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”

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?”

The symbolic visit of Putin in Paris

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Vladimir Putin occupied a prominent place in the great international gathering in Paris to mark the century of the 1918 armistice. His presence led to odd moments, especially when the Russian President, so often accused of threatening peace on the Continent, attended the opening ceremony of the Forum for Peace. Continue reading “The symbolic visit of Putin in Paris”

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”

Book review: “Poutine, l’homme que l’Occident aime haïr”

By Andrew Wilson

Poutine – L’homme que l’Occident aime haïr, Nina Bachkatov, éditions Jourdan, Bruxelles-Paris, 2018.

Under a provocative title – The man the West loves to hate – Nina Bachkatov’s book covers more than the Russian president’s personality. In 199 pages it describes in detail the complex evolution of the post-Soviet state under his leadership – a process that she has followed at close quarters for more than thirty years. Continue reading “Book review: “Poutine, l’homme que l’Occident aime haïr””

1917 – A problematic celebration

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Since late 2016, questions have raised about the way Putin’s Russia can, or cannot, mark the dual centenaries of the February and October revolutions. The need for caution is all too obvious. The history of the Revolution “that shocked the world” has never been simply a matter for historians – in the West, just as in the communist world. Continue reading “1917 – A problematic celebration”

About the Ukraine crisis: everyone loses

Everyone loses: The Ukraine crisis and the ruinous contest for post-Soviet Eurasia, by Samuel Charap and Timothy J.Colton. International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Recently rewed fighting between rebel and government forces in eastern Ukraine calls attention to the costs for all parties of their struggle for control of the territory. Samuel Charap is a Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the IISS. Timothy Colton a Professor of Government and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. In their extensive and generally impartial appraisal, it helps to pick out examples. Continue reading “About the Ukraine crisis: everyone loses”