One day after the country’s independence day parade on 24 August, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolved the Parliament and announced that early elections would be held on 26 October. The announcement is a strong signal on the eve of Poroshenko’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk, and as Russian soldiers have been arrested on Ukrainian soil today. It raises concerns about a potential escalation of the conflict as the political and economic situation deteriorates in Ukraine.
Western countries have increasingly pinned high hopes on the Peshmerga, Iraq’s Kurdish militia, to fight against the Islamic State (IS) and prevent it from taking control of more territory. In order to counter their lack of equipment, they have decided to ship Kurds modern weaponry. This decision could have great implications on the military balance of the Middle East, especially for their neighbouring country Turkey, which has been in an armed conflict for thirty years with various Kurdish insurgent groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
This Sunday, August 17th, only a handful people showed up at the Siberian independence march, or “Federalization-rally” in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city, capitol of Siberia. And it might look like the Kremlin itself appeared to be its most active participant through its vigorous hunt on media-coverage leading up to the event. What was this “federalization-rally” all about? And why would the Kremlin be so actively engaged to keep it quiet?
An emergency summit was held on Sunday August 17th between Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in Berlin. It was the second round of talks over the Ukrainian crisis after the last summit that was held on April 17th in Geneva. Although progress emerged about the Russian humanitarian convoy’s entry on Ukrainian territory, Sergei Lavrov, Pavel Klimkin, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius did not reach any agreement concerning an exit from the current crisis between the two countries.
The crisis in Ukraine has entered its sixth month in August. From a national opposition between Ukrainian supporters of the country’s integration to the EU’s Eastern Partnership and followers of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, the crisis has gradually moved into a international political deadlock between Western states and Russia. While diplomatic sanctions escalate from both sides, the number of civilian casualties has increased dramatically in the last weeks. The convoy sent yesterday from Russia to Ukraine, officially to answer the current humanitarian crisis in the region, is suspected by the West of hiding an aggression. At the same time, the Parliament in Kiev drafted a law aiming at censoring media coverage on August 12th, sharpening the communication war between both parts.
Recent American and European sanctions against Russia have put Serbia’s foreign policy under strain. After most European Union countries’ foodstuffs were prevented from entering the Russian market on August 7th, non-member states have seized the opportunity to increase their own exports towards the Russian territory. It is notably the case of Serbia after Belgrade announced on August 12th the creation of a Coordination Center which should reinforce its control over groceries’ transit from Europe to Russia. It will also aim at cracking down on countries trying to bypass the Russian ban through repackaging their goods in Serbia. This strategy could weaken its move towards the European Union.
After 11 years as Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected on August 10th President of the Republic of Turkey. 53 million Turkish voters were eligible to cast their ballots in this first ever direct universal suffrage elections of the country’s history, which led to a rare first round victory of Erdogan. He received 51.95% of the votes, despite growing opposition to his authoritarian style and allegations of corruption in the government. Despite a low turnout, his coming presidency is likely to transform the country’s balance of powers in favour of the executive.
Afgelopen weekend (1-3 augustus) organiseerden wij, in samenwerking met de lokale partner de Democratische Partij van Moldavië (DPM), een training voor jongeren in Moldavië. De training vond plaats in Orhei, ongeveer 40 km van de hoofdstad Chisinau. Aan de trainingen deden 25 jonge enthousiaste deelnemers mee.
A Siberian independence march that was planned in Novosibirsk for 17 August was banned by the Russian government yesterday. In parallel, authorities have threatened to block BCC’s Russian version over its reports on separatist protests and more precisely an interview of the march’s organiser, Artyom Loskutov. They declared his intervention "calls to mass unrest, extremist activities or participation in illegal public events", which is legally forbidden in the Russian Federation. The event contradicts Moscow’s recent support to independence movements in former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Moldova.
The Hague’s Permanent Arbitration Court sentenced Russia to pay the historically high amount of USD 50 billion to oil company Yukos shareholders on Monday 28 July. This sum represents a compensation for the breaking up and nationalisation of the company in 2005. Most of its assets had been transferred to majority state-owned Rosneft, one of the companies that have been targeted by the United States’ latest sanctions against Russia. The ruling may have big consequences on Russia’s economic stability while the country is on the verge of recession.