The new Russia Direct report offers an overview of the Kremlin’s foreign policy over the past year and gives a glimpse of what to expect in 2017.

The Kremlin’s foreign policy was a success and a failure at the same time in 2016. Photo: Reuters

As the year 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to summarize the results of Russia’s foreign policy decision-making over the past 12 months and look ahead to 2017. The new Russia Direct report, “The Year in Review,” sums up the key failures and successes of Moscow’s foreign policy actions, from its relations with the West and operation in Syria to the pivot to the East and ties in Latin America.

To start with, Andrey Kortunov, general director of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), assesses the results of Russian foreign policy globally and points out the implications of the upcoming Trump presidency in the U.S. As Kortunov sees it, one should not expect any major changes in Moscow’s policies around the world, especially given Russia’s upcoming 2018 presidential election campaign, which is not the best time for experiments and innovation.

Paul Goble, former CIA specialist and expert on Russia and Eurasia, gives his perspective on the achievements and failures of Moscow over the year. According to him, over the short term, the Russian president’s successes have been extraordinary, but over the longer term, the gap between Putin as strong and Russia as weak might create problems for him that may lead to domestic challenges. “Putin’s foreign policy has been both a major success and a major failure in 2016; and despite what many think, for the very same reasons, it is likely to feature a similar combination in the year to come,” he sums up.

The one thing that is clear is that next year Russia is likely to continue to be an actor in many future conflicts around the world. This is evident from Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept adopted on Nov. 30. Another practical implication of the document, as argued by Dimitri Elkin, a writer and U.S.-Russian businessman, is that Russia will not make steps to start a conflict on European territory. “Russia firmly believes that it is a part of European civilization, and Moscow will seek to prevent future raptures on the European continent,” he says.

Yet, the relations between Russia and the EU are going to stagnate, argues Dmitry Polikanov, vice-president of the PIR Center in Moscow. Relations are going to stay as they are, unless there are substantial changes to the European elites in power. This, in turn, might be a possibility in the future with the upcoming elections in France, Germany and Italy.

The RD report also explores the implications of Russia’s operation in Syria, especially in light of the recent assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, and sheds light on the diplomatic progress made in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

In addition, the report features an interview with Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, who outlines the fundamental contours of Russia’s confrontation with the West and explains why the West should not fear Russia.

What were the main results of Moscow’s foreign policy in 2016? What’s next for Russia and the world in 2017? Download the report and find out. 

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