A Year in Review: Russia’s Passive Year Ends Without Closure

09 Jan 2018

(EDM) In practical terms, Russia has not yet begun 2018—the country awakes from its traditional holiday vacation only on Tuesday (January 9). That said, Russians’ common reflection on the year past can easily be summed up with “Good riddance!” By almost any measure, 2017 was not particularly successful for Russia, but at least the country muddled through it without any major disasters. In fact, Moscow’s behavior on the international arena was surprisingly passive, especially compared to its aggression against Ukraine in 2014, the intervention in Syria in 2015, and the not-so-subtle interference in the United States’ elections in 2016. The much-anticipated Zapad 2017 military exercises were carefully curtailed and did not bring any lasting spike in political tensions in the Baltic region (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 28, 2017). The ceasefire in the Donbas war zone in eastern Ukraine recovered despite numerous violations, and the exchange of prisoners in late December was definitely a welcome development (Kommersant, December 28, 2017). The unprecedented decision of the International Olympic Committee to punish Russia for covering up its large-scale, state-run doping program angered many professional “patriots.” But President Vladimir Putin opted to swallow that insult and allowed Russian athletes (qualified as “clean”) to partake in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games under a neutral Olympics flag (New Times, December 25, 2017). [...]

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