The Intractable Drivers of Russian Foreign Policy and Strategic Divergence in Eastern Europe

This event will take place on the 15th of March, at 4 p.m, Council Room, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work (Schitu Măgureanu. nr.9) , sector 5, Bucharest.

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There is a particularly tight intertwining of domestic and foreign policy variables under Mr. Putin. In the domestic realm the closest analogy one may find is in literature, particularly in the books of the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez who so effectively used the literary device of magical realism. In literature, magical realism combines elements of the rational with the fantastic to create a powerful image and convey a deep message. In current Russian politics, we see something similar, which we may call Political Magical Realism (PMR). PMR also conveys a message and entices the practitioner to believe in its effectiveness by dazzling the population, but in politics, in fact, it results in the stark avoidance of dealing with fundamental problems, including current or pending crises. PMR also means trying perennially to keep Putinism aloft on toxic fantasies, and this requires various elements to be employed from the toolbox of dictatorship. Invariably, PMR operates under the arc of bombastic nationalism and a claim of defending the nation against foreign threats. Moreover, Mr. Putin needs constant foreign policy successes. There is no master plan or even a cohesive strategy but at best a Weltanschauung. Yet, this is an invitation to constant tension in Russia’s international interactions, particularly in Eastern Europe, where even limited transactional relations are made difficult. Russia, moreover, is engaging in a massive military buildup in the region and continues to fuel tensions in Ukraine and other areas. In years to come, the Eastern European members of NATO are likely to be increasingly tested.

Afis ICUB 15 martie 2018


Aurel Braun is a Professor of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Toronto. He was recently a Visiting Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University for three years (2012-2015). Currently he is a
Center Associate of the Davis Center at Harvard University. Also, he is a senior member of the Centre for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and of the Centre for International Studies, and a Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. Professor Braun has twice been appointed a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In March 2009, the Canadian Federal Cabinet via a Governor-in-Council appointment made Professor Braun the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy) for a three-year term. In December 2012 Professor Braun was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for services to Canada and for academic distinction by the Governor-General of Canada.

Professor Braun has published extensively on communist affairs and strategic studies with a special focus on the problems of the transformation of the socialist systems in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. He is also a specialist in international law. He is the author and/or editor of several books. These include: NATO-Russia Relations in the 21st Century (Routledge, UK and worldwide, 2008); Dilemmas of Transition (Boulder Co. and London, U.K., Fall 1999); The Extreme Right: Freedom and Security At Risk (Westview Press, Boulder, CO and London, UK, 1997);  The Soviet-East European Relationship in the Gorbachev Era:  The Prospects for Adaptation (Westview Press, Boulder, CO and London, UK, 1990); The Middle East in Global Strategy (Westview Press, Boulder CO & London and Mansell Publishing, London, UK, 1987); Small State Security in the Balkans (Macmillan, London, UK, 1983); Ceausescu:  The Problems of Power (Canadian Institute of International Affairs, Toronto, 1980); Romanian Foreign Policy Since 1965:  The Political and Military Limits of Autonomy (Praeger, NY, 1978). Professor Braun has written more than 50 scholarly articles and has contributed more than two dozen chapters to collections of scholarly works.  The scholarly journals include Orbis, Problems of Communism, Millennium, International Journal, American Political Science Review, Europe’s World and Sudosteuropa. Many of his articles have been translated and published in Japan. His project on “The Russian Diaspora and the Prospect for Large-Scale Violence” was published by The Council on Foreign Relations, NY. He is currently writing a book based on the CFR project. He is also writing a book on Russia, the West and Arctic Security.

During the past two decades, Professor Braun has lectured widely in Canada, United States, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austria and Norway. He is the winner of the PECSU Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Toronto. He organized three major international conferences at the University of Toronto in 1985, 1987 and 1996, and one in Ottawa in 2005. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic studies, the Canadian Political Science Association and several other professional organizations.  He has appeared frequently on national television and radio. He contributes often to national newspapers. He has been asked to testify several times before parliamentary committees in Ottawa. He has also participated in the Congressional Program in the United States under the auspices of the Aspen Institute. Professor Braun received his Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics (London, England). He is a Canadian citizen.

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