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Russia Geopolitical Watch – From April 30 to May 6, 2022

Russia Geopolitical Watch Team: Lauren Lemaire-Hec, Manik Tadevosian, Enzo Pavodan

04/30/2022: Vladimir Putin orders to send payments to veterans and disabled of the Great Patriotic War living “in the liberated territories of Ukraine” -Lauren Lemaire-Hec-

On 20 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, ordering payments to veterans and invalids of the Great Patriotic War living “in the liberated territories of Ukraine”. The decree states that in “May 2022, a lump sum of 10,000 rubles will be paid to Great Patriotic War invalids and Great Patriotic War veterans living in the DPR, LPR and liberated territories of Ukraine”. On 25 April, Labour Ministry head Anton Kotyakov said that Great Patriotic War veterans living in Russia had received annual payments of 10,000 roubles each. According to the ministry, the pension fund transferred the money to more than 20,000 people and the payments were made along with their pensions.

05/01/2022: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Hitler “had Jewish blood” -Manik Tadevosian- 

On 1 May, in an interview with Italian television, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in order to support his thesis of a Nazi Ukraine despite a Jewish president, said that “Hitler also had Jewish blood”. “But if I remember correctly, and I could be wrong, Hitler also had Jewish origins. So that means absolutely nothing. For some time now, Jews themselves have told us that the greatest anti-Semites were Jews,” Lavrov said. Lavrov’s remark provoked outrage in Israel, which until then had maintained a balance between Moscow and Kiev. The next day, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed in a statement that “Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both outrageous, unforgivable and a horrible historical mistake”. He also summoned the Russian ambassador for “clarification”. These statements were also condemned by Italy, Germany and the United States. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said the statement was “absurd” and “the Russian propaganda spread by Sergei Lavrov does not need to be commented on”.

05/01/2022: Russian Defense Minister accuses the armed forces of Ukraine of shelling two settlements in the Kherson region -Enzo Padovan-

On May 1st, the Russian Ministry of Defense has accused the Ukrainian army of bombing two settlements in the outskirts of Kherson. Kherson is a city located in the southern part of Ukraine (relatively close to Crimea), and stands at the mouth of the Dnepr, the longest river of the country. Lost after a fierce battle, the city has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2nd. Thus, president Zelenskyy’s troops have fired multiple missiles on the region, which have landed on the villages of Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka, located respectively 12 miles to the north and 19 miles to the west of Kherson. According to the Russian government’s declaration, a primary school, a kindergarten, as well as numerous residential homes have sustained heavy damages, which have caused the deaths of multiple civilians, and have injured more. Moreover, these strikes have partially damaged the local power grid. The Ukrainian government hasn’t commented on the Russian accusations, and other attacks have taken place during the week, notably on Yasyvunata, a city located in the contested oblast of Donetsk. 

05/03/2022: Vladimir Putin signs a decree “on the application of special economic retaliatory measures in connection with the hostile actions of certain foreign states and international organisations” -Lauren Lemaire-Hec-

The Russian President signed on 3 May a decree on new retaliatory sanctions in connection with “hostile actions of certain foreign states and international organisations”. The decree, published on the official Internet legal information portal, states that it was adopted “in connection with hostile actions contrary to international law by the United States of America and foreign states and international organisations that have joined them” aimed at depriving or restricting the property rights of the Russian Federation, Russian citizens and legal entities. The list of persons and organisations affected by these sanctions is not yet known and will have to be drawn up by the government within ten days. In addition, the decree prohibits Russian authorities (from the federal government to local self-government bodies), organisations and citizens from conducting transactions with legal entities and persons “in respect of which special economic measures are applied”. It also prohibits the fulfillment of obligations to persons under sanctions in the context of concluded transactions, if these obligations are not fulfilled or are not fulfilled in full; the carrying out of financial transactions whose beneficiaries are persons under sanctions.

05/03/2022: French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to his Russian counterpart – Enzo Padovan – 

On May 3rd, for the first time since the end of March, French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have held telephone conversation regarding the Ukrainian conflict. The exchange, which has lasted for a bit more than two hours, is part of a larger initiative of peace building between Russian and the West; yet, although Vladimir Putin has stated his willingness to discuss and open to negotiations, he has accused Kiev of “not being ready for serious work”. Therefore, during the discussion, the topics of the Ukrainian seaports’ blockade, the deliveries of military equipment or the shelling of the Donbas region, which are organized by Zelenskyy’s troops and have caused multiple civilian casualties, have all been explored. Thus, the two Heads of State do seek to maintain peace talks, despite their opposing interests and the difficulty to communicate; said difficulty has only grown, following the revelations of the Russian crimes committed throughout the war, notably in the city of Bucha. President Macron has also demanded to his correspondent to maintain the evacuation processes in Mariupol, mainly for the trapped civilians in the Azovstal plant, which is one of the last points of resistance within the city. The exchanges are indeed complex, but necessary, in order to find a real solution to this war that is, once again, on the brink of intensification within the next few weeks. 

06/05/2022 : DPR and LPR leaders appoint ambassadors to Russia -Lauren Lemaire-Hec- 

The leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, appointed on 6 April Olga Makeeva, former deputy chairman of the People’s Council and speaker of the DPR parliament, as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Russia. On the same day, the leader of the Lukhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, chose his adviser Rodion Miroshnik, former press secretary to Viktor Yanukovych, as the LPR’s ambassador to Russia. This is in the context of the war in Ukraine: on 21 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the decision to recognise the DPR and the LPR as sovereign states, a decision supported by Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the Houthis in Yemen.  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov also announced on 20 April that Russia would also open embassies in the DPR and LPR.

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