Displaying items by tag: Vladimir Putin

Friday, 17 June 2022 10:07

Russia: land grab

Vladimir Putin's admiration for Peter the Great is well known, but he now has ideas of ‘Great’-ness himself as he openly compared himself to the 18th-century tsar. He is equating Russia's invasion of Ukraine with Peter's expansionist wars three centuries ago, thereby acknowledging that his own war is a land grab. Putin's empire-building ambitions have irked his neighbours; Estonia has called his comments ‘completely unacceptable.’ Putin said he sees a new battle for geopolitical dominance, and that Peter the Great was his role model. ‘You might think he was fighting with Sweden, seizing their lands’, Putin said, referring to the northern wars which Peter launched to forge a new empire. ‘But he seized nothing; he reclaimed it. It has fallen to us, too, to reclaim and strengthen.’

Published in Europe
Thursday, 19 May 2022 23:51

Russia: Putin’s health and blunders

It is well known that Vladimir Putin has had back surgery more than once. He has cultivated a strong action-man image and does not want to appear weak or sick. However, there is talk of Parkinson’s, based on his recent twitches and shaking. An American magazine has released a recorded interview of an unnamed oligarch saying he had to have treatment for blood cancer shortly before ordering the Ukraine invasion. There is evidence of repeated visits by a senior cancer specialist, and a video is being circulated showing him shaking. He appeared frail at Victory Day celebrations, with speculation he is ill with something serious. His erratic, impatient behaviour lately could account for Russia’s many military blunders. It is believed that Moscow has lost a third of its ground forces; there are critical shortages of bridging equipment and surveillance drones, plus increasingly low morale.

Published in Europe
Friday, 13 May 2022 09:45

Ben Wallace warnings

As Russia staged a military parade marking its defeat of Nazi Germany, the defence secretary accused Russia of hijacking their ‘forebears' proud history’ and said their generals must face war crimes trials. Mr Wallace said, ‘Russia is not interested in occupying Mariupol; he is simply destroying it. Russia's brutality in Ukraine could send incredibly dangerous messages if Putin was successful. It would indicate to powers around the world that they ‘just need to be more brutal than others to achieve their aims. If Putin is successful in Ukraine, then watch out.’ He also said the Government was in this ‘for the long haul’ and would continue providing Ukraine military and financial support, plus more sanctions targeting £1.7bn of new import tariffs on Russian goods used to make parts for mobile phones and computers. Export bans will target chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery. It takes the value of products subject to UK sanctions to over £4bn.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 31 March 2022 22:05

Ukraine: Mariupol suffers weeks of shelling

Vladimir Putin has told his French counterpart the shelling of the besieged city of Mariupol will only end when Ukrainian troops surrender. The key southern port city has been under heavy shelling for weeks. French officials said on 30 March that the Russian leader had agreed to consider plans to evacuate civilians from the city. They called the situation in the city ‘catastrophic’, adding that civilian populations must be protected and must leave the city if they wish. They must have access to food aid, water and medicine. France, Turkey, Greece and several humanitarian groups have presented Putin with a plan to evacuate the city. Officials said Putin told Emmanuel Macron that he will think about it. However after the talks with Ukraine the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, played down any hopes of a breakthrough. On 31 March Ukraine made another attempt to send aid and bring back evacuees.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 17 March 2022 21:32

Ukraine: far-right and anti-Semitism

One of Vladimir Putin’s often-repeated aims is to ‘denazify’ Ukraine. On the face of it, this is absurd, not least because President Zelensky is himself Jewish. Labelling political enemies ‘Nazis’ is also a common political ploy in Russia. Putin’s destructive actions - among them the devastation of Jewish communities - make clear that he is lying when he says his goal is to ensure everyone’s welfare. However, even if his claims may seem absurd propaganda, Ukraine has more neo-Nazi groups than any nation. The best-known of these is Azov, an all-volunteer ultra-nationalist military unit of around 900 which unofficially is part of the parliament.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 24 February 2022 21:09

Ways the UK could shake Putin

For Global Britain to be credible it is time for its architect, Boris Johnson, to intervene with retribution tactics not deterrence. Closing Russia’s embassy and removing their diplomats while removing ours from Moscow would indicate a fundamental shift in the understanding of Russia as not a partner in diplomacy, but a threat to other nations. Russian state outlets in the UK, like Russia Today, spouting propaganda masquerading as journalism, should be shut down immediately to prevent misinformation. Those operating in politics, law, and media while representing Russian state interests should be forced to declare who is paying their bills. Visas should be cancelled and assets of everyone linked to Putin’s regime frozen. Of all the economic sanctions, cutting Putin’s regime off from SWIFT international payment system would remove Russia’s ability to make international transactions, trigger capital outflows and currency instability, and hit buyers of Russian oil and gas.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:24

USA: troops deployed to NATO allies

3,000 additional American troops will aid in defending NATO allies in Eastern Europe. A recent satellite image shows Russia has an entire new housing area, established in the past ten days, next to the existing military vehicles in Russia-occupied Crimea. Russia now has 130,000 troops encircling the Ukrainian border, increasing the threat to the region’s stability. The USA said its moves are designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, its troops are not going to fight in Ukr; they are there to ensure the robust defence of NATO allies. A thousand US soldiers will reposition from Germany to Romania in the coming days, adding to the 900 currently there. 2,000 additional troops are being moved from the USA to Europe. The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland. 8,500 US troops remain ready to move if called.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 06 January 2022 21:08

Russia: crackdown on ‘dissidents’

Russia declared Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (a member of the Pussy Riot band) and prominent satirist Viktor Shenderovich ‘foreign agents’ as authorities press ahead with a crackdown on dissent. The justice ministry also added to its list of ‘foreign agents’ journalist Taisiya Bekbulatova and art collector Marat Gelman. ‘These people systematically distribute materials to an indefinite circle of persons, while receiving foreign funds.’ the government said in a statement. Shenderovich is a prominent anti-Kremlin satirist and political observer. Anyone identified as a ‘foreign agent’ must disclose sources of funding and accompany all texts, videos and social media posts with a caption mentioning content from a ‘foreign agent’: this is reminiscent of the Soviet-era term ‘enemy of the people’. Independent media outlets including Rain TV and a popular Russian-language website have also been branded as foreign agents. Russia claims that there is increased interference from abroad, meddling in Russian affairs.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 17 June 2021 21:25

USA / Russia: relations warming

Before talking in Geneva relations between the USA and Russia were at rock bottom. After talking, both presidents praised their talks but have made little concrete progress at the first such meeting since 2018. Disagreements were stated, said Joe Biden, but not in a hyperbolic way, and he said Russia did not want a new cold war. Vladimir Putin said Mr Biden was an experienced statesman and the two ‘spoke the same language’. They agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control and said they would return ambassadors to each other's capitals. However, there was little sign of agreement on cyber-security, Ukraine, or the fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony. Mr Biden said there would be ‘devastating consequences’ for Russia if Navalny died in prison. Mr Putin hinted at a possible deal on exchanging prisoners, saying he believed compromises could be found.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 11 June 2021 09:16

Putin and Biden meet next week

US president Joe Biden and Russian president Putin will meet in Geneva on 16 June. They first met in 2011, when vice-president Biden told Putin, ‘I don’t think you have a soul.’ They clashed again in 2014, when Biden was tasked with bolstering Ukraine in the wake of its protests and pressuring Russia to scale back military interference in eastern Ukraine. Putin then pushed back against Biden and the strain of US policy he represented. In 2016 Putin had his intelligence services interfere with the US presidential election, hoping Donald Trump, once elected, might reverse Obama’s administration stance on Russia. In the ensuing years, Putin’s minions likely passed information or misinformation to Biden’s son Hunter, which Trump’s supporters eagerly received and did their best to deploy in the 2020 campaign. With so much jagged history between them, the meeting will be awkward at a personal level.

Published in Worldwide
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