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Conceivable Surprises

Eleven Possible Turns in Russia’s Foreign Policy

SWP Research Paper 2016/RP 10, 04.10.2016, 78 Seiten Forschungsgebiete

Russia’s foreign policy has taken numerous unexpected turns in recent years, from annexation of Crimea to military intervention in Syria. The element of surprise for Germany and the EU arises out of a mix of lack of political transparency in Russia, Western misperceptions and the Kremlin’s deliberate instrumentalisation of unpredictability.

In order to expand analytical thinking about Russian foreign policy and improve preparedness for future events, this scenario study based on scientific research describes eleven possible situations that could potentially unfold in the coming years. Four fields of Russian policy are considered: EU member states; other regions; internet, energy and security; and Eurasia.

Without seeking to be exhaustive, the contributions reflect “conceivable surprises” that could present great challenges and even dangers for Germany and Europe, but could also offer possibilities for closer cooperation. Applying their academic expertise, the authors reveal existing trends and extrapolate them into the future. The described situations are not simply made up, of course, but are based on existing structures and developments. Rather than seeking to predict the future, or specifics event, the study surveys “possible futures”.


Sabine Fischer / Margarete Klein
Introduction: Conceivable Surprises in Russian Foreign Policy
S. 5

Liana Fix / Ronja Kempin
Far-right Victory in Paris: The Kremlin and the French Elections
S. 13

Susan Stewart
Russia Launches a Multifaceted Campaign to Discredit Germany
S. 18

Dušan Reljic
Russia Gives Serbia the Choice: Satellite or Bargaining Chip
S. 25

Alexandra Sakaki
Breakthrough in the Kuril Islands Dispute between Japan and Russia
S. 30

Azadeh Zamirirad
Russia Replaces the United States as Iraq’s Security Partner
S. 35

Marcel Dickow
EurasiaNet – How They Split the Internet
S. 43

Oliver Meier
Russia Withdraws from Nuclear Arms Control
S. 47

Kirsten Westphal
Gazprom Loses Its Export Monopoly
S. 52

Sebastian Schiek
Confrontation in Russia’s Backyard: Intervention in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan
S. 59

Franziska Smolnik
“Republic of Ossetia-Alania”: North and South Ossetia Unify in the Russian Federation
S. 64

Sabine Fischer / Margarete Klein
Russia after the Duma Elections: Reformist Government and Nationalist Foreign Policy
S. 72