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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.

Borrell: Russia is waging total war against Ukraine; we must respond with total support
On Thursday (1 December) EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, addressed the annual Ministerial Council of the OSCE, which this year is meeting in Poland. Speaking about the conflict in Ukraine, Borell said that Russia was waging total war against Ukraine, and this requires total support for Ukraine in response. Borrell said that Russia has brought the war back in Europe. Russia is now turning this into a purely punitive campaign, trying to inflict as much pain as possible on Ukrainian citizens, using winter as a weapon, putting them into the darkness and the cold. The Russian army is deliberately targeting energy and water infrastructure on which normal Ukrainian citizens depend
dennis2020 Fri, 12/02/2022 - 08:56 First shipment of Russian fertiliser en route to Africa

The first Russian shipment of fertiliser left the Dutch port of Terneuzen on Tuesday (29 November) after days of negotiating to ensure it would not be snagged by Western sanctions. The ship was commissioned by the UN’s food security agency, the World Food Programme, and the cargo is part of some 260,000 tonnes of Russian fertiliser stored in European ports.

patrickn97 Thu, 12/01/2022 - 07:18

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Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Speaking in a pre-recorded speech that was originally scheduled for the evening before, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday morning (21 September) a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to boost his faltering invasion of Ukraine. Far from being a demonstration of strength, however, his announcement exposes how weak a position Russia currently finds itself in, and on a number of levels too, writes commonspace.eu Deputy Editor Patrick Norén. The Russian President finds himself hamstrung across three fronts: his narrative of "everything is going according to plan" is imploding; the risks of doing nothing or declaring a full mobilisation have resulted in an unsatisfactory fudge that does not address the root cause of the problem; and Russia's far-right, furious at the disastrous invasion of Ukraine, is baying for blood.
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Russia mobilises 300,000 reservists in a desperate effort to reverse setbacks in Ukraine

Russia mobilises 300,000 reservists in a desperate effort to reverse setbacks in Ukraine

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilisation as part of an effort to boost its military effort in Ukraine. Putin made the announcement during a pre-recorded television speech which was first scheduled to be aired on Wednesday evening, but was eventually delayed until Thursday morning. After the speech was aired, Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu gave further details on the partial military mobilisation, saying 300,000 reservists will be conscripted into the armed forces. Sergei Shoigu said that number represented a small fraction of Russia's available resources, while students and those who had already served as conscripts would not be called up. He said all those being conscripted would be given military training before being sent to Ukraine. In his speech Vladimir Putin said the decision, which followed the announcement of referendums to pave the way for the formal annexation of swathes of Ukraine, is meant to "protect our Motherland and our territorial integrity." Claiming the West was threatening Russia with nuclear weapons, Mr Putin said: "We have lots of weapons to reply - it is not a bluff."
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Xi sets the tone, and Putin answers questions

Xi sets the tone, and Putin answers questions

Chinese President Xi chose Central Asia for his first foray overseas after a long hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, travelling to Kazakhstan, and then onwards to Samarkand to attend the meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) and have various bilateral meetings. Chinese protocol these days demand that all meetings with Xi are fully masked, and so attired delegations troded in to meet the Chinese leader: Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev was early in queue. There was Uzbekistan's president Miriyzoyev, who for good measure gave President Xi Uzbekistan's "Order of Friendship", and Belarus President Lukashenko. But most interest was focused on when Putin's turn came. Increasingly the Russian leader is starting to look like the junior partner in the relationship with Xi. Certainly the official language was all proper and correct, but there was something in the body language that showed Putin's awkwardness at the new situation.Putin said Russia will consolidate and deepen bilateral and multilateral communication and collaboration with China, and expand cooperation in key areas such as economy, trade and energy. “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” Putin said in televised remarks to Xi. “We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will, of course, explain our position.” "Questions and concern" - not exactly enthusiastic support then by China for Putin's adventure in Ukraine.
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Russia attacks power stations and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

Russia attacks power stations and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

Russia attacked power stations and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine on Sunday (11 September), causing widespread outages across the country as Kyiv’s forces pressed a swift counteroffensive that has driven Moscow’s troops from large swaths of territory it had occupied in the northeast. The bombardment ignited a massive fire at a power station on Kharkiv’s western outskirts and killed at least one person. President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the “deliberate and cynical missile strikes” against civilian targets as acts of terrorism. Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv appeared to be without power Sunday night. Cars drove through darkened streets, and the few pedestrians used flashlights or mobile phones to light their way. Separately, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the Russia-occupied south completely shut down in a bid to prevent a radiation disaster as fighting raged nearby.
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Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

"As the world comes closer to multi-polarity, the role of such organizations as SCO will grow further. Russia and China will seek to use them as a counterbalance to western dominated international political and economic organizations, such as G7, the EU, the World Bank and IMF", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. He argues that in the present context of emerging great power competition, the SCO started to be viewed less as a tool to manage Russia – China relations in Central Asia, or counter terrorist threats from Afghanistan, and more as a significant grouping of non-western powers in the emerging multipolar world.
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Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

Vostok-2022 military exercises are meant to show that Russia is not isolated

For the last few days Russia has been conducting military exercises in the Far East, with the participation of tens of thousands of soldiers, and multiple military hardware. But apart from the limited military value, Vostok-2022 are meant to show that Russia is far from being isolated in the international community, despite the sanctions and pressure of the west, following its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that "it is to be noted that in recent military exercises, the Russian Ministry of Defence invited contingents from the unrecognised Russian protectorates of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This allowed a number of countries to refuse to participate, citing  the Abkhaz and South Ossetian presence as diplomatically problematic. This year the Russians decided to take no chances. Participation of countries such as India was of much more political importance than that of Moscow's South Caucasus proxies." "Regardless however, Vostok-2022 has exposed once again a weakness in the diplomatic war that Ukraine is waging against Russia with the support of western countries. The response in the Middle East, Africa and Asia against the blatant aggressive invasion has been lukewarm."
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The man who ended an era and triggered the collapse of an empire

The man who ended an era and triggered the collapse of an empire

The eighth and last leader of the former Soviet Union Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev has died. He was 91 years old. Gorbachev is considered a giant political figure who initiated the processes that ended the Cold War that had dominated international relations in the second half of the 20th century. His attempt to reform the Soviet Union met strong resistance, including a failed attempted coup by the KGB and the Army, and finally led to both his political demise, and the dissolution of the USSR into fifteen independent states. Born on 2nd March 1931 to a peasant family in the Stavropol region in the south of the Russian SSR, Mikhail Gorbachev was the architect of the policies of glasnost' (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) that tried to reform the Soviet system from within. Many Russians, including the current leadership in the Kremlin blame Gorbachev for the Soviet Union's collapse and see him as a direct cause of Russia's problems in the 21st century, but Gorbachev was only trying to reverse the rot that had set-in at all levels of the Soviet state. He persisted with his reform programme despite the risks. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, and after leaving power spent his time as Head of the Gorbachev Foundation.