Dmitry Trenin's Talk at UC Moscow Conference

Dear UC Fellows,

We are sharing Dmitry Trenin’s opening remarks and the first part of his Q&А session from our Moscow conference. The podcast is 14 minutes long, but provides many thought-provoking claims! We have decided to give this material to you, to comment, develop, and challenge or support what was said.

If you’re interested, we’d like to hear your responses to this- perhaps two to four paragraphs in length. You can focus on one argument Trenin makes or discuss the talk as a whole. What strikes you and why? What do you agree with, and why? What you disagree with, and why? We will collect your responses, put them together into a report-type publication, and publish them on our website and possibly on our partner websites (anonymously or under your name, as you wish).

We believe at the end of this project we may have a very interesting intergenerational (you and Dr Trenin) as well as interregional (among yourselves) discussion captured and published.


Listen to the podcast here


  • The current state of relation is not a crisis. The crisis happened in 2014; what we have now is no longer one
  • Building dialogue and rethinking dividing lines belong to a chapter of mutual relations which has closed
  • There is not a common platform for dialogue, as Western ideas of the international order are normative and thus non-negotiable, while the Russian one is based on negotiation between relevant actors
  • The confrontation will last a long time and can only be resolved by profound changes on both sides
  • Facing the upsurge in nationalism, the US will have to re-engage with various powers rather than keep fighting for a universal order led entirely by them
  • The course of Russian foreign policy is largely unchallenged within the Russian establishment and there is general approval for Kremlin policies
  • The power transition (in Russia) on the horizon opens space to rethink and review the country’s needs going forward
  • Some achievements of Russian foreign policy from the last 35 years which need to be preserved:
    • external security has been achieved, external challenges are not worrying, and the least worrying of them is NATO
    • Russia’s international status has been restored
  • How sustainable is Russian security? The relevant threat actually the sustainability of Russian security in the face of internal challenges
    • Military strength alone does not guarantee stability against such challenges; the Soviet Union collapsed when the Red Army was nominally at its peak and without a shot being fired
  • Russia needs to ask how sustainable is it’s status in the face of economic, financial, and technological realities?
  • Foreign policy should refocus on new issues in the economic and technological sphere, which require cooperation. Without this, the abovementioned achievements of the Putin era might be endangered.
    • To begin with, Russia should focus on strengthening its national identity and on those external relationships which are underperforming, especially with the EU, India, and Japan
    • Improving these relationships would mean ruling out future involvement in the domestic politics of European countries, as this tactic has never worked
  • “Unfortunately we have an elite which lacks a sense of duty, and essentially is focused on their own little things. We don't have, truly, a national union... even in the sense that the Soviet Union had one, or the Russian Empire had one, and that I think is the cardinal weakness of the present Russian Federation. In my view the way the Russian Federation is organized is not sustainable.”