Tag Archives: Kremlin

NATO expels Russian diplomats

Brussels 07.10.2021 “There is a glaring discrepancy between NATO officials’ statements about their wish to normalize relations with our country and real actions. These actions, of course, leave no room for illusions regarding the normalization of relations and the resumption of the dialogue with NATO. These prospects are rather completely upset,” Peskov said.

NATO’s decision to expel Russian diplomats and accusations of hostile activity totally upset the chances for normalization of relations and a resumption of the dialogue, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Thursday, 7 October.

“There is a glaring discrepancy between NATO officials’ statements about their wish to normalize relations with our country and real actions. These actions, of course, leave no room for illusions regarding the normalization of relations and the resumption of the dialogue with NATO. These prospects are rather completely upset,” Peskov said.

NATO has decided to expel eight Russian diplomats and halve the size of Russia’s mission to the alliance in response to suspected “malign activities”, Sky News said on Wednesday, October 6.

The eight diplomats are expected to leave Brussels, where the alliance is headquartered, by the end of the month and their positions scrapped. Two other positions that are currently vacant will also be abolished, Sky News said.

“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO,” a NATO official said later.

MEPs strategy towards Russia

Strasbourg 16.09.2021 Parliament says the EU must push back against aggressive policies while laying the groundwork for cooperation with a future democratic Russia.

Assessing the state of EU-Russia relations, the European Parliament makes clear that it distinguishes between the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The latter is, Parliament says, a “stagnating authoritarian kleptocracy led by a president-for-life surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.

MEPs stress, however, that a democratic future for Russia is possible and that the Council must adopt an EU strategy for this scenario, encompassing incentives and conditions to strengthen domestic democratic tendencies.

The text was approved by 494 votes in favour, 103 against with 72 abstentions.

“Russia can be a democracy and defending ‘Democracy First’ in EU relations with Russia is our first task. The EU and its institutions have to work on the assumption that change is possible in Russia. It also needs more courage in taking a strong stance vis-a-vis the Kremlin regime when it comes to defending human rights; this is what strategic engagement with the Russian people is all about. It is about ending domestic repression, returning the choice to the people, and freeing all political prisoners”, said rapporteur Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania) after the vote.

“In addition, if this week’s parliamentary elections in Russia are recognised as fraudulent, the EU should not recognise the Russian Duma and should ask for the country to be suspended from international parliamentary assemblies, including the one of the Council of Europe. The Kremlin’s continuous repression of all opposition candidates, free media and NGOs undermines the legitimacy and fairness of these elections. The Russian people must have the right to choose and their choices must be honoured, as in any other democratic country”, he added.

Parliament proposes the EU establishing an alliance with the U.S. and other like-minded partners to counterbalance the efforts of Russia and China to weaken democracy worldwide and destabilise the European political order. It should foresee sanctions, policies to counter illicit financial flows, and support for human rights activists.

Support to Russia’s’ neighbouring countries

On Russia’s aggression and influence over the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, the EU must continue to support so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, and to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms in the region. These efforts should also serve to encourage Russian support for democratic reforms.

Reduce the EU’s energy dependency on Russia, fighting “dirty money” at home

The text further states that the EU needs to cut its dependency on Russian gas, oil and other raw materials, at least while President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the boosting of new resources will play a crucial geopolitical role in achieving this.

MEPs want the EU to build its capacity to expose and stop the flows of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets that regime-linked autocrats and oligarchs have hidden in EU member states.

Worries ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections in Russia

Members conclude by demanding the EU be prepared to withhold recognition of the Russian parliament if the 2021 parliamentary elections in September are conducted in violation of democratic principles and international law.

EU-Russia relations in focus

Brussels 17.06.2021 “Today we are presenting a Joint Communication from the High Representative and the [European] Commission that responds to an invitation of the European Council of the last 24th of May. This Communication sets out the state of European Union-Russia relations in all their complexity and proposes the way forward – that is an important thing” said in remarks by the High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell at the press conference presenting the Joint Communication on EU-Russia relations.

Russia remains the European Union’s largest neighbour and it is an important global actor.

However, the deliberate policy choices of the Russian government – I am talking about the Russian government – over the last years have created a negative spiral in our relations.

To meet the strategic challenge posed by the Russian leadership, implementation of the five guiding principles has given us, the European Union, a purpose and an approach that defends our interests and values.

Time and again, the European Union has demonstrated unity, despite attempts by Russia to divide us. This unity remains our biggest asset and needs to be even more robust.

Under the present circumstances, we believe that a renewed partnership allowing us to realise the full potential of a close cooperation with Russia is a distant prospect.

The European Union therefore needs to be realistic and prepare for a further downturn of our relations with Russia – which are, right now, at the lowest level . This further downturn is the most likely outlook for the time being.

On the other hand, our ambition should be to explore paths that can help to change the current dynamics gradually, into a more predictable and stable relationship.

Today’s Joint Communication proposes to simultaneously push back, constrain and engage Russia. In that order: to push back, to constrain and to engage Russia, based on a common understanding of Russia’s aims and an approach that we can refer to as being a principled pragmatism.

Let us go a little bit more into the details of these three verbs

“First, we must push back against human rights violations, breaches of international law in our Member States and in our neighbourhood, and continue to speak up for democratic values.

“These are matters of direct concern to all members of United Nations, to all members of the OSCE and to all members of the Council of Europe, and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of any country.

As a fundamental part of this, we will continue supporting Ukraine and its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. This includes continuing to call on Russia to assume its responsibility as a party to the conflict and to implement the Minsk agreements.

Second, to constrain Russia’s attempts to undermine European Union’s interests. The European Union must become more robust and resilient.

For doing so, we must develop our cyber security and defence capacity, as well as our strategic communication capabilities, by stepping up work on foreign information manipulation and disinformation.

We should continue to strengthen our capabilities against hybrid threats.

We must also use the advantage provided by our energy transition and support the energy security of our neighbours. Our energy transition will affect Russia crucially from the point of view of an energy mix – and, as you know, Russia is a great provider of hydrocarbons in this energy mix.

We also need, finally, to step up support to our Eastern partners and increase their resilience through the implementation of the pending reforms.

Third, but not last, it is important to engage with Russia. It is important to engage with Russia on several key challenges to further defend our interests:

First, you know very well that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for global engagement on public health. The virus knows no borders and the border that the European Union and Russia share is about 2,000 kilometres long.

Second, we should engage in a close dialogue with Russia to combat climate change in the run-up to the COP-26 in Glasgow(link is external) and beyond.

Third, we should also continue to address the more technical engagement with the Russian government on the vast number of economic irritants in our relations.

Fourth, we should strengthen people-to-people contacts, which could include more visa facilitation, especially for young people, academics and work exchanges.

The following item is to continuing supporting – and to be more flexible and creative in doing so – Russian civil society and human rights defenders.

Finally, on the foreign policy front, we should continue to cooperate on regional issues – there are many of them, Middle East, Afghanistan, the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal] or Libya – and on global issues: counter-terrorism and non-proliferation.

These are the proposals that together with the Commission we have been drafting to take forward our relations with Russia.

We will continue working closely together with our partners in the G7, NATO and other like-minded partners.

We want and we need to drive the relationship in a way that our interests and principles will be better defended and promoted.

This Communication will form the basis for the discussion at next week’s European Council, which is, according to the Treaty, the body that has to provide guidance on foreign policy.

I look forward to the Leaders – the members of the European Council – to provide this guidance in order to steer this, as you see, complex relationship”.

EU Condemns Russian actions

Brussels 25.05.2021 The European Council held a strategic debate on Russia.
– It condemns the illegal, provocative and disruptive Russian activities against the EU, its Member States and beyond. It reaffirms the EU’s unity and solidarity in the face of such acts as well as its support to Eastern partners. (Image above: Crimea bridge, Azov sea).

– The European Council expresses its solidarity with the Czech Republic and supports its response.
– The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the five principles governing EU policy vis-à-vis Russia. – It invites the High Representative and the Commission to present a report with policy options on EU-Russia relations, in line with these principles, with a view to its meeting in June 2021.
– The EU will continue coordination with like-minded partners.

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine:

The EU imposes different types of restrictive measures:

Diplomatic measures
individual restrictive measures (asset freeze and travel restrictions)
restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol
economic sanctions
restrictions on economic cooperation

Diplomatic measures
In 2014, the EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU member states decided not to hold regular bilateral summits. Bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the new agreement between the EU and Russia were suspended.

Instead of the G8 summit in Sochi, a G7 meeting was held in Brussels on 4-5 June 2014. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.

EU countries also supported the suspension of negotiations over Russia’s joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Individual restrictive measures
Asset freeze and travel restrictions
177 people and 48 entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban because their actions undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The measures were introduced in March 2014. They were last extended until 15 September 20

Russia: Latvia Meduza news ‘Foreign Agent’

Brussels 26.04.2021 Russia has announced the independent news website Meduza a “foreign agent,” the Justice Ministry confirmed on 23 April amid what critics call the Kremlin’s continuing crackdown on freedom of speech.
A statement on the ministry’s website said the decision, which also includes the Moscow-based Pasmi (“First Anti-Corruption Media”) news site, was made “in compliance with the requirements of Russian law.”
Meduza editorial said it does not accept the decision and would challenge it in court. (Image above: Riga, Latvia).

Meduza began publishing out of Latvia in 2014 after its then-chief-editor Galina Timchenko left Russia, and reportedly the media received about $250,000 from the former head of Yukos, Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is stated in the report of the Latvian edition.

With a staff of 23 people based in Riga and Russia, Meduza publishes on a website and a mobile phone app, and is already racking up 2.5 million unique visitors a month.

Russia’s 2012 foreign agent law initially targeted media outlets and civil society groups, subsidised from abroad, especially within the jurisdiction of NATO allies. It has in recent years been expanded to include individual journalists and any foreign-funded persons or entities.
Individuals and groups labeled as foreign agents are required to report their activities and face heavy financial audits. Other media outlets are also required to clearly label the designated entities as “foreign agents.”

Russian lawmakers are also considering legislation banning foreign agents from running for federal office.
Statement of the EU by the Spokesperson on labelling Meduza as “foreign agent”:

“We reject the decision by the Russian authorities to include independent media outlet Meduza on the list of “foreign agents”.

It is the European Union’s longstanding position that the so-called ‘foreign agent’ law contributes to a systematic infringement of basic freedoms, and restricts civil society, independent media and the rights of political opposition in Russia. Democracy is a universal value that includes respect for human rights as enshrined in international law.

It is extremely concerning that Russian authorities continue to restrict the work of independent media platforms, as well as individual journalists and other media actors. It goes against Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments.

It is the duty of media to report on issues of public interest, and it is the obligation of the state authorities to ensure they can do so in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation.”

Russian authorities consider Meduza to be a news media, produced within jurisdiction of another state, thus “foreign agent”.

Russia expands retaliatory list

Russia has made a decision to expand on a parity basis the retaliatory list of EU officials banned from entering the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement spokesperson Maria Zakharova read out at a news briefing on September 23.

“In response to European Union actions the Russian side has made a decision to expand the retaliatory list of representatives of the EU member countries and institutions who are prohibited from entering the territory of Russia. The number of names on the Russian list has been increased to match that on the existing EU list,” the diplomat said.

“We have repeatedly warned the European Union that this approach is harmful. But the EU ignores our proposals for a meaningful and professional dialogue on the basis of facts and continues to use the language of sanctions,” spokesperson has underlined.

Zakharova recalled that lately the EU took a number of unfriendly steps towards Russia and Russian citizens, thus bypassing the existing international norms and using sanctions on far-fetched and absurd pretexts.

The announcement came day after President Putin on argued September 22 that ending “illegitimate sanctions” against countries like his could boost the suffering from pandemic global economy and create jobs, using his annual speech at the U.N. General Assembly to stress the need for multilateral cooperation against the pandemic.

In his speech Putin told the U.N.’s 75th anniversary gathering that countries need to work together better to fight the virus and other global problems.

“Freeing world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions would be a great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment,” Russian President said.

G7 condemns «hideous poisoning» of Navalny

‘We, the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the confirmed poisoning of Alexei Navalny” reads the statement, referring to the chemical attack on Russian opposition leader, and fierce critics of President Putin. Navalny was airlifted upon wish of his family to Berlin for treatment from Omsk hospital in Russia, where he received urgent medical assistance.

“Germany has briefed G7 partners on the fact that clinical and toxicological findings by German medical experts and a specialised laboratory of the German armed forces have determined that Mr Navalny is the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve-agent of the “Novichok” group, a substance developed by Russia. Mr Navalny is in intensive care in a Berlin hospital and remains in a serious condition. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and we hope for his full and speedy recovery.

“Any use of chemical weapons, anywhere, anytime, by anybody, under any circumstances whatsoever, is unacceptable and contravenes the international norms prohibiting the use of such weapons.We, the G7 foreign ministers, call on Russia to urgently and fully establish transparency on who is responsible for this abhorrent poisoning attack and, bearing in mind Russia’s commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This attack against opposition leader Navalny is another grave blow against democracy and political plurality in Russia. It constitutes a serious threat to those men and women engaged in defending the political and civil freedoms that Russia herself has committed to guarantee. We call on Russia to fulfill its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to guarantee these rights, including the right to freedom of expression, to its citizens.

“We will continue to monitor closely how Russia responds to international calls for an explanation of the hideous poisoning of Mr Navalny. We remain strongly committed to our support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Russia and to bolster our support to the Russian civil society.

Navalny in Omsk – stabilised but in coma

Russian opposition politician and relentless anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, 44, is still unconscious in Omsk hospital suffering from suspected poisoning, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said.

Navalny wife, Yulia, and his GP arrived to Omsk, but they have diffiuclty in obtaining the necessary documents to move the patient to another, better equpped clinic. However the staff of the hospital do not share their plan, and refuse to release patient. They insist that they have all necessary equipment to provide required treatment, and that they have had a series of consulations via teleconferencing with the leading medical centers in Russia. Refering to the legislation the representative of the hostpial declined to comment of the diagnosis, he explaind his position with the legal restriciton, and added that there are ceratin improvements, which allow to regard the patient’s condition with cautions optimism.

Navalny spokesperson expressed indignation about the rumers circulating in different Russian media about Navalny alcohool poisoning. The pro-Kremlin newspapers suggested he suffered depression, and was drining poor quality alcohool, while travelling in Siberia.

The anti-corruption campaigner fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where doctors said he was in a coma and they were trying to save his life. (Image below: Lubov Sobol, “FBK”)

Navalny team team suspects something was put in his tea at an airport cafe, blame the authorities the “special operation” of physical removal of the political opponent.

The Kremlin spokesperson said that it wished Navalny a “speedy recovery”.

The Kremlin is aware of the hospitalization of Alexei Navalny and wishes him “a speedy recovery.” Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is ready to assist in transporting Navalny for treatment abroad.

The Kremlin is aware of the hospitalization of Alexei Navalny and wishes him “a speedy recovery.” Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is ready to assist in transporting Navalny for treatment abroad.

Alexey Navalny has for years been among President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critics.

In June he described a vote on constitutional reforms as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”. The reforms allow Presient Putin to serve another two terms in office, after the four terms he has already had.

Idlib: ceasefire from midnight

Presidents of Russian and Turkey signed a new memorandum on Idlib after five hours talks in Moscow.
Vladimir Putin and Tayyp Recep Erdogan signed a document, agreeing on ceasefire from Midnight, safety corridors, resumption of patrols.

– ceasefire today at midnight.
– A safety corridor along the M-4 highway in Syria.
– resumption of joint Russian-Turkish patrols, including along the new route

Putin also voiced hope that the deal would end civilian suffering and help contain a humanitarian crisis.

Duma approves new Prime Minister

President Putin has signed a decree appointing Mikhail Mishustin as the Prime minister.
“In accordance with Article 83(a) of the Russian Constitution, Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin is appointed as Russia’s Prime Minister,” says the decree issued on the Kremlin’s website.

The decree comes into force on the day of its signing.
Earlier on 16 of January the State Duma endorsed the appointment. As many as 383 lawmakers voted ‘yes,’ and 41 abstained. Nobody rejected the candidacy.

Former Prime Minister Medvedev, appointed deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, will hold a meeting with new Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on January 17, the Russian government’s press service informed.
The meeting between the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council and the Russian Prime minister will take place tomorrow [January 17] at the House of Government of the Russian Federation,” the press service stated.

The entire Russian government, headed by Dmitry Medvedev, resigned on January 15.
The Duma plenary session Mishustin promised to announce the new composition of the Cabinet of Ministers within a few days.

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