tv 2018 Russian Presidential Election Preview Panel CSPAN March 15, 2018 1:50am-3:10am EDT
there should be a link but i'm a brief fling introduce them. the residents senior fellow at thefe atlantic council and the author of three books. is a seniorman research scientist. a senior research scientist and a fellow at the kennan institute institute. mihai popsoi a political analyst in moldova and paul stronski a senior fellow at the carnegie russian and eurasian program. i would ask the authors and i
know it's brutal and unfair, to summarize the key findings for her perhaps the most urgent issues they would like to touch on and no longer than five to seven minutes and in order for us to leave time for questions and answers the most, the second most profitable part. we will start with agnia grigas. >> it's an honor to -- first i have to note estonia like the other optic states stands apart from the group of states and i
think they are their representative obama to say that. certainly they are and they have been for the last 10 years eu member states. they don't like to be referred as post-soviet republic. that they were forcibly annexed into the soviet union and this fact was never recognized either by the united states or otherwise from government. indeed their position their history and their geopolitical position is quite different than the other states in question. the same time i will say that you can't really escape your demographics or ambition so easily. and estonia like the other two baltic states shares a border with the russian federation and certainly we have seen countries
that do share borders with the russian federation at significant risk in the past. estonia also has a significant russian speaking population and both ethnic russians and russian speakers and i make that distinction because i think it's important to know that we are not always thinking about death but other russians in their daily lives who also get targeted by the kremlin and the kremlin tries to co-opt and their various efforts. i have a couple of numbers here so you get a sense of what's in the book the city, a small city on a but in terms of ethnic russians in estonia that's 24% of the population. they make up 37% but if we look at particularly one region on
the border of the russian federation here they make up 73% and 82% in a small city on the border with the russian federation. again here the issue is about the small minority of these that russia tried to engage and in a way brainwash with their endless propaganda as dr. aaron noted about the influence of the russian media all throughout certainly eastern europe and central europe and now even in the united states. and one other element i would really like to highlight here which is more important i think
when looking at these countries, it's not theit numbers for the percentages of their minorities but it is really at would say percentages of russian citizens or russian passport holders. russia has pursued a policy in the mid-to thousands of trying totr hand out its passports and its neighboring states and trying to do it in specific regions, quite concentrated regions of ordered the russian federation and regions where there is either a russian speaking majority or a russian population. we have seen that organization effort as a driver of russia's military.
example in georgia where russia would hand down russian passports and they'd say now we have to protect our citizens here. this is the one number that concerns me in estonia% and particularly looking at -- we have 36% russian citizens in the city of narverud. again this is a small city so i don't want to over dramatize it. we are referring to about 83,000 people but nonetheless given russia's history of how it's used passports is one area where we have to be concerned. of course other risks in the economic sector that russia, they don't just export their natural resources or gas. theyon also export corruption ad estonia has not done a lot of business with the european union rather than russia but there is
the incident of moneyy launderig laundering. of course domestic politics and certainly estonia is a democratic state and have strong institutions but it is like many european countries facing over the last couple of years they are still targets of russian influence and somewhat fragmented political system where there are's political powers vying and you can see there's more room for russian interests to make their way into somebody's political parties and that has also beenen shown in te past and the parties that dominate the political scene and
the cooperation agreements that the authority has had with putin's united russia party. i think i will wrap up my comments threaded like to hear your questions afterwards. i think that would be more just would spend our time. >> thank you. sticking to the schedule edward glazer has the distinction of a member of the country as it were where whatever you want to call it the hybrid war this semi-boer could actually become a real war. >> i have the task of trying to cover ukraine in about five minutes with the concept i'm sure everyone is family with. what i will do is go through my national theory. i will cover some background and
dive into the brief scenarios that i have explored inth the chapter. the chapter has much greater substance in the summer and going to give here. a general perspective they ukraine remains in unsettled war foprayer the operations on the ground is not dissimilar from world warse i warfare. the line is fairly thick. there is a cycle of escalation when they don't make substandard gains for either side on the ground. the russian borders anytime soon. they have a challenging road ahead of them. from our perspective, the quest
for leverage has stalled out. the pressure on ukraine leadership is largely void. it was effective in 2015. but all strategies, especially when russia pursued and they start out and the same can be seen about the european politics. you have to pressure the europeans. neither of those ventures have had much success and there does not to be a clear way forward. they've achieved minimal goals but not active goals. it is not where it is because of the balance of power. much has been said about the restoration of the ukraine military. it is similar to 2014. the military meets discernible methods.
russia sought -- sought to minimize its cost and minimize the use of conventional power and about her field. russia has a goal to traditionally, it has been through the effects of the battlefield, as much as the ground without hard confectionery military power. wide? that is expensive there is cost associated and it can get nasty very fast. i will go briefly in broad strokes. this is the one i think is the most likely and after the election or the selection, this was completed in russian election. that is if vladimir putin gets reelected. one strategy with the local crisis among the various forces
that dominated the ukraine economy added about allies is the population. there is an evolved approach with russian agents and it includes sponsored terrorism. part of that has played out over the last couple of years. we can take the lessons that they learned from 2014 which there was political warfare in ukraine. it was not successful. it was very ad hoc. that does not mean they will not take lessons and try again, especially giving the low risk. what is the downside? it is almost nonexistent. they are disguising other
forces in ukraine. there are a lot of forces there with powerbrokers. there are many forces for ukraine but actually there is funding and backing for russia. next, causation. there is a softer approach. they take advantage of witnesses and cynicism of society and policy and ukraine with sustained that today a nonstate actors have a lot of power. right? this is grossly insufficient. the best analysis is to understand ukrainian politics. the goal is to discourage transformation and encouraging forces, you can convince europeans that ukraine has no
way forward. last, there is the probability of the military analyst which interests me the most. you know, you greatly increase your chances of becoming familiar. there is the second for ukrainian war. i agree, i urge caution. if you do not predict the first ukrainian war, you should be concerned about the second one. i suspect that includes most people. i will cover briefly before leon gives me the evil eye. >> i need more time. >> in this regard, most of the planning and change it military for russia has focused around a contingency with ukraine. they have to employ i lot of horses. there is a colossal amount of
manpower that is concentrated around ukraine all the way to the south. why? they are afraid that since they restored the military power, they could have a military option. they want to deter that. the other clear plan and i have the forces in place for a real war with ukraine. it would likely destroy ukrainian forces. this is the kind of war re-have a rapid attack and you strip away the ukrainian forces and there is not much between there and can't. it is important to understand, they have military over matt. now, you can see some scenarios where they go away and you can create a provocation and you could have a second conflict
and they are seeing in general as we understand. these wars are similar over time and there might be a second and a third or. most planning is for 2014. this focus is around the second war with ukraine. but, equally. i will leave us with those dark and evil thought. >> thank you. >> michael, again, you have the burden or privilege into regards. first, he is dealing with both chapters his first chapter was so excellent, he thought he would write the second one and he did. to remind you about the structure, i think it is probably the most original part of each country is covered from two angles. one in terms of vulnerabilities and the other for terms of what
russia could do with those and how to proceed. michael, he took care of both things. another interesting thing is that you will see in the book, in my conclusion, we have three criteria. this is the impact on domestic politics. this is strategic importance to russia. this is how we believe we can access his moves. the third one is domestic vulnerability. what is interesting is -- it is based on the chapters provided, this is relatively low on symbolic significance for russia. it is on symbol
significance it's top of the domestic vulnerabilities. >> i will start with the military vulnerabilities chapter. then transition into politic. moldova lacks a common border with russia, thank god most would say but doesn't stop the russia from remnants of the conflict lingers to this day. whether russia can intervene again militarily in moeld voldo unlikely because has to cross ukraine and -- after the conflict, ukraine has
repositioned several important military equipment such as s-300 missiles to crimea to protect air space and romania in process of acquiring $4 billion worth of petra missiles making the airspace virtually impenetrable. that doesn't mean moldova is save. not at all. russian military presence existing on territory of moldova, only caveat, it's the part not controlled by the authorities, there is about 1,200 russian military personnel, part of the so-called operational group of russian forces, which is the former 14th soviet army.
in order to stall the withdraw of the army, russians changed its status. even that presence should have been withdrawn in line with the 1999 istanbul summit commitments taken by russia and moscow reneged. so this day these russian personnel there and about 500 russian peace eepers in the this russian military personnel is not the main threat. transition army itself. army is equal if not higher in terms of personnel but better
trained and equipped than moeld oafen army. with the help of the presence there would likely overpower the defense. major vulnerability. and there's a soviet military depot with tons of equipment which in the case of conflict could be used by the forces. military experts transeastern army and russian army as part of integrated military controlled from moscow. as i said russian presence in follow-up of the debacle and fact that ukraine has closed
supply lines for russian presence, russians are forced to recruit from the local, making large-scale intervention less likely. and political perspective, it's not needed for russia. russian political interference in moldova is so high, makes military intervention superfluous. largest party in moldova, party of socialists, strongly backed by moscow and the president elected end of 2016, has the dubious honor of having met with putin about seven times in last year, probably a record in international affairs and also the dubious honor of only foreign dignitary at may 9 parades last year in moscow. tells you a bit of the symbolic
significance if you will. but back to the political influence that russia exercises in moldova. first and foremost is through political parties. largest is the main avenue. but party of the communists in free-fall now, largely irrelevant, still has some affinity towards russia. and other owl party, that's how it's called, led by controversial figure, exile in moscow, a criminal case pending and conviction in moldova, that party has support in moldova and russian party. if you add together russian forces, half of the political spectrum in terms of electoral potential. so in that sense, next parliamentary election there's high chance of russian parties gaining majority. particularly the change of the
electoral system introduced. half elected proportional and half single member first -- opposed system. don't have to have ph.d. in political science when you have fractionalized pro western right and strongly consolidated pro-russian left, that party is a front runner. in that sense russia, russian forces are frontrunners in the next election. add up other instances of soft power influence in moldova, media, church and ngo sector, creates a perfect storm for russia to turn moldova back towards russia because in 2009, after the so-called twitter revolution -- nothing to do with
twitter, about 100 subscribers at the time. moldova became pro -- agreement with the -- large chance, if not canceling with european union, too costly, high chance that moldova's integration would stall. seems to be perfect for putin. because from analytical point of view, moldovaen experts agree that russian are not interested in strongly integrated into the union and sponsored by russia. best case for kremlin would be a gray zone, no chance, no prospective of joining u.n. and especially nato. and not turned into russian sphere but remain in a gray zone
with increasingly low democratic standards. so impede moldova from joining the euroatlantic community. that's perfectly fine with russia without investing in having to spend money for that. how to implement this, relatively easy because how divided and volatile the political system is. by virtue of using russian media as the doctor was pointing out in the beginning, russian -- influence of russian media over the moldovan market is 60% to 70%. even though recently implemented a law against russian propaganda, it's half measure. political talk shows and news
from russia banned, not just russia ball the countries that have not signed transfrontier european charter. several european countries. but they have no broadcasting in moldova. that's a half measure as long as you have internet propaganda and propaganda through russian tvs through the entertainment channels, movies that also adds up to influence that russian is implementing. >> thank you very much. paul has -- everybody on this panel has -- we have a country represented that's nato member, a country represented in danger of a hot war, the most volatile country, and i think i'll be correct to say that paul will talk about two countries not often mentioned. almost overlooked as potential
casualties or targets. and that's kazakhstan and belarus. both extremely important for various reasons, paul's chapter is on kazakhstan, one of the chapters, and i asked him to cover belarus briefly. he very kindly agreed. as result, give him a little bit more time. >> try not to take too much of that. first of all thank aei for the ability to participate in this project and conference. found it enjoyable and pushed some of my assumptions about countries around russia's seems strange to lump kazakhstan or belarus with countries that are part of the west or made
strides to join the west in list of countries susceptible to russian meddling and intervention. belarus and kazakhstan are military allies of russia, core members of the euro -- union and part of the rusky mir. and kremlin needs them to stay that way. the eurasian union doesn't function very well and seen in both countries uptick of socioeconomic dishonest and
disconnect between the government and public. unrest in both countries. in kazakhstan it's taken a nationalist turn, unnerving for the kremlin. and economic problems exacerbated by the eurasian union and russia's economic slowdown is inhibiting countries from keeping up with social contracts. limited popular participation in decision making but basics of life guaranteed in belarus and higher standard of living each year in kazakhstan and both have had a difficult time keeping up of those issues. other thing that makes then similar. luca shanko of belarus and naz
ar bye have created political systems that depend on them. if either of them leave, more likely president of kazakhstan first. 78 in three months. what happens to the stability and government, what role does russia play in trying to ensure whoever comes next is in that pro-russian world view? there are internal pushes for reform in both countries, some put the distance in between russia and either. for belarus. urge everyone to read the chapters on belarus. i can't do justice to the nuance in here. goal is regime in place.
if that remains the case, likelihood of intervention is low. and has kept it stable but social contract is becoming much more difficult. belorussians say it's protectionism and russians, health. between two yooeurasian members not supposed to be happening. economic problems hurting belarus. burning through their cash reserves. government had to end subsidies. last year tried to implement unemployment tax of $230 for
anybody unemployed for six months or more annually and sparked protests in the country russia's response was urging a crackdown and said it was colored revolution instigated from the west. russia has the world view that any socioeconomic discontent in either of the two countries not seen as legitimately from the bottom-up but stoked from beyond. other thing about belarus is i think we have to highlight the difficulty that russia's annexation of crimea and war in eastern ukraine has put belarus in. it needs friendly relations with both countries. it's put it into a difficult
position. lukashenko has tried to become a mediator, it's a difficult process. but at the same time, effort at mediation has improved his standing in the west at time when he realizes he needs greater economic relations with the west and political relations with the west. belarus has removed visa restrictions for most western countries. you can stay five days without a visa. russia's response was passport controls again, making it not welcome. kremlin is clearly concerned about the softer line of belarus towards the west. fears it may be bulled closer and closer towards the west and has many tools to prevent this. one is information space. there are pro-kremlin websites and media outlets pushing
antiwestern narratives and pushing belorussian nationhood. warns against nationalism and color revolutions. former separatists are going around, lots of weapons lost in the ukraine conflict. that clearly is potential for people to move in. also a military that is inside belarus that looks generally towards russia. oriented towards russia. you have a population that has lived under the russian world view and narrative. there's a lot of efforts -- elite in the country is recognizing need to put space between it and russia and ease the economic problems of the country reaching out to china and the west but russia i think still is hopeful to use the population inside as well. kazakhstan, strategics is same
as belarus, keep the country stable and pro-regime person in power. as i said, nazarbayev is 77. kazakhstan defied expectations past 25 years. everybody thought could be unstable and ethnic tensions. neither happened because of him. careful of cultivating multiethnic image for kazakhstan. but border between russia and kazakhstan -- we talked about estonian border. this border is as large as u.s./canada border, slightly larger. majority of the russians in north of the country near that border. 1999/2000, russian stoked p
pro-separatist movement most of us forgot about. looking for and found kazak citizens who went to fight with the separatists in eastern ukraine. unnerving to the kazak government. when they come back to kazakhstan those people usually end up in jail. another aspect of this multiethnic vision of kazakhstan, it's being tested inside kazakhstan, in part because of russia's aggression in ukraine. president putin's questioning of kazak sovereignty. questioned if there was kazak nation or would have been without president naz arbuyev. and that's read as what happens after him. uptick in kazak nationalism. when you go to kazakhstan. 20 years ago, walk around
almonte, oftenad, it was russian speak. now more kazak on the streets. rural migration into the urban areas. cities more kazak than before and move in response for greater calls for kazak identity to move from cyrillic alphabet to latin. not well-received in russia. it's all about learning english, you need latin alphabet and typing on smartphone, easier to do it in latin. say it's nothing about russia but they protest a little bit too hard at times. you can clearly see this is in response to rising call for kazak nationality. and think the big question is,
will his successor be able to manage the rising kazak nationalism and the multiethnic -- still 24% of the country is russian. and how does that mix go? particularly because whoever kooms in after nazarbayev won't have lengthy time in office for legitimacy and not having economic standards rising like the last 15 years. other aspect briefly, if you go through the chapters, there's a lot of talk inside russia about instability emanating from central asia, islamic instability. i'm a central asianist, don't see a lot of islamic instability in kazakhstan. but it's like the russian media is creating scenarios for instability there if they need it down the road.
and even if there is instability in central asia, most likely from one of the weaker countries but kazakhstan is final bulwark with instability to south, afghanistan, dysfunctional tajikistan and more stability central asian states. so i think that is also a concern. if you read the chapters, mine and dmitri's, we go into that in more detail. encourage people to do that. >> thanks very much. thanks to the authors for sticking nicely to the time schedule so we have plenty of time for question and answers. recap. anything you ever wanted to know about russia policy towards baltics, ukraine, moldova, kazakhstan and belarus, this is the time and place. so we're open for questions. please. and wes, i wonder if you could keep track of raised hands so we
don't miss anybody. thanks. >> question for michael kaufman. could you talk about the proposals from the russian federation for peacekeeping force in ukraine, seems to be tentatively supported in kiev. and do they have a way to simmer down the conflict in ukraine? >> one at time or couple? >> one at time. then i don't have to write them down. peacekeeping profile. from russian perspective, fairly clever ploy. outmaneuver the ukrainians and u.n. and make a peacekeeping proposal themselves and it's focused on line of control. purpose is harden the line of control. freezes conflict in such a way that ukraine doesn't restore control up to its own border. russian proposal. and interested in modifying it and talking about modification negotiations. but point is to engage into
political process and set the agenda. but behind that proposal, never any russian intent for multinational peacekeeping force. that somehow cedes the occupied territories and returns them to ukraine control. not it. they were looking for political process to get around fact that minsk is a dead political agreement. and no way forward for russia to reduce cost and thought this would be a clever way forward. in principle you have to understand their concept of the peacekeeping force was meant to harden that line of control into what would be at best a permanent frozen conflict. ukraine reduce the likelihood it
would get territories back. many other conflicts like the post soviet space. that's part of the design. >> over there please. thanks. then you. >> good morning. two questions about russia/kazak relations. when president was -- in president trump, how was that received by the russian government? interpreted. and second question, somebody told me that president putin's recent -- to the federation, not mentioned at all. is that true and how do we interpret that? sign that like you mentioned, lesser interest in the union? thank you. >> there wasn't a whole lot of discussion in the russian media about nazarbayev's trip to washington. i think they tried to pretend it
wasn't happening. part of the message he gave -- and i think russia's war in ukraine has really put a lot of countries in very difficult position, including those oriented toward russia naturally simply because they don't want to pick sides. want the space and breathing room. i met with several people from that delegation. part of their message was they want to be mediator, somehow figure out way to play a helpful role. that was largely what the message was. another part of that message, i'll say it here, the message was to the trump administration and to congress because people were going up there, desire for the united states not to disengage. there's a sense that united states has disengaged from across the region.
but central asia is not part of the eastern partnership, it's an area that feels often neglected by the united states. and so there was urgent -- and europe as well. and there was urgent plea not to disengage from the region. we have afghanistan there, china's growing footprint there. that was part of the message as well. the -- on the eurasian union, i didn't notice that. but that might be because i didn't notice it. that's good thing. i'll have to reread it. because i hadn't noticed it wasn't in there. not a surprise. i mean he talks about the eurasian union every once in while but its biggest importance is symbolic rather than real importance. because i mentioned trade
dispute between belarus and kazakhstan. we've had border closure between kirgstan and kazakhstan this year. trade disputes between kazakhstan and russia over cheap russian products flooding kazakhstan since the eurasian union started. been a very unsuccessful, unhappy organization. and i think it's one where it's still important symbolically to the kremlin but doesn't seem to have the teeth it was supposed to have, response of putin to european union. >> we have a question here. thank you for being patient. >> hello. i wanted to know to what extent does putin believe that protests outside is driven by domestic discontent. you said anytime he sees
socialio political discontent, says it's foreign issue. is it to -- or rechannel negativity he may experience outside to the west? >> it's a question that everybody here could answer. anybody particularly of the country specialists you would like to address it to? >> me? >> paul. >> sure. russia is a top-down government. and it is a -- it's a government that does not see agency in the population. so it generally does not -- russian officials, particularly those with the security service mindset, all the people putin is listening to. technocrats still out there have
more nuance but in the kremlin they identify any bottom-up socio-economic discontent as nonlegitimate, something imposed or orchestrated from the outside, not something bubbling up from the bottom. i don't think there's anything we can do to change that. i think that is a conviction he and other people have. but it is i think going to be a problem in perennial friction between russia and the west because we see these movements as legitimate. they are usually arising from anger within society, discontent within society. we see that in our society, see it as legitimate in our society. but -- so we see it and expect it elsewhere. and think given the economic trajectory of many of these countries, going to see more and
more of it. potential for more tension between russia and the west and some of these countries is certainly there simply because this is not a phenomenon that governments can always control. >> if i may jump in, my view is different. think it's tough for us to really know what leadership in kremlin is truly thinking. and i truly think a lot of this presentation of popular and civil movements in civil society as being instigated by the west or paid off is frankly cynical propaganda on the part of the kremlin because they can't explain to their public and in the media that in fact the populations are dissatisfied and want a different way of life. then would have to extend that same explanation when there are protests in russia domestically. that's why it's easier to say youth that came out to support
navalny are paid by i don't know who, western powers or influenced organizations rather than there is real civic discontent in society. >> yes please. >> i'm from ukraine. a student here. my question is, ukrainian institute for future recently publiced their own report seeing challenges and opportunities in ukraine. one of the biggest issues when they talked to people about biggest threat to ukraine was corruption. would like to hear more about corruption. >> you sure? >> i am, as a future of the country. but to be honest, specifically we feel very discouraged and feel as youth almost depressed.
texts from people saying that dealing with everyday depression is awful. and don't see the coming election with strong anticorruption message or progress being made. see internal anticorruption measures butchered and killed and whatnot. is there any chance that western support -- there's more effort from the u.s. for support? >> michael. >> you're asking about one of the endemic challenges ukraine has faced ever since independence and breakup of the soviet union. one aspect has not changed. one feudal oligarchic system, own most of the economy and political parties are there to represent their interests and absence of rule of law. fish always rots from the head. i'm from ukraine too, earlier generation. without rule of law you have no
backbone for the state either, fundamentally, don't have processes to build on. been a long-running challenge. my personal view is that probably 2014 was the best chance ukraine was going to have to really make progress on these fundamental tectonic issues it struggled with since independence. and clearly expectations were a bit high. but ukraine is territory-wise largest and population doctor i can tell you from experience in united states, the west has done everything it can, but lot of the support and cajoling and prodding and lecturing ultimately does not translate all that much into progress and reforms in the ukraine political system. ukraine is incredibly effective at absorbing western aid and
political support and translating into nothing. it's not simply ukrainian talent. other countries have tremendous absorptive capacity for western resources. but i've seen pressure and money have effect. there's been progress in terms of civil society and bottom-up shift in national consciousness in ukraine. but i would also discourage you a bit from expecting any quick results. there's a lot naturally that you can do, but end of the day, after years of seeing the west trying and nudging ukraine along and cycles of recidivism, you're going to have to do it. learned one thing long time ago from d.c., west can't want it for ukraine more than ukraine want it's for itself. that's the reality of it.
i don't have answer for it. >> if i may pitch in for a second. you can't beat moldova with corruption. >> tough competition here on the panel. >> just to put in perspective, couple of years ago, nominally pro-european, pro-russia coalition in power embezzled over a billion dollars from bafrpgs. 12% of gdp, in context of u.s. or other country is mind boggling. major problem. destroying any potential for reform in these countries. one of the solutions that could help is something that european union is doing increasingly more effectively, political conditionality when it comes to aid and financial aid. u.s. has been slightly more reluctant to do that but catching up. and international vorgss like world bank and aye mf should
consider that. there's intercorruption component to the imf deal in ukraine and moldovans would like to see that as well. wee see the impact with the european. when imposing strong political conditionality, government, nominally pro-europe, has to abide. they're running on -- for external legitimacy. important for them, relations with european union and west in general. if you have strong political conditionality, benchmarks, very clear reforms to be taken, there is much more room for progress, as opposed to when you provide a blank check as as been the case in moldova and ukraine and to certain extent in georgia after
pro-western parties come to power. adept in exploiting geopolitical competition they're in almost to the point of blackmailing the west. don't give us money, we'll go to russia. that rhetoric and scenario is still there, very important for the western partners not to buy into this blackmail. >> very good. yes please. right here. >> thank you. european apartment liaison office. they were not case studies in the book itself but if i may ask, russian inroads in the balkans right now. bosnia herzegovina but also other ones if you're not familiar with. >> geographically you're probably closest. then whoever else.
mikhail first. >> we've seen the reports about the alleged coup attempts in soo estonia and trying to keep from joining the club and russian relations with the balkans run deep. very much a problem for us, for romania, myself and moldovans also, citizens of romania, we -- balkans, historically known as powder keg of europe and russian influence there is very important. now in attempt to undermine their pro-western ambitions, fee feels very much like trying to encircle eastern europe. you're i'm sure aware of russia having special relations with the governments in hungary and
czech republic. this feeling of encirclement is problematic. hopefully we've seen that attempt in macedonia failed, and hopefully serbia is able to withstand the pressure and deliver on its commitments and start actually meaningful negotiations toward joining the european union. because joining european union, for all its problems, european countries that managed to join the eu are by and large success stories. transformed economically and how the national government is run, institutions work. that's a long-term transformation for the balkans and also hopefully for georgia, moldova and ukraine. something we're interested in looking forward. because this ambiguity of being
neither with european union, neither pro-russia, in the russian area of integration creates a lot of room for instability. and it's very important to have a strategic choice. seems like balkan countries have made it. several countries already are nato members. croatia, albania, it's very important so the balkans are fully integrated into the you e euroatlantic community to add hope. >> even though selecting case studies in these countries on the front line of russia's influence, frankly we would have trouble finding a single country on the european continent today that hasn't faced russia's attempts to influence it, that
hasn't faced an effort to play a role in some big elections. over the last couple of years, every single significant election in european union, russian propaganda, cyberattempts, all at play. would be surprised to find a spot on the european map not facing this problem. >> michael? >> it's interesting soft theater for competition but competition is one where there's a lot of activity, not a lot of achievement. why? because it's low cost theater to play in. russian -- influence is different from countries in former soviet space or nato members. trying to reduce the attractiveness of liberal democracy as model and liberal institutions. not a target so much as broadly trying to shape perceptions in
the countries on the attractiveness of the european union on them. to reduce the demand for it basically. beyond that, some of the efforts playing out here, attempted assassination in montenegro, it's a complicated issue. as confrontation spirals out, there's a lot of sanction within russia for engagement of all sorts of activities. some clumsy. montenegro was not the a-team time of assassination, foolish ploy. but integration of nonstate actors in russia with agenda to -- russian security state. and balkans are amenable to those games. i don't see russia making particular gains. oftentimes look at russia and other powers, doing lots of
things. bureaucracies, see that, assume there's stuff happening there they need to counter. must be successful. we do lots of things and measure success by doing things. but balkans have a lot of absorptive potential for powers to do things. i think for russia it's more an area to stall and create problems. for the west, always trying to expand, integrate them. >> and just to add on to that. we can tie some of the activities of russia elsewhere in europe, stoking discontent and dysfunction in the european union, make it look not as attractive to some of the things you see in the balkans. also agree with michael. see a lot of activity and promises of loans but not seeing as much follow-through on the loans. looks active and potentially a problem, but i think russia
could be stretched. i think in some places it is trying to stoke dysfunction between different ethnic groups and states. trying to stoke problems with macedonia, on the verge of overcoming name issue and there's russian media heightening that. some of this is very dangerous. another thing, take it back to discussion about corruption. wunt countries with huge problems of corruption facilitate russian influence. footprint in energy, retail, banking in this region with russian companies coming in, some pushed by the center, some coming in because of opportunity. and i think this corruption angle provides a lot of opportunity for russia to expand its influence. if you move even outside of europe, you see in south africa,
jacob zooumma fell in large part because of scandal that had russian fingerprints all over it. seeing it much broader than just europe. >> any more questions? please. i think we'll make it last question and answer. >> given that this is more than likely putin's last term and that -- >> huge question. >> enormous. >> go on. >> effectively is there a possible -- any pressure inside the kremlin or russian state to see or to accomplish or find success in next six years in any of these theaters? does putin feel the need to wrap up or consolidate estonia or
european union before it looks like he has to pass off the baton to someone else. given so much of the russian state is centered around him at the moment? >> enormously interesting and complex question. let's try and answer it. i think everybody has a say. start with agnia. >> i think it's a big question. if it's putin's last term, i think only in name. likely remain in power in some form or another. that would be my thoughts aat least. i do believe he is trying to in a way crown his -- by the time it's over, 24 years in power, roughly. try to demonstrate his successes to the russian public as well and to the world. he essentially has created post
soviet russia. when we think of it now, modern day russia, whatever, it's really putin's creation. part of that of course has been effort to aggrandize its status in international arena and specifically trying to regain influence in the former soviet union and beyond. so i do think he will try to in a way -- again, package and maximize his achievements. but he's also treading a thin and dangerous line because frankly i think russia is overstretched in its capacities in all these different fronts and theaters. let's not forget syria. for now, nominally check the successes. yes destabilized these countries and we have frozen conflibts. other hand, haven't scored full
success. i think pushing forward would derail russia. pushing any theaters further could become dangerous for the russian federation. >> michael. >> great question. i agree that fading. he's a legacy figure, not running, statue, vladimir the first, recreated russia after the collapse of the soviet union. increasingly not controlling things so much but more interested in legacy and making sure the country is successfully positioned for a transition successor. heard from a number of russian officials that vision is by 2024 russia has to be ready for beginning of transition from personalized rule to something else. some of things in mind to do
that. but expect a tough competition for leadership and succession. that said, will that reflect foreign policy? not anything specific you can easily pull from that. but look at two things. one, really classical proposition from russia to united states and rest of the world that russia is a great power. maybe a weak great power but great power. they believe it's hereditary status. inherited from the soviet union, them from the russian empire, so on, so forth. key power in international system and whole goal has been to get other countries to recognize that russia is a great power. why? they believe in it but others have to believe in it too. argument has been if you recognize that russia is great power, you agree to what we believe great power gets,
special privileges. privileges we deserve are sphere of influence near abroad. primacy of security over other states bordering us, right to arbitration over other disputes. ukraine sit down with united states and france and handshake on it. >> yalta approach. >> absolutely. normandy approach is what they would see. them, france and england looking at what to do. but france and germany are not the great powers 100 years ago. not willing to have the conversation with map of ukraine and pen, you get this, we get that. call it here. this conversation can't happen. russians in stable with germany and france and unable to get things they want.
vladimir putin did show that united states had underestimated the power that russia had in international system, particularly military power. that's a fact. and capable of expeditionary operations is fact too. lot missed boat on internal balance and reform. in 2014 couldn't sell the story to united states. couldn't care less about russian military power. 2014, woke up, how long has this been here? didn't know they had all those things. and recently found out nuclear weapons too, who knows how long. and point being, going to see moves in key flanking theaters in middle east to drive home to united states and others that russia is great power, able to take on more. how much, i wouldn't take bets. maybe that's area we disagree. i think people continuously underestimate russia's ability
to sustain, both adventures abroad but also look, it's always weak but mythos is based on resilience. never as weak or strong as looks. don't want to place bets either side because can come up short. very hard to tell. on ukraine, one comment. i think ukraine is one particular area where moscow is not happy. not happy where they currently stand in terms of policies. long to medium term they think they have good cards and decent hand. but suspect after this month we'll see movements on ukraine again. i don't know if new political gambit to engage the europeans like the peacekeeping proposal is. because europeans love process. give them process they'll work on it, doesn't matter if it leads to nowhere.
i don't know if new campaign of unconventional warfare and state-sponsored terrorism. there's a tool kit left to do to ukraine, low cost, fairly low risk and could be consequential. i don't think they're happy and i suspect will be changes in coming here. >> briefly. >> i wouldn't be optimistic it's putin's last term. i have book from late 2000s saying there will be no third term, question mark. with benefit of hindsight, redundant. entering fifth term if you factor in de facto ruler for med ved yef. there's none. discredited. but successor, lot of people would miss the days of putin if
he were to take power. in that sense i think it's safe to say russia is going to become increasingly more conservative, try to be more resilient and wash stand the notion and try to build narrative it's a fortress under assault. resilience is incredible there. nevertheless, opportunities for conflicts to be solved around russia. if a saving face option and putin himself tried to solve -- conflict in 2003. didn't work out, wasn't acceptable to moldovans but perhaps there is hope some proposal would be acceptable. from where i stand in moldova limited optimism. >> i would echo. one thing i learned since 2014, being certain about anything in russia could -- might be a
mistake. so yes, we think this is putin's last term, but who knows. i think we also need to be a little bit humble and realize that whoever comes after putin might not be better, could even be worse. and just what happened in the u.k. just last week with the nerve agent, what happened with wagner and mercenaries in syria, all is troubling to me. all of that suggests there's a lot going on in russia we don't know about and we have this vision that putin is on the top playing chess and orchestrating everything, i'm not sure it's that easy. and i think it's not clear, i mean medvedyev is not a successor, sechin might not be, we don't know who is rising. but see security services and black operations people
increasing their power. who could be a successor? could be troubling. and my biggest concern about the immediate area around russia and also the middle east is that russia, if it was coming in and solving syria and making it better place, that's a positive thing. but it really doesn't seem to be coming in with this. trying to influence syria, but not ending horror of what syrian people have been under. not ending horror of people in eastern ukraine have been going under. my biggest concern is lot of this is flexing muscle, causing problems and not solving them. that's my biggest concern next six years. >> thanks for the question, it's a perfect conclusion to our discussion. thank you very much authors again for an excellent book. there are still some free copies