Belarus is entering an election year. The country’s parliamentary elections will be held in November 2019, whereas the next presidential election is scheduled for spring 2020. Under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, elections have become purely administrative rituals, however, this time, they might involve – from the regime’s perspective – a greater risk. On the one hand, Russia is putting more pressure on Belarus for further bilateral integration while at the same time reducing its economic assistance for the neighbour; on the other hand, Lukashenko has to start thinking about his future successor and the fact that without substantial reforms, the current economic model of Belarus is doomed to bankruptcy.
Paris’s ambition is to take over from Germany as Moscow’s top political partner in Europe. The first step consists in taking the lead in the so-called Normandy format. What seems to foster this move is the election of a new president of Ukraine. Seen to have been far closer to Germany, Petro Poroshenko was replaced with Volodymyr Zelensky, a politician said to be more France-oriented. What is the Kremlin’s reaction?
Recent months have brought a heated discussion over the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, or Act 447. Adopted by the U.S. Congress, the law provided for Washington’s diplomatic efforts to help restitute Jewish properties to Holocaust survivors. Also, the act has raised the ire of the Polish diaspora in the United States while having surfaced right in the run-up for Poland’s local government elections. Few months have passed since, the issue has gone quiet in the media, but it is worthwhile to draw attention to the law itself, its nature as well as the stance of the Polish government.
Another round of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh was held in June in Washington, bringing together the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss peaceful solutions to the thirty-year-long armed conflict in the region. Although June saw a relatively quiet situation on the front line, soldiers still die in sporadic battles fought on both sides. But is U.S. diplomacy likely to help establish peace in the Caucasus?
The United States officially pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. While announcing Washington’s ultimate decision, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Moscow of having violated the deal. Naturally, Moscow claims the United States is to be blamed for the end of the landmark agreement, a statement that was followed by Russia’s formal exit.
Ukraine’s recent elections have yet again brought up the issue of settling conflicts in the eastern part of the country. But is Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s new president who had won a sweeping victory in both presidential and parliamentary races, capable of bringing peace in the midst of the ongoing dispute? Will he step up to Russian efforts aimed at maintaining the region within its sphere of influence?
In three years, Poland’s gas imports from Russia could be reduced even to zero, mainly thanks to U.S.-sourced liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas flows from Norway.
Turkey has received the first parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, all this despite Donald Trump’s warnings and the Pentagon’s threats. Imposing U.S. sanctions on Ankara is inevitable, but Turkey’s purchase of cutting-edge Russian military technology poses a thorny problem for all its fellow NATO allies, a situation from which Russia gains most.
A wave of demonstrations sparked in Georgia, a country located in the South Caucasus. Mass protests broke out over anti-Russian sentiment yet soon exemplified to no lesser extent people’s infuriation with the policy pursued by Georgian Dream, a political party that has ruled the country over the past six years. Though many would be eager to eye what happened in Georgia as a revolution, a sudden change of power seems unlikely, at least now.
In 2019, Poland holds the presidency over the Berlin Summit, culminated by the Western Balkans Summit in Poznań. Launched at the Berlin summit in 2014, the initiative gathers some of EU Member States, including Poland, along with six Western Balkan states.
Staging provocations and framing people referred to as uncomfortable for the regime are a common practice in Russia under Vladimir Putin, with drugs and even child pornography being planted on the regime’s opponents. More and more people, including journalists, are sent behind bars on bogus charges while law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts follow the orders from the state authorities.
The Polish president arrived in the United States to pay what was called the best visit for many years, marking yet another significant step in cementing the alliance between the two countries. What was agreed by Trump and Duda bolstered Poland’s position as Washington’s key partner on NATO’s eastern flank and one of its few important allies across Europe.
Ukraine’s energy giant Naftogaz estimated that over 9 billion cubic meters of gas had been extracted from its Crimean assets since Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula in February 2014. And the Ukrainian gas firm claimed that Russia had unlawfully expropriated its assets in Crimea of a total value of up to $5 billion.
In April 2019, the contaminated petroleum supply was reported to have flown to Central and Eastern Europe through the Druzhba pipeline, forcing all countries in the region to halt oil flows and make use of their crude reserves. The largest oil crisis in the region constitutes yet another argument in favor of diversifying crude supplies to Poland and neighboring countries.