Nord Stream 2 future settled in Washington

For years, Kiev had perceived the internationalisation of its energy issues as the ultimate means to keep Ukrainian economic and national projects safely away from Moscow influence. Lately, all its efforts have been centered on preventing the construction, then the exploitation, of Nord Stream 2, the 1.200 km gas pipeline which, in a few months, will export Russian gas directly to Germany, circumventing Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine has felt over-confident that the strong Western backing should suffice to sink Gazprom chances and the Kremlin ambitions. In fact, doing so, successive Ukrainian presidents have turned their country into a pawn between Moscow, Washington, Brussels, and different EU members ‘states. At their risks and perils.

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Victory day in Moscow, with nuances

By Nina Bachkatov

On 9 May, on Moscow Red Square, the military parade was as usual: a brilliant ballet of contrasting uniforms, smart military bands, the triple Hurrahs. But the speech of Putin was even more Putinesque, reflecting years of evolution during which Russians has been cut from their WWII allies. He repeated that, make no mistakes, Russia’s might is “ready to defend the motherland”, and its population determined to join if needed. This was a not too subtle way to remember the “enemies of Russia” that they should think twice before to indulge in provocation or “hostile” gesture. Continue reading “Victory day in Moscow, with nuances”

Playing with fire in the Donbass

By Nina Bachkatov

Since the end of July 2020, belligerents in Eastern Ukraine had respected the cease-fire, the longest period of seeming peace since the conflict started in 2014. Then, by early 2021, violence erupted again, with dozens killed or injured. By April, the situation had gone worst. Both Russia and Ukraine were accusing each other of provocations and preparing a military offensive. Ukraine has been sending soldiers and new equipment to the front line; Russia massing thousands of troops and heavy material along its 250 km border with Ukraine. Continue reading “Playing with fire in the Donbass”

Belarus lessons

By Nina Bachkatov

Whatever might happen in Belarus, the crisis that shacked the country is teaching lessons about the limits of antidemocratic regimes and the limits of outsiders’ influence. Weeks after his disputed reelection, Alexandr Lukashenko, president since 1994, is still confronted to an unusual form of contestation while his opponents face a president unwilling to follow the path of former Ukrainian president Yanukovich. Continue reading “Belarus lessons”

President Zelensky: sympathetic, but disapointing

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

In Ukraine, the epidemic of coronavirus erupted as president Zelensky was facing unfavourable media coverage for his first year in power. To put oil in the fire, he choose this moment to launch a clumsy invitation to Mikheil Saakashvili to join the government as deputy prime minister responsible for reforms. A measure reflecting his desperate search to start much-delayed reforms, but also that exposed his lack of political control, including on the ruling party Servant of the People. Continue reading “President Zelensky: sympathetic, but disapointing”

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”

President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Finally, the members of the Normandy Four format will hold their first meeting since 2016 with the intention to create the necessary conditions for peace to return in the Donbass where rebels, backed by Moscow, are still confronting the Ukrainian army and hoping for a political solution. Continue reading “President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge”

The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Belarus president does not want the world to forget that the first agreements on Donbass were signed in its capital, Minsk, in February 2015, and that it represented a diplomatic success for the man still qualified at the time by Westerners as “the last dictator of Europe”. It led indeed to a thaw in the relations between Belarus, the European Union and Washington without antagonising Moscow. Continue reading “The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev”