vladimir putin

Tensions are again mounting between Russia and Ukraine. Dubiously claiming provocation, Russia has stationed 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of a full-scale invasion.[...] What do Russians think of their government’s aggressive foreign policy? Is there anything our government could do to influence the Russian public’s perspective?

In Russia, opinion polls are as important as, or possibly more so than, in democracies. [...] These opinion polls, in turn, reflect the information bubble created by the Russian government. For example, a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Centerin 2014 found 80 percent of Russians supported Russia going to war to ensure that Crimea became part of Russia instead of Ukraine."

Kazakh eagle hunter in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia.
September 7, 2016

The Kazakh government taps into historical memory and soft power with a new Game of Thrones-style TV epic dramatizing the founding of the Kazakh khanate (state).

What do these three recent events tell us about Russian foreign policy? Putin is able to think strategically, using all hard and soft power tools to promote Russian foreign policy interests. To the average Western observer, Russia's recent actions in the Caspian, Iran or its CSTO military exercise are viewed as three different and unrelated things. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin described “soft power” in 2012 as “a matrix of tools and methods to reach foreign policy goals without the use of arms but by exerting information and other levers of influence.” His government has used state-owned media outlets like RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and other pro-Kremlin organizations to bend public opinion in other countries toward Russia.

The strange saga of Trump, Clinton, WikiLeaks and Russia...

Recent comments by Donald Trump in the New York Times should and will frighten Americans and our allies around the world. In response to questions about the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) the Republican nominee suggested that he would abandon our friends and fail to protect our allies if they didn’t pay a high enough price. 

In the past year, Netanyahu has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin four different times. That has proven vital to Israel's security as Putin becomes more involved in Syria on the side of Israel's enemies. If relations with Moscow are vital for security reasons, relations with Beijing pave a path to continues economic growth.