Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Russia's Most Powerful Think Tank?

Small does not necessarily mean weak in the think tank world.  For a perfect example of this, we can turn to the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), which the Moscow Times has just profiled.  Here is more.

The chances are that any company gunning for a piece of that market will at some point come into contact with the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, or CAST, a for-profit think tank.
CAST is best known for its bimonthly magazines Eksport Vooruzheniy (Arms Exports), which is published in Russian, the English-language Moscow Defense Brief, and Periscope, a Russian-language media digest. But CAST also does market analysis and "miscellaneous defense crap that brings in money," according to its founder, Ruslan Pukhov.
CAST has been around for 17 years — an impressive stint for any Russian company, let alone in the defense industry, which is dominated by the state and plagued by occasional bouts of spy mania.
It does not exist in isolation — Russia has plenty of military analysts and people studying its arms industry — but CAST stands out among its competitors like a pirate at a forex trader convention.
This is partly due to its founder's personality: In a field dominated by heavy-jowled, ponderous men and soft-spoken military nerds, Pukhov is known for his rapier wit and, unofficially, the ability to deliver analysis using expletives.
An ironic message is displayed on CAST's website: "We don't sell weapons :) (although we have been asked to, on occasion)." You would hardly expect to see this on the website of the Institute of Global Security Problems in Moscow or even SIPRI.
But more importantly, CAST is a rare example of a privately owned — and thriving — company in a field populated by state institutes and think tanks affiliated with various governmental agencies and state-run corporations.

An English version of the CAST website can be found here.

According to the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, Russia has 122 think tanks.  Russia's top rated think tank is the Carnegie Moscow Center, which is rated as the 18th best non-US think tank in the world.

After that comes the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, which was ranked as the 46th best non-US think tank in the world.  Ranked as the third best think tank in Russia is the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, ranked as 82nd best non-US think tank in the world.  Ranked as the fourth best think tank in Russia is Moscow State Institute of International Relations, ranked as 85th best non-US think tank in the world.

Here is an article on the rise and fall of Russia's economic think tanks.