Twenty years ago on Friday, Russian president Boris Yeltsin appointed his fourth prime minister in less than 18 months: Vladimir Putin, then a relatively unknown security services chief with scant experience of politics. The departing Yeltsin was casting around for a successor and few could have predicted that two decades later Putin would still be ruling Russia, having taken on a dominant role in world affairs. But the anniversary comes at a time of uncertainty in the leader’s reign. Putin’s approval ratings remain at a level most Western leaders would envy but they have taken a hit from a stalling economy and declining living standards. A protest movement in Moscow has meanwhile seen thousands arrested in recent weeks — the largest crackdown since a wave of demonstrations against Putin returning to the Kremlin in 2012 after another spell as prime minister. The 66-year-old is meanwhile facing a succession drama of his own. This is his last term in office according to the Russian constitution but — after stamping out the competition and taking control of most of the media — there is no obvious figure to replace him. Analysts say it is unlikely that Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin will give up power completely when his current term ends in 2024. Putin the liberalThe picture was very different when Putin won his first presidential election following Yeltsin’s early resignation on New Year’s Eve, 2000. “Russia, despite its poverty and problems with criminality, was still a democratic, liberal country,” said
Ukraine’s new leader said he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to urge him to help halt fighting in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he asked the Russian leader to “influence the other side so that they stop killing our people.” Zelenskiy’s call came a day after four Ukrainian soldiers were killed by pro-Russia insurgents. Separatist rebels said they were returning fire after Ukrainian shelling of a school. The Kremlin said in its take on the call that Putin emphasized that the Ukrainian troops should stop shelling residential areas since that results in civilian casualties. The conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and has killed more than 13,000 people. Germany and France helped broker a 2015 agreement signed in Minsk that helped reduce fighting, but clashes have continued and peace efforts have stalled. Zelenskiy, a comedian without political experience, was elected in a landslide in April on promises to end the conflict in the east and tackle rampant official corruption. He said Wednesday he expects to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the day to push for a meeting with them and Putin to search for a peaceful settlement in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin said Putin, on the call with Zelenskiy, underlined the need for Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreement, including its provision of granting a special status to Ukraine’s separatist regions.
Serbia’s leader on Monday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for boosting the Balkan nation’s military with battle tanks and armored vehicles, amid Western fears that the arms buildup could threaten fragile peace in the region. President Aleksandar Vucic inspected the delivery of 10 recently arrived Russian armored patrol vehicles at a Serbian army military base, part of the promised supply of 30 secondhand T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicles. The vehicles have been delivered despite neighboring Romania’s refusal to let them transit via the Danube River because of international sanctions in place against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. Romania is a NATO member while Serbia claims military neutrality despite close ties with Moscow. Media reports say Russia flew the 10 armored vehicles to Serbia last week on its transport planes using Hungarian airspace. “The most important thing for us is that we managed to transport the vehicles to Serbia,” Aleksandar Vucic said. “How and which way they came, that is our business.” Russia has been helping its ally Serbia beef up its military, raising concerns in the war-scarred Balkan region. During the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia was at war with neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Serbia, the only remaining Russian ally in the region despite its proclaimed goal of joining the European Union, has already received six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and expects the delivery of additional attack and transport helicopters by the end of this year. Vucic thanked Putin for
Russian defense chief Sergei Shoigu: “The submariners acted heroically in the critical situation. “They evacuated a civilian expert from the compartment that was engulfed by fire and shut the door to prevent the fire from spreading further and fought for the ship’s survival until the end.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin fired a new broadside against Western liberalism on Saturday, saying that policies such as welcoming migrants have hurt people’s interests. Speaking after the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Putin charged that Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a drop of popularity of traditional parties in Europe have been rooted in growing public dismay with mainstream liberal policies. He said Trump’s election victory was driven by growing disenchantment with liberal policies. “The liberal idea has started eating itself,” Vladimir Putin said at a news conference. “Millions of people live their lives, and those who propagate those ideas are separate from them.” Russian President Vladimir Putin fired a new broadside against Western liberalism on Saturday, saying that policies such as welcoming migrants have hurt people’s interests. Speaking after the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Putin charged that Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a drop of popularity of traditional parties in Europe have been rooted in growing public dismay with mainstream liberal policies. He said Trump’s election victory was driven by growing disenchantment with liberal policies. “The liberal idea has started eating itself,” Putin said at a news conference. “Millions of people live their lives, and those who propagate those ideas are separate from them.” He also charged that the influx of migrants to Europe has infringed on people’s rights. “People live in their own country, according to their own traditions, why should it happen to
Turkey said on Saturday there was no setback in its plan to buy Russian S-400 missile defence systems, despite U.S. opposition, and President Donald Trump expressed understanding for the decision but did not rule out sanctions in response. NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been at odds over Turkey’s decision to procure the S-400s, with the United States warning of sanctions if the deal goes through. Turkey has dismissed the warnings and said it would not back down, as already strained ties between the two countries have deteriorated further over the dispute. Speaking before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the deal for the S-400s showed improving ties between Turkey and Russia. “Now, I believe eyes are on the delivery process of this issue, but there are no setbacks in our agreement,” Erdogan said, adding that it was a priority for Turkey that the deal includes joint production of the systems and a technology transfer. Erdogan also said it was important for Turkey to finish the first reactor in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, its first nuclear plant, by 2023. He said non-nuclear equipment at the plant should be procured from Turkey. The plant is being built by Russia’s Rosatom at a cost of more than $20 billion. Buying military equipment from Russia leaves Turkey vulnerable to U.S. retribution under a 2017 law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin used a series of talks with global leaders at the Group of 20 summit on Friday to strengthen old alliances and try to soothe tensions with rivals. Vladimir Putin used his meetings with the leaders of China and India to find common ground on issues such as opposing protectionism, while his long-delayed talks with the American and British leaders likelier touched on thornier issues. Vladimir Putin’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, their first full-fledged talks since their 2018 summit in Helsinki, Finland, was watched closely for the impact it may have on troubled U.S.-Russia ties. The Russian leader laughed when a reporter shouted about warning Putin “not to meddle” in the 2020 U.S. election and Trump waggishly said: “Don’t meddle in the election.” Putin has denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. vote despite the abundant evidence to the contrary uncovered by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller. The Russian president has charged that Russia-U.S. relations are now hostage to the U.S. political infighting, making any quick progress unlikely. New rounds of anti-Russia sanctions followed the Helsinki meeting, and Trump later announced the withdrawal from a key arms control pact signed in 1987 with the then Soviet Union. Putin followed suit. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is set to terminate this summer, raising fears of a new arms race. Putin has denounced the U.S. policies, but avoided personal criticism of Trump in an apparent hope of negotiating a rapprochement. He extensively praised Trump in an interview with