Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

The Real Costs Of Russia's Ukraine War

November 30, 2022  •  The Hill

How costly has the war in Ukraine been for Russia? Since the start of the conflict in February, a great deal of analysis has focused on the impact of Western sanctions on Russia's ailing economy, as well as on the practical consequences of what has become a veritable exodus of international firms from the country. Left largely unanswered, though, has been the question of how much the Kremlin itself has committed to the fight. We now have a sense of the answer, thanks to Forbes Ukraine. According to recent analysis published by the financial magazine, Russia has spent some $82 billion dollars in the nine months since the start of its war against Ukraine. Specifically, according to data culled by Forbes from Ukrainian military estimates, Moscow has allocated nearly $29 billion to support for its army, spent close to $16 billion on soldiers' salaries, and expended more than $9 billion to pay off the families of servicemen killed in combat. Another $7.7 billion has gone to support the families of those wounded in the war, while the Russian army's massive losses of military equipment on Ukrainian soil have cost the state almost $21 billion more. What does that mean, in practical terms? As Forbes points out, Russia's budget revenue last year amounted to $340 billion. In other words, the Kremlin has spent roughly a quarter of its total 2021 earnings to nurture Russian President Vladimir Putin's neo-imperial fantasies.

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Russia's African Profile Is Receding... At Least For Now

November 11, 2022  •  Al Hurra Digital

When it comes to regional position, a few short months can make a big difference. It's a lesson that Russia is learning the hard way. Earlier this year, the Kremlin was giving every sign of being a permanent player in the unfolding geopolitics of Africa, with a growing paramilitary presence throughout the continent and an increasingly prominent diplomatic profile in assorted regional capitals. Today, however, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and its catastrophic stumbles there, the Kremlin's footprint in Africa is being revised downward.

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Suddenly, A More Sober European Turn On Iran

November 7, 2022  •  Newsweek

Is Europe finally waking up to the true nature of the Iranian regime? For decades, European officials have been the most ardent proponents of engagement with the Islamic Republic, believing that trade and diplomacy would help moderate Tehran's rogue behavior. Over the past couple of years, this has taken the form of feverish advocacy in favor of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the West—a foreign policy priority that the Biden administration shares. Yet recent days have seen something of an about-face from Brussels, where attitudes toward Iran seem to be hardening amid a growing recognition of Iran's deeply problematic policies at home and abroad.

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Putin's War Is Deepening Russia's Religious Divide

October 10, 2022  •  Newsweek

More than seven months on, Russia's sputtering war effort in Ukraine is causing major problems for Vladimir Putin. Russia's strongman president has attempted to compensate through a series of policy decisions—including a "partial mobilization" of the Russian population, stage-managed referendums in four Ukrainian regions, and nuclear bluster directed at the West—intended to shore up his eroding position. But the particulars of Putin's plan run the risk of creating major domestic problems. Putin's mobilization drive is a massively unpopular endeavor, and has prompted a veritable exodus of Russians, numbering nearly three-quarters of a million people, since it was announced in late September. But it is also exacerbating sectarian cleavages within Russia itself—namely, between the country's Slavic majority and its swelling Muslim underclass.

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Iran Plots An Eastern Exit

September 27, 2022  •  Al Hurra Digital

Iran's turn to the East is accelerating. As long-running talks with the United States over a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal falter, and amid worries in Tehran that an independent Israeli military option might indeed be on the table, the Islamic Republic is stepping up its strategic "Plan B" – and looking further eastward for both security and prosperity. Earlier this month, at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Iranian officials formally signed a "Memorandum of Obligations," kicking off a year long process for their country to become the strategic bloc's newest member. If all goes well, the Islamic Republic will be inducted into the SCO as a full-fledged member at next year's summit in New Delhi, India. For Iran, the occasion marked the culmination of a long-running lobbying effort.

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Books by Ilan Berman

Cover of Iran's Deadly Ambition Cover of Implosion Cover of Winning the Long War Cover of Tehran Rising

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