Time for Russia
On May 7, 2014 leading Russian and international experts and HSE lecturers gave a presentation about a new international lecture series ‘Time for Russia’, organized by the Civil Society Development Foundation and the HSE.
The course will consider four areas: domestic and foreign policy, economics, and social policy, in the light of Russia’s development in the first decade of the 21st century. Konstantin Kostin, Head of the FCSD, regards this time period as particularly important for Russian history as it witnessed consolidation of the state, an increase in welfare and growth in Russia’s authority and influence in the world.
The following Russian experts and researchers as well as internationally recognized specialists from Europe and the USA have been invited to take part in the project as lecturers: Alexander Rahr, German Political Scientist, Jack Matlock, American Ambassador in the USSR in 1987-1991, Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Alexei Kudrin, Russian Minister of Finance in 2000-2011, and many others.
The following HSE researchers will take part in the course: Leonid Polyakov, Head of the Department of General Political Science, Andrei Melville, Dean of the Faculty of Politics, Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Andrei Yakovlev, Professor of the Department of Theory and Practice of Public Administration.
The lectures ‘Time for Russia’ will be delivered at the HSE, but open lectures on the Internet will also be available to reach wider audiences. After each unit thematic brochures with lecture texts will be available.
A proper understanding of what happened when the Cold War ended is very important in order to pursue adequate policy today and in the future.
The course is mainly intended for academic staff, and those interested in recent Russian history. Professor Polyakov said, the course would also be interesting for students, as there is an evident demand from them for a deep and systematic understanding of the 2000s. Lectures will start in September and will take place four times a month.
During the presentation Professor Jack Matlock talked about Russian myths of Perestroika. ‘He said ‘A proper understanding of what happened when the Cold War ended is very important in order to pursue adequate policy today and in the future.’.
According to Matlock, the Cold War ended before the USSR collapsed, and Mikhail Gorbachev played the main role in the disintegration process, and weakening the influence of the Communist Party. At the same time he mentioned that Russia wasn’t defeated in the Cold War, as the confrontation which lasted almost half a century ended beneficially for all sides. Alexander Rahr, who is a member of the Valdai Club, spoke on the global political agenda and possible resolutions to the Ukrainian crisis.
In Rahr’s view there are three components of the current European crisis. First of all the possibility that Ukraine will suffer a default: due to economic problems in Ukraine, Kiev will be increasingly open to foreign influence. The problem is aggravated by the fact that Russia and Western countries have failed so far to reach an agreement on how to stabilize the situation. Both Russia and Western countries want Ukraine ‘for themselves’.
Besides says Rahr, we shouldn’t forget about the problem of ethnic divisions in the country. ‘Ukraine is not a single integrated nation. The only way out is federalisation’.
If new cold war starts in order to constrain Russian influence, it will look similar to the confrontation Europe sustained in the second half of the 19th century. However, unlike then, this time Russia has no allies in the EU.
However, the greatest danger, as Rahr sees it, is that Ukraine ‘may become the new battleground for the decisive geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West for influence in Europe’. ‘Clearly neither side can step down without losing face. The West won’t and can’t admit that the Eastern partnership policy has failed. And Putin cannot countenance Ukraine’s going West,’ says Alexander Rahr.
Nowadays many Western politicians are talking about a return to the Cold War. ‘What will a new cold war be about? Today there is no communism, no confrontation between two systems of world order, and no Iron Curtain. If new cold war starts in order to constrain Russian influence, it will look similar to the confrontation Europe sustained in the second half of the 19th century. However, unlike then, this time Russia has no allies in the EU,’ says Alexander Rahr.
Konstantin Vodopyanov, the HSE News Service
Photos by Alexander Utkin
The Centre for Strategic Research has published a brief version of Russia’s development strategy for the next six years. Experts from HSE also took part in the project.