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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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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Putin’s foreign orientation under scruteny

By Nina Bachkatov

A series of Russian official declarations concerning the Kremlin’s foreign policy have been scrutinised by analysts convinced that the agenda and the content have been carefully timed. Especially when the messages are delivered by president Putin or his foreign minister Lavrov, at key moments of international and national scenes. And more importantly, that those declarations came just when Russia is preparing the new version of its Foreign Policy Concept. When it will be approved, the draft, along with the National Security Strategy endorsed this summer, will become a roadmap for the Foreign Ministry and other ministries and departments.

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EU-Russia: no Biden effect

By Nina Bachkatov

The last-minute proposal of German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron on the eve of the 24-25 June EU summit backfired, exposing the growing inability of Europeans to find a common foreign policy, notably with Russia. Their intent was noble; their method wrong. Their clumsy, and arrogant, attempt to extract a new framework for EU relations with Moscow was breaking all EU protocol rules, showing the limits of the much tutted “Franco-German couple” and the emotional dimension that still drives new members towards Russia. Continue reading “EU-Russia: no Biden effect”

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”