With the Russian patriarch and prime minister both holding big meetings abroad, this weekend presents a chance for President Vladimir Putin to soothe a world still stunned by Moscow's aggression in Ukraine and dismayed by its bombing campaign in Syria.
The United States has struggled in the post-Soviet era to define a durable framework for its relations with Central Asian states. Initially, securing the Soviet Union’s nuclear legacy was the main focus of US policy. Then, after 9/11, policy was shaped by Washington’s need for Central Asian support for US military operations in Afghanistan.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a ban on Muslim non-citizens from entering the United States. But that stance does not seem to influence his desire to earn money from business opportunities in predominantly Muslim countries.
Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, US-Russian relations repeatedly have been hit by surprise developments. In just the last couple of years, unexpected events have included Edward Snowden’s leaks, Crimea, Donbas, Syria, the Russian Metrojet tragedy and the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24. The list could go on.
France's surprise embrace of Russia in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris has raised concerns across the former Soviet bloc that Moscow wants to leverage the fight against Islamic extremists in Syria to secure Western concessions over Ukraine.
It would be prudent in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks for the United States and Russia to find ways to overcome strategic differences and wage a joint fight against Islamic State militants. But the level of distrust is such that bilateral relations seem more likely to get frostier before any thaw can occur.
The number of new U.S. asylum applications by Russians has reached its highest level in more than two decades, a surge that immigration lawyers link to the Kremlin's tightening grip on politics, pervasive corruption, and discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.
One afternoon in late August, members of Tajikistan’s last real opposition party turned up at the Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel for a news conference, intending to discuss the latest wave of government intimidation they were facing.