Russian Analytical Digest

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The Russian Analytical Digest (RAD) analyzes events, trends and developments in terms of their impact on security policy and the political, economic and societal situation in Russia. Each edition contains academic and policy-related articles by international authors, as well as relevant statistics, charts and surveys. The publication is produced as a collaborative effort between the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES) and the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University, the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, and the German Association for East European Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, DGO). RAD is edited by Stephen Aris, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perović, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder and Aglaya Snetkov.

All issues

Current issues:

No. 288: Brain Drain from Russia after February 24th 2022 (21.11.2022)

The topic of this issue is “Brain Drain from Russia after February 24th 2022”. Firstly, Ekaterina Vorobeva underlines the necessity to acknowledge the diversity of social groups forced into emigration by the “partial mobilization”; secondly, Daria Zakharova analyzes how Russian state-​run media have been treating emigrants; thirdly, Andrei Korobkov describes the formation of new migration flows marked by high shares of young people, males, and members of various elite groups; lastly, Maria Tysiachniouk and Arsenii Konnov focus on Russian civil society in exile in Georgia, determining activists’ categories, as well as analyzing their motivations and repertoire of collective action.

No. 287: How the War Affects the Eurasian Economic Union (30.10.2022)

The topic of this issue is “How the War Affects the Eurasian Economic Union.” Firstly, Alexander Libman and Anastassia Obydenkova review key EAEU trends: concerns about EAEU membership and about excessive dependence on Russia, difficult trade relations because of Western sanctions, a beginning recession for the entire region, sanctions against Russia prompting Eurasian autocracies to question their own connections with the West; secondly, Erik Davtyan analyzes the impact of the war on Armenia within the EAEU, arguing that the war limits Armenia’s capacity to instrumentalize the Eurasian agenda due to the asymmetry in economic power between Russia and other members.

No. 286: War and Church (17.10.2022)

The topic of this issue is War and Church. Firstly, Regina Elsner queries the reasons why religion plays such an important role in the Russo-​Ukrainian War of 2022 and why Orthodoxy cannot be expected to play a peacemaking role therein; secondly, Alexander Ponomariov focuses on two Ukrainian autocephalies: the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and the de-​facto one proclaimed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and predicts that the Ukrainian dioceses under Russian control are likely to move under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, with huge repercussions for Orthodox theopolitics.

No. 285: Economic Disfunctionalities (30.06.2022)

This issue deals with dysfunctionalities in the Russian economy. The first three contributions look at the direct impact of sanctions. Ilya Matveev provides an overview, while Andrei Yakovlev compares the government’s anti-​sanctions measures to its reaction to the economic impact of the COVID-​19 pandemic. Janis Kluge offers a more detailed picture of the short-​ and long-​term effects of the unfolding sanction regime. Michael Rochlitz then goes on to explain the lack of strategic planning in the country’s economic policy. Finally, Olga Masyutina and Ekaterina Paustyan provide a case study of inefficient governance mechanisms looking at waste management.

No. 284: Energy and War (08.06.2022)

The topic of this issue is Energy and War. Indra Overland posits that the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Western sanctions against Russia will affect many parts of the global energy system; Martin Jirušek discusses the EU's struggle with Russian energy imports and its role in the new geopolitical reality; and Agha Bayramov and Tom Wagenmakers explore the potential role of Azeri natural gas in meeting European Union energy security needs.

No. 283: Political and Economic Consequences of Russia’s War against Ukraine (14.04.2022)

The topics of this issue are the political and economic consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Stefan Meister looks at Russia’s role in the post-​Soviet region. Heiko Pleines presents a broad analysis of Russia’s preparations for war, ranging from political rhetoric to economic policy and military developments in the first phase of the war. Andrei Yakovlev discusses ways of economic forecasting in view of the abrupt shocks to the Russian economy. Daria Zakharova describes Russia’s propaganda strategy using the example of the Bucha massacres. A representative opinion poll captures the publicly expressed attitudes of the Russian population toward the war.

No. 282: Russian Information Warfare (12.04.2022)

This issue is about Russian Information Warfare. Articles by Nash Miller, Jessica Brzeski, Jacqueline Evans, and Jesse Clarke examine the tools that Russia has used against Ukraine, Poland, the United States, and the European Union, as well as the strategies that these countries have employed to combat Russian information warfare. The final article summarizes the findings and proposes policy options by means of which the democratic countries of the West can address the challenges information warfare poses. A final contribution by Françoise Daucé examines the suspected contribution of news aggregator Yandex.news to the decline of information pluralism for political purposes.

No. 281: Political Regime Stability / Universities / Agriculture (29.03.2022)

The topics of this issue are the political regime stability in Russia a month after the start of the attack on Ukraine and the impact of the war on Russian agriculture and Russian universities. The five contributions on political regime stability discuss the reliability of Russian opinion polls on the war, the authoritarian consolidation of recent years, the unity of the elites, the possibilities for protests and opposition, and the control of Russian online media. With contributions by Kseniya Kizilova, Pippa Norris, Seongcheol Kim, Fabian Burkhardt, Jan Matti Dollbaum, Liudmila Sivetc, Mariëlle Wijermars, Dmitry Dubrovskiy, Stephen K. Wegren.

No. 280: Sanctions against Russia; Russia’s War in Ukraine on Social Media (21.03.2022)

The topics of this issue are Sanctions against Russia and Russia’s War in Ukraine on Social Media. The contributions by Gunter Deuber and Michael Rochlitz look at the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy, expecting a devastating impact. Deuber also highlights that Russia had started to prepare for sanctions a long time ago, thus provoking a stronger sanctions regime to break its protective shield. Jacqueline Evans discusses TikTok’s role both in our understanding of real-​time developments in the war and its potential for misinformation; Daria Zakharova examines the core peculiarities of VK (the Russian equivalent of Facebook).

No. 279: Russia and Afghanistan After the Withdrawal of the USA and Its Allies (11.03.2022)

This edition considers the impact of the US withdrawal from, and the Taliban’s return to power in, Afghanistan. Firstly, Richard Weitz outlines that although the Russian government’s concern about the Taliban’s support of terrorism has declined, it retains doubts about whether extreme groups can be constrained. Secondly, Stephen Aris argues that the value of the politico-​security support that Moscow offers to the incumbent regimes in Central Asia has risen due to recent developments in Afghanistan. Thirdly, Vassily Klimentov posits that the danger of militant Islamism spreading to Central Asia from Afghanistan remains limited, because radical armed groups have been weakened.

No. 278: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: First Assessments and Geopolitical Implications (01.03.2022)

This issue collects first assessments of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022. Robert Orttung asks who is to blame for Russia’s war on Ukraine; Martin Jirušek analyzes natural gas as Russia’s foreign policy tool; Taras Kuzio offers suggestions on what the West should do in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and Mariya Y. Omelicheva discusses how Russia’s relatively weak economic standing, coupled with Kazakhstanis’ changing attitudes, will seriously limit Russia’s ability to increase its geopolitical influence over Kazakhstan.

No. 277: Russian Military Build-​up around Ukraine – Part 2 (23.02.2022)

This edition is the second issue with a number of short comments on the ongoing conflict around Ukraine. The comments are authored by a variety of experts and focus on different aspects of the crisis and ongoing dynamics. The contributions cover the fast-​track extraterritorial naturalization of Donbas residents, the question whether the Russian people would punish Putin for invading Ukraine, war optimism on both sides, and the impact on global security of the recognition of the “Luhansk People’s Republic”/”Donetsk People’s Republic” by Russia. With contributions by Fabian Burkhardt, Cindy Wittke, Elia Bescotti, Maryna Rabinovych, Henry E. Hale, Olena Lennon, Dmitry Stefanovich, Kateryna Zarembo and Marianna Fakhurdinova.

No. 276: Russian Military Build-​up around Ukraine – Part 1 (18.02.2022)

This edition presents a number of short comments on the ongoing Ukraine crisis. The comments are authored by a variety of experts and focus on different aspects of the crisis and ongoing dynamics. The contributions cover the major Russian military build-​up, the Putin regime’s strategy and aims, the Russian government’s proposed new security assurance agreements, the recent series of diplomatic exchanges, and the impact on domestic politics in European states.  With contributions by Irina Busygina, Ben Aris, Maria Raquel Freire, Regina Heller, Stefan Meister, Olexiy Haran, Petro Burkovskyi, and Pavel Sharikov.

No. 275: Russia's Role in the Contemporary International Agri-​Food Trade System (31.01.2022)

This issue discusses various facets of Russia’s Role in the Contemporary International Agri-​Food Trade System: Stephen K. Wegren provides an overview of U.S.-​Russia bilateral agri-​food trade; Jiayi Zhou posits that Sino-​Russian trade in food and agricultural trade proves a useful indicator of both possibilities and limits of broader bilateral rapprochement; Frode Nilssen predicts that Russia’s seafood exports will increasingly tilt towards Asian markets; Rilka Dragneva estimates that the Eurasian Economic Union has performed below its potential as a vehicle for growth; Maximilian Heigermoser, Linde Götz, and Tinoush Jamali Jaghdani discuss Russia’s food trade with the Middle East and North Africa.

No. 274: Russian-US Relations (24.11.2021)

This issue discusses US-​Russian Relations. Maxim A. Suchkov argues that the key issue between Russia and the United States at the moment is not the poor state of the relationship, but rather its changed nature, since the two pillars that used to shape the relationship—principles and agenda—have evolved; Ivan Kurilla posits that understanding the nature of conflicts over national identity in both Russia and the US improves our understanding of how each side views the other and highlights the nature of the obstacles standing in the way of improved relations.

No. 273: Russia and the Conflicts in the South Caucasus: Perspectives from Armenia and Azerbaijan (30.11.2021)

The topic of this issue is Russia and the Conflicts in the South Caucasus. Firstly, Ruben Elamiryan discusses Armenian-​Russian relations in the framework of Armenia’s so-​called multi-​vector foreign policy and presents the main aspects of cooperation; secondly, Anar Valiyev and Nigar Gurbanli try to analyze and predict Russian actions in Karabakh and the implications thereof for the broader region; thirdly, Farid Guliyev applies transactionalism to relations between Azerbaijan and Russia in the context of the 2020 war in Karabakh.

No. 272: Russian Agriculture and Climate Change (25.10.2021)

The topic of this issue is Russian Agriculture and Climate Change. Firstly, Marianna Poberezhskaya debates whether recent Russian measures in the area of climate policy will translate into intentional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions; secondly, Daiju Narita, Tuyara Gavrilyeva, and Aleksandr Isaev discuss the challenges of forest fires in Russia; thirdly, Florian Schierhorn asks whether Russian agriculture and agricultural exports will profit from climate change; fourthly, Taras Gagalyuk and Anna Hajdu present the results of an analysis of the institutional, organizational and individual (personal) drivers of socially responsible activities of Russian agricultural enterprises.

No. 271: Duma and Regional Elections 2021 (04.10.2021)

The topic is the Duma and Regional Elections of 2021. Grigorii V. Golosov discusses the use of tools to allow United Russia to retain its two-​thirds majority in the Duma; Tatiana Tkacheva aims to show that the level of authoritarian manipulations of the election is unprecedented; Jan Matti Dollbaum, Morvan Lallouet, and Ben Noble describe the basic design of the tactical voting strategy of Team Navalny’s “Smart Voting” project; Tatiana Golova analyzes the case of the Khabarovsk region to show how elections are discussed on Russian-​language social media; Leah Silinsky outlines the various protests that have taken place in response to inadequate waste management.

No. 270: Russia-Turkey Relations (04.07.2021)

This edition considers the complicated relationship between Russia and Turkey. Firstly, Dimitar Bechev outlines that, over recent years, Moscow and Ankara have learned how to manage their rivalry and ensure it remains within bounds, in order to maximize shared interests in other areas. Secondly, Seçkin Köstem argues that despite geopolitical alignment in Syria and ongoing energy cooperation, the two states favor opposing outcomes in a number of regional crises, with the latter dynamic preventing the formation of a closer partnership.

No. 269: Russia and the Arctic (27.06.2021)

The topic of this issue is Russia and the Arctic. Firstly, Troy J. Bouffard and P. Whitney Lackenbauer discuss Russia’s 2021–2023 chairmanship of the Arctic Council, positing that Russia is not seeking to revise Arctic governance structures or undermine regional peace; instead, Moscow seeks to define the region in its preferred terms; secondly, Alexander Sergunin examines Russia’s policy priorities for its chairmanship in the Arctic Council and the possible implications thereof for the region. The author argues that Russia’s Arctic Council presidential agenda will likely include the following priorities: climate change action; sustainable development; social cohesiveness and connectivity in the region; indigenous peoples; conservation of biodiversity; science diplomacy; and partial institutional reform of the Council. Moscow will neither, however, renew its earlier efforts to transform the Council from an intergovernmental forum into a full-​fledged international organization nor introduce military security issues to the Council’s agenda.

No. 268: The State of the Russian Economy (06.05.2021)

This issue provides an overview of the state of the Russian economy. In eight shorter contributions international experts discuss the longer-​term trajectories of the Russian economy and assess the impact of Western sanctions and the Covid-​19 pandemic. Separate contributions look at the real sector of the economy and agriculture. The financial sector features prominently in several contributions. Finally, based on an assessment of past trends several contributions provide an outlook for Russia’s socio-​economic development. At the end of the issue there is a section with graphs illustrating the development of major macro-​economic indicators over the last 25 years.

No. 267: Nord Stream II (12.04.2021)

This issue deals with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Firstly, Maria Shagina posits that the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline has revived the fundamental differences of opinion that divided the allies during the Cold War and created new inter-​European tensions. A closer look at the crises in the Western alliance occasioned by the Druzhba oil pipeline in the 1960s and the Yamal–Urengoi gas pipeline in the 1980s reveals the continuity of disagreements between Europe and the US, as well as showing similar patterns of weaponizing Western technology and sanctions. Secondly, Robert Stüwe analyses the German debate on Nord Stream 2, including the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the scandal over the German government’s offer to import LNG from the US on preferential terms if the US would repeal sanctions, and the public outcry over Mecklenburg-​Vorpommern’s controversial state “Climate Foundation.”
 

No. 266: Preparing for the Parliamentary Elections of 2021: Russian Politics and Society (08.04.2021)

This issue provides a broad overview of Russian politics and society in the run-​up to the 2021 parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for September. In eleven shorter contributions, international experts on Russia discuss domestic and foreign affairs as well as the economy. The focus of most of them is on attempts of the Russian leadership to deal with growing discontent among the population. This includes the regime’s quest for legitimacy as well as repression and strategies to manipulate the actual election process. Individual contributions also discuss the implications for foreign policy and economic development. The contributions are published in alphabetical order of authors.

No. 265: Russia's Relations With China (19.03.2021)

This edition considers recent developments in Russia’s relationship with China. Firstly, Marcin Kaczmarski suggests that in spite of renewed talk, obstacles remain for a fully-​fledged Russia-​China military alliance. Secondly, Xin Zhang focuses on Chinese elite and expert policy narratives about Russia, noting that they emphasize that the relationship operates on a level both distinct to, and higher than, an “axis of convenience”. Thirdly, Brian G. Carlson examines how Moscow’s ambitions for the Russia-​India-China triangle have been further undermined by the June 2020 Himalayan border clash between China and India.

No. 264: Agriculture (22.02.2021)

The topic of this issue is the current state of Russian agriculture. Firstly, Natalia Karlova, Olga Shik, Eugenia Serova, and Renata Yanbykh cover changes in the structure of agricultural production, trade development, and agri-​food policy. The article concludes by listing the major challenges Russian agriculture must address in order to maintain its position in the national economy and in global markets. Secondly, Vasyl Kvartiuk and Thomas Herzfeld examine the mechanisms by which Russian agriculture is subsidized. Using a unique dataset from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, they map the incentives of regional and federal governments in the distribution of targeted subsidies among the Russian regions. Their results suggest that similar to the US and the EU, the regional and federal levels of the Russian government not only seek to boost agricultural development but also see subsidies as a tool for pursuing political goals.

No. 263: Social Inequality (15.02.2021)

The topic of this issue is social inequality with a special focus on poverty. Firstly, Ann-​Mari Sätre describes the causes of poverty and analyzes how women’s social networks help to tackle poverty. She also assesses the role of the political leadership in relation to grassroots initiatives. Secondly, Ilya Matveev gives a systematic overview of different approaches to the measurement of social inequality in Russia and provides a critical discussion of their validity. The article is followed by several graphs comparing the results of different studies. Finally, Anna Tarasenko discusses the social consequences of the current Covid-​19 pandemic and provides an overview of social policy measures aimed at mitigating these consequences.

No. 262: Russian Regions after the Elections (30.12.2020)

No. 261: Environment (23.12.2020)

No. 260: Arms Control (20.12.2020)

No. 259: Russian Military Strategy (30.11.2020)

No. 258: Media Capture (09.11.2020)

No. 257: Russia and Belarus (23.10.2020)

No. 256: Russia's Arctic Policy (05.09.2020)

No. 255: Countering Violent Extremism (14.07.2020)

No. 254: Social Issues (24.06.2020)No. 253: US-Russian Relations (18.06.2020)

No. 252: Russian Orthodoxy (08.05.2020)

No. 251: Russia and the Covid-​19 Pandemic (20.04.2020)

No. 250: Putin (09.04.2020)

No. 249: Need-based Social Policies (20.03.2020)

No. 248: Central Asia (06.03.2020)

No. 247: Eurasian Economic Union (17.02.2020)

No. 246: Putin's Power Games (7.2.2020)

No. 245: Russian Youth (24.01.2020)

No. 244: Grain Export from Russia (17.12.2019)

No. 243: Climate Change and Russia (11.12.2019)

No. 242: Russia-Ukraine (03.12.2019)

No. 241: Russia's Economy (11.11.2019)

No. 240: Indigenous Peoples in Russia (29.10.2019)

No. 239: Russian Regional Elections (26.09.2019)

No. 238: North Caucasus (22.07.2019)

No. 237: Security Issues (21.06.2019)

No. 236: Impact of Sanctions on Russian Business (06.06.2019)

No. 235: Caspian Sea (18.04.2019)

No. 234: Russian Think Tanks and Foreign Policy-Making (28.03.2019)

No. 233: Russia' Oligarchs (14.03.2019)

No. 232: Russia's Relations with the South Caucasus (22.02.2019)

Nr. 231: Orthodox Church (25.01.2019)