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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Putin and Biden discussing European security

By Nina Bachkatov

In many aspects, the 7th December videoconference between presidents Putin and Bidden was an extraordinary event. First, there was the use of the video and the decision to give only a few minutes to the cameras. This brief moment of publicity has been scripted to the extreme, to project not only a person, but a political regime. The problem is that the message has been perceived differently in each “camp”, exposing the still huge gaps of understanding between them. There was president Biden, with a team of close counselors, sitting around a business-like table, in a sort of conference’s hall. On the other side, president Putin was sitting alone at the end of a huge empty desk, in a dark paneled room fitted with equipment showing their age.

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Another gas crisis between Russia and Moldova

By Nina Bachkatov 

The latest “gas crisis” between Russia’s and Moldova’s energy companies has offered a good opportunity to measure the evolution of Moscow’s energy diplomacy. The formulation of the final agreement, published after days of bilateral discussions, says a lot. It speaks of an agreement “meeting the interests of both Russia and Moldova” and “showing to Europe and the entire world that Gazprom can come to terms and offer mutually beneficial conditions to its partners”.  In short, better with us that against us. 

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Energy’s latest chapter of EU-Russia relations

By Nina Bachkatov

The present global energy crisis might offer an opportunity for EU and Russian to move towards a softer dialogue after years of tensions, during which gas has been an increasing element of distrust, among many others. Progress will require to move away from mutual accusation of blackmail and of weaponing energy, and a radical change of mindset from two partners entrenched in a zero-sum game.

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