On March 24, 1999, Yevgeni Maximovich Primakov was heading to the United States for an official visit. Midway over the Atlantic Ocean, the Russian Prime Minister learned the combined forces of NATO had started bombing Serbia, a close ally. Primakov immediately ordered the plane to turn around, and returned to Moscow in a manoeuvre dubbed “Primakov’s Loop”.
Russia is not widely known for its outstanding abilities in soft power. That could be explained, albeit not justified, for the strong concision characteristic of the communist regime during the Soviet Union years, which resulted in East European countries in general – and Russia specifically - understanding and applying a stricter conduct when it comes to international relations.
The celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in Russia were in top headlines last week. Grand events, commemoration ceremonies, nation-wide media campaigns - Russia has been preparing for this day throughout the whole year. This time such a significant date for Russians, however, made a different sense in the context of the tense relations with the West.
Six members of the Elders Group, led by Kofi Annan, took a three-day trip to Moscow to hold a series of private meetings with Russian officials and academics. It was their first visit to Russia as an organization. To conclude this historic trip they met President Putin in his residence in the vicinity of Moscow on April 29.
2015 is starting to look and sound and feel an awful lot like 1965. If you find yourself sitting at home wondering how 50 years could go by with so much historical change and global shifting and yet still end up basically back at the starting point of a quasi-Cold War between the United States and Russia, then please allow me to offer one slightly unique explanation as to how this has all come to pass: it’s my fault.