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Russia's influence in the Western Balkans

Mad-Daqqa t''Għajn 08-06-2022

The countries in the Western Balkans are traditionally a focus of Russian interests. The Russian Federation has strong historical ties with the Western Balkans and holds a relative soft-power attraction for them, yet its influence and economic impact in the region are declining, as investment and aid by the EU-27 and other players, such as China, have been dwarfing Russian investment. This ‘At a glance’ note has been produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in ...

While the UN Human Development Index, which assesses progress in the standard of living, health and education, ranks Russia among the 'very high human development' countries, other data suggest a more nuanced reality. Russia has gone from Soviet-era egalitarianism to extremes of wealth and poverty. Economic growth during the first decade under Vladimir Putin's leadership slightly reduced the gap between rich and poor, but inequality is still higher than in most developed countries. Factors such as ...

After a period of relative freedom in the 1990s allowed the emergence of civic activism in Russia, repression has now come full circle. Under Vladimir Putin's power vertical, space for independent voices has narrowed. Like the political opposition and the media, civil society is now increasingly subordinate to the state. Repressive legislation has gradually circumscribed the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). As part of a more general drive to exclude external influences after a ...

Russia's war on Ukraine: New EU sanctions

Mad-Daqqa t''Għajn 03-03-2022

Outraged by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, EU countries have adopted unprecedentedly tough sanctions, in cooperation with partners such as the US, Canada and the UK. Although Russia will partially adapt, these measures are expected to cause major disruption and isolate the country from the global economy.

Foreign interference in EU democratic processes

Mad-Daqqa t''Għajn 02-03-2022

The European Parliament is expected to vote in March on a report on external attempts to influence elections and other democratic processes in EU countries. The report, prepared by the Special Committee on Foreign Interference (INGE), summarises the EU's main vulnerabilities and recommends steps to address them.

In 2014, the EU and the US adopted sanctions against Russia after it annexed Crimea. Since then, they have added various other restrictive measures, responding to Russia's use of illegal chemical weapons, cyber-attacks and human rights abuses. With concerns that Moscow is planning another attack against Ukraine, Western countries are now considering tough new measures. Ukraine-related economic sanctions in particular have had a significant impact on not only the companies and sectors directly targeted ...

After a period of détente, tensions are rising between the two former Cold War enemies again. Fundamental differences were already apparent during the Yeltsin years and have increasingly strained relations since 2000, under Vladimir Putin. There are few issues that Washington and Moscow agree on, but none is more divisive than Ukraine. Russia is determined to prevent further NATO expansion into post-Soviet eastern Europe, which it still sees as a buffer zone vital to its security and as a sphere ...

Chaos and crackdown in Kazakhstan: What next?

Mad-Daqqa t''Għajn 13-01-2022

Protests erupted in Kazakhstan on 2 January 2022 and quickly span out of control, resulting in multiple deaths and several days of chaos. Although initially triggered by a fuel price hike, the unrest points to deeper causes of discontent, including poverty, inequality and frustration at the lack of political change. A Russia-led peacekeeping mission has helped to restore order, but could also compromise Kazakh independence.

Eastern Partnership post-2020 agenda

Analiżi fil-Fond 16-12-2021

The geopolitical, economic and security situation in Europe has evolved significantly in the past 12 years since the Eastern Partnership (EaP) was launched in 2009. Taking into account the pandemic context and the growing pressure on democracies and multilateralism worldwide, an assertive Russia under Vladimir Putin and an increasingly influential China, the role and responsibility of the European Union – a major global champion of democracy and multilateralism – in the EaP region are growing. Against ...

Is Russia planning a new conflict in Ukraine?

Mad-Daqqa t''Għajn 15-12-2021

For the second time in 2021, a massive Russian military build-up and increasingly hostile rhetoric point to a planned attack on Ukraine. Whereas the previous build-up ended in April with the withdrawal of most troops, this time the signs are more worrying. Russia is demanding a halt to NATO activity in and around Ukraine. The US and the EU are threatening harsh new sanctions against Russia if the attack goes ahead.