Wednesday, 25 February 2015

New Chatham House Paper by Dr. Richard Connolly - Troubled Times: Stagnation, Sanctions and the Prospects for Economic Reform in Russia


  • Russia’s economic performance has been weakening for several years. The simultaneous fall in the price of oil and the Ukraine crisis have merely exacerbated pre-existing tendencies.
  • The combination of stagnant GDP growth and lower oil prices threatens to reduce federal government revenues, but spending commitments are likely to prove hard to trim.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Why Peace in Ukraine Won’t Save the Russian Economy


Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande’s push for peace in Moscow has helped fuel optimism about the prospects for Russia’s spluttering economy. On the morning of the meeting, the rouble had strengthened against the dollar and the euro, and both the dollar and rouble-based sections of the Russian stock exchange saw sharp gains.

Unfortunately for those in the Kremlin, however, Russia’s economic woes are so deep-rooted that peace in Ukraine is likely to offer only temporary respite at best.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Seminar: Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership

Location: University of Birmingham, Muirhead Tower Room 121
Date: Tuesday 17th February 2015 (18:00-19:30)
Contact: events@fpc.org.uk

Speakers:
Rt Hon John Spellar MP, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister (Labour)

James Carver MEP, European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (UKIP)

Dr Kataryna Wolczuk, Reader in Politics and International Studies,  CREES, University of Birmingham

Dr Rilka Dragneva-Lewers, Senior Lecturer, CREES, University of Birmingham

Dr Kevork Oskanian, Research Fellow, CREES, University of Birmingham

Chair: Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Friday, 23 January 2015

Putin's Plan to Fight Recession in Russia also Increases Kremlin's Control of the Economy


The Russian rouble started 2015 in much the same way it finished 2014: badly. After losing nearly 50% of its dollar value between July and the end of the year, the rouble lost a further 7% in January. The primary cause of this continued decline is the falling price of oil: Brent crude has dropped from US$53 dollars per barrel at year end to just under US$48 per barrel, a decline of nearly 10% for the year so far.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Playwright, Prisoner and President: the Life of Vaclav Havel

A review of Michael Zantovsky, Havel: a Life, London: Atlantic Books (2014)

By Tim Haughton

You only really appreciate someone when they have left. The death of Vaclav Havel in December 2011 provoked a week of mourning, warm and generous words from his political foes, and for many ‘perhaps a rediscovery’ of the man who had played so many different roles in his life: playwright, political prisoner and president (p. 14). Michael Zantovsky’s outstanding new biography published a quarter of a century after the Velvet Revolution swept away the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, provides a colourful, well-written and perceptive account of the life, work and impact of Vaclav Havel.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Putin Meets the Press – as State takes Tighter Grip of Economy


Vladimir Putin has delivered his annual press conference and at the top of the agenda was the Russian economy, reflecting that the turmoil buffeting the Russian rouble has reached critical levels.

After a steady depreciation over recent months, the rouble reached an all-time low on December 16. The country is on the verge of a recession as a result of falling oil prices and the impact of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Long Shadows of War: The Aftermath and Legacies of Conflicts in Europe


This year is full of poignant anniversaries; none more so than the outbreak of the First World War. Whilst the century of the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ has focused attention on the causes of the conflict, as the contributions to the forthcoming edited volume, Aftermath: Legacies and Memories of War in Europe, 1918-1945-1989 highlight, the sight of poppies in the first half of November should also give us pause to reflect on the long shadows cast by that war.