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Cold War

Hot Spot – Ukraine

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While International Community is currently turning its attention to Daesh and Brexit, Ukrainian crisis has not still ended, as proved by the events show below.

June 24

– “No decisions at Surkov-Nuland meeting”, Kremlin reported after summit between the Russian presidential aide and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. However, during this meeting, as reported by U.S. Embassy in Moscow, “the discussions were very detailed, thorough and constructive. They focused heavily on the security aspects of Minsk, including how to accelerate a full ceasefire, heavy weapons withdrawal and full OSCE access to Eastern Ukraine. They also reviewed the ongoing work on the political and humanitarian aspects of the Minsk, in support of the Normandy process,” the embassy said.
June 25

– Two citizens of Tajikistan involved in the activity of the Islamic State and wanted by Interpol were captured at the Kharkiv airport by Ukraine’s security forces.

– Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry urged the Russian Federation to stop without delay provocations against OSCE monitors to the whole Donbass.
June 29

– ” Darka Olifer, spokesperson for Leonid Kuchma who represents Ukraine in the Group during Trilateral Contact Group on Donbass explained that “security is the key issue for the Ukrainian side. Donbas continues to see shellings with the use of artillery pieces prohibited by the Minsk Agreements. Fire is also conducted on locations designated for mine-clearance.”


June 30

– During a summit with Russian diplomats, Putin rejected every charges about Ukranian context: “We sincerely wish for the settlement of the Ukraine crisis to be reached as soon as possible, we will continue to cooperate with members of the Normandy format and with the United States. We want to see a good neighbor in Ukraine, a predictable, civilized partner in peace with itself, first and foremost.”

– After Russian extension of Western food embargo until 2017, Kiev wants to reply to Moscow: “The Minister of Economic Development and Trade’s proposal is to mirror Russia’s corresponding aggressive actions,”  Ukrainian Trade Representative Natalia Mykolska said.


Ukraine crisis: a crucial autumn

Europe di

The next UN and European summits will be crucial for Ukrainian context and for relationship between Washington and Moscow.

It’s standby in Ukrainian civil war. In September, the ceasefire between army and pro-Russian fighters has stood. While Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Kiev, where he has met President Petro Poroshenko, he has confirmed that “Russia is continuing to arm the separatists despite the truce”. However the mood looks relaxed because all are waiting the next summit of 2 October, when leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia will meet after Minsk2 of the last February.

And, with the General Assembly of United Nations on 24-30 September, one realizes the this autumn could be decisive for Ukrainian context, as well as other geopolitical contexts. Financial and systemic crisis have pushed the Ukrainian government to accelerate, in late August, the constitutional reforms which aim to give more autonomy to Donbass, in line with Minsk2, and to sign an agreement to the debt restructuring with creditors.

On the other hand, there is Russia, which has hardly been hit by oil prices collapse and, as a consequence, by more than 20% fall of Ruble value over the past four months. In this context, economic sanctions by United States and European Union are not the main cause of Russian financial crisis, but nevertheless important factors, especially in view of energy development.

Indeed, while the Kremlin is getting Europe number concerning gas supply, economical penalties are preventing oil and gas development projects in the Arctic. Proposal which the Russian economy needs to maintain its high level of current production.

Therefore, the Ukrainian crisis could be influenced by meetings of 24-30 September and 2 October. In the first one, it will be important the summit between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, where they’ll talk about Russian military operation in Syria against Islamic State. In the second one, the summit with Vladimir Putin Angela Merkel and Francoise Hollande will be helpful to soften Germany and France. In both cases, the purpose is only one: the reduction of economic sanctions against Russia from the years 2016/17.

However, missteps on both sides are following. On the Ukrainian front, there is involvement increased of fighters in the far-right paramilitary brigades that fought alongside army. Besides National Security Council has drawn up a new blacklist where 34 foreign journalists, including 3 of the BBC, have been banned, over the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has taken part in visit to Crimea together with Putin.

On the Russian front, the Kremlin has been denied by an article, accidentally published (later removed) by Delovaia Zhizn and immediately recall by Forbes, in which was revealed the number of Russian soldiers died in Ukraine: 2000. But Moscow has always repudiated direct involvement.

So, the next UN and European summits, and the accentuation of the geopolitical crises in Syria and Libya, may induce the parties to reach a solution that will bring not only the end of the civil war in Ukraine, but the “warming” of the cold relations between the US and Russia.
Giacomo Pratali


Ukraine: failure of Minsk 2 is around the corner

Europe di

Clashes between army and separatists returned to the same level in February. On the domestic front, agreement is distant. On the international side, Nato and Russia continue to flex their muscles.

With the help of summer, civil war in Eastern Ukraine has again become bloody. The approach of winter, with the gas issue, contribute to intensify violence. On August 3, three soldiers have died following clashes with separatists. At the same time, it’s been the failure of negotiations to establish a buffer zone between the contact groups of Minsk Protocol 2.

There are many signs of this escalation. Domestic, between the Ukrainians, calling for the deposition of the weapons to pro-Russian in exchange for concessions of autonomy in the Constitution, and separatists, determined not to give in and will participate in the legislative process.

International. As a resurgence of the Cold War, Ukrainian civil war is an International showdown. With NATO, which wants to intensify even more the contribution of Force Integrations Units in Eastern Europe. With the United State and European Union, which intends to further increase sanctions against Moscow. With Russia, determined to exit from isolation from the Western partners.

This economical sanctions could push the Kremlin to not back down. The growth of separatists’ military training in Donbass is a clear indicator. Finally, the privileged relations with Syria and Iran, the new economic and commercial channels established with China and India, may tempt Washington to soften. The degeneration of the Ukrainian war and the chaos of the country are around the corner.
Giacomo Pratali


US-Russia: Obama runs the show

Europe di

Relationship between Us and Russia are becoming always colder. The G7 without Putin and the degeneration of war in Ukraine are the effects of this context.

In the last year Washington’s strategy in the Middle East was to not bring out a State predominant in terms of economic strength and leadership in the Arab world. Meanwhile in Europe there’s a different strategy. Putin’s exclusion from the G7 and the threat of new sanctions arise from a precise intention.

Ukraine, Iran, West: the Us strategy is only one. Moscow must deal directly with Washington. And, then, go back to that bilateralism concise in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. With Europe forced even more to a marginal role. With states such as Poland and the Baltics defended by the United States. The White House which uses the Russian ruble crisis and high inflation as charges against the Kremlin

And Europe? If China is a corridor to not completely block trade relations with Russia damaged by the penalties, on the other hand it’s becoming more and more a partner of choice with regard to energy issues. Recently, in fact, the second agreement, called “Western Route”, consisting of the construction of a gas pipeline linking the Western Siberia to Beijing.

If Europe is politically supporting the United States, is even more evident that the damage to bilateral trade relations but, above all, the gas matter, could do to change course policy leader of the Old Continent.

On this regard, the Ukraine, where the fighting resumed at a level almost equal to the previous step to the agreements of Minsk, becomes once again decisive: “If the crisis in Ukraine is getting worse – Maros Sefcovic, European Commission Vice President and Head of Energy Union said – and if Russia closes the gas pipelines to Europe, we can hold out for six months. But I think that is fitting in Moscow, as we are their largest customer, “he added again.

September will be decisive to solve the war in Ukraine.The partial recognition of the pro-Russian regions autonomy could be the starting point for thawing between the US and Russia. For these reasons, Putin journey in Italy has an important political relevance. If with Renzi it was reiterated the importance of a return to historical trade and economic relations between Rome and Moscow, even more significant was the visit to Pope Francis. The Russian leader is hoping to find an ally in the Pontiff and his will of a detente between the Catholic and Orthodox.

The relations with the Vatican, the need to keep Europe as the first partner for the supply of gas, the penalties like an obstacle for economic recovery in Russia. While there might be an international recognition of the autonomy of the pro-Russian regions in Ukraine, the end of hostilities with Kiev and the direct relationship with Washington will be crucial if Putin wants to exit from the Western isolation.
Giacomo Pratali


Giacomo Pratali
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