama sanctions targeted at his top cronies, later adopted and extended in last year’s bipartisan legislation signed by Donald Trump.

Sanctions aimed at key individuals can be surprisingly effective, it turns out. They help to undermine internal support for the regime or at least its most unattractive policies.

One oligarch, though, remains overlooked. Arguably he is the most important of all. That’s former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Mr. Putin has worked with astonishing success to reorganize energy logistics in Europe to isolate, threaten and intimidate strategic countries, especially Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic nations. Mr. Schroeder has been his vital helpmate at every step. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Trump, Putin, Xi – was macht sie einander so ähnlich?

Posted by hkarner - 13. März 2018

Gero Jenner, 13/3

Wie Unternehmen funktionieren und welche Voraussetzungen dazu erfüllt sein müssen, das weiß man heute ziemlich genau. Produzierende Betriebe sind auf eine Infrastruktur angewiesen, die eine verlässliche Zufuhr von Energie und Grundstoffen (oder Vorprodukten) erlaubt. Hinzukommen muss in der Regel noch ein staatliches Ausbildungssystem, das dem Unternehmen ein entsprechendes „Humanmaterial“ anbietet. Unternehmen verfügen über einen Entscheidungsspielraum, was die Aufteilung des erwirtschafteten Gewinns unter Mitarbeitern und Eigentümern betrifft, hier kann der Staat lenkend eingreifen, aber das gilt nicht im Hinblick auf das Verhalten eines Betriebs zu seiner Umwelt. Hier ist der Entscheidungsspielraum so eng wie bei einem Motor, der nur dann verlässlich und dauerhaft läuft, wenn er konstant mit Energie und Rohstoffen gefüttert wird. Da gibt es keine Abstimmung und keine Demokratie. Im wesentlichen wird Unternehmenspolitik daher auf monarchische bis diktatorische Art betrieben. Einzig der japanische Kapitalismus beschritt mit dem sogenannten Ringi-System, wo alle wichtigen Entscheidungen den einzelnen Abteilungen zur Abstimmung vorgelegt wurden, zeitweise einen anderen Weg – gerade solange wie die japanischen Betriebe so billig produzierten, dass sie der Konkurrenz gegenüber einen bedeutenden Preisvorsprung besaßen – da konnten sie sich ein so schwerfälliges System noch leisten. Inzwischen gehört die innerbetriebliche Demokratie auch in Japan der Vergangenheit an.

Moderne Industriestaaten gleichen großen Konzernen Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Could Putin and Xi Undermine Their Own Rule?

Posted by hkarner - 8. Februar 2018

Date: 07-02-2018

Source: Foreign Affairs By Alina Polyakova and Torrey Taussig

Subject: The Autocrat’s Achilles‘ Heel

Great power competition is back. Russia and China—two great powers with autocrats at their helms—are actively testing the durability of the international order as the West seemingly retreats. Russian President Vladimir Putin, unfazed by Western sanctions, not only led a disinformation campaign in Western democracies to disrupt major elections, but continues to maintain Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, is projecting China’s military power into the South China Sea and its economic might across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Both countries also seek to influence democratic states through the use of “sharp power.” Aware of Russia and China’s growing reach, the Trump administration made the right decision to identify the two nations as U.S. competitors in its recently released National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. For the first time since September 11, 2001, great power competition, rather than global terrorism, is considered the number one priority for U.S. national security.

There seem to be no effective checks to Putin and Xi’s growing ambitions. Both leaders, however, could be making a strategic error. They are staking their countries’ futures, and international trajectories, on one thing:

themselves. Throughout their respective reigns, Putin and Xi have taken steps to consolidate their personal control on power. This may work as a stabilizing mechanism in the short term, but in the long term, can exacerbate inherent domestic tensions that could eventually undermine their rule. Putin and Xi face two similar dilemmas as long-time autocrats of large countries: managing brutal elite competition for loyalty and succession, and balancing international ambitions with deepening tensions between the central government and restive regions. As both leaders seek more “wins” to justify their personal control at home, they may increasingly pursue riskier and bolder foreign policies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Russia’s Economic Stagnation Is Here to Stay

Posted by hkarner - 2. Februar 2018

Konstantin Sonin

Konstantin Sonin is a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a visiting professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and an associate research fellow at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.

The Russian economy is stagnating across almost all sectors, meaning that boosting growth will be impossible without deep structural reforms. But with President Vladimir Putin approaching a fourth term after having shown little appetite for such reform, there is no reason to expect much to change in the foreseeable future.

CHICAGO – In the early days of 2018, the Russian economy is stagnating. This is no statistical blip: the average annual growth rate in 2008-2017 for Russia was just 1.2%. Last year, Russia’s GDP-growth rate was 1.5%, compared to 2.5% in the eurozone and 2.3% in the United States – both developed economies that should be growing 2-3 percentage points slower than a developing economy like Russia. And, as the Russian economic ministry, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund all recognize, this poor performance seems likely to continue.

Boosting Russia’s growth will be possible only with deep structural reforms, because the economy is stagnating at full capacity. With unemployment at around 5.5% for the fifth consecutive year – a rate that almost any developed country would envy – there are few unemployed to be put to work. Likewise, capacity utilization in manufacturing is roughly at the same level as in the previous two peaks (2007-2008 and 2013), meaning that there is almost no spare capacity to be put to use. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Putin’s Medieval Dreams

Posted by hkarner - 2. Januar 2018

Dina Khapaeva

Dina Khapaeva is Professor of Russian at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Modern Languages. Her most recent book is The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture.

As much of the world makes amends for social and political injustices of the past, Russia is lionizing its despots, raising statues to the worst of them. Behind this phenomenon is an ultra-nationalist brand of conservatism that seeks to take Russian politics back to the Middle Ages.

ATLANTA – While much of the world is busy dismantling monuments to oppressors, Russians are moving in the opposite direction, erecting statues to medieval warlords who were famous for their despotism. Understanding this revival can shed light on the direction of Russia’s politics.

In October 2016, with the endorsement of Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, the country’s first-ever monument to Ivan the Terrible was unveiled in the city of Orel. A month later, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, called for Lenin Avenue in Moscow to be renamed Ivan the Terrible Highway. And in July of this year, President Vladimir Putin christened Moscow’s own tribute to the tyrant, declaring, erroneously, that “most likely, Ivan the Terrible never killed anyone, not even his son.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Donald Trump Thought

Posted by hkarner - 29. November 2017

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Xi Jinping Thought has now been enshrined in the charter of the Communist Party of China, making Xi more powerful than any leader since Mao. If Donald Trump’s own eponymous ideology were entrenched similarly in the US Constitution, what would it require of future American leaders?

LONDON – After US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to China, it can only be a matter of time before right-wing media outlets like Breitbart News and Fox News suggest that he should take a page from President Xi Jinping’s playbook, despite the overwhelmingly Leninist nature of its contents.

At last month’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi was effectively anointed his country’s supreme leader. By enshrining so-called Xi Jinping Thought in the CPC charter, Party members established Xi alongside the People’s Republic’s two historical giants, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping – the only other Chinese leaders with officially recognized eponymous ideologies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Last Silovik?

Posted by hkarner - 28. November 2017

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics and The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, is Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.

Igor Sechin, the head of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-time „number two,“ is now embroiled in a very public legal squabble. Putin seems to be using the courtroom, yet again, as a platform for clarifying the positions of the Kremlin elite in advance of the 2018 presidential election.

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin’s regime is as sphinxlike as any that has ever ruled Russia, and now there is a new mystery afoot. Is Igor Sechin – perhaps the most powerful of the St. Petersburg siloviki who helped establish Putin’s regime 18 years ago – about to fall?

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