What a difference a year makes! Last year's address by President Vladimir Putin to the Federal Council, the joint session of both houses of Russian parliament, was a rather low-key affair by international standards and the world was not exactly losing sleep over it, apart from the usual talking heads on Russian television and newspaper commentators who were listing the main points of the speech without much excitement.
Ukraine was mentioned in last year's address in the sense that Russia was planning to continue working with it with the view of promoting Ukrainian membership of the Customs Union, as part of the bigger Euroasian project.… Seguir leyendo »
The thing about presidential elections, be it in Ukraine or anywhere else for that matter, is that it makes sense to ignore everything that was said during the election campaign and, especially, in the immediate aftermath.
Election promises are made to be broken or ignored altogether -- remember "Yes We Can?" And in the first few days, or even weeks, after results are announced lots of things are said that mean pretty much nothing.
To say that the presidential election campaign in Ukraine produced a lot of statements and pledges that made little or no sense would be an understatement. If you summarise them all, then Ukraine should be in fine shape to join the G7 group of industrialised nations, replacing Russia, in about five years' time.… Seguir leyendo »
Big, big sigh of relief among Russia's super-rich, as the West announces "smart sanctions" against a group of Kremlin officials and members of Russian parliament in response to the referendum that took place in Crimea and produced a result resembling the elections in the old Soviet Union: 96.7% of the people who took part in it voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia.
The joke on the streets of Moscow is that the politicians took the bullet for the oligarchs, not for the first time and not the last.
But jokes aside, the fate of Crimea is sealed. It will become part of Russia in about three months' time and, as things stand now, President Vladimir Putin has already signed an executive order recognizing the peninsula as an independent state, confirming his determination to stick to his guns in his address to the Federal Assembly.… Seguir leyendo »