Competition in the Arctic

By Nina Bachkatov

Russia seized upon the incident in the Suez Canal to remember the world that it exists another shipping route between Asia and the European continent – along its northern coast. It diplomatically stated the Arctic route as “a complement, not a rival, nor an alternative” to Suez. In the present tense relation between Russia and the West, with China’s growing assertiveness in the background, this shipping route, entirely on Russian territory, was added to the long list of “Russian threats” to the “free world”. Paradoxically, the opening of a complete Northern sea route would result from the global warming that international cooperation is supposed to fight and the consequent acceleration of Northern seas’ melting – not from Kremlin’s plots. Continue reading “Competition in the Arctic”

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”

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”

President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Finally, the members of the Normandy Four format will hold their first meeting since 2016 with the intention to create the necessary conditions for peace to return in the Donbass where rebels, backed by Moscow, are still confronting the Ukrainian army and hoping for a political solution. Continue reading “President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge”

International and national start for president Zelensky

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Since his election, Ukrainian president Zelensky had to live with the government and parliament inherited from his predecessor. But he was the president, a power he used to reassure Ukraine’s allies, and made himself better known by foreign partners, showing that his country had a place in the ongoing global world and was not just a punching ball between Russia and the West. Continue reading “International and national start for president Zelensky”

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”

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”