Loading...

‘There’s just something about Putinism,’ Analysts Reflect on Russia and US Foreign Policy

June 17, 2021 by Kate Michael
‘There’s just something about Putinism,’ Analysts Reflect on Russia and US Foreign Policy
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after his meeting with U.S President Joe Biden at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

WASHINGTON — The recent summit between U.S. President Biden and Russian President Putin has been hailed by both countries as an opportunity to reevaluate the nations’ relationship. While the three-hour conversation may not have inspired confidence toward ensuring stability, the meeting did reflect Russia’s ongoing importance to U.S. foreign policy.

“[Russia] doesn’t want stability and predictability,” said Kathryn E. Stoner at a panel convened by the research institution Brookings prior to the summit. Stoner, who recently published her book Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order, believes that, instead, the way Putin holds on to Russia’s influence is through its disruptive capacity. 

While Putin’s ambition is for Russia to be respected as a great power, Stoner believes that, traditionally, it wouldn’t be viewed as such. When power is considered in traditional terms, which she describes as “men, military, and money,” Russia may be “punching above its weight” with a mid-size population, spending about 1/10th of what the U.S. does on its military, and a GDP comparative to Canada instead of the world’s great global economies. 

“There are conflicting perceptions of power,” Stoner said. “Added up, Russia doesn’t look remarkable, and yet it has been [viewed that way] in traditional politics.” 

“There’s just something about Putinism,” Stoner offered, explaining that the usual way of thinking about power was too narrow when considering Russia’s unique tools, “power tools [that] can be tremendously disruptive depending on the situation.”

“There’s a lot inherent in the system, but the peculiarity about Putin is that he is a black-ops dirty-operations guy from the intel world,” agreed Fiona Hill, former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs. 

Hill said Putin has a “ruthlessness and aggression that make[s] Russia formidable,” in addition to illicit tools that Putin — and those he surrounds himself with — are willing to use to maintain their control. 

“We don’t need [talks with] Russia to be constructive, just not disruptive,” said Paul Poast, associate professor at the University of Chicago.

“Russia has a tendency to always play the heavy,” he warned. But Poast isn’t sure whether it’s truly Putin’s cult of personality or the culture of the Russian system that influences the country’s multi-dimensional and contextual use of power.

“Russia has always been a ‘good enough great power’,” Poast admitted. Though he believes it may be due to the nation’s geography that Russia projects more power than some other nations. “Russia is the only country that is both a European power and an East Asian power,” he said, adding that because of this, it is possible for Russia to project its power with a lower men, military, and monetary baseline than countries like the United States. 

In the age of fossil fuels, analysts suggested that Russia’s oil also makes it a weighty actor economically. 

Regardless of how Russia’s power is measured, the recent summit has shown that Russia and Putin do maintain influence and have been able to shape the post-Cold War international order despite numerous domestic challenges.

“Russia is the biggest threat to America in terms of breaking up American security and alliances,” Stoner said. “It’s a particular kind of system led by a particular kind of person.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Think Tanks

September 27, 2022
by Kate Michael
Pakistani Foreign Minister Praises Diplomacy but Blames ‘Great Polluters’ for Climate Catastrophe

WASHINGTON — After what he called “encouraging” talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari... Read More

WASHINGTON — After what he called “encouraging” talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari dealt harsh chastisements and warnings for the United States at the Wilson Center on Tuesday morning. Despite saying he was “pleasantly surprised and absolutely impressed” with... Read More

September 26, 2022
by Kate Michael
China Seeking Financial Self-Reliance, Developing Yuan as Monetary Pillar Equal to Dollar

WASHINGTON — Beijing, in an effort to assert its own influence and reconfiguration of the global financial order, is working... Read More

WASHINGTON — Beijing, in an effort to assert its own influence and reconfiguration of the global financial order, is working on long-term plans to decouple from the dollar, according to a new book introduced at the Wilson Center earlier this week.  In their new release, “China’s... Read More

August 18, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Report: US Watchful as EU Progresses With AI Policy

WASHINGTON — As the European Union moves ahead with its Artificial Intelligence Act, it’s time for American lawmakers to pay... Read More

WASHINGTON — As the European Union moves ahead with its Artificial Intelligence Act, it’s time for American lawmakers to pay attention to potential policies, said John Soroushian, a senior associate director at the Bipartisan Policy Center.  “It’s important to pay attention to the interaction of AI... Read More

July 27, 2022
by Kate Michael
Former Defense Secretary Esper Claims ‘One China a Complete Fallacy’

WASHINGTON — Fresh from a transatlantic delegation visit to Taiwan on behalf of the Atlantic Council and under the auspices... Read More

WASHINGTON — Fresh from a transatlantic delegation visit to Taiwan on behalf of the Atlantic Council and under the auspices of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is “increasingly worried about Chinese actions” and convinced that China may... Read More

June 23, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Reigniting Democracy Using the Internet

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was... Read More

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was the internet a mistake?” The question came about a half hour into a discussion about how the U.S. is inspiring a global effort to reignite the... Read More

June 13, 2022
by Eden Metzger
Study Suggests America’s Primary Election System Ripe for Reform

WASHINGTON — Political primaries are not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but it’s highly likely the founding... Read More

WASHINGTON — Political primaries are not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but it’s highly likely the founding fathers would have rejected them outright had anyone thought to suggest them at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Primaries came into being as a... Read More

News From The Well