Indeed, why, after all, they are geographically particularly close neighbours?
On the other hand, the President of Russia visited only Hungary and the Czech Republic from Eastern and Central Europe at the turn of February – March 2006. Well, also in Ukraine when the President Viktor Yanukovych was still the president in July 2012. Probably that’s all.
The President of Czech Republic, whose government has always had sympathy of the Kremlin, among which is even the billionaire Prime Minister Andrei Babish, who during the Soviet era managed to work for the Czech version of KGB ShtB. Alexander Genis, a writer living in New York (by the way, he comes from Riga), calls the case of the Czech Republic special, noting the fact that for Czechs, Russian culture always seemed a height to match (it is obvious, for example, in Karel Chapek’s writings). To this end, the Russians are considered older brothers of the Czech Republic.
Alexander Genis remembers his trip to the editorial office of Svoboda radio in Prague in 1995, where, although everyone still remembers the Soviet brutally suppressed the Prague Spring of 1968, the taxi driver who transported him not only spoke to him in Russian, but also recited Alexander Pushkin’s poem “Evgeny Onegin” his entire trip. Worship for Russian culture is especially felt in the Czech Republic.
Affairs with the Czech Republic have changed dramatically when Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats who were considered secret agents in April. Moscow has responded in a traditional fierce manner and has been declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow as personas non grata. All employees of the political department of the embassy were forced to leave, and five diplomats remained. Moscow did not stop there and declared the Czech Republic, together with America, an unfriendly state.
Therefore, if Vladimir Putin was still going to the Czech Republic in 2006, such a visit is no longer possible.
The President of Russia met the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on 9 December 2019 (minutes of the meeting allocated 45 minutes) at the meeting of the Normandy Quartet (France, Ukraine, Germany and Russia) held in Ukraine to settle the conflict in Ukraine. That’s all.
According to Ukrainian publicist Vitaly Portnikov, two and a half years after the beginning of Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidency, it can be concluded that he was not interested in politics until the presidential election and did not explain the reasons for Russia’s aggression against his country. Volodymyr Zelensky could have believed that the war in the east of Ukraine was not due to the Kremlin’s desperate interest in returning Ukraine to Moscow’s geopolitical orbit, but because somebody failed to explain to Vladimir Putin, somebody was profiting from the war, and so on. In case of the meeting they could agree on a solution “somewhere in the middle”.
It seems the illusion have dissipated (however, the question is still open how far) after March – April, when the Russians redeployed 110 thousand military groups at the border with Ukraine.
According to Vitaly Portnikov, Vladimir Putin changed his opinion about his Ukrainian colleague quite fast after the meeting in Paris, realizing that there can be no talk of Kiev’s capitulation. The President of Russia disagrees with less. And, as in case of the former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, refused anys contact with President Volodymyr Zelensky. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba logically pointed out in a text to Le Figaro (on 26 March), the President of Russia started to wait for changes in the government in Kiev because Vladimir Putin lives in a reality where he talks not to those who negotiate but with those who obey.
The narratives have been corrected accordingly. At the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, the President of Russia tried to dissuade even NATO and especially Ukraine from joining NATO by convincing the leaders of the Alliance member states that Ukraine was no country because the East was donated by the Bolsheviks and the West by special services of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On 14 May of the current year, Vladimir Putin already stated that Ukraine was being made into a Russian antipode.
The loss of Ukraine traumatizes Moscow’s imperial consciousness, from where the speeches of the President of Russia are now painfully nasty.
So a thesis that these “other” post-Soviet leaders must go to Moscow and that’s all is reasonable. The dictator of BelarusAlexander Lukashenko is going (three times already this year) to the host, not the other way around. Not even to the capital of Russia, but to Sochi, for example.
Another good example of an algorithm convenient for the President of Russia is the former President of Moldova Igor Dodon, who used to go to Moscow particularly often, coordinated his foreign policy and even public speeches with Russian officials. However, he has never gone in the direction of the West, even to the neighbour Ukraine.
Igor Dodon was seeking revenge against pro-Western President Maia Sandu in early parliamentary election held on 11 July. The Kremlin is undoubtedly watching the process closely and lying in wait silently.
As in the case of Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who was appointed head of government on 8 May 2018, following the peaceful democratic protests that began on 13 April with the slogan “Take a step, reject Serzh” (President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan in 2008-2018).
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, after starting talks on a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh with President of Russia, called Nikol Pashinyan “Sorosian” not just offhandedly (a hint of the investor philanthropist George Soros, who supports democracy and freedom of speech around the world, but conservatives say he just is spreading confusion). The move to appeal to the President’s of Russia categorical dissatisfaction with the “spring of democracy” is understandable, as is Moscow’s fear of losing Nikol Pashinyan’s Armenia “reinforced concrete” loyalty to Moscow in a geopolitical sense.
On 9 November Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev, and Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement calling for an end to hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan met in the Kremlin on 11January, because they could not meet in Brussels and Washington, and flew to Moscow to talk to Vladimir Putin.
We can also say that Moscow succeeded in Nagorno-Karabakh in everything – Nikol Pashinyan was “taught” by the hands of Azerbaijan, the legacy of the democratic revolution was unknown for a while, the republic was returned to post-Soviet protectorate status, even if there were careful attempts to follow it. Vladimir Putin “showed”: no serious issue in the post-Soviet space can be solved without him; nothing serious can take place here without his “moderation”.
In the early parliamentary elections held on 20 June, Nikol Pashinyan regained confidence of the nation, however, this was a detail after the fact that the Kremlin has already been “educated”.
From congratulations of the President of Russia to the President of Moldova after the election: “I hope that your activities as head of the state will contribute to the constructive development of relations between our countries and will undoubtedly meet the real interests of the peoples of Russia and Moldova (on 14 January 2019): I hope that our dialogue and constructive joint work will further strengthen the Russian-Armenian alliance, as well as promote integration processes in the Eurasian space, which is in the interests of our fraternal peoples.”
Rejecting the obligatory diplomatic-stylistic nuances, the same message was sent to the leaders of the “fraternal” nations, and the President of Russia “as far as possible” applies the same method to all the leaders of the post-Soviet space. He does not necessarily succeed (the case of Ukraine), and accordingly Moscow’s different treatment of politicians in the post-Soviet space, who “do not coordinate” with Vladimir Putin in advance.
On May 3 President Gitanas Nausėda stated that Lithuania would never recognize the Russian occupation of Crimea and would do its best to stop it at the Warsaw Royal Palace to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the first constitution of the Republic of the Two Nations. The Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine participated in the event.
All three Presidents of the Baltic States announced their participation in the inaugural meeting of the Crimean Platform on 23 August, which was conceived as part of the celebration of Ukraine’s 30th anniversary on 23-24 August. The format designed by Kiev is meant to enhance the international community’s response to Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea in 2014 as a challenge to global security. The creators are actively proposing that the countries join the “… platform” as a site for declaring respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as of any other state, within internationally recognized borders.
The Crimean Platform has been causing outrage in Moscow for some time.
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada were the first in the world to adopt anti-corruption “laws of Sergei Magnitsky”. Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor at Hermitage Capital Investment Fund, was assassinated at Matrosskaya Tishina Prison on 16 November 2009, after dedicating a decade to an investigation meant for uncovering and prosecuting officials plundered from the Russian budget. Moscow has not found out the guilty so far.
While the West shyly expresses only concerns after Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, or poisoning or sabotage “otherwise” at home and away from home by Russian special services, the Baltic States have warned openly and unabashedly about the threats from the beginning.
Prime Minister of Latvia Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, in an interview with German television ARD on 13 September, rhetorically asked what else should happen after poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to make Europeans aware that Russia is the biggest threat to Europe and its values. He summed up that it is appropriate to finally open our eyes; the European Union (EU) must base its relations with Russia on a more realistic basis.
In early July, Latvia and Lithuania decided to ban television broadcasts by the Kremlin’s international megaphone RT (formerly Russia Today) because of relations with the propagandist Dmitry Kiseliov, who is included in black list of the EU. The latter is subject to sanctions for his significant role in supporting the annexation of Crimea in 2014 (awarded by the President of Russia) and Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
At the initiative of the Baltic MEPs, a forum of Friends of European Russia was convened in 2019, designated to be an alternative to the doctrine of the President of France Emmanuel Macron that it is necessary to return Russia to the embrace of Europe the way it is.
On 9 May, the sixth President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga at the Kiev Forum “The War That Continues: the Tragedy of World War II and Lessons in a New Reality” tol: Chauvinist, imperialist narratives are especially popular with Vladimir Putin, he even admitted that he was educated by propaganda films about the Soviet heroism and it seems he stuck in a “time machine” and thus failed to grow up to realize the benefits of democracy. And so on and so forth.
According to Alexey Makarkin, vice-president of the Moscow Center for Political Technology, the current Russian political class considers Mikhail Gorbachev’s last Soviet policy of rapprochement with the West as a series of failures and mistakes as if it was not necessary to “bend” so much, it was enough to ‘survive” the dropping oil prices.
The Kremlin has moved on to what it considers to be an active defence, it seems to him, for example, that the West is trying to “take” Ukraine from Russia when Moscow has honestly tried to reach an agreement. When / if you try to deprive, you have to try to “repel” something – with “Novorosia” (all provinces of south-eastern Ukraine to Odessa) failed, at least Crimea was ‘taken away’.
We started with Alexander Genis, a writer from Riga who lives in New York. He calls “very successful” (namely, in quotation marks) Vladimir Putin’s tactics of consistently turning all former friends into enemies. Russia now borders countries where they hate it, and that can hardly be considered a success of the foreign policy of Moscow.
However, it is obvious that a geopolitical concept of a permanent struggle of the “besieged fortresses” with the West propagated by the President of Russia does not see his policy a failure, but rather a gift, even if it goes further, the more detrimental to strategic interests of Russia.
The “carry-on” of the post-Soviet space is no longer relevant to the Baltic States after their successful Euro-Atlantic integration at the beginning of this century. When the Eastern Baltic States finished striving for it, the road was simpler, not yet “overgrown” by the geopolitical (Vladimir Putin’s rise) and not only (coronavirus) circumstances of the second decade of the 21st century.
But this does not mean that the Baltic nations have forgotten the mental heritage of the Soviet “Eden” as they tend to forget the fate sisters of other post-Soviet republics. After all, they are one of the most constructive proponents of the EU Eastern Partnership project in Europe.
Nor does it mean that the Kremlin, which tries to preserve and consolidate mental heritage of the Soviet “Eden” for the EU and NATO in the Eastern Baltic States in time, will forgive. Therefore, Vladimir Putin does not go to the Eastern Baltic States