Putin dots his I’s

By Nina Bachkatov

In less than a week, the possibility of a war in Ukraine evaporated even if the protagonists continue to feed mutual anxiousness. The Kremlin has used the latest crisis to hammer the message which has been constant during almost two decades: 1/ Russia is a world leader and has to be treated as such; 2/ Russia’s internal affairs are nobody’s business. Continue reading “Putin dots his I’s”

The endless debate about EU-Russia relations

By Nina Bachkatov

With the European Council of 25-26 March in sight, reports and proposals about Russia-EU relations have been piling up, creating the impression that something new were brewing. In fact, most of those texts attest that, despite ups and downs, the fundamentals of those relations did not change much during the two last decades: both ‘partners’ still need to adjust to each other, without wishful thinking or bitterness, and doing so open their mind to really new formula. At the light of past crisis all pretty predictable. Continue reading “The endless debate about EU-Russia relations”

Navalny and Putin, the double challenge

By Nina Bachkatov

The latest episode concerning Alexei Navalny’s return to Moscow came on 18 January, when his lawyer tweeted that the City Court of Khimki decided to detain him for a month. He is accused of “systematic failure” to respect a 2014 tribunal decision giving him a suspended sentence under the condition that he would report twice a month to the police. Continue reading “Navalny and Putin, the double challenge”

Belarus – Armenia dilemnas

By Nina Bachkatov

With all eyes on Belarus, the latest eruption of violence in the Caucasus came as a shock. But, in fact, both crises were highly predictable due to internal and geopolitical complexities. At least they sent a strong signal to the West about the importance of geography and history over ideology. They highlight the danger of reducing the world affairs to a simplistic opposition between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces. Continue reading “Belarus – Armenia dilemnas”

Different dates, same politic

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

If Vladimir Putin wanted to vindicate those who accuse him of hijacking the celebrations of 9 May for political and personal reasons, he could hardly have done better than announcing two successive postponements. The main motive was of course the coronavirus epidemy, still out of control in early May. Putin decided wisely to cancel an event dragging millions of people through the country’s streets. The event was replaced by a low-key ceremony on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, under the walls of the Kremlin, where Putin bowed his head in respect to the 28 million Soviet citizens who lost their lives during WWII. Instead of a military parade on Red Square, jets and helicopters flew over Moscow. Continue reading “Different dates, same politic”

The odd trio again: gas, Russia, Ukraine

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The war that never started was averted thanks to an agreement signed ahead of the 31 December deadline. The negotiations concerned gas deliveries, but in fact they have to be seen against a larger background involving Ukraine-Russia bilateral relations; relations of both countries with EU; and divisions inside EU about everything concerning Russia. Continue reading “The odd trio again: gas, Russia, Ukraine”

From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For those following the event from Moscow at the time, the contrast was striking. On one side, the thrill caused by the fall of Berlin Wall in the outside world, especially in the West; on the other, the quasi indifference with which it was met in the Soviet Union. Continue reading “From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall”

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”

Oligarchs vs businessmen

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For Russians, the word ‘oligarchs’ is out of touch with reality and adversarial. Especially since they are nominally targeted by Western sanctions. In August 2017, President Trump signed Russia sanctions’ bill into law and in April 2018 extended the so-called “Kremlin-List” to 210 of people “close to president Putin”. The criteria for selection were obscure and they often reflect a worrying lack of knowledge concerning Russian power circles and the undercurrents of the Russian society. Continue reading “Oligarchs vs businessmen”