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Russia Is A Marginal Power

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  • Russia's Nuclear Power

    Clip: Edward Lucas and Robert Blackwill disagree on whether Russia could be considered a marginal power considering their nuclear weapon capabilities.

  • Is Russia geopolitically important?

    Clip: Ian Bremmer argues that the behavior of the United States shows that Russia is not taken seriously as a world power. Robert Blackwill counters with evidence that the international community pays Russia special attention.

Debate Details

Disarming Syria. Asylum for Edward Snowden. Arming Iran. Deploying troops to Crimea. Is Vladimir Putin flexing his muscles, while our own president fades into the background of world politics, or is it all a global game of smoke and mirrors? Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and has the power of veto on the U.N. Security Council, but it remains an authoritarian state, rife with corruption and economic struggles. Is our toxic relationship something to worry about, or is Putin’s Russia fading in importance?

The Debaters

For the motion

Ian Bremmer

Founder and President, Eurasia Group

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm, and president of GZERO... Read More

Edward Lucas

Senior Editor, The Economist

Edward Lucas is the international section editor at The Economist, the world’s foremost newsweekly, where he has covered the central and east European... Read More

Against the motion

Amb. Robert D. Blackwill

Fmr. Deputy National Security Adviser under Pres. George W. Bush

Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was deputy... Read More

Peter Hitchens

Columnist, Mail on Sunday & Fmr. Moscow Correspondent, Daily Express

Peter Hitchens, an author and journalist, is currently a columnist for the London Mail on Sunday. He also publishes a blog on current affairs and... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Seizing Ukraine will only isolate Russia further, exacerbating the problems it already faces.
  • Russia's economy has stagnated and its reliance on energy revenue—around half of Russia's total budget revenue comes from oil and gas—leaves it vulnerable.
  • According to a Credit Suisse study, Russia has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, apart from small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires. 35% of Russia's wealth is owned by 110 people, while 93% of the population is worth less than $10,000.
  • Poor public health has led to a shrinking population.
Against The Motion
  • Russia has 8,500 to 10,000 nuclear warheads and is actively working to replace aging devices and modernize its delivery systems.
  • Russia's influence in key regions—the Middle East, Asia, former Soviet republics—cannot be dismissed. Its power to veto on the U.N. Security Council means that Russia can and has blocked international action on many key issues.
  • It is a country rich in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. Gazprom controls nearly 1/5 of the world's gas reserves and currently supplies 30% of Europe's gas.

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The Research

The Research

Assailing U.S. and Kiev, Putin Keeps Open Option of Force

Steven Lee Myers
March 4, 2014

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia broke his silence over the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday for the first time since it boiled over into a possible armed confrontation, asserting that he saw no reason for Russian forces to intervene in eastern Ukraine at the moment but leaving open the possibility of military action.

Russia Still Matters: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration

John Parker and Michael Kofman
March 1, 2013

Russia will not cease to be important to U.S. policymakers and American geopolitical interests for a number of reasons.

Russia's 21st Century Malaise in Five Grim Charts

Brian Bremner
November 19, 2013

The recent economic news out of Russia has been unremittingly awful, and the longer-term future doesn’t look much brighter.

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