President Zelensky trapped in Washington intrigues

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For the second time since the surprise election of Donald Trump, the fight between the Democrats and president Trump is being fought in Ukraine. First, the Muller inquiry put its teeth into the business of Paul Manafort, briefly member of Trump’s campaign team, who made millions in Ukraine, including by orchestrating the election campaign of “pro-Russian” Yanukovich who defeated “pro-Western” Yushchenko. Continue reading “President Zelensky trapped in Washington intrigues”

Geopolitical election in Ukraine

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

If someone is tempted to ignore we are living in a fudgy post-Cold war atmosphere, suffices to look at Ukraine’s presidential elections. Those have been turned into a geopolitical game by outsiders, but also by the candidates. Part of that singularity is linked to the country’s war condition, but only part. Continue reading “Geopolitical election in Ukraine”

Crimea for ever?

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Celebrations in Crimea lasted 4 full days and included a visit of president Putin. In Moscow, there were a few flags, but no official celebrations. Seemingly, the Kremlin wants to show that Crimea is just another member of the Federation, no more no less. Continue reading “Crimea for ever?”

Dangerous failures of Humint

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Recent revelations by American media show once again how the lack of proper human intelligence concerning Russia and Russians plays a central role in the world’s growing tension and lack of trust. Continue reading “Dangerous failures of Humint”

A strange summit in Helsinki

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Vladimir Putin has always wanted to appear to the world as an “equal partner” of the American president. But he never forgets that there are three partners in this tango – the two presidents, and American public opinion. Continue reading “A strange summit in Helsinki”

The Syrian imbroglio – Putin’s cautious reaction to Western bombs

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The Western intervention in Syria tested the “new” Vladimir Putin – between his reelection and inauguration. He seems much the same person, preparing for the next stage of political developments while not controlling fully the existing situation. There was not much he could have done to prevent the Western intervention. After the diatribes of president Trump, Russia raised the red flag on various fronts with declarations by a few generals, by the foreign minister and some ambassadors, by a few political figures, and by Putin himself – all making the expected statements, each in their roles. Continue reading “The Syrian imbroglio – Putin’s cautious reaction to Western bombs”

Putin strange address to the Nation

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

By any standards, the annual Address to Parliament delivered by President Putin on 1 of March was unusual, by the content and the form. The Address is one of the three public presidential high moments, with the end of the year press conference and the “meeting with the nation”. It is an opportunity for the president to present his track record and his projects. In an electoral period, everyone expected the 2018 edition to be different. But nobody was prepared for so much emphasis on military issues, in a high-tech décor including a projection full of military hardware and explosions, delivered by a president adopting a tone of voice remembering his intervention at the 2007 Munich Conference which stunned the West by its violence. Continue reading “Putin strange address to the Nation”

Syria and Russia trapped by Assad?

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The US missile strike on the Syrian base of Shayrat has given Moscow its first real lesson about the personality and leadership of President Trump. The strike fulfils Russians’ worst fears by showing that:

(1) Trump is versatile. One day he hints that President Assad might be used as an interlocutor in finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict; the next day he rushes to a dramatic military response to an irresponsible chemical attack on civilians. Continue reading “Syria and Russia trapped by Assad?”

Ukraine – In the Trump era

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Once again, attention is fixed on Ukraine, for both domestic and international reasons. On 29 January, heavy fighting broke out in Eastern Ukraine, around the government-controlled industrial town of Avdiivka and separatist-controlled railway hub of Yasynuvata. The rupture of the December ceasefire, which killed more than 30 people, can reignite the whole Donetsk region. But this time, the international dimension is paramount, thanks to the election in America of president Donald Trump – as well as uncertainty about impending elections in countries of the European Union and the course of the Brexit negotiations. Continue reading “Ukraine – In the Trump era”