All Articles (99)

The American “deep state” continued a vigorous pushback against President Trump’s declared intention to re-set relations with Russia. Regular leaks of classified information by administration and intelligence officials sustained media reports of Russian “meddling” in US elections, revealed fired FBI chief James Comey’s internal memos and exposed contacts of senior Trump campaign officials with Russia.The administration struggled to counter this nexus of political, intelligence and media…

Following on the visit of the EU High Representative to Moscow (April 24; see Review, April 2017), there were major Russian interactions with Germany (May 2), Italy (May 17) and France (May 29) during the month. The emphasis in all these exchanges was on political and economic re-engagement.

Though Western economic sanctions and financing restrictions on Russia remain in place, all three countries noted significant increase in bilateral trade and investment. Russia’s bilateral trade…

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Moscow (April 27), barely four months after President Putin’s visit to Japan in December 2016, underlined the continued momentum in Russia-Japan relations. The two leaders noted significant events since their last meeting, including the strategic dialogue, the “2+2” Defence and Foreign Ministers’ meeting and the inter-governmental commission implementing priority projects of economic cooperation (see Review, December 2016). Japanese companies…
An international conference on Afghanistan hosted by Russia on April 14 was attended by representatives of India, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, Iran, Pakistan and China. The United States was conspicuous by its absence. 
 
The conference expressed support for the Afghan government’s peace and reconciliation efforts. It appealed to the Taliban to abandon force and to contribute to national reconciliation through direct dialogue with the government. As…
The US missile strike in Syria drastically disrupted the Russian game plan in Syria, including the fragile ceasefire brokered with Turkey and Iran and the “Astana process” of intra-Syrian dialogue. These developments had been helped by Trump campaign assertions, which instilled circumspection in various rebel groups and their sponsors. The about-turn from campaign positions released the groups from their caution. Turkey welcomed the US strike; President Erdogan got a further boost from a…

As part of an intensifying engagement of European Union with Russia over the past few months, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini visited Moscow on April 24. At her meeting and joint press conference with Russian FM Lavrov, both acknowledged continuing differences over Ukraine, Crimea and the chemical attacks in Syria, but emphasized a growing canvas of cooperation, including the recently re-commenced counter-terrorism dialogue, cooperation in the Arctic and interactions in…

As described in our March review, US Secretary of State Tillerson “re-set” the Trump line on Ukraine at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting on March 31, by supporting NATO sanctions and demanding Russian withdrawal from Crimea. However, the United States also moved to signal to Ukraine that this should not be seen as an opening to slacken on implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The US Ambassador to Ukraine warned Ukraine bluntly (April 6, in a speech on US policy towards Ukraine) that…
The US Air Force strikes (59 Tomahawk missiles) on Syria’s Al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province on April 7 diverted US-Russia relations into a rockier course than even in the last months of the Obama Administration. The strikes were in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in a Syrian government airstrike (April 4) in Idlib province, which was apparently launched from Al-Shayrat base. 
 
President Putin’s spokesman immediately termed it as a…

The Russian economy has recorded positive growth since the third quarter of 2016 and is expected to grow 1-1.5% in 2017 and 1-2% in 2018 & 2019, as per projections of IMF and the Russian Central Bank. The Central Bank announced a reduction in key lending rate to 9.75% from 10%, reacting to a fall in inflation to 4.3%.

International rating agency S&P upgraded Russia’s sovereign rating from stable to positive, while Moody’s upgraded it from negative to stable, on the basis of…

There has been a flurry of India-Russia bilateral activity, in preparation for the Annual Summit, scheduled for early June, in the setting of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.


Foreign Secretary Jaishankar had bilateral consultations in Moscow on political and strategic issues, as well as cooperation in BRICS. His meetings with two Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers and with President Putin’s top foreign policy advisor Ushakov were reported to have cleared the air on…

Russia – and, personally, President Putin – remains involved in an intricate exercise to reconcile the multiple conflicting interests in the tortuous path to an endgame in Syria.


The US-Russia-Turkey Generals’ meeting mentioned above illustrated some convergence of US-Russian perspectives on Syria, but major US-Turkey and Russia-Turkey divergences may be opening up. This was illustrated by the tense standoff outside the northern Aleppo town of Manbij, which had been occupied by…

An extraordinary drama played out in the US Congressional hearings, accompanied by some sensational media reporting, about alleged Russian “meddling” in the US Presidential elections, “inappropriate” dealings of senior Trump campaign staff with Russian diplomats in Washington and “manipulation” of American public opinion by Russian media. The hearings were dominated by simplistic analyses and partisan posturing.

The drama looks set to continue, with former NSA Flynn, former Trump…

India-Russia high-level interactions in February appeared to have assuaged apprehensions of significant divergence in strategic and security perspectives of the two countries. These apprehensions developed from the growth of Russia-Pakistan relations, Russia’s reported interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the joint military drills barely a week after the Uri terrorist attack and a perceived Russia-China-Pakistan axis for promoting Taliban’s interests in…

As political debate rages in the US about the Trump Administration’s approach on Russia and his enigmatic remarks on the trans-Atlantic relationship, there have been some perceptible changes in the tone of Europe’s recent engagement with Russia. Discussions on resuming economic contacts have commenced (though somewhat low-key).

The unease in large parts of Europe over EU’s current hard line posture on Russia had so far been suppressed by firm American pressure – which President Obama…

Russia continued to be intensively involved in both the military operations and the political process in Syria, carefully navigating between the conflicting interests of the various parties involved. The assault on the ISIS-held Al Bab was an example. Turkish forces, along with the rebel group Free Syrian Army, and the Syrian forces were both separately pushing ahead to re-capture this strategic town. Russia was involved in a coordination mechanism to avoid clashes between these forces.…

The passing away of Russian Ambassador to India, Alexander “Sasha” Kadakin, on January 26, removed from the canvas of the India-Russia relationship a staunch friend of India and a strong votary of the strategic partnership. He held various diplomatic positions in the Russian Embassy in Delhi at various stages in the India-Russia relationship, clocking a total of about 20 years in India. He had therefore an acute understanding of India’s political structures and bureaucratic procedures. As a…

The Russia-Turkey-Iran initiative for talks in the Kazakh capital Astana between the various stakeholders in the Syrian crisis on January 23 and 24 ended with some agreement between the three sponsors to sustain the fragile ceasefire. Under the agreement, a trilateral monitoring group would be set up to enforce the ceasefire. Further details are yet to be worked out. The statement expressed the joint determination to fight the Islamic State, though Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was not…

Russian Deputy PM Rogozin led a Russian delegation to the Vibrant Gujarat exposition (January 9-11), in which a number of large Russian companies and two Russian regions participated. Reports mentioned new areas of cooperation were discussed, like diamond-processing, dairy and smart cities.

The significant meeting, however, was that of DPM Rogozin with PM Modi (January 9), particularly in the backdrop of revelations about the Russian engagement with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the…

The outgoing Obama Administration whipped up an anti-Russia fervour in USA by declaring new sanctions against Russia on December 30 and then ordering the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from USA. This was a response to the alleged Russian interference in the US Presidential elections through hacking and other means. A Congressional hearing was hastily arranged, in which Administration officials claimed to have incontrovertible evidence of Russian culpability (and that of President Putin…

About the Author

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.