Despite a large-scale visit by the Croatian leadership to Russia, we shouldn’t expect breakthroughs in bilateral collaboration, or to see Croatia turn into a close Russian ally. Sanctions, falling oil prices, and long-term stagnation in both countries can’t be overcome by presidential meetings, and real economic ties between the two countries are still modest.
For all its bellicose talk and new sanctions against Nicolás Maduro’s government, the Trump administration has been oddly silent about Russia’s role, perhaps preferring not to draw attention to the fact that Moscow is now the bankrupt nation’s lender of last resort.
Russia’s renewed activism isn’t about dictating events in particular corners of the world. It is about exploiting opportunities to undermine and hollow out the U.S.-led international order, with its norms of economic openness, democratic accountability and the rule of law.