REUTERS

Ukrainian interest. Putin building up tension, Trump's impromptu, and inter-parliamentary trio

The Russian president is going on a counter-offensive in the international arena, trying to bring down the negative resonance surrounding the hunger strike of Oleh Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners. Russia was on top agenda of the G7 summit. A new Italian government with Euroskeptic sentiments has begun its work. Sweden gave permission to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in its territorial waters. In Kyiv, the creation of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine was announced.

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The Kremlin chief experienced some unpleasant moments during an interview with Austria's ORF journalist Armin Wolf, who turned out to be a tenacious interlocutor who did not fall for any of Putin's tricks. Putin has traditionally changed his testimony about what was happening in Crimea in 2014, the return of which to Ukraine he rules out completely. He also suggested that our country hold a referendum in Donbas and made it clear that Russia is against any strategic military facilities being set up on Ukrainian territory. One gets the impression, confirmed with a message about Putin's readiness to meet with Donald Trump in Austria, that the Russian president is starting his bargaining with the West on the next global redistribution of power between the strongest players.

However, there is one more nuance here: Russia is actively using the tactics of the crooked mirror, deploying across the world with the help of controlled media the new narrative in its own favor. Russia Today and Sputnik are engaged at a huge scale, with clearly calculated messages. As a matter of fact, Zahar Prilepin's question to Putin during a latest hotline included one of those messages, allowing the Russian leader to threaten Ukraine.

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All of this did not hold back U.S. President Donald Trump from speaking out for Russia's return to G7, of course, under a plausible pretext of conducting a more intensive dialogue. However, the European participants of the G7 opposed the Kremlin's promotion, noting the need for real progress in the settlement of the Donbas conflict. I don't think that Trump forgot about the sanction law, which since August of last year has been for him a pointing figure towards Russia. Rather, he sought to demonstrate his own independence.

The new Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who first supported the American president, preferred European solidarity to showing servility to Washington. However, the composition of the government and the coalition of the League and the 5-Star Movement in Italy that formed it don't allow us counting on the disappearance of Euroskepticism as one of the main components of the country's foreign policy.

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There have been some developments around the Nord Stream 2. The consent of the Swedish authorities for its construction in the country's territorial waters was quite predictable, given high quality of Gazprom's legal team. At the same time, the statement by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, claiming that Nord Stream 2 is just a private business initiative, caused misunderstanding of his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

In Kyiv, the speakers of the parliaments of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed off the Declaration on the establishment of a Tripartite Interparliamentary Assembly and called, among other things, to ensure an agreed line of conduct of the three post-Soviet states. The ability to perform Euro-integration arias in unison by the three states is important both in the medium term, and as an alternative to the CIS, with which Georgia and Ukraine parted. Besides, the practice of the EU expansion suggests that there is more chance of success working as a team, rather than playing solo.

Yevgeny Magda of the Institute of World Policy

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