Russia Geopolitical Watch – from 11 February to 17 February 2023

Russia Watch Team:  Arnaud Huss, Nicolas Girard, Corentin DelonErwann Leyral, Emeline Palvany, led by Ilinka Léger and Enzo Padovan.

13/02/2023: The American embassy once again asks its citizens to leave the country Erwann Leyral

On 13th February, the Washington embassy in Moscow issued an alert on its official website. American citizens residing or travelling in Russia should “leave without delay”. The embassy explains this request for departure through the “unpredictable consequences of the […] invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military”, such as the arbitrary arrest of American citizens, while recalling that freedom of assembly or expression is not guaranteed in Russia. According to the embassy, Moscow could also refuse to recognize the American nationality of dual nationals (Russian-Americans), and thus mobilise them. An advice that “is […] not a novelty” as stated by Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. According to Reuters, he explained to journalists that these warnings had already been expressed “on many occasions”. Indeed, on 27th September, 2022, a similar notice had been published on the site of the American embassy in Moscow, containing similar passages, word for word. This warning may nevertheless reflect a resurgence of concern from the United States. As a reminder, the basketball player Brittney Griner was released last December in a prisoner exchange, swapped with Viktor Bout, accused of numerous weapons trafficking. It is also this Monday that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a reminder, about the invitation to leave Belarusian territory due to the closure of a border post. Belarus, to be more specific, is listed as a red zone by the Ministry. Meanwhile, Russia, despite recommendations to leave the territory, is mainly listed as an orange zone.

13/02/2023: The Russian frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” arrives in South Africa, in order to participate in a military exercise – Enzo Padovan

On 13th February, the Russian frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” arrived in Cape Town’s harbor, in South Africa. As the Twitter account of the Russian Consulate in Cape Town explains, this ship will take part in a joint military exercise between South Africa, China and Russia. The German media Deutsche Welle specifies that this exercise, named “Mosi II” (Mosi being the Tswana word for “smoke”), will take place between the 17th and the 27th February. South Africa, despite its traditional non-aligning stance regarding tensions between the West and Moscow, did not officially condemn the Ukrainian conflict; in late January, Pretoria even welcomed visit of Serguey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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