On March 4-5, 2019, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to Bulgaria. The purpose of the trip was the normalisation of bilateral relations in connection with the European Union’s sanctions policy against Russia, the deepening of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria, the discussion of topical issues of Russian-Bulgarian investment, scientific, technical and cultural/humanitarian cooperation, as well as the implementation of joint projects in the energy, industry and tourism sectors.

During the talks, the Russian prime minister and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov discussed the prospects for Russian-Bulgarian rapprochement on the most pressing issues affecting bilateral cooperation, mainly regarding a possible resumption of “frozen” energy projects.…  Seguir leyendo » “Russia-Bulgaria: On the Path to Normalisation”

Pro-Russian rebels after they took Donetsk in 2015.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor launched her preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine on 25 April 2014. Over the last five years, hundreds of victims and witnesses – assisted by civil society – have submitted credible evidence of a macabre catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by a range of actors on Ukrainian territory. The Prosecutor has a legal duty to initiate a full investigation as soon as there is a ‘reasonable basis to believe’ that a crime within the Court’s jurisdiction has taken place, and that such a case would be admissible.

Remarkably, the Prosecutor is yet to formally decide on whether any ICC Statute crimes have taken place in Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo » “Putting an end to ICC inertia on Ukraine”

Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images. Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey at a Moscow district court hearing following his arrest on fraud charges, Russia, February 15, 2019

On Thursday, a Moscow court denied an appeal by defense lawyers for American financier Michael Calvey requesting his release on bail pending a mid-April hearing on serious fraud charges that carry a possible sentence of up to ten years’ imprisonment. Calvey, the founder of Baring Vostok Capital Partners, one of Russia’s oldest and largest investment firms, was arrested on February 14, along with five colleagues, for allegedly defrauding Vostochny Bank, in which Baring Vostok has a majority stake (52.5 percent), of 2.5 billion rubles (or about $38 million).

The very day of Calvey’s stunning arrest, the Russian Investment Forum, a platform for promoting Russia’s business and investment opportunities, was holding its annual meeting, in Sochi, attended by world business leaders and top Russian officials.…  Seguir leyendo » “The Price of Doing Business in Russia: Prison”

Alexyz3d/iStock, via Getty Images Plus

The globe’s nuclear safety net is fraying badly. Dangers of nuclear confrontations are growing not only in Europe, with decisions by the presidents of both nuclear superpowers, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, to withdraw from a treaty banning intermediate-range missiles; they are suddenly rising, too, in Asia, where India and Pakistan — both nuclear powers — have carried out conventional airstrikes across the Kashmir divide. Elsewhere in Asia, negotiations between Mr. Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to begin a denuclearization process have abruptly ended.

The thickest, weight-bearing strands of this safety net are treaties that have been cast aside without being replaced.…  Seguir leyendo » “The New Age of Nuclear Confrontation Will Not End Well”

Sanctions Against Syria Taking Aim at Russia

In early February, the US Senate approved Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which is yet to pass through the House of Representatives and be signed into law by the President. More likely than not, it will be accepted in its present wording. For Russian public and private companies it is of importance from the point of view of its further codification of anti-Syria sanctions. Russia has consistently supported the government forces and is Syria’s crucial long-term partner in terms of its rebuilding as well as its economic development. To some extent, the bill enhances the sanction risks for them but will do little to change the situation in a fundamental way.…  Seguir leyendo » “Sanctions Against Syria: Taking Aim at Russia”

Vladimir Putin speaks at an event on 27 February marking Russian Special Operations Forces Day. Photo: Getty Images.

The unknown of what happens when Vladimir Putin’s second term as president ends by 2024 weighs on the public mind. That alone attracts attention to domestic questions rather than international issues. The succession to Putin, whenever it is to happen, is not just about who it might be but also what that person or persons might or ought to do to direct Russia’s future.

There are no signs that Russia’s present and narrowing circle of decision-makers are ready to revisit the questions of structural economic, and therefore political, reform that are needed for the country to flourish. The repression that underpins Putin’s rule continues to grow.…  Seguir leyendo » “Putin’s Hold on the Russian Public Is Loosening”

El presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, y el presidente chino, Xi Jinping, han defendido un modelo de capitalismo autoritario (llámese “desarrollo con rostro de dictador”). Pero lo que ninguno de los líderes parece haber anticipado es que los sectores comerciales de Rusia y China se están convirtiendo en fuerzas políticas por derecho propio, ejerciendo cada vez más presión sobre la formulación de políticas públicas.

En las últimas dos décadas, las corporaciones multinacionales rusas y chinas, muchas de ellas con abundante efectivo, se han convertido en poderosas herramientas de política exterior para sus respectivos regímenes. Estas, una vez fueron vistas como fuerzas modernizadoras que ayudarían a abrir los negocios y la sociedad por igual.…  Seguir leyendo » “El movimiento del dictador”

Felix Dzerzhinsky, center, who led the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka, with a group of Chekists in 1923.CreditLaski Collection/Getty Images

According to this year’s National Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment and Senate testimony by top-ranked intelligence officials, Americans can expect Vladimir Putin’s Russia to continue its efforts to aggravate social, political and racial tensions in the United States and among its allies.

So, to best prepare for future Russian assaults, we should look to the past and study the mind-set of the Cold War K.G.B. — the intelligence service in which President Putin spent his formative years. The history of the brutal Soviet security services lays bare the roots of Russia’s current use of political arrests, subversion, disinformation, assassination, espionage and the weaponization of lies.…  Seguir leyendo » “Putin’s One Weapon: The ‘Intelligence State’”

“Do not return to former flames, your former flames do not exist.
There are but copies, like pristine flats,
where you once had a fleeting tryst.”
Andrey Voznesensky

Could Russia return to Europe in the foreseeable future? Not in the geographical sense, for geographically, of course, Russia has always been, is and apparently will always be a European country. In the sense of Russia being included in the institutions and values of the European Union, of returning to the path of integration with the European West, the path that Moscow left with a bang a few years ago when it slammed the door in Crimea and Donbass.…  Seguir leyendo » “Will Russia Return to Europe?”

A month ago, Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó refused to recognize the legitimacy of President Nicolás Maduro’s fraudulent May 2018 reelection. Guaidó declared himself interim president, calling for new elections — and quickly garnered the support of the United States, Canada, most of the European Union and a dozen Latin American nations.

Absent from that list are two countries with major financial interests in Venezuela — China and Russia. It has been a tale of two creditors, each with a concentrated financial exposure to Venezuela yet distinct foreign policy aims. Our research, reflected in two recently published Wilson Center reports, examines these differences in China-Venezuelan and Russian-Venezuelan economic relations.…  Seguir leyendo » “China and Russia have deep financial ties to Venezuela. Here’s what’s at stake”

El 23 de enero, el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Juan Guaidó, se autoproclamó presidente interino de Venezuela ante miles de ciudadanos, desafiando la legitimidad del desastroso régimen del presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro. Esta prolongada crisis política –con la comunidad internacional dividida respecto de a quién reconocer como líder legítimo de Venezuela– ha sido reveladora.

Con el argumento de que las elecciones de mayo de 2018 que otorgaron a Maduro otra legislatura fueron una farsa, Guaidó invocó una cláusula constitucional que permite al presidente de la Asamblea Nacional reemplazar a un presidente ausente o incapacitado, mientras se convocan las siguientes elecciones.…  Seguir leyendo » “Qué revela Venezuela a Europa sobre Rusia”

This month marks five years since Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula was invaded and subsequently occupied by Russia. The occupiers who came from across the border would come to be known as “Putin’s little green men” — Russian troops with their military insignias hidden. Russian President Vladimir Putin at first brazenly denied his country’s involvement, then later admitted that he had lied to the world. The Kremlin held a sham referendum and installed a puppet government. It was the first time since the 1940s that a European country had dared to seize territory from a neighbor by force.

Today Crimea is a human rights black hole.…  Seguir leyendo » “Five years have passed, and Russia is still occupying territory in Ukraine”

In Greek mythology, Pandora had a box she had been warned to never open. With no understanding of the consequences, and despite the warning, she opened the box, irreversibly releasing the plagues that would affect all of humanity forever. The American threat to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibits possession of missiles capable of striking targets at ranges from about 300 to 3,400 miles, will have similar consequences for humanity if it is also executed in spite of warnings and without considering the consequences.

One particularly difficult aspect of this situation is that the Russians and the Americans each accuse the other of flouting the treaty’s purpose in Europe by planning for, or deploying, nuclear-capable weaponry that could have a dual use — defensive on its face but potentially offensive after quick modification.…  Seguir leyendo » “Are America and Russia Going to Open Pandora’s Box?”

How Russia Undermined Over 30 Years of Nuclear Arms Control

Why did Russia argue that the United States should keep the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty intact and then recently declare its own suspension of the treaty? After all, it has deployed many of the very missiles banned by the treaty. Russia began the covert development of this class of missiles, probably in the mid-2000s, in a way designed to disguise its true nature. This decision has undermined over 30 years of good-faith nuclear arms control efforts and puts America, its allies and its partners at risk.

The I.N.F. Treaty, signed in 1987, prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers (310 miles to 3,418 miles).…  Seguir leyendo » “How Russia Undermined Over 30 Years of Nuclear Arms Control”

The war in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas between Kyiv and Moscow-backed separatists will soon begin its sixth year. Its resolution seems ever further away. While death counts and civilian casualties in Donbas are down, a new flashpoint in the Sea of Azov adds another potentially explosive layer to hostilities between Ukraine and Russia. The Minsk II agreement that sets forth a way out of the conflict and which both sides signed in 2015 remains unfulfilled, with Moscow unwilling to withdraw its troops and material from separatist-held areas of Donbas, and Kyiv seemingly uninterested in devolving power to those areas or taking other steps that could prepare for the reintegration of the territory it has been battling for.…  Seguir leyendo » “Reducing the Human Cost of Ukraine’s War”

President Vladimir Putin of Russia celebrated the New Year by having an American tourist, Paul Whelan, arrested as a spy. Mr. Whelan was in Moscow to attend a wedding. But Mr. Putin needed a hostage as a potential trade for a Russian woman with Kremlin connections — Maria Butina, who had pleaded guilty of conspiring with a Russian official “to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.” So Mr. Putin grabbed Mr. Whelan, who has not been released.

Of course Mr. Putin did that. I’ve known him since the early 1990s. As a businessman in St.…  Seguir leyendo » “The Putin I Knew; the Putin I Know”

Supporters of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian President Vladimir Putin wait for their arrival in front of Belgrade’s Saint Sava Church this month. Credit Vladimir Zivojinovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In the Balkans the transition is over,” Remzi Lani, an Albanian political analyst, told me some time ago. But unlike in many post-Communist countries, Mr. Lani didn’t mean a transformation from dictatorship to democracy. “We transitioned from repressive to depressive regimes.” He is right. The old Communists and radical ethnic nationalists are largely gone; in their places is stagnation — economic, social and political.

The question now is how these depressive regimes fit into a growing geopolitical rivalry.

A day before his recent visit to Belgrade, Serbia, President Vladimir Putin of Russia expressed his great displeasure with Macedonia’s name change and accused “the United States and certain Western countries” of “destabilizing” the region; the Russian foreign minister, meanwhile, denounced “the willingness of the United States to lead all Balkan states into NATO as soon as possible and to remove any Russian influence in this region.” Russia wants to make clear that this is not what the people in the region want.…  Seguir leyendo » “Putin’s Next Playground or the E.U.’s Last Moral Stand?”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, left, and Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, conduct a service after presenting the “Tomos,” a scroll containing the decree, in a symbolic ceremony sanctifying the Ukrainian Church’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul, earlier this month.CreditCreditLefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

On Jan. 5, some 150,000 people lined up in front of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. They came to see a single document called a tomos, issued a few days before by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew. There, on a piece of parchment, written in ornate Greek, English and Ukrainian, were words that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had dreamed about for centuries: The document made the Ukrainian Church autocephalous, meaning it is now fully independent from Moscow.

This declaration of independence came about despite months of behind-the-scenes attempts by the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church officials to dissuade Patriarch Bartholomew from issuing a tomos.…  Seguir leyendo » “Putin’s Dream of Godliness: Holy Russia”

En su conferencia de prensa anual ampliamente transmitida el mes pasado por televisión, el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, estaba confiado y condescendiente, animado únicamente cuando criticaba a Ucrania por las escaramuzas en el Mar Negro o cuando arremetía contra las quejas “injustas” de Occidente sobre el comportamiento de Rusia. Tras aseverar que el retiro de Estados Unidos del Tratado de Fuerzas Nucleares de Alcance Intermedio de 1987 exige que Rusia desarrolle nuevas armas, dijo con desprecio: “Y que después no se quejen de que supuestamente intentamos obtener ciertas ventajas”.

El carácter de Putin era una cruza entre el embajador soviético de “Dr.…  Seguir leyendo » “El problema de la semi-libertad de prensa de Putin”


Se ha fortalecido el vínculo estratégico entre Rusia y China en el orden internacional post-unipolar aunque hay una creciente competitividad entre los dos países en Asia Central y Oriente Próximo.


Desde la ruptura de la cooperación entre Rusia y Occidente a raíz de la crisis de Ucrania, el vínculo estratégico entre Rusia y China se ha fortalecido. Una alianza entre Rusia y China a nivel global puede influir decisivamente en la configuración de un nuevo orden internacional, por lo que es importante definir los intereses comunes que fortalecen su vínculo estratégico, así como los conflictos de intereses en diferentes regiones del mundo que debilitan su cooperación.…  Seguir leyendo » “Oso y dragón: el vínculo estratégico entre Rusia y China en el orden internacional post unipolar”