After a decade in prison you look at time differently, says Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The former Russian oligarch, whom President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly pardoned in December, is visiting Washington this week, sharing his thoughts with people who knew him back in Moscow -- before prison, before his Yukos Oil Co. was dismantled, before he lost his estimated fortune of $15 billion.
"To understand voting in Russia, it helps to have a literary turn of mind, an appreciation of the Kafkaesque lengths to which the authorities will go to constrain the opposition," writes Jill Dougherty.
"Russians have come to depend on their belief in Putin as much as he depends on their support. Instead of serving as a source of stability, as it did in the past, this mutual dependence is driving Russia toward political and economic isolation – with serious consequences for ordinary Russians’ livelihoods," writes Maxim Trudolyubov.
"Obama needs to lay out in precise terms the conditions that could lead Washington to consider a change in its Russian sanctions policy. Otherwise, the EU may use Obama’s U.N. speech as an opportunity to reconsider its current sanctions — to the clear detriment of U.S. business and national security interests," writes Will Pomeranz.
"So what is Mr. Putin up to, my American friends and colleagues keep asking. He is, quite simply, bent on preserving and expanding his personal and Russia’s international power...the methodology in his playbook is constant and ruthless." writes Maxim Trudolyubov.
"I think what he feels is that this is a way for him to boost his domestic economy. He really feels that he can go it alone," says Jill Dougherty about Vladimir Putin's reaction to new western sanctions against Russia.
"By the time Ukraine’s leaders are ready to make the politically tough choices that could restore stability in the East, and achieve an understanding with Russia, they will be in a far worse bargaining position than when the Anti-Terrorist Operation began in June," writes Michael Kofman.
"As Russia continues to set the agenda on Ukraine and the West continues to implement the same ineffective strategy, Ukrainians feel increasing abandoned," writes Alina Polyakova.
"When you look at ISIS, it's in at least two countries - you have it in Iraq and you have it in Syria - and that complicates exactly how you can go against them and deteriorate their ability to carry out terrorist acts. You have to have countries in the region who support this (campaign against ISIS). It can't be a west against this group (ISIS), it has to be other countries and especially countries from that region," says Jill Dougherty.
Putin believes that Russian sovereignty can be best protected by its growing isolation. However, his fundamental misunderstanding of how the post-imperial, post-World War Two international system works has already created serious economic consequences in Russia, writes William E. Pomeranz.
Experts & Staff
- Matthew Rojansky // Director, Kennan Institute
- William E. Pomeranz // Deputy Director, Kennan Institute
- F. Joseph Dresen // Program Associate
- Mary Elizabeth Malinkin // Program Associate
- Izabella Tabarovsky // Manager for Regional Engagement
- Mattison Brady // Program Assistant
- Emma Dorst // Program Assistant
- Blair A. Ruble // Vice President for Programs; Director, Urban Sustainability Laboratory; and Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute
- Kateryna Smagliy // Director, Kennan Institute in Ukraine
- Nina Rozhanovskaya // Coordinator and Academic Liaison in Russia