From its annexation of Crimea and the Kerch Strait to its continued support of the Assad regime in Syria, Russia has become more assertive in reestablishing its influence on the global stage. The international community is faced with the challenge of countering Putin’s aggression, and USIP is committed to developing a new portfolio to analyze and recommend policies for addressing Russia’s expansion ambitions.
The courageous return to Russia and arrest of Alexei Navalny opened a new phase in the opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s rule. Not only were the ensuing demonstrations the largest and most widespread since 2011-2012, but the opposition also showed itself to be more daring, aggressive and creative. The authorities responded with arrests of organizers and activists throughout the country and recently detained 200 elected local officials and others gathered at a conference in Moscow to discuss municipal self-government. The run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for September will be the next opportunity for the opposition to show its strength.
Five years into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, understanding Moscow’s endgame could provide critical insights into the decade-long conflict’s trajectory, as well as Russia’s posture in the Middle East and beyond. Although still evolving and subject to internal debates, Moscow’s Syria strategy appears to be centered on a “spheres of influence” model. In this model, Syria is divided into distinct realms under the sway of competing external patrons.
Russia was rocked by demonstrations over the weekend, as thousands braved freezing temperatures to protest the detention of dissident Alexei Navalny. The opposition leader had just returned to Russia after recovering from a poisoning attack, suspected to undertaken by the Kremlin. But Russians’ grievances go well beyond the treatment of Navalny. Corruption, a foundering economy, and dissatisfaction with the ruling elite threaten to propel the protests into a broader movement against President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The Kremlin has alleged that the protests are a Western plot to destabilize Russia. USIP’s Donald Jensen looks at the underlying factors driving the protests, what threat they pose to Putin’s regime, and what, if any, role the United States can play.
The U.S. Institute of Peace’s Office of Strategic Stability and Security was established in 2020 to provide research and analysis on the growing impact of global powers on peace and stability. Housing USIP’s Russia program, and with plans to work closely with the Institute’s China program, the office convenes experts and local actors to develop an understanding of how the reemergence of major power competition is shaping the prospects for peace—with a special focus on Ukraine.