Eastern Europe / Features

Time to face some harsh realities about the war in Ukraine

Ben Aris in Berlin February 23, 2024

The shock of Russia’s surprise invasion of Ukraine on February 24 two years ago was quickly followed by awe at the heroic defence of Kyiv, then delight as Ukrainians fought back, popping the tops of tanks and running circles around the Russians.

Soaring bank deposits in Russia’s poorest regions show where the Kremlin is recruiting its soldiers

Ben Aris in Berlin February 23, 2024

Russia does not release information on the numbers of mobilised and recruited men, or casualties of war in Ukraine; however, the Bank of Finland institute for Emerging Economies has dug into public banking records to work out where soldiers are from.

World Bank says Emerging Europe needs tougher targets to reach net zero by 2060

Aidą Kadyrzhanova in Prague February 22, 2024

New World Bank report charts path to net zero energy in Emerging Europe and Central Asia, but says current ambitions are too modest.

Kupiansk: Russia’s next target?

Neil Hauer in Kupiansk February 21, 2024

Russia seeks to exploit Ukrainian ammunition and manpower shortages, particularly in the run-up to Vladimir Putin’s ceremonial re-election in mid-March.

Fall of Avdiivka gives Russia the military initiative and Putin a political gift ahead of presidential elections

Ben Aris in Berlin February 21, 2024

The withdrawal from Avdiivka was the correct decision to safeguard the lives of Ukrainian defenders, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Navalny's wife Yulia prepares to step into her dead husband's shoes

Ben Aris in Berlin February 20, 2024

In a video posted on Alexey Navalny’s YouTube channel on February 20, the Russian opposition leader’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, announced that she plans to continue his work in his absence.

Azerbaijani automotive industry motoring ahead

Seymur Mammadov in Baku Ben Aris in Berlin February 20, 2024

Russian automaker AvtoVaz is moving into Azerbaijan and in talks to set up the large-scale assembly of its famous Lada family of vehicles in the country.

Evidence mounts Navalny didn’t die from natural causes

bne IntelliNews February 19, 2024

Evidence that opposition blogger and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny didn’t die from natural causes is mounting as more information emerges from the circumstances surrounding his death on February 16.

European legal experts add to the growing debate on the legitimacy of the sanctions on Russia’s richest men

Ben Aris in Berlin February 19, 2024

The EU General Court in Luxembourg recently dismissed the sanctions appeal of the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's appeal against sanctions imposed on him, but legal experts polled by European Interest have criticised the ruling.

The Russian billionaire who became a double enemy of the state

Ben Aris in Berlin February 13, 2024

“The fate of Russian businessman Arkady Volozh is more than just astonishing. It's actually illogical.”

PANNIER: Russia the loser as wider world of migrant work opens up to Uzbek citizens

Bruce Pannier February 9, 2024

Germany, South Korea and Israel look to Uzbekistan to fill 160,000 or more job vacancies. Tashkent likely keen to diversify sources of remittances.

Tucker Carlson gives Putin a platform to justify his war in Ukraine

Ben Aris in Berlin February 9, 2024

US journalist Tucker Carlson gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a platform to lay out his justification for attacking Ukraine and clashing with the West that was posted on the ex-Fox News commentator’s X channel on February 8.

Russia's oil revenues in January higher than from before the war

bne IntelliNews February 8, 2024

Russia’s budget earned more money from oil taxes in January 2024 than it did in January 2023, Ministry of Finance (MinFin) reported on February 7.

Russia reports a painful RUB308bn deficit in January, but nowhere near as bad as the RUB1.7 trillion deficit in January 2023

Ben Aris in Berlin February 8, 2024

When the January 2023 Russian federal budget deficit numbers came out this week a year ago a collective cheer went up from Western analysts: they were disastrous.

OFAC “smart sanctions” target turbine lubricants and additives in an effort to stop Russian military production

Ben Aris in Berlin February 7, 2024

Two days before Christmas the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) quietly released new sanctions on an esoteric product group: turbine lubricants. But these "smart sanctions" could bring Russian industry to a standstill.

The EU joins the global transport competition, proposes a Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor

Ben Aris in Berlin February 6, 2024

The global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, rising tensions between China and the West and the increasingly fractured world has forced the global economy to remake its major transport routes. Now the EU is getting in on the game.

Tense election week as Kremlin mulls anti-war presidential candidate’s application

Ben Aris in Berlin February 5, 2024

It is a tense week for Russia’s presidential elections as the Kremlin mulls over a decision on allowing the surprise star of the show Boris Nadezhdin application to run in the race, the only candidate to openly oppose the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s conflict enters a third phase: the drone war

Ben Aris in Berlin February 5, 2024

In the first months of the war in Ukraine it was the highly mobile hit-and-run teams wielding the US-made shoulder-launched Javelin tank-killers that dominated the fighting.

Russian banks earn $33bn in 2023, the most profitable year on record

Ben Aris in Berlin February 2, 2024

Russian banks ended 2023 with a record RUB3.3 trillion ($33.3bn) in profits (adjusted for dividends), up by about half from the 2021 result, the last year of normal operations, according to the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

Orban set to compromise on EU's Ukraine financing deal

Tamas Csonka in Budapest January 31, 2024

Amid both threats and signs of flexibility from the EU, the Hungarian premier is expected to drop his veto of the €50bn package.