Former Austrian FM to lead Russian think tank

Former Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl is set to lead a new think tank in Russia

Former Austrian FM to lead Russian think tank

Former Austrian FM to lead Russian think tank

Karin Kneissl is set to head a new institute focused on West Asia and energy issues

Former Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl is set to lead a new Russian think tank, the Geopolitical Observatory for Russia’s Key Issues (GORKI). The research institute has been established as a division of St. Petersburg State University and will focus on West Asia studies and energy issues.

The GORKI think tank was unveiled at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday, with Kneissl herself and senior members of the university present at the event.

“Today, all decisions in the global economy should be based on a deep and professional analysis of the international situation, so I am very glad that such a center was opened at the St. Petersburg State University, we have all the necessary intellectual resources for such work,” said Nikolai Kropachev, the rector of the university.

Currently, the think tank brings together more than 20 leading experts in the field. Apart from the former Austrian minister, other members include the head of French Geopragma Caroline Galacteros, Norwegian political scientist Glenn Diesen, as well as multiple leading Russian scientists.

The think tank is set to hold its first seminars in October, Kneissl said, adding that she was “looking forward” to them. GORKI is expected to become a welcome addition to Russia’s intellectual arsenal, particularly at a time when the country is undergoing a “turn to the East,” said Viktor Titov, the deputy head of the think tank and a deputy dean of the economics faculty at the university.

Kneissl, Austria’s top diplomat between 2017 and 2019, is well known for her close ties with Russia – and the country’s President Vladimir Putin in particular. Putin made a surprise appearance at her wedding in 2018 and danced with her in front of the cameras. The occurrence ended up being widely publicized, while the diplomat’s critics condemned it as an instance of ‘Russian meddling’ in Austria’s affairs.

In 2021 and 2022, the former minister was also on the board of Russia’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft, but resigned shortly after the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out. Kneissl has also been a long-time contributor at RT, writing opinion pieces on Russia’s relations with the West and other issues.