Russia Geopolitical Watch Team: Lauren Lemaire-Hec, Manik Tadevosian, Enzo Pavodan
04/03/2022: Vladimir Medinsky says the draft peace treaty between Russia and Ukraine is not yet ready to be presented – Lauren Lemaire-Hec –
The head of the Russian delegation to the talks with Ukraine, Vladimir Medinsky, said on 3 April, regarding the state of preparation of a draft agreement with Ukraine, that he “does not share Arakhamia’s optimism” (editor’s note: the head of the Ukrainian delegation), observing that “Ukraine’s diplomatic and military services seem to be very late in implementing even those agreements that have already been reached at the political level”. V. Medinsky also stressed that “the Ukrainian side has started to address these issues in a realistic way” and that the Russian position on Crimea and Donbass remained unchanged.
04/03/2022 : The Russian Ministry of Defence reposts a publication on Telegram that calls the information about Bucha a “planned media campaign” – Lauren Lemaire-Hec –
On 3 April, the Russian Ministry of Defence shared a post from the account “Vojna s fejkami”, claiming that the information about the Bucha massacre was a “planned media campaign”. The post states that “comments about Bucha appeared in several foreign publications at once – it looks like a planned media campaign. Given that the troops left the city on 30 March, where were these images for 4 days? Their absence only confirms the fake”. Already on 2 and 3 April, reports of dozens of bodies of people in civilian clothes lying in the streets of the city of Bucha, near Kiev, began to be published by Ukrainian authorities, as well as by Reuters and AFP. Denying any involvement of the Russian army in the massacres in the town, the ministry also added that the photographs and videos of the dead civilians were “another provocation” and “another production of the Kiev regime for the Western media”. In addition, the head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, called for the dissemination of information about the massacre of civilians to be treated as a crime under Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code on “fake news” about the activities of the Russian army.
04/04/2022 : Russia calls for a UN Security Council meeting in connection with the “monstrous provocation by Ukrainian radicals in Bucha” – Lauren Lemaire-Hec –
The Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, called on 4 April in a post on Telegram for a UN Security Council meeting in connection with the “provocation of Ukrainian radicals in Bucha”. Indeed, the Ukrainian authorities accuse the Russian military of having killed civilians in the Kiev region, particularly in the town of Bucha. The bodies of the dead civilians were found there after the departure of the Russian military from the region, which had been under their control for several weeks. According to Dmitry Polyansky, Moscow will “expose the Ukrainian provocateurs and their Western patrons”. Russia’s request was eventually rejected, following a refusal by the United Kingdom, which chairs the Security Council.
04/06/2022 : Aleksander Grushko says Russia is preparing a response to EU sanctions – Lauren Lemaire-Hec
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksander Grushko said on 5 April that Russia is preparing a response to EU sanctions. While on the same day the President of the European Commission announced a fifth round of economic sanctions against Russia, Aleksander Grushko said: “Of course, we will take retaliatory measures, develop those that are appropriate to protect our legitimate interests in the economic and other spheres”. In addition, several countries have decided to expel Russian diplomats, including Italy, France, Japan, the UK, Romania, Latvia… to which Moscow also says it is preparing responses. The Russian embassy in Germany expressed regret at the “hostile actions on the German side” and promised not to let them go without consequences, after 40 employees were declared persona non grata. Regarding the UK, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on 5 March that “the sanctions hysteria, in which London plays one of the main roles, if not the main role, leaves [Russia] no choice but to take severe and proportionate retaliatory measures”.
04/06/2022 : Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any Russian involvement in the Bucha massacre in an interview with LCI -Manik Tadevosian-
After more than forty days of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was invited to the TF1 Group’s television news on 6 April. During this interview, D. Peskov spoke about the Ukrainian conflict, while mentioning the need for a meeting between Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin and refuting any responsibility of the Russian army in the crimes perpetrated in Butcha. Indeed, regarding the Russian involvement in the crimes committed in Bucha, D. Peskov remained faithful to the Kremlin’s discourse by stating “we totally deny the idea that our military personnel could have been involved in such crimes”. He also added that “the images, recordings and photos that you have seen are the result of an orchestrated falsification”. According to Vladimir Putin’s spokesman “the Russian army does not target civilians, does not bomb houses or homes”.
04/07/2022 : Russian political figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky has died – Manik Tadevosian-
The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and member of parliament, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, died in Covid-19 on 6 April at the age of 75. Present in the Russian political landscape since the 1990s, Vladimir Zhirinovsky acquired an important notoriety notably thanks to his ultra-nationalist and anti-Western positions. For some, a skillful politician and charismatic orator who participated in all of Russia’s presidential elections, without however directly opposing Vladimir Putin, for others a provocative nationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was considered a controversial figure. Announcing his death, Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin hailed “a brilliant and talented man, who deeply understood how the world works and predicted much”. His fellow MPs paid tribute to him with a minute’s silence in the Duma.
04/07/2022: Images show Ukrainian troops executing Russian soldiers – Enzo Padovan –
On the 4th of April, as the media was revealing the events in Bucha, another video was uploaded on the Telegram website. This video shows us a road, on which three Russian soldiers (identified by their uniform, as well as the white armband they are wearing) are lying dead, surrounded by Ukrainian troops. The Ukrainian troops then execute a fourth prisoner. Moreover, images show that one of the bodies has his hands tied in the back, whilst the executed soldier’s head is covered by a jacket, hiding his face. This video’s authenticity was verified by the New York Times on the 6th of April; the newspaper estimates that the events took place on the 30th of March. They also identified the road, which is located in the village of Dmitrovka, 7 miles southwest of Bucha. Furthermore, another video was shot at the same place, and published by the UNIAN press agency. On it, there is the following legend: “The Georgian Legion continues to help Ukrainians in the cleansing of the Kiev region from the ‘liberators’ ”. The identification of the combatants involved in those executions is currently ongoing. An investigation, led by the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, Alexander Bastrykin, has been opened this week. Its objective is to collect evidence regarding accusations against the Ukrainian troops, suspected to have committed war crimes during the conflict.
04/07/2022 : Russia suspended from the UN Human Rights Council – Lauren Lemaire-Hec –
After a vote on a resolution held on the anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda on 7 April, Russia has been suspended from the Human Rights Council. At the initiative of the United States, the resolution was adopted by 93 votes in favour, 24 votes against (Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Vietnam…), and 58 abstentions (India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia…). The General Assembly expressed in this resolution “its deep concern at the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine, in particular at reports of violations and abuses of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation”, for which reason it “decided to suspend the membership rights of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council”. Russia had joined the Council in January 2021 as one of the 15 countries elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term. On the same day, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, stated that “the Russian Federation has made a conscious decision to withdraw early from the UN Human Rights Council on 7 April 2022”.