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Russia

Stories under this heading cover Russia, as well as countries in the eastern part of the European continent, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

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News
New report reveals climate impact of Russia's war in Ukraine: $32 billion damage over two years

New report reveals climate impact of Russia's war in Ukraine: $32 billion damage over two years

Russia's ongoing full-scale war in Ukraine, initiated on 24 February 2022, has caused significant environmental and climate damage, severely impacting global efforts to combat climate change. This is highlighted in the latest report from the Initiative on Greenhouse Gas Accounting of War (IGGAW), which analyses the environmental costs over the past two years. The report was published Thursday (13 June) by the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine in collaboration with climate advocacy groups. The IGGAW report estimates climate-related damages at $32 billion, attributed to activities such as the extensive use of military fuels and the destruction of landscapes and infrastructure. Over 24 months, the conflict resulted in the emission of 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than the annual emissions of a developed country like the Netherlands.
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News
France, Germany and Poland face the brunt of Russian disinformation attacks

France, Germany and Poland face the brunt of Russian disinformation attacks

France, Germany, and Poland have become "permanent" targets of Russian disinformation attacks in the lead-up to the European Parliament (EU) elections this week, a senior EU official reported on Tuesday (4 June). The EU has consistently warned that Russia would intensify its disinformation campaigns as the June 6-9 vote approaches. "There are three big countries under permanent attack [from Russia]: France, Germany, and Poland," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourova, citing research by the European Digital Media Observatory, of which AFP is a part. She highlighted an increase in "more massive disinformation attacks on specific topics."

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Editor's choice
News
New report reveals climate impact of Russia's war in Ukraine: $32 billion damage over two years

New report reveals climate impact of Russia's war in Ukraine: $32 billion damage over two years

Russia's ongoing full-scale war in Ukraine, initiated on 24 February 2022, has caused significant environmental and climate damage, severely impacting global efforts to combat climate change. This is highlighted in the latest report from the Initiative on Greenhouse Gas Accounting of War (IGGAW), which analyses the environmental costs over the past two years. The report was published Thursday (13 June) by the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine in collaboration with climate advocacy groups. The IGGAW report estimates climate-related damages at $32 billion, attributed to activities such as the extensive use of military fuels and the destruction of landscapes and infrastructure. Over 24 months, the conflict resulted in the emission of 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than the annual emissions of a developed country like the Netherlands.
Editor's choice
News
France, Germany and Poland face the brunt of Russian disinformation attacks

France, Germany and Poland face the brunt of Russian disinformation attacks

France, Germany, and Poland have become "permanent" targets of Russian disinformation attacks in the lead-up to the European Parliament (EU) elections this week, a senior EU official reported on Tuesday (4 June). The EU has consistently warned that Russia would intensify its disinformation campaigns as the June 6-9 vote approaches. "There are three big countries under permanent attack [from Russia]: France, Germany, and Poland," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourova, citing research by the European Digital Media Observatory, of which AFP is a part. She highlighted an increase in "more massive disinformation attacks on specific topics."
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News
G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

The G7 will explore ways to use future revenues from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 and its allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets. "We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how best to use these assets, which include major currencies and government bonds held mainly in European vaults. The United States (US) has been urging its G7 partners - Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - to support a loan that could provide Kyiv with up to $50 billion in the near term. The cautious language of the statement, lacking figures or specifics, underlines the many legal and technical issues that would need to be resolved before such a loan could be issued. A G7 source indicated that there would be no significant changes to the statement before the final version is released later on Saturday (25 May).
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News
More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.
Editor's choice
News
More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.
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Commentary
The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six-year term as the President of Russia on Tuesday, 7 May. With Putin having been the undisputed leader of Russia for decades, continuity, one would have thought, was assured. Yet Putin himself, on Monday (13 May) speaking at a meeting of the Security Council spoke of “a new political cycle” in Russia. Some of the first decisions of the re-elected president give us a sense of what is to come. First, there was the surprise dismissal of Sergei Shoigu as Minister of Defence, and his transfer to be the Secretary of the Security Council. There had been speculation for some time that Shoigu’s time at the Ministry of Defence was up. But what was surprising was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, former Deputy Prime Minister – an efficient technocrat with an economic background to replace him. That the Russian Ministry of Defence has needed a shake-up for some time has been abundantly clear, but Andrei Belousov’s mission seems to be more ambitious than that: He is tasked with transforming the Russian Defence Ministry into a modern institution that can embrace new ideas and techniques, and that has enough flexibility to conduct the sort of hybrid warfare that is likely to be the order of the day going forward. So despite all of Putin’s bravados about the Russian nuclear arsenal, it seems he is putting his faith in a more innovative, agile, and versatile force. Then on Monday, 13 May, Putin held his first meeting of the Security Council since his inauguration. The Kremlin website only referred to one item out of apparently several that were discussed, namely relations with the post-Soviet Republics, a subject much close to the heart of the president. Putin reiterated that this was a priority in foreign policy. Putin said, “we should pay even more attention to this area in the new political cycle in Russia and discuss the way we will organise this work from all points of view, including organisational”. So it appears that there is new thinking in this sphere, details of which is not yet known.
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Opinion
Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

The geopolitics of the South Caucasus is as unpredictable as ever. Even as recently as the beginning of April, few, if any, would have imagined that Russia may withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan anytime soon. Many observers were even skeptical about the possibility of their withdrawal in November 2025 – the date which was stipulated in the November 2020 trilateral statement as the potential but not fixed date for the ending of the peacekeeping mission of Russia. This skepticism was grounded in the understanding that for Russia, Karabakh holds paramount importance in the broader context of the South Caucasus. In the wake of Russia’s unexpected withdrawal of its peacekeeping mission from the Karabakh region, the South Caucasus enters a new geopolitical dynamic. This historic development not only signifies Azerbaijan's attainment of complete sovereignty over its territories but also heralds the definitive end of the Karabakh conflict. President Ilham Aliyev's adept diplomatic maneuvers have secured Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and positioned Baku as a confident actor on the regional stage. The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers marks a pivotal moment, shaping the future landscape of Azerbaijan-Russia relations and regional geopolitics. As Azerbaijan charts its course forward, its commitment to regional integration remains, however, steadfast, with a focus on strengthening ties within the Turkic world.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Jittery Kremlin hits out at Central Asia NGOs

Jittery Kremlin hits out at Central Asia NGOs

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking on the occasion of the Special Operations Forces Day at a meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in Moscow on 27 February, unleashed an attack against Central Asian NGOs, accusing them of "continuously increasing hostile activities against Russia", especially in the "creation of new initiatives and structures aimed at discrediting and countering the Russian presence in countries traditionally our friends". Shoigu said the situation in this region is "very delicate", recalling the contemporary threat of the Afghan Taliban and ISIS terrorists, to which he equates the works of non-governmental organizations. In his speech, Shoigu said "over 100 large pro-Western NGOs operate in these countries, which have more than 16 thousand representations and branches, which aim to weaken the technical-military, economic and cultural collaboration with the Russian Federation, against the background of the special military operation [Ukraine War], and we have to do something."   Central Asia is hardly the first place that comes to mind when it comes to civil society activism, but the process of opening up to the world, and the reforms being put in place across the region, has widened the space for NGO activity – even if only to a small extent. Enough it seems to worry the head of the Russian Defence Ministry who one would have thought would have other things to worry about at the moment. But Kremlin observers say that Shoigu’s outburst is a jittery reaction of a paranoic Kremlin that is obsessed by criticism at home or abroad, and sees everything as one big conspiracy. Reaction in Central Asia has been mixed but in Kazakhstan, where President Tokayev has set out a course for systematic reforms in the country, and where the government is looking at civil society as partners in this process, the reaction to Shoigu’s speech was negative, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roman Vasilenko, spoke out in defence of the NGOs in Kazakhstan. “As you know, support for the civil sector and support for NGOs are a top priority for the president, for the government and for the Ministry of Culture and Information, which is responsible for this area”, Vassilenko said on 29 February.