Sanctions, actions, counter actions

By Nina Bachkatov

Unsurprisingly, the EU ministers of foreign affairs meeting on 22 February have given the green light for freezing the assets and banning entry of four officials of the Russian police and justice they consider responsible for the “unacceptable treatment” of Alexei Navalny. In October, the EU had sanctioned 6 individuals and one entity for their alleged participation in the poisoning of the opponent. And each 6 months since 2014, it has been prolonging sanctions taken to punish Russia for its Ukrainian adventures. Continue reading “Sanctions, actions, counter actions”

A bumpy road for EU-Russia relations

By Nina Bachkatov

The 5-6 February meeting, in Moscow, between Josep Borrell, the EU Commission Hight representative and Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has opened an unparallel crisis in the rocky relation between Moscow and Brussels. Ups and downs have been part of that relation since the end of the Cold War. But, even at the most difficult moments, the partners would never have indulged in the stream of emotion that followed this extravagant meeting. The deluge of sharp, undiplomatic, declarations reduce the chances to step into a normalisation process in the short time. It would involve a capacity, and a will, to take the risk of being confronted with charges of being sold to the other, or of accepting a humiliating defeat. Continue reading “A bumpy road for EU-Russia relations”

Fights and counterattacks in Russia

By Nina Bachkatov

The film of Alexei Navalny about Putin’s Palace had an unexpected bonus – the shares of Abrau-Durso jumped 10% on the Moscow Stock exchange after president Putin mentioned his interests for winemaking. They lost 3% the day after. This would be anectodical in another country, including the West where the choice of a coat by the wife of the president can make, or kill, the career of a couturier. But, in Russia, at this particular moment, it shows the extreme personalisation of power – and counterpower. Continue reading “Fights and counterattacks in Russia”

Navalny and Putin, the double challenge

By Nina Bachkatov

The latest episode concerning Alexei Navalny’s return to Moscow came on 18 January, when his lawyer tweeted that the City Court of Khimki decided to detain him for a month. He is accused of “systematic failure” to respect a 2014 tribunal decision giving him a suspended sentence under the condition that he would report twice a month to the police. Continue reading “Navalny and Putin, the double challenge”

Russian diplomacy and the lessons of 2020

By Nina Bachkatov

Recent international events have offered Russian diplomacy a source of inspiration it might have lacked otherwise. While the Kremlin was pretty much in a reactive drive, not without success as demonstrated in South Caucasus, it found in those events a new impulse towards its decades-old objective – to force the international community to recognise that Russia is not only back, but back as a global actor. Continue reading “Russian diplomacy and the lessons of 2020”

A dangerous semi-settlement in South Caucasus

By Nina Bachkatov

The military operations in South Caucasus have ended with the signature of a cease-fire by Azerbaijan and Armenia, under Russia’s auspices. The agreement provided for the deployment of 2.000 Russian peacekeepers in and around Nagorno-Karabakh; and the exchange of prisoners on the basis of an all-for-all formula. But to say that peace returned with the suspension of the military offensive is wishful thinking. Continue reading “A dangerous semi-settlement in South Caucasus”

The religious touch in Belarus

By Nina Bachkatov

Since August, Belarus looks like a ‘semi-frozen’ conflict zone. The country is deeply divided, between resilient but resolute opposition, rigid and brutal authorities, competition between opponents who are in exile and those who stayed in the country. In consequence, a political vacuum had developed that is calling for foreign and national troublemakers to step in. Continue reading “The religious touch in Belarus”

Obama’s message to Russia

By Nina Bachkatov

The book of former American president Obama, “A promised land” is a publisher’s dream, selling millions of copies through the world, at a moment when the foreign policy of his former vice-president, now elected president Biden, is everyone guess. Notably about Washington’s future relation with Moscow. Continue reading “Obama’s message to Russia”

Post-Trump Russia

By Nina Bachkatov

President Putin did not follow many world leaders, including Europeans, who rushed to congratulate American elected president Joe Biden. Russia, and China, have decided to play the legalist card, waiting for the publication of official results. Doing so, both countries wanted to profile themselves as international players who are a class in their own. Regularly accused of “managing” their elections and infringing human rights, they were in their view, contrary to the preachers of democracy, showing respect for voters’ choices. Continue reading “Post-Trump Russia”

The enduring myth of coloured revolutions

By Nina Bachkatov

Events in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan prompted references to “coloured revolutions”, an expression forged in 2003 when the first peaceful “revolution”, in Georgia, replaced the old guard inherited from the Soviet period by a new Western trained generation. A year later, the same pattern was used in Ukraine, then in Kyrgyzstan in 2005. Continue reading “The enduring myth of coloured revolutions”