JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tikhanovskaya’s People’s Ultimatum deadline expires, general strike due to start” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya set a deadline of October 25 for Lukashenko to leave office or face a general strike that will bring the country to its knees. Lukashenko has not quit.” “The [Sunday] deadline … expired … set by … nominal victor in Belarus’ presidential election Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as part of the ‘People’s Ultimatum.’ … demand[ing] … self-appointed President […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Alexander Lukashenko changes tack in Belarus stand-off” – Financial Times/ James Shotter, Max Seddon

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Meeting imprisoned opposition leaders is departure from previous hardline approach” “After … weeks in the Belarusian KGB prison, tech executive Dmitry Rabtsevich and a dozen opposition activists … [were visited by] embattled strongman … Lukashenko … [in] an unannounced roundtable with his jailed opponents. The jail then quickly released … Rabtsevich …. The bizarre four-and-a-half-hour jail meeting … was … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A dozen countries refuse to recognise Lukashenko’s inauguration; Spontaneous protests broke out in the evening following Alexander Lukashenko’s secret inauguration for a sixth term” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“A dozen countries refused to recognise … Lukashenko as … legitimate president of Belarus after he secretly inaugurated himself … September 23. Tensions were high in Minsk after the news broke, with protesters in Minsk flooding the streets and clashing with police trying to disperse them. The only leader that sent a message to congratulate Lukashenko was Turkmen President Gurbanguly […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “After Weeks of Pressure in Belarus, Protesters and Lukashenko Locked in Dangerous Stalemate” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“More than 100,000 people protest; country’s longtime leader set to meet Putin on Monday.” “More than 100,000 … poured into the streets of … Minsk [Sunday], sparking a show of force and mass detentions by riot police[,] … one of the largest in a string of demonstrations aimed at keeping pressure on … Lukashenko[] [i]n the month since [an election] […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus protests stoke sea change at state media outlets” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Hundreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of demonstrations.” “… [In] a sea change at … [Belarus’s] normally pliant state media[,] [h]undreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of the [anti-Lukashenko] protests and … brutal police crackdown …. Several have resigned …. [S]tate media … remains a crucial tool in … Lukashenko’s attempt to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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As Lukashenka Turns To Geopolitics, The West Faces Learning Curve In Belarus

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

… The embattled strongman has been back-footed by the massive, unprecedented demonstrations demanding he resign in the wake of the August 9 presidential election the protesters view as fixed […]

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Belarusians Expected a Maidan but Instead have a Revolution, Kagarlitsky Says

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 19, 2020) Belarusians expected a Maidan like in Ukraine with a dispute about falsification of election results leading to the ouster of a dictator; but what has occurred, as a result of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s earlier successes and recent failures, is the beginning of a revolution with many more far-reaching consequences, Boris […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biegun Says U.S. Sees No Indication of Russian Military Plans in Belarus” – Reuters

Cropped File Photo of Stephen Biegun, adapted from image featured at state.gov

“Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun [was in Lithuania,] signal[ing] a greater U.S. role … trying to settle … strife … erupt[ing] when Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on peaceful protesters … reject[ing] his claim of a landslide election victory [claiming it was rigged]. … Asked about possible Russian military intervention … [Biegun] said: ‘Of course that would be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin bets on Lukashenko keeping power in Belarus for now: sources” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Putin believes … Lukashenko will probably cling to power for now despite protests … and is content to let him sweat it out, two sources close to the Kremlin said. … [T]he two countries usually have no border controls, … culturally, linguistically and economically intertwined. Putin has pushed hard to make [their] union state [concept] more of a political […]

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Only Six Percent of Russians Think Lukashenka About to Lose Power, VTsIOM Poll Finds

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Euarasia – Staunton, Aug. 16, 2020) While one Russian in four thinks Alyaksandr Lukashenka falsified the results of the presidential vote there and only one in five thinks that the official reports are entirely trustworthy, only one Russian in 16 – six percent – thinks the demonstrations in Belarus are about to drive Lukashenka from […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Merkel and Putin discuss political crisis in Belarus” – Financial Times/ Guy Chazan, Henry Foy, James Shotter, Max Seddon

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“German leader’s talks with counterpart acknowledge Russia’s crucial role in deciding fate of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.” “… Merkel called … Putin … Tuesday to discuss Belarus[,] … tacit acknowledgment of his pivotal role …. Moscow has propped up … Lukashenko financially and militarily throughout [Lukashenko’s] 26 years in power … the Kremlin has remained on the sidelines since his […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Opposition Seeks to Reassure Russia as Strikes Go On” – Bloomberg/ Aliaksandr Kudrytski

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Opposition leaders in Belarus are seeking to reassure Russia about future relations as the biggest challenge to … Lukashenko’s 26-year rule continues with nationwide strikes. Russia is an important partner for Belarus and ‘we recognize and accept that,’ Maria Kalesnikava … top ally of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya[] wrote in a message published … on Telegram by … [Ekho Moskvy] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tikhanovskaya to hold first transition council meeting, EU opens talks with opposition” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“The focus of the opposition is shifting from street protests to a legal assault on Lukashenko’s administration and the creation of a transition government.” “… nominal president-elect of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s Transfer of Power Coordination Council … [seeks a] process of bringing in a new government ahead of fresh elections. ‘We’re starting to form the Coordination Council. … an extended […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko Says He Is Ready to Share Power in Belarus as Protests Mount” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“[Belarus’ leader] … Lukashenko … [says] he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes … pos[ing] the biggest challenge … to his rule. … He faces the threat of [EU] sanctions after a bloody crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to invade Belarus” – Atlantic Council/ Anders Åslund

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Lukashenka seems to be on his way out. … he could only gather a few thousand press-ganged ‘supporters’ for a regime rally … [C]olossal crowds gathered [in Minsk] … hours later to demand his departure. Lukashenka’s blatant theft of the … presidential election has united the Belarusian people against him. Presumably, the only support he can now count on […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia invade Belarus?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Russia has a lot more to lose than to gain from an annexation of Belarus. But it will be hard to lose anything in a post-Lukashenko Belarus” “… Lukashenko … [said] he would ask … Putin to help Belarus ‘restore order[,]’ … [that] protests ‘threaten the whole former Soviet space’ …. [Social media] [v]ideo … show[s] Russian army trucks … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “China and Russia: Economic Unequals” – CSIS/ Jonathan E. Hillman

Asia Map

“…. Xi and Putin’s signature economic visions even appear complementary at first glance. Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has unleashed Chinese companies to build roads, railways, fiber-optic cables, and other hard infrastructure …. Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) harmonizes customs processes to create a single market among Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. … Xi and Putin have repeatedly […]

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Post-Soviet State Responses to COVID-19: Making or Breaking Authoritarianism?

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(PONARS Eurasia – Marlene Laruelle, Madeline McCann – March 24, 2020) Marlene Laruelle is Research Professor, Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Director of the Central Asia Program, and Co-director of PONARS Eurasia at George Washington University. Madeline McCann is Program Coordinator for PONARS Eurasia at George Washington University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Pandemics are […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow Has Limited Options in Belarus” – Chatham House/ John Lough

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

Leaked details of the latest negotiations between Moscow and Minsk on fleshing out their 20-year old Union State project suggest that Russia wants to place Belarus in a closer embrace without incorporating it into the Russian Federation “… [There has been speculation in Moscow that] the Union State … [would provide] a platform for … Putin to stay in office […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Iconoclastic Economics Guru to Lose Kremlin Post [re: Sergei Glazyev]” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya and Stepan Kravchenko

Kremlin and River

“A[ Kremlin] economist [and top Putin advisor] known for challenging Russia’s tight-money policies … is leaving the Kremlin after seven years. Sergei Glazyev will switch to the Eurasian Economic Commission that oversees relations between … Eurasian Economic Union [member states] … Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan … Glazyev alarmed investors … with calls for massive state spending, abandoning the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “No rapid de-dollarization, national currency settlements pose certain risks – Kudrin” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 22 (Interfax) – There will be no rapid de-dollarization in settlements which, when conducted in other national currencies, including those of Eurasian Economic Union countries, pose certain currency risks, said Alexei Kudrin, head of the Russian Accounts Chamber. “I’m in favor of a company being able to choose [the currency of settlements], which would be in keeping with […]

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Russia setting priorities of its EAEU presidency – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

ASTANA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The Russian presidency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2018 will focus on trade barriers, interaction with international partners, labor standards, and support for exports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting in Astana on Monday. “Russia will be presiding in the Eurasian Union next year. We are setting […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A CHINESE SILK NOOSE” – Valdai Club/ Georgy Toloraya

Asia Map

“… In response to the Chinese initiative, Russia advanced an even more ambitious project of a Greater Eurasian Partnership … incorporate[ing] the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). … However, Russia lacks the resources and integration ties with the numerous countries of the Euro-Pacific space for implementing this ambitious […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Belarus Can’t Afford to Be the New Ukraine; Is it too late for Lukashenko to defy Russia?” – The National Interest/Nikolay Pakhomov

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“On February 3 Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko launched the fiercest of his rhetorical attacks against Russia  …. moderate estimates show that Belarus has received approximately $100 billion of various Russian investments, preferences and support. … Politically, the Union State of Russia and Belarus that was formed in December 1999 never fully materialized. Furthermore, despite the geopolitical showdown between Russia and […]

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Border regime with Belarus was not introduced, at issue are border zones to regulate trips by citizens of third countries – Kremlin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) – #Moscow has pointed it out to #Minsk that no decisions on the introduction of a border regime on the #Russian-#Belarusian border have been made and the Federal Security Service director’s order on the creation of border zones is aimed at regulating trips by citizens of third countries. “Belarusian President Alexander #Lukashenko [on Friday] made critical […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Belarus reportedly mulls leaving Eurasian Economic Union as relations with Russia worsen” – bne Intellinews

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“#Belarus wants to leave the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and possibly the union state of #Russia and Belarus, the Russian online news service Regnum controversially reported on February 2, citing an anonymous source in Moscow. The information has not been confirmed by either Minsk or Moscow, but over the last few months tensions have risen […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct: “Does Putin really intend to restore the Soviet Union? RD Interview: Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent talks about Russia’s foreign policy and explains why Russia is creating alternative regional institutions such as the Eurasian Economic Union.”

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“Despite the deteriorating state of relations between Russia and the West, experts and politicians continue to search for ways out of the crisis. Many blame Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the desire to restore the Soviet Union and pursue an authoritarian path of development. However, as other experts argue, such perceptions stem from a misunderstanding of Russia’s interests, goals […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Ukraine and Russia Need Each Other” – Nicolai Petro/Russian Politics

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Ukraine needs ….  the restoration of those economic ties with Russia that clearly benefit the Ukrainian economy, at least until Ukraine develops stable alternative markets. …. a stop gap measure needed to stop the hemorrhaging of resources, manpower, and capital, and to win Ukraine time and breathing space for economic reform …. Nor do I see it as a matter […]

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Russia Seeks To Drive Wedge Into Central Asia

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Bruce Pannier – January 5, 2016) Russia appears to be practicing a bit of “divide-and-conquer” politics in Central Asia, and state-owned Gazprom is spearheading the campaign. On January 4, Russia’s main news agencies quoted a “source” within Gazprom Export, the Gazprom wing charged with handling gas imports from other countries, saying Russia would not be importing any […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Eugene Rumer, Paul Stronski: “Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Twenty­Five-A Baseline Assessment”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace undertakes an overview of former Soviet states two-and-a-half decades following the USSR’s collapse. For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, […]

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The Riga summit of disappointment

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 21, 2015) Several plucky countries of Emerging Europe have put their necks on the block by defying Russian bullying to join its Customs Union, turning instead to the EU and its promise of a better life. But most of these countries are likely to be disappointed, or could […]

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Meet the EEU family (Eurasian Economic Union)

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – January 5, 2015) Members: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia Prospective member: Armenia Potential members: Kyrgyzstan (likely), Tajikistan (unlikely) Population: 173mn (Russia, including Crimea, 146mn; Kazakhstan, 17mn; Belarus, 10mn) Total GDP: $2.7tn Share of world gas reserves: 20% Share of world oil reserves: 15% On January 1, the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty governing what […]

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For Russia, Eurasian Union is About Politics, Not Economy

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – May 30, 2014) With the milestone agreement to create a Eurasian economic union clinched in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Russia put cheap energy resources at the head of its drive to pull former Soviet states away from European integration and into its orbit. The Eurasian Economic Union agreement, signed by the leaders of […]

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RIA Novosti: Opinion: Eurasian Union’s Economic Integration Stronger than EU’s

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

WASHINGTON, May 30 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The Eurasian Economic Union is a better, more realistic step towards economic integration than the European Union, and will be more productive, said Andrew McKillop, a former chief policy analyst at the European Commission Directorate General for Energy. “It is the right decision at the right time,” McKillop, now an independent journalist […]

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Despite Ukraine Crisis, Russia Pursues Eurasian Integration Dream

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – May 28, 2014) It’s full steam ahead for the Moscow-backed Eurasian Economic Union — even as its prospective members express serious reservations. At the May 29 summit of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in Astana, the three are expected to sign a treaty to transform their tripartite Customs Union into a Eurasian Economic Union (EES) by January 2015. […]

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Stability across Former Soviet Space ‘Deceptive,’ Moscow Paper Says

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 26, 2014) Despite the fact that the Ukrainian revolution is far from over, many in Moscow are asking where the next such outburst of turmoil and change in the former Soviet space will happen, a question prompted by the fact that most Russians were “unprepared” for what happened in Kyiv, according […]

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Moscow Faces Five Growing Obstacles to Integrating Post-Soviet Space, MGIMO Professor Says

European Portion of Commonwealth of Independent States

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 18, 2014) Both because the Russian empire has always been “an empire of a special type” and because ethnic Russians remain “the most divided people in Europe,” Moscow has every right to “struggle” to overcome what Vladimir Putin has described as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century, according to […]

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Belarusians Want to Join EU Rather than Russia, Poll Shows

Belarus Map

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 3, 2013) Ukrainians and Moldovans are not the only nations between Moscow and the European Union who would prefer to be part of the EU than any Moscow-dominated entity and certainly don’t want their country to be absorbed by the Russian Federation.  A new poll shows that Belarusians have the same […]

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Preparations for Russia’s G8 presidency will give priority to search for solutions to key intl issues

File Photo of G8 Heads of State Outdoors in 2013

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has given the country’s government and Foreign Ministry until May 1, 2014 to complete negotiations on a Eurasian Economic Union Treaty with Belarus and Kazakhstan and draft a bill to ratify this document. The list of instructions that come as a follow-up to the president’s annual address to the Federal Assembly […]

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Interfax: Russian foreign minister on Ukraine’s place in Europe and Eurasia

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, December 21, 2013) Russia would like to see Ukraine participating in Eurasian integrational processes and the agreements between Russia and Ukraine of 17 December confirm a shared desire for constructive work, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. “Eurasian integrational structures are open to other partners in the CIS as well. Of course, we would like to […]

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Interfax: Russia has no wish to restore USSR though integration has benefits for former Soviet republics – Matviyenko

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 20 (Interfax) – The statements of people accusing Russia of imperial ambitions or aspiration to restore the Soviet Union are groundless, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. “No one wants to restore anything and it is impossible already, so such statements are absolutely baseless,” Matviyenko said at an integration club meeting in the Russian Geographical Society. It […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia Condemns Pressure on Ukraine to Turn Towards Europe

EU Map

MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia is surprised by blatant attempts to pressure Ukraine into signing an association agreement with the European Union, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday. Sergei Lavrov said that pressure was continuing despite Kiev’s clear choice to develop closer ties with Moscow. He spoke a day after President Vladimir Putin agreed to cut the price of […]

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Interfax: SUMMARY: Gazprom slashes gas price for Ukraine by third, looks at new model of relations

File Photo of Blue Flame from Natural Gas

MOSCOW. Dec 18 (Interfax) – Russia’s Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) and Naftogaz Ukraine, in the presence of the two countries’ presidents on Tuesday, signed addenda to January 19, 2009 contracts on the purchase-sale, delivery and transshipment of natural gas for 2009-2019. Discount President Vladimir Putin said after the signing that the documents would enable Gazprom to supply gas to Ukraine at […]

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RIA Novosti: Gazprom Could Lose Billions Over Ukraine Gas Deal – Analyst

Russian Gas Facility file photo

MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia’s deal to provide Ukraine with cheaper gas may mean billions of dollars in lost profits, an investment analyst told a business newspaper in remarks published Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would slash the price of its gas to Ukraine by one-third on Tuesday, down to $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters from […]

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NEWSLINK: Ukraine drops plan to go West, turns East

EU Map

[Ukraine drops plan to go West, turns East – Reuters – Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk – November 21, 2013 – reuters.com/article/2013/11/21/us-ukraine-eu-idUSBRE9AK0S220131121] Reuters reports on Ukraine’s sudden shift from a pending deal with the European Union back towards Russia: Ukraine’s government announced it was suspending preparations for a landmark trade pact with the European Union … [saying] it would renew […]

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Interfax: More people in Moldova prefer Customs Union to EU membership – poll

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

CHISINAU. Nov 18 (Interfax) – A public opinion poll conducted by the Romanian sociological research company CCSB has shown that 48% of Moldovan citizens support the country’s accession to the Belarusian-Kazakh-Russian Customs Union and 42% would choose the European Union. CCSB expert Alexandru Larionescu said at a press conference on Friday that the respondents were asked whether they support or […]

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Russia not planning to forcibly drag anyone to Customs Union – diplomat

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Interfax – BRUSSELS, September 13, 2013) Russia is not planning to put pressure on any state or drag it forcibly into any association because of its relations with the EU’s Eastern Partnership, Russian envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told Interfax on Friday. “Our partners, primarily European parliamentarians, are unfortunately deeply misled on this. It is not about Russia’s […]

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