Does New Russian Missile Change Something?

The launch of a latest generation hypersonic missile and then a whole series of considerations on the future of relations between the Kremlin and the White House in view of the US presidential elections. For his 68th birthday, Putin returned to show himself on Russian TV as the strong leader of a great power but meanwhile what Moscow has always considered its home garden is increasingly in turmoil: the conflict has reignited in the Caucasus between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, protests against “the last dictator of Europe” Aleksandr Lukashenko do not stop in Belarus and a dangerous political crisis has just erupted in Kyrgyzstan and it is not even clear who is in power at the moment. Relations between Russia and the West are also slipping lower and lower. The situation has been tense for years due to the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in the Ukrainian south-east. But to further complicate matters is now the suspected poisoning of Putin’s number one opponent, Aleksey Navalny, for whom France and Germany have already said they are ready to propose new EU sanctions. The new restrictions could have been advanced as early as Monday at the summit of European foreign ministers and hit some senior intelligence officers in Moscow. Russia rejects the accusations, but even for OPAC experts, the opponent has been intoxicated with the Novichok of old Soviet memory.

Putin and the West are in diametrically opposed positions also on Belarus, where for two months hundreds of thousands of people have been challenging arrests and beatings to challenge the despot Lukashenko and his unlikely victory in the presidential elections. The US and the EU condemned violence and fraud and imposed sanctions on dozens of regime officials. Moscow, on the other hand, fears that Minsk will leave its sphere of influence and has promised Lukashenko all possible support, even armed if necessary. And so while Merkel welcomed Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Putin put her on the Russian government’s wanted list.

The latest headache for Putin comes from Kyrgyzstan, plunged into chaos after Sunday’s elections, officially overwhelmed by two parties close to President Jeenbekov but tainted by fraud. Thousands of people took to the streets contesting the election results and, after violent clashes with the police, occupied the palaces of power. Protesters released prominent politicians from jail and got the vote quashed. Now, however, it is not clear when it will return to the polls and especially who will govern until then: Jeenbekov has no intention of resigning and the opposition is waging war over the formation of a new executive.

Even more delicate is the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenians and Azeris have resumed fighting. The fear is that the conflict will also spread to Russia, linked to Armenia by a military alliance, and to Turkey, which has sided with Azerbaijan. The Kremlin has a military base in Armenia but is on good terms with both Baku and Yerevan, does not want to be involved and urges the warring parties to lay down their arms.

In short, there are many reasons for concern for Putin, who however has not lost the habit of flexing his muscles and yesterday hailed the “successful” test of a Tsirkon hypersonic rocket from a military ship in the cold as a historic event for Russia. northern waters.

Paulo Bentu

Visiting Fellow

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