Strange victory day in Moscow

Nina Bachkatov

The address of president Putin during the 9 May Victory Parade on Red square was shorter than usual. The number of men and equipment was reduced by 30%compared to previous years; seats on the side of Lenin’s Mausoleum, traditionally packed with foreign diplomats and officials, were sparsely occupied. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, had anticipated unpleasant questions by announcing that no invitations had been sent to former allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, nor to Germany or Japan, because it was not an even date, just the 77 th anniversary; and that the event will be scaled down. The surprise was not so much about what Putin said, but what he didn’t.

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The orphans of Vladimir Zhirinovsky

Nina Bachkatov

The picture of President Putin dropping the traditional red carnations on the coffin of Vladimir Zhirinovsky might look like another episode of contemporary Russia’s charade. But the death, on 6 April, of the 75-year-old ultranationalist, leaves a hole in the political landscape that has been built in Russia during the last 30 years. Zherenovsky’s latest speech at the Duma, in December 2022, has been so extravagant, even by his standards, that it was received as another sign of his mental decline. It included his description of 2022 as “a year when Russia finally becomes great once again, and everyone has to shut up and respect our country”.

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Ukraine, the diplomatic dilemnas

Nina Bachkatov

On 24 March, a month after Russian forces crossed Ukrainian borders, president Bidden was in Brussels for meetings of EU, NATO and G7. Members were due to reinforce the united front against president Putin by agreeing to deliver more military aide for Ukraine, to enlarge sanctions against Russia, and to adopt a strategic “compass” that will guide Western powers in their relations with Russia. A country now perceived as a threat to almost everything that matters in the West. Participants were moved by the video address of the Ukrainian president calling for more Western efforts, and new sanctions more radical than those they were prepared to launch. But the representatives of the 3 institutions that gathered for two days in Brussels have been rallying around the idea once popular among Cold warriors minded milieux – that Putin does not want to destroy Ukraine, but all the democratic world.

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President Zelensky’s communicator limits

Nina Bachkatov

Ukrainian president Zelensky is a master in communication, tuning his messages according to the receiver, national or international, while hammering the same existential message –  that the survival of Ukraine is threatened and that he needs foreign aid to allow his citizens to save it. He has multiplied live video addresses to different Western parliaments ahead of their sessions, whose agenda already included measures to back Ukraine and to deter president Putin. In each case, his speeches were skillfully carved to string national fibers, from salute to Churchill to that of the American president as leader of the world.

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As the Ukrainian crisis is unfolding

By Nina Bachkatov

It is impossible to compete with the flow of information, reports on the spot and inside analysis covering the multilayered dimension of Ukraine’s invasion by Russian armed forces. But some elements are worth to mention at this stage.

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Kiev, EU and Washington confronting Moscow

By Nina Bachkatov

President Macron’s initiative has not been without Franco-French electoral calculation, and a gallic sense of grandeur. Nobody expected much more than keeping the dialogue ongoing and agreeing on further steps towards a settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. But his visit to the Kremlin has managed to put key questions back to the top of the agenda: Does the West want to solve the Russo-Ukrainian crisis for the sake of Ukrainians? Does it want to do so for reasserting the Transatlantic link after the Kabul unilateral abandon? Does it want to restate the central role of American presence to guarantee the European continent security? And finally, the vital question about the best way to manage that security – with, without, or against Russia?

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Kazakhstan: the multivector diplomacy’s boomerang

By Nina Bachkatov

The intervention by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) has been declared “mission accomplished”. Kazakhstan’s President Tokaev has reinforced his grip on power at the cost of his predecessor’s circles, thanks to a division of work between CSTO forces securizing military installations and official buildings, and national forces restoring public order. Tokaev took the lesson that even Kazakhstanis revulsed by the brutality of rioters share the frustration and anger of the demonstrators. Hence his call on businessmen and rich people to contribute a National Fund to share prosperity with the majority who did not benefit from their country’s development. 

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