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Russia (Internal)

CrisisWatch Russia (Internal)

Unchanged Situation

Protest organisers supporting opposition politician Alexei Navalny announced pause, and authorities arrested suspected Islamist militants reportedly planning attacks in North Caucasus. Several hundred protesters 2 Feb marched in capital Moscow and St. Petersburg city in response to Moscow court’s decision same day to replace Navalny’s suspended sentence with two years and eight months imprisonment. Police immediately began to disperse crowds using force and detained 1,463 people, according to independent NGO OVD-info; Navalny supporters 14 Feb took to streets with candles and flashlights in solidarity with politician. Amid police crackdown on protests, Navalny’s Chief of Staff Leonid Volkov 4 Feb announced that major protests will be postponed until at least Spring and attention diverted to Sept 2021 parliamentary elections. European Court of Human Rights 16 Feb demanded that Russian authorities release Navalny; in response, head of Russian Ministry of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko next day said demand was “unreasonable and unlawful”; court 20 Feb rejected Navalny’s appeal. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 4-6 Feb visited Moscow, where he held talks with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov; during visit, Russian MFA 5 Feb announced that it had expelled members of diplomatic missions of Germany, Sweden and Poland for participating in unauthorised protests held on 23 Jan. Meanwhile, Federal Security Service 17 Feb reported detention of 19 individuals in Karachay-Cherkessia, Rostov Oblast, Kuban and Crimea who were allegedly plotting attacks in North Caucasus, recruiting new supporters and promoting ideology of proscribed Islamist group At-Takfir wal-Hijra. Authorities 18 Feb conducted special operation in Voronezh in south west to suppress activities of supporters of Ukrainian youth group accused of promoting neo-Nazi propaganda and provoking interethnic conflict.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

31 Aug 2020
The Kurdish leadership has every reason to suspect that Russia will not push Damascus to accept anything that Turkey might interpret as protecting or legitimizing the YPG. Kurdistan24

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
15 Apr 2020
To issue orders that people will not obey erodes one’s power. For Putin, that is existential. Politico

Anna Arutunyan

Former Senior Analyst, Russia
6 Apr 2020
[...] this is an effort to minimize offending Moscow that reflects the fact that U.N. officials believe that continued cooperation with Russia is key to the future of humanitarian operations in Syria. New York Times

Richard Gowan

UN Director
14 Feb 2020
Escalation is likely going to continue [in Syria] as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire. NBC News

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
11 Sep 2018
[Russia is] targeting the [African] regimes that do have not have very good relations with the west or who are dissatisfied with west like Sudan, Zimbabwe and CAR. The Guardian

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
27 Aug 2018
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship. Associated Press

Anna Arutunyan

Former Senior Analyst, Russia

Latest Updates

Q&A / Europe & Central Asia

Deadly Clashes in Syria’s Idlib Show Limits of Turkey’s Options

A deadly attack on Turkish forces in Syria has brought Idlib’s crisis to a dangerous crossroads. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Turkey, Syria and Russia experts explain what happened and what’s at stake.

Op-Ed / Europe & Central Asia

Putin’s Future: Reading the Tea Leaves

As President Putin announces changes to Russia’s constitution, Crisis Group expert Olga Oliker explores his plans for the future. Putin’s government may have resigned and his future role may be unknown, she says, but one thing is certain: he is the one calling the shots.

Originally published in Inkstick

European institutions and the European security order: American perspectives and their implications

Torn between  Russia’s growing influence and increasing frictions in a historic alliance with the U.S., European states face new challenges to their security architecture. Olga Oliker calls Europe to embrace a dialogue on security and threats in the neighbourhood to build sustainable peace all across the region.

Originally published in EUREN Brief

Are There Alternatives to a Military Victory in Idlib?

Last weekend, the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Ankara to discuss, among other things, the latest developments in Syria amid Turkish concerns over the consequences of a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel enclave, Idlib. 

Originally published in Valdai

Rebels without a Cause: Russia’s Proxies in Eastern Ukraine

Russia and the separatists it backs in Ukraine’s east are no longer quite on the same page, especially since the Kremlin abandoned ideas of annexing the breakaway republics or recognising their independence. The rift gives the new Ukrainian president an opportunity for outreach to the east’s embattled population, including by relaxing the trade embargo.