Vladimir the African

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

On 23-24 October, President Putin opens the first Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi as part of the Russia-Africa summit. More than 50 African heads of state have been invited, which is why it was described as the signal of Russia’s return to Africa. Continue reading “Vladimir the African”

Strange elections in Russia

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Analysts continue to scrutinise the message send by Russian voters during the municipal and regional elections of 8 September to identify the winners and the losers. The sad fact is, probably, that despite the defeat of many candidates campaigning under the banner of United Russia, few liberal opponents won, and that despite big demonstrations the turnover was low. Many “independent” candidates were members of United Russia who did not need instructions from the top to make the switch, beeing too well aware that the label was a kiss of the death. Continue reading “Strange elections in Russia”

A full reintegration, a half success

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The return of Russia to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is not the Russian victory declared by those who opposed the measure. It was an act of pragmatism by the Assembly that means nothing in terms of rapprochement between Russia and EU, the latter being a body totally separated from the Council of Europe. Continue reading “A full reintegration, a half success”

A well-timed interview

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

On 28 June, the Financial Times published an interview of President Putin that has been much commentated upon. For the newspaper, it was a demonstration of journalistic strategy bearing in mind the time and energy it takes to organise an interview with the Russian president. For Vladimir Putin, it was an opportunity to put things straight a few hours before the G 20 summit where, since 2014’s Ukraine adventures, he has been treated by his Western partners as an isolated man presiding over a pariah nation. Continue reading “A well-timed interview”

Victory that cannot be shared anymore

By Nina Bachkatov & Andrew Wilson

For years now, the allies of the second world war are unable to celebrate a common victory over Nazism. This is especially true in the West where the former enemy and invader (Germany) is now at the core of the Western alliance; while the former ally, the USSR, or its successors, is no longer mentionable. That was especially evident during this year’s celebrations of D-Day, with the aggravating factor that while the Western allies were rewriting history in Plymouth and Normandy, presidents Putin and Xi were preparing the future in Moscow. Continue reading “Victory that cannot be shared anymore”

The strange reaction of the Kremlin

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The ill-inspired reaction of Vladimir Putin to the election of Volodymyr Zelensky will not help the future Ukrainian president to give the impulse to better relations with Russia that he promised during his campaign. Instead of keeping the low profile adopted during the electoral campaign, mostly for lack of candidates to support, the Kremlin unwisely decided to test the newly elected president on its own terms. Continue reading “The strange reaction of the Kremlin”

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?”

New social lenses for president Putin

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The 20 February state-of-the-nation address by President Putin focused on domestic policy, notably social issues. This reflects the change of mood among the population. Vladimir Putin of course gave a place to questions of security and defence, but without the emphasis of previous years. He even called for more dialogue with the EU. But he has evidently understood that Russians want more than military glory and successful interventions abroad, even if they value the international importance of their country. They simply want a better life in a more equal society. Continue reading “New social lenses for president Putin”

Disputed islands

By Nina Bachkatov & Andrew Wilson

Once again, hopes for a solution to the disputed Kurils Islands during a Russia-Japan meeting did not materialise as public opinions are still not ready to accept a compromise. On 22 January, in Moscow, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Russian president Vladimir Putin tried to solve the last unsettled row of WWII. The meeting failed to do so, but participants expressed a mutual desire to continue economic and cultural cooperation. Continue reading “Disputed islands”

Swimming or sinking in the Azov sea

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Many “friends of Ukraine” support the latest shows of authority by President Poroshenko. But they are also at pain to understand where he wants to go, as he looks growingly a man ready to grab a crocodile to escape a buffalo. Continue reading “Swimming or sinking in the Azov sea”