Good Oligarch, Bad Oligarch (by Vladislav Inozemtsev)

31 July 2018

 

Vladislav Inozemtsev argues that the policy of marginalizing and stifling virtually all of the so-called Russian oligarchs is counter-productive and will only bring them into Putin’s warm embrace. Instead, he proposes to distinguish between those billionaires who actively endorse and finance the Russian government’s policies and those who have tried hardly to stand outside of it and transfer their assets and businesses abroad. The author brings the examples of London-based Khodorkovsky and Chichvarkin and claims that attracting like-minded wealthy Russians can be a very significant advance in the Western policy of containing Russian revanchism.

 

The post-crash world: how the 2008 crisis led to our current age of extremes (by Aditya Chakraborti)

15 August 2018

The author reflects on the recently published book by Adam Tooze, Crashed, which explores the causes and consequences of the financial crisis of 2008-2009. He emphasizes that the book provides both an insider and outsider perspective and reveals deep motivations behind the decisions taken during the most acute phase of the downturn, putting them into the context of neoliberal policies that protect the interests of the few at the expense of many. It argues that contrary to some predictions made at the time, the crisis did not reverse this trend that resulted in irresponsible regulatory policies and ultimately, a catastrophe, but only made it even more pronounced.

 

Why Putin's Approval Ratings Are Declining Sharply (By Andrei Kolesnikov)

15 August 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 020)Perhaps no figure has loomed larger on the world stage of late than Russian President Vladimir Putin. His recent summit with the U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki, the Kremlin’s resurgence as a decisive player in the Middle East, and, of course, Putin’s easy reelection in March all seem to point to his continued strength. Yet they may also conceal a growing weakness.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in March 2014, was a boon for Putin’s approval ratings. Hovering around 61 to 65 percent before the seizure, they climbed to dizzying heights of above 80 percent thereafter. For many Russians, Putin’s territorial grab restored the country’s national greatness, and for that they rewarded him with increased support. In the last few months, however, rising public frustrations over domestic policy and a government proposal to weaken the social safety net have led to a sharp decline in Putin’s popularity. For Russia’s political class, this decline is a sign that Putin’s ratings have lost their cloak of invulnerability, a development that could have real implications for his new term and the potential succession fight to follow.

 

Pakistan’s Economic Turmoil Threatens China’s Ambitions (By James Schwemlein)

16 August 2018

China’s surging investment in Pakistan, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is the fastest-moving and largest portion of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC marked a dramatic upgrade in China’s economic position in Pakistan, but the United States’ concerns focus on China’s strategic intentions. First, China and Pakistan have each, over decades, tended to view their relationship as a means of containing India, an increasingly important strategic partner of U.S. in what the Trump administration refers to as the Indo-Pacific region. Second, Washington is concerned that Beijing is not sufficiently focused on the destabilizing risks posed by Pakistan’s use of militant proxies in the region, particularly toward India and Afghanistan. As the contours of CPEC started to become clear, two specific components also drew skeptical looks: the potential use of Pakistani military bases to extend the operational range of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities.

 

Are Ukrainians assessing their leaders unfairly? (By Taras Kuzio)

17 August 2018

The last four years have been challenging for the Ukrainian state. As Vox Ukraine shows, the implementation of a wide range of reforms since 2014 was only possible due to the support given by the 217 MPs of the Poroshenko Bloc and Popular Front factions. Samopomych and other factions sometimes backed the reforms, but 80 per cent of votes were given by factions loyal to the president and former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk. In 2014, the candidate who came second was Yulia Tymoshenko who is also the most popular candidate in current opinion polls for next year’s elections. However, the author argues that given her background, it is unlikely that Tymoshenko would have been able to reform the judiciary, removed informality from politics and business and undertaken a better job in fighting corruption.

 

Don’t be fooled by the new calm on the Korean peninsula 

18 August 2018

Despite of current calmness in Korean peninsula and all the steps taken before, the article claims that due to certain gaps in the process, this calmness will come to the end soon or later. First of all, due to the lack of timetable and certain verifications for denuclearization, a road to peace in Korea is anything but secure. Even the recent news shows that North still continues to develop their nuclear weaponry. Furthermore, the U.S.-proposed sanctions are going to fail if we consider America’s relations with China, a key enforcer. In this regard, Mr. Xi’s visit to North Korea is also an indicator of mended ties. And finally, Seoul’s and Washington’s interests are also divergent since South Korea’s only desire is peaceful co-existence with the northern neighbour. By taking into account all these factors, the author argues that less effective sanctions and differing interest will bring back the military option again. 

 

Greece’s eight-year odyssey shows the flaws of the EU

18 August 2018

Eight years and three bail-outs later, as Greece prepares to leave its final programme on 20 August 2018, Mr. Papandreou’s remarks seem laden with pathos. He directed his ire at the “speculators” who had sent Greek bond yields soaring, more than at the successive governments that had overspent, under-reformed and fiddled the national accounts. Yet, he vowed, with a “common effort” Greece would “reach the port safely, more confident, more righteous and more proud.” 

The EU’s ability to defer hard decisions—the legendary fudge—once testified to its resilience, or at least its ability to manage disagreements. But in a more unpredictable world, where Europe is battling instability from outside its borders and populism within, it risks becoming a liability. Alternative models, from Chinese state capitalism to Russia’s resentful nationalism, are available, and gaining adherents while citizens around the continent are losing faith in the European model.

 

Turkey’s Losing Economic War (By Ayla Jean Yackley) 

21 August 2018

The lira’s meltdown has eroded banks’ capital and threatens a wave of bankrupcies. The crisis has spread beyond Turkey, infecting other emerging markets and dragging down stocks in London and New York. Crucially, it has poisoned Ankara’s relationship with Washington, which it blames for fomenting the chaos in an “underhanded plot,” as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called it, to bring the country to heel. To minimize U.S. leverage over Turkey, Erdogan has sought to mend fences with Germany and France, whom Kalin said to have expressed solidarity against Trump’s trade and sanctions policies. Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment to help Turkey get through the crunch. That resistance will come at a price, whether in the form of vast payments on corporate debt or just high prices for groceries at the market. But to most Turks, Erdogan’s defiance has been heroic, and for that they are willing to pay.