In mid-January, the Russian Defense Ministry for the first time gave credit to the Wagner Group for its exploits in Ukraine. Tensions between the conventional army and the Wagner Group, whose founder criticized the war tactics of Russian generals, are common knowledge. Besides, in recent years, the Kremlin preferred to keep its dealings with the Wagner Group and its activity far from prying eyes. Recognizing the merits of this military contractor, whose very existence is illegal even in the eyes of Russian legislation, confirms the Wagner Group’s growing contribution to the war effort.
On February 24, 2022, the free world woke up to a dystopia. It had believed in peace more than it did in the signs of war, and had invested Putin with its good faith, just as it had done with Hitler in the years leading up to World War II. Russia has reintroduced large-scale war into a post-modern, hedonist society whose instincts were weakened by peace and prosperity, thus restoring evil to a global standing. Prior to the launch of the invasion, Europe hadn’t seen an interstate conflict in over 75 years. Any counterfactual examination is obviously pointless, but still, the question remains: how could the West fail again to foresee the predictable advent of a totalitarian regime with fascist overtones and the start of a new war in Europe?
The decision of the four countries to leave the International Investment Bank (IIB), also known as the “Russian Spy Bank”, came within days of Russia invading Ukraine. The legal proceedings were cumbersome in certain countries, due to the financial risks such a move entailed. Set up in 1970, the Bank continues to operate today in Budapest, although key decisions are taken in Moscow.
Rusia a avut mereu oamenii săi printre reprezentanții clasei politice și administrației de la Chișinău. Unii nici nu au încercat să-și ascundă relația cu Moscova, alții par să-și fi jucat foarte bine rolul, plasându-se în fruntea unor mișcări naționale și proeuropene, ceea ce, probabil, i-a permis Rusiei să controleze anumite procese politice din interior. Veridica îi amintește, în acest al doilea episod, pe cei care au menținut Republica Moldova în siajul Moscovei pentru o bună parte din ultimele două decenii.
Turkey has bombed Kurdish positions in Iraq and Syria in response to the bomb attack in Istanbul, warning this is just the beginning. A wider operation in Syria would help the Erdoğan regime draw attention away from the country’s economic troubles. Besides, it might also be a first step towards solving the refugee crisis. Russia, a country involved in the Syrian conflict, could turn a blind eye to Ankara’s moves because it is interested in exporting natural gas via pipelines transiting Turkey.
The war in Ukraine is not going well for Russia and the regime of Vladimir Putin, who threw his country into the affair. Although Putin forced all his people to say in February 2022 that Ukraine must be destroyed, the final decision was his and he will answer for it, alone or with others. And that’s why many Western and Russian analysts started wondering whether Putin's “reign” is coming to an end and who might succeed him.
Putin's Russia is becoming more and more like Stalin's Russia, according to journalist Andrei Soldatov, one of the most respected experts on the Russian secret services. In an interview with Veridica and TVR, Soldatov explained how Putin corrupted Russian society, why the FSB is the successor to the Soviet KGB, what the methods and mentality of intelligence officers are, and how they came to believe and trust him also convince Putin that a war in Ukraine was necessary.
The last round of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine as part of the war launched by Moscow took place in March and did not produce any results. For over eight months, the negotiation process is in a deadlock, neither party being willing to accept peace at any cost: both Kyiv and Moscow want victory.
A genuine taboo of international relations, which responsible leaders always sought to avoid in times of crises, the nuclear “button” has become commonplace in Russian rhetoric in recent years. Drawing on his crude professional experience, which is based on operative textbooks and a number of heroic legends fabricated by Soviet propaganda, Putin is confident that restraint is but a sign of fear. Lacking in any sense of intellectual finesse, the Russian leader has managed to trivialize the nuclear threat, which proves he doesn’t always have a good understanding of the terms he uses.
Vladimir Putin’s original plan was to subdue Ukraine without bloodshed and create a joint Russian-Ukrainian-Belarusian army that he could use to conquer Baltic States and the Republic of Moldova, the Russian-American expert Yuri Felshtinsky argues, adding that Moscow’s recent actions suggest, despite all the threats, that no nuclear weapons will be used against Ukraine.
After Vladimir Putin decreed the partial military mobilization, Russian state media launched a series of false narratives justifying the decision. Partial mobilization is presented as a step towards de-escalation, a measure necessary for diplomatic dialogue and the prevention of a nuclear disaster or a war on Russian territory.
The successful counteroffensive of the Ukrainian armed forces in the Kharkiv region was not just the result of good tactical planning, but also a consequence of pro-Ukrainian sentiment at society level, determined by the country’s history, its invaluable cultural legacy and the positive experience of the first two phases of fighting off the Russian aggression.
Two new investigations conducted by Russian independent journalists provide an insight into the life of luxury of the Russian leadership. Putin’s yacht, Scheherazade, cost close to 600 million EUR, a sum raised by inner-circle oligarchs, journalists say. A different investigation shows how the family of Andrey Turchak, the secretary of United Russia party and vice-president of the Federation Council, made a fortune by privatizing and destroying the most important manufacturing compound in Russia’s entire defense industry.
The Russian state press has taken out of context a statement by the former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, and have disseminated a propaganda narrative, according to which American scholars support Putin's ideas about Ukraine. In reality, McFaul presented several opinion trends from the US and around the world on the history of Ukraine, and not on the current Russian-Ukrainian war.
EU and NATO member Bulgaria, once Moscow’s closest satellite, has been moving away for years, albeit at a slow pace, from Russia’s pull. This process has been accelerated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the Kremlin can still count on an array of friendly politicians, spies, and a disinformation and propaganda network to further its interests in Sofia.
For Europe to evade the Russian threat, Russia needs to slip into a period of instability once Putin is gone, says Vladimir Socor. In an interview to Veridica, Vladimir Socor says the early signs of post-Soviet expansionism became transparent in the 1990s, also referring to Ukraine’s chances in the current war.
Historian Mark Galeotti, who specializes in Russian history and politics and one of the Western experts who followed Vladimir Putin before he became president, believes that the Kremlin leader is primarily responsible for the strategic mistakes made by the Russian army in Ukraine. Professor Galeotti also spoke about the nature of power in Russia and the links between the state, oligarchs, secret services and organized crime.
Outside Russia, Moscow’s representatives and supporters tried to mark Victory Day in ex-Soviet and ex-communist countries, but in most cases, their actions were overshadowed by protest actions against Russia’s acts of aggression or demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine. Veridica’s contributors in ex-Soviet and ex-communist states have closely followed May 9 celebrations.
A survey carried out by an independent center a month since the start of the war in Ukraine shows massive support from the Russian population for the so-called “special operation”, as well as for the Putin administration. The support might diminish as the people start feeling the effects of the conflict and of international sanctions.
Crimean Tatars support Russia’s war against Ukraine, which the Kremlin has dubbed “a special military operation”, reads a false narrative disseminated by Russian state media. In fact, Tatars have opposed Russian aggression ever since 2014, when Moscow occupied and captured Crimea.
The Russian media writes about the meeting president Vladimir Putin had with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, describing it as a major win for Moscow at international level. According to false narratives published by Kremlin-linked news agencies, Putin convinced Guterres that the Nazis in Ukraine have committed war crimes and that Russia’s “special military operation” abides by UN principles.
There is now a great deal of coagulation in Ukraine over the national idea, and Ukrainians quickly understood, from the earliest days of the Russian invasion, that they have to either fight or be killed, says Nadija Afanasieva, director of the Ukrainian Institute for International Politics in Kyiv. In an interview with Veridica, the international relations expert explained what Vladimir Putin actually meant when he said that Russia had “noble intentions”, but also what the role of the Transnistrian region in the economy of this war is.
The crimes, torture and robberies committed by the Russian military are the result of a deficient education system but also of social issues neglected by the authorities, writes the independent Russian press, which continues to work despite the fact that it is almost banned in Russia. Veridica has found an article about how the Russians have come to denounce those who do not share the official version about the war, as well as two interviews, one about Putin's regime, the other about the decline of the Russian oil industry due to sanctions.
From the massacres in former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda to Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, the international community had to take action in order to bring criminals to justice. In the case of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, international courts of law were set up. In the case of Russia, a nuclear power with veto rights in the UN Security Council, identifying and prosecuting the people who committed atrocities such as the massacre in Bucha, might be more complicated, although there are solutions in this case as well.
Russia, USSR’s successor, has carried over many of the latter’s myths under Vladimir Putin, particularly those regarding its might and military strength. These myths are deeply ingrained in the collective mindset of people in ex-Soviet space. Still, the invasion of Ukraine has started shattering many of these myths, including those about the victorious army, the liberating soldier and the brotherhood of people.
The Proekt team, declared an undesirable organization in the Russian Federation last year, returns with an extensive investigation into Vladimir Putin's health problems. The Insider writes how, before being assassinated, the politician Boris Nemtsov was pursued by FSB agents later involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Russian publicists are also pondering the chances of Putin being tried by the Hague Tribunal for war crimes.
Putin wants to change the European Order, and he probably will, just not the way he imagined. The war in Ukraine, which has prompted a reaction in block in the West, throwing sanctions at Russia from all sides, might just be the last for Putin. But perhaps the most important development is the restructuring of NATO forces on the eastern flank.
With the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has tightened its grip on information reaching the Russian public. The little independent press that still existed and was trying to provide information about what was really going on in Ukraine was practically silenced. Veridica flipped through independent media articles published just before total censorship was installed in Russia.
The recognition of the separatist republics in Donbass, which was an intermediate step towards the total invasion of Ukraine, could prove to be one of Putin's biggest mistakes and the beginning of the end for his regime.
Despite the government's censorship and the triumphant image of the war that the Kremlin sells to the public, the Russian independent media is trying to accurately report on both what is happening on the ground and the possible consequences of Vladimir Putin's war.
Russia’s recognition of the two separatist republics has been described by Ukrainian analysts as an action that neutralizes the Minsk protocols, a step towards revitalizing Moscow’s Novorossiya project or merely a publicity stunt Putin has staged for the public at home. Conclusions are grim, marked by fears over Russia’s immediate actions.
Vladimir Putin is a good Christian, but his image has suffered because of Russophobia. These false narratives are based on statements made by the Archbishop of Thomis, Theodosius, and amplified by Sputnik. At the same time, the idea that Putin and Russia have nothing to do with Communism, which was imposed by the West, is also promoted.