.@gavinbwilde asked what I think about the US support for Russian civil society and opposition and whether it helps them or not. Indeed, would it not help US-Russia relations if US stopped its efforts to support "democracy building in Russia"? Thread.
First and by most it is crucial to define what Russian state sees as "foreign interference"- foreign support for election monitoring missions, financing of journalist investigations, support for legal work with politically repressed and imprisoned,financing of libraries that 1/11
do lectures on "freedom loving literature", inviting Russians to speak on certain conferences abroad? This list would definitely be long and ever more confusing and absurd since what is considered "interference" is redefined almost daily: moreover it is not universal, 2/11
what is okay for Sweden to sponsor is not okay for US or UK to support.
If the goal is to make Russia believe US is not longer interested in Russian domestic life, US government would need to ban all support for civil society in Russia and Russian citizens (!) no matter 3/11
where they live and require US private donors do the same; but that would not be enough. You will probably need to stop reacting officially on matters of political life in Russia as well: repressions, human rights violations of all forms.
It may satisfy some folks in Moscow 4/11
but you will still have those that need the US to "do bad things" for propaganda purposes - so they'll probably continue coming up with stuff anyway.
So, maybe you start treating Russia like it is Saudi Arabia.
Real questions though, would Russia be enough? 5/11
How about you then stop supporting civil society of Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan - let the Eurasian Union nations be free! Maybe some other key Russian partners as well? 6/11
BTW, it might make sense, moving in that direction to halt US-funded media that operates in Russian since it is also often viewed as a problem and "interference" - if not a "microphone-shaped gun".
There are plenty of people in Russia who might treat US movies and TV as 7/11
influence operations that promote harmful values and norms - should something be done here?
My point is it is highly unlikely that you could satisfy Kremlin's desire to limit what they consider "foreign interference". Moreover,I do not think that when NY Times quotes Navalny 8/11
this is "support for Russian opposition". Cause if there was foreign money supporting him, they would have definitely found it and we would have had dozens of criminal investigations. Are foreign grants for Memorial an interference in Russia affairs? Again, i don't see it 9/11
Same is the case with US money that is being used to buy condoms to stop the spread of HIV in the country.
Are there any US-based groups that sponsor openly or covertly operations that aim at a violent takeover of power in Russia? If so, please stop immediately.
Otherwise 10/11
I believe the support for civil society, increase of civil society engagement on international level is what helps preventing radical scenarios from taking place; it may or may not help deconfliction right now - but are a smart investment for the future. 11/11

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More from @ABarbashin

26 Aug
Interesting Timofeev analysis on why all Russian FP experts are realists (!) (of the ones that want to make it a career). Liberals, neo-marxists do exists but they are marginalized. He gives 4 reasons for the popularity of realism in Russia:
Realism is "real". No one doubts destructive nature of the human being. Only the strong survive, the weak must join the strong. IR is pure anarchy and only balancing with enough power helps.
Realism is simple. Survival, security, domination triumphs all. Economy is secondary for as long as it provides at least "good enough". Ideology is a feature of "information warfare". What the state does is irrelevant as long as it secures national interests.
Read 15 tweets
25 Aug
Russian Constitutional Court (CC) is turning 30 this year. What was it like? Any chance it could play a construction role? Thread.
Out of 13 judges elected in 1991, 3 - Gadis Gadzhiev, Yuri Rudkin and Valery Zorkin are still in the office today.
Over the years it heard over 400k appeals, issued dozens of thousands of rulings as well as 719 decisions regarding the constitutionality of laws and legal acts. CC played a crucial role in 2020 constitutional amendments
As a result CC was granted powers that other higher courts do not enjoy: it can now examine allegations of non-enforcement of Russia’s various international treaties and decisions of international courts
Read 11 tweets
18 Aug
Alexei Chesnakov, a political technologist often associated with Vladislav Surkov gives his rundown on how the Kremlin destroyed Navalny movement. He lists six major narratives against Navalny and his movement
1. Foreign influence
Navalny and his team work in the interests of foreign powers, including foreign intelligences; are linked to "toxic" personalities like @Billbrowder and @McFaul (as defined by the Kremlin); call for sanctions against Russia; are foreign funded
2. Ethics
Have no right to call for protests while remaining outside of the country ("they are cynical"); use donations for personal enrichment;
Read 10 tweets
16 Aug
The #Taliban has reached #Kabul. Why is #Moscow so calm?
Great explainer from @IvanUlisesKK for @RiddleRussia
1. Before Taliban took over in 1996, Russia was actively supplying anti-Taliban coalition since 1995. In 2021 Russia did no such thing, Taliban takeover was accepted as given.
2. The views towards Afghanistan have not drastically changed - its civil war is a source of instability
3. Difference is that in late 1990s Central Asia was a mess: civil war in Tajikistan, Ferghana valley "time bomb", general economic despair.
4. Central Asian states are viewed as adequate states now instead of poorly governed territories in the aftermath of USSR collapse
Read 7 tweets
16 Aug
Arkady Dubnov, one of the leading Russian regional experts on how Russia sees #Taliban and what comes next in #Afghanistan. 8 key points.
1. Ruling regime was too corrupt and too far from ordinary afghans; relied only on $$$ support and foreign military;
2. Taliban survived because of Pakistani help and endorsement. It's most crucial military units were based in Pakistan. Taliban will now be returning favors to Islamabad.
3. Taliban has to be euphoric now: they made US understand that this war is pointless. This euphoria might be clouding their judgement at the moment.
However, their goal is legitimacy. They will now try to convince the world they are not barbaric murderers.
Read 9 tweets
12 Aug
Had a fun talk (link below) with Vladislav Inozemtsev and Vasily Zharkov about #sanctions, Russia - West relations and the role sanctions play in Russian domestic opposition discourse. #Belarus & #sanctions theme was also mentioned. Few key points and arguments:
Inozemtsev: sanctions or not West can't change Russian regime; no sanctions whatsoever can kick Putin out of Kremlin; Russia is simply too strong to be coerced by sanctions (It's not Yugoslavia);
Sanctions need to be fast - in order to work, they can't be anticipated
Western sanctions policy towards Russia is careful, moderate and cautious. $$$ matters.
Sanctions are a feature of solidarity with UA and affirmation of Euro-Atlantic unity. NS2 sanctions was a weird story from day one;
As long as Putin does not escalate (considerably) no new
Read 11 tweets

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