Vladimir Putin’s constitutional charge

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

He has been often accused of dragging Russia into a Brezhnev style stagnation. But, at 67, Vladimir Putin shows he can also strike quickly. On 15 January, during his annual address to Parliament, the Russian president took everyone by surprise when he announced sweeping changes to the Constitution intended to revolution the power system in Russia. Continue reading “Vladimir Putin’s constitutional charge”

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”

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”

Sochi: another step towards a Syrian resolution

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The main success of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress held on 30 January in Sochi is that it existed. Up to the last moment, Russian diplomats and experts doubted that the Congress would attract enough Syrian delegates to be credible. There was fears that it might be cancelled for a third time. Continue reading “Sochi: another step towards a Syrian resolution”

Misha’s paradoxical end

By Andrew Wilson and Nina Bachkatov

President Putin wanted to ‘hang Mikheil Saakashvili by the balls’; president Poroshenko declared him stateless – a more classical way to get rid of a trouble maker, a charade for the West and an indirect success for Moscow. Continue reading “Misha’s paradoxical end”

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?”