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Potential Threats For Europe On The Back Of Russian Offensive Politics


Events that have been occurring in recent months in Eastern Europe have brought this region back to the international agenda. The Belarusian migrants blackmail of Poland and Latvia, the Russian gas blackmail to ramNord Stream-2 down the EU’s throat on their own termsalong with an augmentation of 90,000 Russian troopsnear the eastern border of Ukraine should be considered with a comprehensive approach applied. In experts’ opinion, actions of the Belarusian and Russian regimes, which are headed by Bonnie and Clyde of post-Soviet politics, are clearly aimed at fixing the presence of the Kremlin’s interests in the region and claiming its turf in relations with the West. Concurrently, tensions that Russia creates in Eastern Europe have been taking place against the background of the ongoing aggression against Ukraine, which in itself is a prerequisite for a sharp increase in the boiling region.

Moscow’s actions give the idea that the logic of Russia’s foreign policy is to link supranational ambitions with its own potential to fulfil them. The Kremlin tries to countervail the power insufficiency by hybrid tools and concealment or distortion its own role in geopolitical adventures. It seems that without the latter, Moscow would risk to end up in an open confrontation with the West with corresponding consequences of it and, ultimately, the unequivocal marginalization of its position. It is notorious that Eastern Europe, and especially Ukraine, is a key region for Russia’s geopolitical positioning in terms of geographical, historical, cultural and economic factors. Therefore, to maintain the predominant influence is the Kremlin’s main task. The impression is that the strategy chosen to achieve this is not an export of “soft power”, but the”multiplicity of conflicts” providing creation of a belt of controlled chaos (Nagorno-Karabakh – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – LDNR – Transnistria). This is designated to form a buffer zone between Russian and Euro-Atlantic spheres of influence and precedes the former Soviet republics from Euro-Atlantic integration by definition.

Identification of these algorithms underlying inRussia’s foreign policy provokes thought that the Kremlin is not interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, inasmuch as puppet “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic” are considered only as levers of pressure on Kyiv. In the same context, Minsk-1 and Minsk-2 were only a platform where Russia have tried to squeeze as much concessions as possible from demoralized Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine has utilized it to stop the Russia`s and its pickpocket militants offensive in Donbas. The imposition of the Minsk Agreements on Kyiv and the coercion to fulfill obviously unacceptable demands, which could destroy pillars of its statehood, were accompanied with significant military pressure from Russia. Noteworthy is that the so-called “Debaltseveboiler” occurred after the signing of Minsk-2 in February 2015.

That fact that the Kremlin strives for keepingDonbass as a spot of controlled chaos, by analogy with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, is logically corresponded to Russia’s line not to incorporate these entities into the federation, as it did with Crimea. The Kremlin officially considers the occupied regions of Donbass as the Ukrainian territory, and misrepresents the war in Eastern Ukraine as an internal conflict. It would appear that Moscow`s motivation is to push the LDPR back into the federalized Ukraine under special conditions and to determine the domestic political agenda there, including its Euro-Atlantic course. Under such circumstances, Kyiv’s control over these territories would be nominal, for the Kremlin has significantly exhausted the possibility of returning Ukrainian identity to the occupied regions after 7 years of the aggressive anti-Ukrainian propaganda, demonization, administration from Moscow, and most importantly the LDPR passportization. In view of this, Putin will have almost unlimited opportunities to curb the sovereignty of Ukraine.

It is impossible to ignore Russia’s intention to maximize its geopolitical efficiency through hidden orchestration and distortion of its role in the Russian-Ukrainian war in the diplomatic sphere. According to the Geneva Conventions, the Minsk process itself cannot be construed a negotiation process, since any conflict ends with the signing of an agreement. That is why, the Minsk agreements, from an international legal point of view, are the result of armistice negotiations, both in terms of records and the context, namely the use or threat of use of force (Article 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties). Moreover, Russia has signed them along with Ukraine as a party to the conflict; therefore, it hascommitted itself to them. Attempts by top leaders of the Russian Federation to disown the record on paper by putting forward the DNR and LNR convince in aforementioned. The ambivalence of Moscow’s position is, by claiming that the LDPR and Ukraine, but not Russia and Ukraine, are parties to the conflict, the Kremlin also acknowledges that it has a direct influence on the militants. Since unrecognized “people’s republics” are not parties to the Geneva Conventions, nor are they represented in the Trilateral Contact Group, which isestablished in result of Minsk agreements, much less in the Normandy format, Russia is considered as the party to the conflict under international law.

Numerous international documents anticipatesRussia as a belligerent party in Donbas. On December 30, 2020, the same PACE, where the Kremlin triumphantly returned its delegation after blackmail bymembership fees on June 25, 2019, adopted Resolution №2325 on the state of the monitoring procedure, in which Russia is clearly called the party to the Minsk agreements and the party to the conflict in Donbass. Thus, it is obliged to cease the annexation of Crimea (paragraph 3.8) together with military intervention in eastern Ukraine and backup of the local paramilitary formations in any form (paragraph 4.9).

The rhetoric and diplomatic actions of the Russian authority suggest that the Kremlin stubbornly neglectsinternationally recognized rules and is not going to abide by the agreements, as this would probably mean curbing its interests. And Putin, in fact, has made it clear having established the primacy of national law over international one by amending Art. 79 of the Constitution. It seemsthat, Russia is trying to escape liability for its actions, in particular, for crashing MH17 performed by militants in the occupied territory. Evidently, the ongoing trial in this case will not end in favor of Russia. For these reasons, the Kremlin will continue the streak and control the escalation in eastern Ukraine through the LDPR. There is full of revelations that Moscow provides the “people`s republics” with appropriate weapons, ammunition and military equipment for this purpose. “Weapons of the War in Ukraine”, a three-year research performed byConflict Armament Research, provides profoundevidence that rifles, MANPADS, grenade launchers, ammunition and equipment have appropriate serial numbers pointing at Russian origin of them. Tracking Russian-made UAV components used by militants has revealed that their supply channels are independent Russian distributors of electronics and components serving Russian law enforcement and security entities.

The fact is that Russia’s destabilization in Ukraine and Eastern Europe is generally accompanied by political pressure and the imposition of its own will. As mentioned earlier, Russia hides behind LDPR to relinquish its role as the party to the conflict, and calls for a direct dialogue between Ukraine and “people`s republics.” Thus, the Kremlin is trying to legitimize pseudo-state formations and encapsulate them in Ukraine. Interestingly, the situation is similar in Belaruswith its rapidly fading subjectivity. Without exaggerationto say, Russia has been masterminding the currentmigration crisis in the eastern EU`s boarder throughMinsk. Applying Erdogan’s methods of pressure on the EU, the Kremlin is creating a new point of controlled chaos, but hiding behind Belarus this time. As for now,the Lukashenko regime has lost the last vestiges of legitimacy in the eyes of the civilized world after witch-hunt because of protests, and subsequently is falling pray of upcoming anschluss with Russia. It is therefore not surprising that Russia again calls on the EU to engage indirect dialogue with Minsk, and even offers to pay the latter for deterring migrants that Belavia purposefully transports from the poorer countries of the Middle East and North Africa through Russia. Needless to say thatafter the Protasevich case, European countries closed their airspace for this brainchild of Lukashenko.

It is not unreasonable to assume that the current destabilization of Ukraine and the EU’s eastern border is the Kremlin`s approbated modus operandi. Russia has been using time-tested methods of pressure to achieve its foreign policy goals. And the most important thing in the use of hybrid tools is the concealment or distortion of itsrole in destructive actions, ie the so-called “confrontational without being competitive” approach. Such Russia’s approaches to foreign policy obviously strengthen belief that there would be no reconciliation or stabilization of relations between the West and Russia on a consensual or compromise basis, given the fact that the Russian geopolitics is based on confrontation, not development through cooperation. The Ukrainian case examplifies it clearly.



Usually, when people talk about Saudi Arabia and its hegemonic policies, we tend to relate to the well-known rivalry between the monarchy and Iran, two capillary actors in the Middle East, who compete for the leadership in the region. Keep Reading

Pompeo’s tour in the Middle East



On Tuesday 8th January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opens his tour in the Middle East visiting Jordan. The tour originally scheduled nine stops, including Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. However, due to family reasons, Pompeo had to cancel the final leg in Kuwait.

This tour comes at a time when the US is changing his policy toward Middle Eastern issues and his allies are questioning the new approach.

After the President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the nuclear deal signed with Iran and other Western countries during Obama’s administration, on 19th December the US President announced with a video on Twitter that he was pulling US forces out of Syria “now”.

Pompeo’s tour in the Arab countries can, therefore, be seen as an opportunity and means to clarify US position regarding Syria but also more broadly to define US policy in the Middle East.

Here the main points on the table.

–    US withdrawal from Syria does not mean that the US is withdrawing from the fight against the Islamic State, which is still a top priority for the White House. US partnership with the Arab countries, indeed, is essential to achieve some shared objectives in the region: defeating Daesh, countering Islamic terrorism, protecting global energy resources and countering Iran’s aggressive behaviour.

–    Unity among the GCC(Gulf Cooperation Council) is vital to achieving security and stability in the region. As Pompeo stressed, the internal dispute among the Gulf monarchies has gone far too long. Since June 2017, indeed, the Arab Quartet (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) cut the diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing the country of funding terrorist groups and fostering instability in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, this situation hampers the efforts of the GCC to achieve common goals in the region. The GCC is a capillary institution in the Middle East: hence, its internal cohesion is an essential factor for the stability, prosperity, security and peace in the area.

–    The US strongly promotes the institution of a Middle East Strategic Alliance, also nicknamed Arab NATO. This organisation would join the GCC militaries with the militaries of other Arab countries, such as Egypt and Jordan. This alliance would mainly counter Iran’s aggressive behaviour and protect the stability and security of the Arab countries.

–    US-Saudi relation is crucial for the stability in the region. In the Khashoggi issue –not clear if and how much Pompeo and the Saudi leader discussed it- President Trump stood by Saudi Arabia and this event –though clarification is still needed- has no hampered the relationship between the two countries. Saudi Arabia is a key actor in the anti-Iranian coalition. Moreover, the value of the arms purchases from Saudi Arabia is still a relevant fact for the US to consider.

–    Last but not least, Pompeo reiterates the need for peace in Yemen and call to boost effort in order to stop the bloody civil war that has been devastating the country for more than 3 years.


Trump administration approach in the Middle East has clearly moved away from Obama’s path in the past years, with the president not even trying to hide the criticism toward his predecessor. Indeed, Trump has repeatedly blamed Obama’s administration for his approach in the region, accusing of underestimating threats such as Daesh or Hezbollah.

In the past few months, Trump has withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran and announced the imminent withdrawal from Syria; however, this does not mean a less presence or US interest in the regional issues, but it is a signal of a different posture. If Obama opted for engagement rather than confrontation with a country like Iran, Trump is taking the opposite path.

Note to mention that Iran, however, is not the kind of player that stays still and watches. By contrast, Teheran is strengthening its position in the region, supporting groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Moreover, it can count on some strategic allies, such as Syria, Russia and Turkey.

The risk is that the US might get engaged in a more complex and dangerous conflict that it could seem at first glance. Moreover, thought the US is working to align the Arab countries on the same path and join the effort toward the same goal -stability and security- there is still an important factor to consider. The Middle East is still sharply fragmented -ethnic division, religious schism, political rivalry, etc- and those countries that do not follow the US ideal of Middle East Strategic Alliance , like Iran, Syria, even Turkey or Yemen, play a peculiar role in the game, as their actions or the developments in their territories may considerably affect Washington’s project.

Hence, eyes on Trump and the Arab countries, as the withdrawal from Syria might not be the last twist of Trump’s policy in the Middle East. Moreover, the White House’s decisions may also trigger unexpected reactions of other players, as could be yesterday’s suicide bombing in Syria, the first one after Trump’s announcement, easy to relate to latest developments.


Paola Fratantoni







The 39th GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) summit held in the Saudi capital Riyadh last Sunday. The GCC is an inter-governmental organization of six oil-exporting countries in the Middle East. Founded in 1981 in Riyadh, the GCC is a political and economic alliance and its member states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates-UAE, Oman and Bahrain) promote cooperation and unity within the region, pursuing common goals and protecting the cultural and identity values of the Islamic world. This alliance aims to strengthen relations between member countries at political, economic, cultural and military levels. The GCC has, indeed, a council for defence planning, which coordinates military cooperation between the six countries.

This harmony broke in June 2017, when the “Arab quartet” (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain publicly accused Qatar of supporting and financing terrorist groups. The quartet broke the diplomatic relations with the country and imposed air, naval and land embargoes. This event compromised the relations among the countries, but also the role of the GCC itself. Its credibility as a unified organization and a benchmark for the interests of the region is now inevitably questioned, as its ability to effectively guarantee unity, security and stability in the region.
Tensions are still high, especially after Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – and the summit held in Riyadh is further confirmation.

It did not go unnoticed the absence of Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, who sent his foreign minister instead. A quick reaction came from the Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who criticized the absence of the Emir at the summit. Despite the tension, the summit took place following the objectives of the alliance, thus addressing issues related to the regional security, social, economic and political dynamics. During the opening meeting, the Saudi King Salman emphasized the need for greater cooperation to achieve regional stability and security. “The region goes through challenges, terrorism, and the Iranian threat,” said the Saudi monarch, who also urged the achievement of a political solution in Yemen. For years a civil war has devastated the country, thus fuelling instability in the Middle East and antagonisms between regional and global powers. Palestine, one of the organization’s top priorities, and Iran, a threat to monarchies and regional balance, were on the table too.

However, one of the biggest challenges that the GCC is currently facing is its own internal schism. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE openly oppose Qatar, while Kuwait and Oman are neutral to the disputes. The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad stressed the need to solve this division, calling on member states to strengthen unity and cooperation within the alliance, thus preserving the GCC position and role, and safeguarding the interests of their peoples. Here the seven steps listed in the Riyadh Declaration, signed at the end of the conference, essential to carry forward the objectives of the alliance.

1. Integration. The Council approved the development of a roadmap that includes the activation of the procedures necessary to achieve the objectives of integration between the GCC countries and to create a framework for their relations with the international community. Integration is intended here at multiple levels, from harmonizing economic reforms within the GCC countries to strengthening the security and stability of the region, improving the performance of the Council itself and consolidating its role both at regional and international levels.

2. Adherence to the time schedule for the implementation of economic reforms. The GCC countries set a plan to achieve economic integration among member states: the Council renews the importance of respecting these deadlines. Economic integration is, indeed, an essential step to set favourable conditions for a “Gulf” market and a customs union.

3. Collective defence. During the summit, member states appointed the commander of the unified military command of the GCC, an important step for the formation of a collective defence system. Furthermore, directives were given in order to speed up the procedures for the activation of this command and for the foundation of the Gulf Academy of Strategic and Security Studies. The aim is to give the command solid grounds and to form a qualified “Gulf” military class.

4. Security. The GCC leaders emphasized the need to maintain the security and stability of the region, combat terrorist organizations and extremist ideologies, through the promotion of values of tolerance, pluralism and justice, a benchmark of the Islamic religion and the Arab tradition.

5. Unified foreign policy. The leaders of the six countries underline the importance of unity in foreign policy, basing choices on the Council Statute and working to preserve regional interests and avoid local and international conflicts. They renewed their support for the Palestinian cause and the commitment to help the “brothers” in Yemen and other Arab countries to achieve peace, prosperity and security in their countries.

6. Strengthen strategic partnerships. In today’s environment, it is essential to strengthen strategic partnerships, at economic, cultural, military and political levels, among GCC members, between them and their friendly nations, as well as with different regional blocs. The GCC summits, therefore, renew their commitment to assist friendly countries, through humanitarian and development programs.

7. Maintaining the objectives achieved by the Council. At a time when the credibility of the GCC is being questioned, the leaders of the member countries reaffirm the value of the objectives achieved to date, the need to preserve them and to continue to promote projects aimed at achieving the goals of the organization.
Although the summit was valued positively, as claimed by the Emir of Kuwait, the major obstacle to achieving the GCC objectives is the schism within the group. To date, there is no concrete basis for an improvement in the situation.

During an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, the American think tank, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, expressed little positive opinion about the possibility that the GCC will continue to play that role of a unitary block that he had gained over the years. “When the GCC crisis started and they started, they enforced the blockade on Qatar, it changed everything. It changed the perspective on the eyes of the people. Shows that the GCC became an ineffective tool even to resolve its own problem because we would not be able to reach such a level of tension “.

On the other hand, the UAE and Saudi Arabia keep firmly their positions. The recent exit of Qatar from OPEC does little to reassure the minds. Beyond the economic aspect – hence the possibility of increasing the production of crude oil without the restrictions imposed by the Organization (though Qatar has declared an intention to invest massively in natural gas- the choice of the monarchy is seen as a challenge to the predominant role of Saudi Arabia and, therefore, an attempt to change the balance of the Middle Eastern geopolitical chessboard.
Worth to mention that all is happening in a region where Iran still is a destabilizing factor, the civil war in Syria is far from a solution, the Arab-Israeli conflict is vividly alive, the proliferation of terrorist groups does not stop and the interests at stake they are high.

Although the GCC could have been – and potentially still could be- the actor capable of guaranteeing order and security in the region, the road to actually achieving this goal seems to be far longer and more impervious than the Arab leaders have outlined on Sunday. To give stability to a region characterized by conflicts, struggles for hegemony, cultural and religious differences, it is primarily necessary to achieve internal unity among those who want to be the active players of this change. Perhaps, among the points of the declaration, a “solve our internal schism first…” should have been written …


Paola Fratantoni

Sanchez appoints a progressive government with winks to the center


The seventh president of the government after the restoration of democracy, Pedro Sánchez, surrounded himself with a large majority female team: he has 13 to 17 portfolios, including 11 women in the heaviest areas. A group of “personalities” who have “parked” successful careers to serve Spain, according to Sánchez on Wednesday. Progressivism, Europeanism and the commitment to equality were the characteristics that stood out, even if a look at the center is also deduced from the composition of the Cabinet. A team that with its specialization can immediately start doing politics. Sánchez appoints a progressive government. Almost all the elected representatives of the government are specialists in the subject that Sanchez has entrusted to them, so that they can start working immediately, after swearing or promising their positions and taking possession of their portfolios.

There is specialization, European experience, territorial distribution and, ideologically, various genuinely social-democratic faces – in health, education and employment; among these, first of all, Carmen Calvo in the vice-presidency, which also embodies the feminist potential and defense of equality that the head of government claims to pursue. Economic rigor borders with the liberal doctrine of the new Economy Minister, Nadia Calviño, and the Treasury owner, María Jesús Montero, does not leave orthodoxy. The vast party trajectory accumulates the Minister of Labor, Migration and Social Security, Magdalena Valerio, a member of the PSOE Executive in the areas of social security and the Toledo Pact, although she has maintained her job as an Inem official.

DPRK seeks global support for peace on Korean Peninsula


The official media of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today called on the international community, in particular the countries which share responsibility for peace on the Korean Peninsula, to back peace-building efforts there. The official Minju Joson daily said that the May 24 dismantling of the DPRK’s northern nuclear test ground “testified in practice, not in words, to the firm will of the DPRK to join the international efforts for the total ban on nuclear tests.” DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet on June 12 in Singapore, the first such summit to be held since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

“The present situation urgently requires countries responsible for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula to take practical steps for peace on the peninsula from a responsible and serious stand and attitude,” said the daily. “Invariable is the stand of the DPRK to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and make active contributions to world peace and stability,” it said.

China, Kyrgyzstan to establish comprehensive strategic partnership


China and Kyrgyzstan today agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership. The agreement was reached during the talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Beijing.  “It is another landmark event in the history of bilateral ties that China and Kyrgyzstan will establish a comprehensive strategic partnership, which will inject new impetus into the development of bilateral ties,” Xi told Jeenbekov. Standing at a new starting point, China is willing to work with Kyrgyzstan to carry forward the traditional friendship and conduct all-round cooperation so as to achieve national development and better benefit the two peoples, said Xi.

Noting that Kyrgyzstan was one of the first countries to support and participate into the Belt and Road Initiative and related construction, Xi said China would like to make joint efforts with Kyrgyzstan to open minds and explore potentials to lift bilateral cooperation to a new level.


Trump claims North Korea summit could be delayed


After days of touting success in managing to bring the leader of the rogue nuclear regime to the table for negotiations over the end of his nuclear weapons program, now the U.S. President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility that the planned summit may fall through. The historic summit between the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the U.S. President was scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12. However, in recent weeks, the diplomatic overture took a turn for the worse after North Korea cancelled planned talks with South Korea and even threatened to cancel the meeting with Trump over Seoul’s military drills with the U.S. North Korea officially criticized the joint war games by U.S. and South Korean forces, throwing the Singapore summit in doubt.

U.S. meanwhile insisted that the summit would lead to unilateral North Korean surrender of its nuclear weapons programme. Trump earlier warned Kim Jong Un that if he refuses to make a deal he could face the same fate as the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was toppled and killed after a NATO-backed insurrection. North Korea said that it supports the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” but interprets it as a gradual, phased and mutual disarmament process.

Spain: unaccompanied minor arrivals record, + 60%


The flow of unaccompanied migrant minors in Spain has increased by more than 60% in 2017. With the increase in landings along the Western Mediterranean route, 6,414 foreign minors arrived in Spain last year, 2,417 more than last year. According to government data, referring only to children housed in structures and reception centers in the various regions, one third of the total recorded in the last four years was hosted in Andalusia. The report ‘Los mas solos’, (The loneliest), by the NGO Save The Children, denounces the flaws in the system of reception, protection and integration of migrant children and adolescents who arrive alone in the country. The figures for unaccompanied minors include only those who have come into contact with public authorities and for whom the minority has been certified. It remains outside the statistics who, instead, decides to be passed as adults, not to end up in reception centers, and those who voluntarily abandoned the structures.

Despite the significant increase in landings in the last 4 years, only a hundred migrant minors have asked asylum and only 31 have obtained it, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior mentioned in the report. Which means that one in 3 requests is rejected. Originally, the Moroccans have always been the most numerous, followed by the Algerians, the Syrians only in 2014 were the second largest community. Without educational and employment policies, these very young are condemned to precariousness and social exclusion. And from the day they turn 18 and remain unprotected and no support from the administration, as stated by Save The Children.

Germans prosecutors push for Puigdemont extradition


German prosecutors are preparing the paperwork to extradite former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back to Spain on charges of rebellion and disturbance of the peace. A German court ruled on 22.5.2018 that Puigdemont, who was detained by German police in March, cannot be rearrested because he does not pose a flight risk. However, the state’s prosecutors want to send the former regional president back to Spain in the light of new video evidence which they say shows “violence perpetrated against the Spanish police forces.”


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