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November 7, 2019 No.
8352

Russia This Week – November 7, 2019

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Photo Of The Week


Sculpture showing the sitting Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, with shield showing the Holy Face of the Savior, and a sword, being summoned by Kuzma Minin to join the struggle against Polish intervention.

In The News:

  • National Unity Day
  • A Monument To Russian Statesman Yevgeny Primakov Was Unveiled In Moscow
  • Moscovites Held Commemoration Event At Wall Of Grief Memorial Dedicated To The Victims Of The Bolsheviks
  • ASEAN Summit
  • Russia-Turkey Relations
  • News In Brief: Religion; Russia-Philippines Relations; Ethiopia, Egypt, The Nile And Russia; Russia-Ukraine Relations; BRICS; Russian Agent Maria Butina

National Unity Day


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: Our People Always Stood Shoulder To Shoulder And Selflessly Fought For The Motherland's Freedom And Independence, For Those Historical, Spiritual And Family Values That Are So Dear To All Of Us

On November 4, the Grand Kremlin Palace hosted a reception marking National Unity Day. On that occasion, Vladimir Putin said: "… It is loyalty to our homeland that nourished the will and determination of our ancestors, who united in a people's volunteer army over four centuries ago, overcame turmoil, saved our country from disintegration, and liberated it from invaders… This powerful overwhelming spirit of unity was passed down from generation to generation. In hard times, our people always stood shoulder to shoulder and selflessly fought for the Motherland's freedom and independence, for those historical, spiritual and family values that are so dear to all of us. We are now preparing to celebrate an anniversary that is sacred for us – the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War…

"The most solid and reliable foundation for Russia's progress is the unity of our society and loyalty to the values of peace, trust and mutual respect between different ethnicities. The entire history of our great country has bequeathed to preserve these traditions. And we are perfectly aware that only together will we reach the highest goals, solve the most complicated tasks and give a proper response to any challenges…"

(Kremlin.ru, November 4, 2019; read the full speech)


Kuzma Minin (right) with Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. Painting by Mikhail Scotti (1850)

In keeping with tradition, on National Unity Day, Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky on Red Square in Moscow.

The Kremlin website wrote: "National Unity Day was established in 2005 to commemorate the events of 1612, when Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky led the people's volunteer army to liberate Moscow from foreign occupation (i.e. the Polish invasion in the early 17th century)."

(Kremlin.ru, November 4, 2019)


Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. (Source: Kremlin.ru)


Flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Watch Videos:

  • Putin Celebrates National Unity Day. "Russia celebrates National Unity Day today — a holiday that commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders. The liberation that ended one of the most tragic periods in the country's history — the Time of Troubles. Festivities were held throughout all of Russia, and the biggest ones were, of course, in Moscow. President Putin granted prizes for contributing toward the strengthening of the nation's unity, as well as national prizes for those who develop relations with our country abroad." (Vesti News, November 5, 2019; watch the video)
  • President Putin and Patriarch Kirill Lay Flowers On Red Square, Visit WWII Exhibit For Unity Day. "Earlier today, Vladimir Putin, together with the youth and representatives of religions, laid flowers to the monument to Minin and Pozharsky on Red Square. Then he, together with Patriarch Kirill, attended an exhibition dedicated to another heroic time in Russian history - the Great Patriotic War." (Vesti News, November 5, 2019; watch the video)

Read More:

  • Vladimir Putin toured the exhibition Memory of Generations: The Great Patriotic War in Pictorial Arts, which opened at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall as part of the Church and Public Exhibition and Forum Orthodox Russia – For National Unity Day. (Kremlin.ru, November 4, 2019; read the full report)

A Monument To Russian Statesman Yevgeny Primakov Was Unveiled In Moscow

On October 29, 2019, a monument to Russian statesman Yevgeny Primakov was unveiled in Moscow to coincide with the 90th anniversary of his birth. The ceremony was attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Yevgeny Primakov's widow Irina Primakova. The Special Presidential Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoi conducted the ceremony.

Yevgeny Primakov was one of Russia's leading experts in oriental studies and a prominent scholar in the fields of global economics and international relations. Mr Primakov served Russia's Prime Minister (1998–1999), Foreign Minister (1996–1998), and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (1991–1996).

During the ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed Primokov's promotion of the idea of multipolarity, which is dear to the Kremlin. Putin said: "Many people in Russia and around the world remember Yevgeny Primakov and think about him with great respect, warmth and heart-felt gratitude… Personally, I often recall my meetings with Yevgeny Primakov and our frank conversations. He was and remains for me an example of deep, responsible and proactive love of the homeland, an example of generosity, reliability and decency.

"In each period of his full, active life he gave priority to the interests of his country… Yevgeny Primakov's tenure as the Foreign Minister of Russia was a special page in his life. It was largely thanks to his efforts that respect for Russia was revived in international diplomacy and the Foreign Ministry fully affirmed the unconditional priority of national interests and the efforts to uphold them firmly and consistently.

"An Oriental and Arab scholar, Yevgeny Primakov knew that the world is more complicated than any cliché or stereotype. He had a strategic vision and worked hard to promote the idea of multipolarity. In fact, it was Yevgeny Primakov who clearly formulated the key principles of the modern world's development. We see that multipolarity is no longer a trend but a reality today.

"In my opinion, it is symbolic that a monument to Yevgeny Primakov has been erected near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is our common duty to preserve his legacy and to keep listening to Yevgeny Primakov's voice. I hope that this wonderful monument will help to immortalize this great citizen of Russia."

(See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8349, Russian Expert Petr Akopov: Homage To Yevgeny Primakov, The Promoter Of A Multipolar World, Who Taught Russia To Assert Its Interests, November 5, 2019)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Watch Video:

  • Putin Speaks From Heart at Primakov Monument: “He Saved Russia From Subservience and Collapse!” (Vesti News, November 4, 2019; watch the video)

Moscovites Held Commemoration Event At Wall Of Grief Memorial Dedicated To The Victims Of The Bolsheviks

On October 31, 2019, Vesti.ru reported:

"Today, Russia remembers the victims of political repression. The mourning bell is ringing all over Russia, from Magadan to Smolensk. In Moscow, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., people go to the Wall of Grief monument on Academician Sakharov Avenue, with flowers and icon lamps…

"The Wall of Grief was unveiled two years ago by the Russian president. It was also then when the Memory Bell was rung for the first time. It's a fragment of a railroad rail that was brought here from one of the former Gulag mines. It's the metronome of camp life. Camp prisoners were awakened for exhausting work by ringing such a rail…"

(Vesti.ru, October 31, 2019; watch the full video)


(Source: Vesti.ru, October 31, 2019)


(Source: Vesti.ru, October 31, 2019)

ASEAN Summit


(Source: Government.ru)

The ASEAN summit took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 1-4. Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev addressed the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

Medvedev said:

"… We are witnessing the development of a fundamentally new economic order, with digitization rapidly infiltrating our lives. And this digital future is very close… We have all the tools at our disposal to solve the problems we are facing. But the key thing is that we have the will to coordinate our efforts, work together in the Asia-Pacific region format. I am confident that if we do that, we will succeed."

(Government.ru, November 3, 2019; read the full speech)

Medvedev: Asia-Pacific Region's Strategic Importance For The Entire World; Russia Is A Eurasian Nation And An Integral Part Of The Asian Community

Ahead of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 14th East Asia Summit, the Prime Minister gave an interview to Thailand's Bangkok Post daily.

Question: "What does Russia think about the document entitled 'ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific'?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "To begin with, I would like to say that the Asia-Pacific region's strategic importance for the entire world cannot be overestimated. It is no coincidence that the major powerhouses, such as Russia, China, the EU and the United States, focus on it so much.

"Recently, we have seen US attempts to strengthen its influence in Southeast Asia, including by way of promoting the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. According to their plan, this strategy should replace Asia-Pacific cooperation as we know it.

"We are in favor of maintaining the effective system of state-to-state relations which was formed on the basis of ASEAN and has shown a good track record over the years. In this regard, we believe the US initiative is a serious challenge for ASEAN countries, since it can weaken the Association's position and strip it of its status as a key player in addressing regional security problems. Furthermore, it is at odds with ASEAN fundamental principles, such as non-alignment and non-aligned status.

"ASEAN has made known its stance regarding the US concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific and reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and other fundamental documents underlying the work of the East Asian Summits. The ten ASEAN member countries have demonstrated their commitment to create an inclusive space and mutually beneficial economic cooperation.

"In turn, Russia plans to develop cooperation in a variety of areas with all its prospective partners, both in bilateral formats and within interstate associations, based on national interests, mutual benefit, equality and the rule of international law."

Question: "What role would Russia like to play in Southeast Asia as a leading global power amid other countries' efforts to build up their presence in the region?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "Russia is a Eurasian nation and an integral part of the Asian community both due to its geographical location and its historically close political, economic and cultural ties with the countries of this large region.

"We are playing an active and constructive role in Asia. We are not trying to put pressure on anyone, we are not interfering in other countries' internal affairs, not threatening with the use of force, or coming up with ultimatums. On the contrary, we are building constructive relations with our Asian partners based on mutual trust and respect. We stand for fair competition and respect the right of states to independently choose their future based on their traditions and civilizational background.

"Importantly, this policy is mutual. The vast majority of Asian states are building mutually beneficial cooperation with us. Recent examples include the Russia-ASEAN Summit in Singapore, where our relations reached a new level of strategic partnership.

"Asia offers unique opportunities. Russia will continue to work here in all areas and various formats, including bilateral and multilateral, and also at the venue of the Eurasian Economic Union. We've been doing well so far. A cooperation program between the Eurasian Economic Commission and ASEAN for 2019-2020 is being implemented.

"ASEAN is also interested in cooperating with the SCO. Our goals overlap and include mutually beneficial cooperation, stability and security of the region, and fighting global challenges and threats. International terrorism tops that list. To achieve maximum effect in this area, it is necessary to establish close cooperation between law enforcement agencies and special services, as is happening at the level of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and the ASEAN Member National Police Association (ASEANAPOL).

"Of course, we need to expand our cultural and people-to-people ties. Our cooperation has great prospects in this regard, since the Southeast Asian countries boast significant scientific and intellectual potential. The unique culture of the region is attracting more and more Russian tourists. Resorts in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia are some of our tourists' favorite holiday spots.

"The importance of Asia and Russia for each other will continue to grow. Our cooperation will continue to be mutually beneficial and multifaceted."

Medvedev: The Eurasian Economic Union Offers Mutually Beneficial Partnerships; There Are No Ideology-Driven Issues On Our Agenda. We Do Not Use Trade Wars, As We Understand That Closed Markets Are A Thing Of The Past, And Protectionism Is Bad For Competition

Question: "EAEU cooperation is going from strength to strength. Are you expecting new members to join the organization? What benefits can individual ASEAN members gain from joining the EAEU?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "Interest in cooperating with the EAEU in any format is increasing for obvious reasons as Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have created a major common market with almost 184 million consumers. Our countries' aggregate GDP totals about $2 trillion. The Eurasian Five countries are showing an increase in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, and the volume of cargo trade is up as well.

"We continue to expand cooperation in almost all areas. We are working to create a common financial market, coordinating our efforts as we fight counterfeiting, and also cooperation on digital projects.

"Another major EAEU advantage is its flexible approach to cooperation with other countries and interregional associations. We've been acting extremely pragmatically from the outset of this integration project. In the EAEU, no one is exerting pressure on individuals, companies or states. There are no ideology-driven issues on our agenda. We do not use trade wars, as we understand that closed markets are a thing of the past, and protectionism is bad for competition.

"Things are simple, open and straightforward. The Eurasian Economic Union offers mutually beneficial partnerships. I think this is one of the reasons the Eurasian Economic Union is not just causing interest, but is becoming popular at almost all levels of international cooperation, including supranational organizations. As you may recall, the course on strategic rapprochement with the EAEU is among the priorities of the 2025 ASEAN Consolidated Strategic Action Plan.

"In addition, we are promoting cooperation with individual countries, including in formats such as free trade agreements. We have adopted a thoughtful approach to this decision. Vietnam was the first such country in 2015. It has worked out very well for both of us. Our trade continues to grow and was up 10 percent by the end of 2018 to about $6.7 billion now. Most recently, on 27 October, an interim free trade zone agreement with Iran entered into force. Agreements have been signed with Singapore and Serbia. Talks are underway with India, Israel and Egypt.

"The Eurasian Economic Union is also expanding relations with a number of other countries. In 2019, documents on cooperation in various formats were signed with Indonesia and the African Union. Brunei, Cambodia and the Philippines have expressed their interest as well. Of course, we want to expand relations with our Thai partners, all the more so as a memorandum of cooperation with the EAEU was signed with the Kingdom of Thailand last year as well.

"That is, each country decides for itself on the terms of cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union. Ultimately, formal accession to the EAEU is not that important. We have a different vision of what the Greater Eurasian Partnership is. It is about creating an entire economic and cultural space where people can freely communicate, trade, travel and discover new opportunities for themselves. Their rights and property will be protected by clear legal guarantees that are binding on all partners."

(Government.ru, November 3, 2019; read the full interview)

Read More:

  • EAEU open to signing free trade deals with Asian countries - Russian PM. Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines have expressed interest in signing free trade agreements with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the 14th East Asia Summit in Thailand's capital of Bangkok. (Tass.com, November 4, 2019; read the full article)
  • Moscow expects more countries to join the Russia-created International Anti-Terrorism Databank, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the 14th East Asia Summit in Thailand's capital of Bangkok. (Tass.com, November 4, 2019; read the full article)
  • Russia advocates the establishment of the Greater Eurasian Partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Business and Investment Summit of the Association of ASEAN. (Tass.com, November 3, 2019; read the full article)
  • Dmitry Medvedev attended the summit and gave a news conference for Russian journalists. (Government.ru, November 4, 2019; read the full press conference)

Russia-Turkey Relations


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Hasanov Kamran, an expert for the conservative Russian Orthodox media outlet Tsargrad.tv published an analysis on the memorandum of understanding, reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, on October 22.

Kamran wrote:

"The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan lasted more than five hours. It would be a shame if in the end the parties wouldn't have come to anything. Fortunately, the negotiations in Sochi were successful and ended (according to the Russian leader), with a 'momentousl' decision. Putin and Erdogan signed a memorandum that suits all parties: Assad, Russia, Turkey, and even the Kurds.

Before analyzing the benefits to each of the parties, we briefly list the main points of the agreement:

  1. The territorial integrity of Syria is guaranteed.
  2. The need to fight terrorism and separatism is affirmed.
  3. A 32 km deep security zone, created by Turkey between Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad, is recognized.
  4. Russia and Turkey reaffirmed the importance of the 1998 Adjara agreement, according to which Ankara has the right to send forces to Syria in order to destroy the militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
  5. Within 6.5 days, the Russian military police and Syrian border guards must remove Kurdish National Self-Defense Forces (YPG) from territories east and west of the Turkish “security zone”. After the YPG forces are withdrawn 30 km from the border, the Russian-Turkish military police proceeds to patrol territories to a depth of 10 km from the border.
  6. The YPG withdraws from Manbij and Tal Rifat

"The last paragraphs of the memorandum talk about facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, a fight against the 'infiltration' of terrorists, about monitoring the memorandum and about a commitment to the political process in the framework of the Astana process.

"Now let's analyze the benefits of the parties.

Damascus

"Recognizing the presence of Turkish troops on the territories of 'Operation Peace Spring' is not a gift for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After all, he wants to take for himself the entire territory of Syria. However Damascus can be satisfied because as one can recall, before the Turkish invasion, the situation in Trans Euphrates was preserved by the presence of US forces there (and all the signs pointed to an independent Kurdistan). Firstly, the threat that these territories will be separated from Syria is removed. Secondly, Turkey stops advancing along the remaining 300 km border. And thirdly, the Russian military police will ensure that Ankara leaves the 10-kilometer zone at the right time. In the long run, Turkey will have to leave the Arab country altogether. Putin said that 'Syria should be freed from an illegal foreign military presence.'

The Kurdish people

"Without today's deal, Erdogan would continue to attack the YPG forces and continue to push them south. Putin neutralized the threat of extermination of Kurdish militants and created a 30-kilometer 'security cushion' for them. The Kurds could have theoretically placed their hope on their resistance and American sanctions against Turkey, but wouldn't necessarily have proven able to stop the ambitious Erdogan.

Turkey

"Erdogan, hating the YPG and devoid of love for Damascus, can also be content. Russia recognized Turkey's interests in the security zones and turned a blind eye to 150 km long and 32 km wide Ankara's military presence from Ras al Ain to Tel Abyad. Here the Turks will be able to return more than a million refugees from their own territory, who have become a headache for the Turkish economy. Most importantly, the entire Syrian-Turkish border is being cleared of Kurdish militants threatening the unity of both Syria and Turkey.

"Putin, by his 'Solomonic decision', deprived the Turkish operation of its rational. Why should the Turkish Armed Forces fight if their main goal - the YPG withdrawal from the 32-km zone - is guaranteed by the Russian military police?

"Putin, by his decision on a YPG withdrawal, minimized the likelihood of an aggravation of US-Turkey relations over the Kurds and the threat of US sanctions against Ankara. Recognition of Turkey's vital interests and the removal of the threat of sanctions will impact positively on Erdogan's rating within the country.

Russia

"Russia has prevented further violence in Syria (between Turks and Kurds). A Turkish offensive could jeopardize the Astana process and a political settlement of the conflict. Moscow believes that the north-east of Syria should belong to Assad, and not to the Turkish opposition. The presence of the Russian military guarantees the return of Damascus to a 300-kilometer border, and to a 150 km in the long run.

"The threat of aggravation between Damascus and Ankara has been eliminated. The United States, in its withdrawal from the north-east of the country, left a power vacuum. Both Turks and Assad's troops were in a hurry to fill it. […] However, today's memorandum clearly settles the control over territories issue.

"The absence of a risk of clashes between Assad and Erdogan neutralizes the threat of potential deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations. This means that all joint projects - from S-400 to Turkish Stream - receive additional insurance. Moscow and Ankara can use the successful solution of the problem in the northeast as useful experience for a settlement in Idlib, which Assad also claims.

Losers

"The losers in the Putin-Erdogan deal are the United States and NATO countries. Initially, they did not plan to give away northeast Syria to anyone. Later, the Pentagon tried to create a 'security zone' together with Turkey along the entire border. This plan was delayed by Washington, and after the Ankara's offense, the Americans simply fled. Now this corridor is not controlled either by them or their YPG puppets.

"The new agreement between Turkey and Russia does not suit the United States because their NATO ally again bypasses Brussels and Washington. However, the Americans need to blame only themselves for this, the memories of the 2016 coup and the sanctions due to Pastor Andrew Branson case are too fresh."

(Tsargrad.tv, October 23, 2019)

Watch Videos:

  • "What a Breakthrough! Russian and Turkish Soldiers Begin Patrolling Syrian Border TOGETHER. A joint Russian-Turkish patrol began in the very north of Syria, in order to make the border impenetrable. However, the problem of the Kurds, 40-million people living in this area without their own state, remains. It's fundamental for bringing back peace, and a solution has yet to be found. It's exactly what Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Yevgeny Primakov Jr. — the grandson of former Foreign Minister Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov." (Vesti.ru, November 4, 2019; watch the video)
  • "Fait Accompli! Kurds in Syria Recognize Russian Soldiers as Guarantors of Security and Peace! Syrian Kurds have recognized Russia as a guarantor of their security. Accompanied by the Russian Military Police, columns of their People's Protection Units are leaving the areas next to the Turkish border. Russian-Turkish joint patrols will start peacekeeping operations in the established security zone in just two days— everything in accordance with the memorandum." (Vesti.ru, October 29, 2019; watch the video)

News In Brief

Religion

  • Patriarch Kirill signs document reuniting Western Europe archdiocese with Russian Orthodox Church. (Interfax, November 1, 2019; read the full article)
  • "Kirill Works a Miracle! Welcomes Western Orthodox to Moscow, Ends Century-Long Schism! In Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill presented the representative delegation of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe headed by Archbishop of Dubna Jean with a patriarchal and synodal charter proclaiming canonical affiliation of the Orthodox parishes of Western Europe with the Russian Orthodox Church. Therefore, the century-long post-revolution schism in the Russian Orthodox world has ended." (Vesti News, November 4, 2019; watch the video)
  • Patriarch Kirill, "Reunion between the Archdiocese of Russian Tradition Parishes with the Mother Church Has Become Possible Thanks to Profound Changes in the Life of Russia and the Russian Church". "Today the Holy Synod has made a historic decision," said His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill. "The Archdiocese of parishes of the Russian Traditions with the center in Paris has joined the Russian Orthodox Church. Until recently it was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople." "The Archdiocese was part of the Russian Orthodox emigration, which emerged from the revolution and the civil war. The "Parisian" church emigration has gone through a very difficult path: starting from the confrontation with the Russian Church due to political circumstances, and ending with making a decision to join the Moscow Patriarchate," continued the Primate of the ROC. "However, we all have gone through the same path. And the reunion was possible not only because many things have changed in Western Europe, but also because many things have changed in the life of our country and our Church." (Pravmir.com, October 8, 2019; read the full article)
  • On September 14, 2019, the Holy Synod considered an appeal from Archbishop Ioann (Renneto), head of the Archdioceses of Western European Parishes of Russian tradition, to consider the desire of a majority of the Archdiocese's clergy and parishes to preserve its existence through accepting it in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church and asked for the entry in canonical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate together with those clergy and parishes who wish to follow him. (Pravmir.com, September 15, 2019; read the full article)
  • Russian Orthodox Church to stop communion with head of Greek Church. (Interfax, November 3, 2019; read the full article)
  • Commenting about the relations with the Greek Church, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion said on the program Church and World on Rossiya-24: "We said that if the archbishop of Athens officially recognizes the Ukrainian schism, his name will be removed from the diptychs of the Russian Orthodox Church. What does that mean? It means that the patriarch will not mention the archbishop of Athens in his services, the same way as he is not mentioning the patriarch of Constantinople. I think he will not be mentioned this coming Sunday when the patriarch holds his service. That means we are stopping Eucharistic communion with the archbishop of Athens." At the same time, he said this does not mean that the Russian Orthodox Church is severing communion with the entire Greek Church. "We will keep communion with all those archbishops who do not recognize the Ukrainian schism, and such archbishops do exist in the Greek Church," the metropolitan said. (Interfax, November 2, 2019; read the full article)
  • The head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion has said that those opposed to the Russian Church were the reason why his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which was scheduled for October 22, did not take place. "I think we have many ill-wishers, who have good contacts with the Department of State, and when this meeting was announced they took measures to prevent it from taking place," the metropolitan said on the program Church and World on Rossiya-24. (Interfax, November 2, 2091; read the full article)

Russia-Philippines Relations

  • Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte met on the sidelines of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi. In the meeting, Duterte said: "I am here today to reaffirm our strong commitment to build a robust and comprehensive partnership with the Russian Federation." (Kremlin.ru, October 3, 2091; read the full article)
  • Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said Moscow had expressed interest to help the Philippines acquire advance technologies to develop capabilities in defending itself and in exploring the South China Sea. (Manila Times, October 27, 2019; read the full article)
  • Putin accepts Duterte's invite. Speaking at a forum in Quezon City, Khovaev said Putin has accepted with gratitude the invitation of President Duterte for him to visit the Philippines. "This is very important. The invitation of President Duterte has been accepted by President Putin with gratitude," he said. (Philstar.com, October 27, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Hungary Relations

  • In his summary of Putin's one day visit to Budapest on hvg.hu, András Németh acknowledges that relations with Putin's Russia started improving in the 2000s, under the latest left-wing government, but that was before the annexation of the Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He enumerates the series of agreements signed this time on cooperation in various fields, including oil and gas supplies and mentions that Putin seemed inclined to reduce Hungary's trade deficit with Russia. All in all, however, he suggests that the main message of the summit was an attempt to justify bilateral rapprochement and dismiss as groundless the suspicion that Hungary is Russia's 'Trojan horse' in Europe. (Hungarytoday.hu, November 4, 2019; read the full article)

Ethiopia, Egypt, The Nile And Russia

  • Egyptian officials expressed their disagreement with Ethiopia since it started building the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. That frustration kept gaining in intensity and it has now reached the level of mutual military threats. Youssef Cherif, a Tunis-based political analyst specializing in North African affairs, wrote in the Valdai Discussion Club: "The October Sochi meetings between the Russian, Ethiopian and Egyptian leaderships, if they lead to agreements about the use of the Nile water, would improve the future of the nations of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. They could also consolidate Russia's role as a global mediator, which it started building through the Astana Process regarding Syria. Finally, if successful, such action would give Moscow a symbolic aura it needs as it attempts to reenter Africa." (Valdaiclub.com, November 4, 2019; read the full article)
  • Russia and the US to the rescue? Egypt hopes external mediation and a resumption in the negotiations will help to resolve the stand-off over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Kremlin announced last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia in the dam talks. According to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin told the two leaders they should take advantage of their presence in Sochi to "directly discuss [their] concerns" on the dam and he also offered "his assistance", Peskov said. (Ahram.org.eg, October 31, 2019; read the full article)

Russia-Ukraine Relations

  • A gas transit agreement between Ukraine and Russia could be signed in the last days of this year, the Ukrainian energy minister said. (Unian.info, November 5, 2019; read the full article)
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does not look like a Ukrainian nationalist, but whether he deals with this social phenomenon is unclear, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. (Kyivpost.com, October 30, 2019; read the full article)
  • Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission: "… Allies commended President Zelenskyy on his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We reaffirmed our support to the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, which need to be fully implemented by all parties; Russia, as a signatory to the Minsk Agreements bears significant responsibility in this regard." (Nato.int, October 31, 2019; read the full article)
  • Comment by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the NATO Council's visit to Ukraine: "We have read the statements following the visit made by the NATO Council to Ukraine on October 30-31, led by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO officials seem to be giving another package of groundless claims and accusations to Russia. They are trying to misinterpret the internal Ukrainian conflict and present it as a conflict with Russia. They seem to ignore the efforts being made within by the Contact Group, which plays a central role in determining ways to implement the Minsk Package of Measures through dialogue with the authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk. NATO continues its destructive actions, working for exacerbation rather than for reconciliation; its moves contribute to increasing the tension, including through promises given to Ukrainians that 'NATO will always be on the side of Ukraine.' NATO's military support for Kiev obviously has a destabilizing and provoking impact on Ukraine." (Mid.ru, November 1, 2019; read the full statement)
  • The Kremlin said on November 5 it was deeply concerned about reports of a delay in the withdrawal of troops in eastern Ukraine, but that it hoped the process would still be completed. (Kyivpost.com, November 5, 2019; read the full article)

BRICS

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit on 13-14 November, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "The president plans to take part in the BRICS summit, which will be held in Brasilia. He will go there on a three-day trip," he said. (Tass.com, October 30, 2019; read the full article)
  • BRICS should unite, cooperate to uphold multilateralism: senior Chinese official. Speaking at the 9th Meeting of the BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues held here from Thursday to Friday, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said that as the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should strengthen unity and cooperation to deal with such changes. (Xinhuanet.com, October 19, 2019; read the full article)

Russian Agent Maria Butina

  • Russian agent Maria Butina's first comments following release. Russian national Maria Butina arrived in Moscow, after serving 18 months in American prison after admitting to working as a Russian agent. (Themoscowtimes.com, October 28, 2019; read the full article)
  • VIDEO: Convicted Russian Agent Butina Emotionally Arrives In Moscow From U.S. (Tsarizm.com, October 27, 2019; read the full article)

Defense

  • Vladimir Putin held a briefing session with permanent members of the Security Council. The participants discussed domestic issues and urgent international problems, including the implementation of major projects on building gas pipelines and the first meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee held in Geneva the day before. (Kremlin.ru, November 1, 2019; read the full report)
  • The Supreme Commander-in-Chief visited the Yantar Shipyard, where he was shown the corvette Gremyashchy, which was floated out in 2017 and is now completing the contractor's sea trials. (Kremlin.ru, October 31, 2019; read the full report)
  • "Putin Inspects Unstoppable Russian Corvette With New 3M22 Zircon Mounted Hypersonic Missiles! in Kaliningrad, Vladimir Putin examined the newest ship that can be equipped with the promising 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missiles. No country in the world has a defense against them. The President went aboard the new corvette, the Gremyashchy, which will soon undergo trials." (Vesti.ru, November 1, 2019; watch the video)
  • "60 Minutes: Peak Projection! NATO Accuses Russia of Planning Submarine Strike on US Coast! Norway saw a nuclear war coming after our submarines went to open sea. Why do they care if they did? It turns out for a Russian to be aggressive it suffices to stand and breathe fresh Russian air." (Vesti.ru, November 5, 2019; watch the video)
  • "WATCH: Russian Navy Practices Defensive Maneuvers With Frigates, Fighter Jets In Mediterranean Sea!" (Vesti.ru, November 4, 2019; watch the video)
  • "Total Military Modernization in Full Swing! Russian Air-Defense Forces Receive New Buk-M3 Missiles!" (Vesti.ru, November 3, 2019; watch the video)
  • "Russia is Preparing For the Arctic Wars! Navy Unveils 'Ivan Papanin' Icebreaker Battleship!" (Vesti.ru, November 2, 2019; watch the video)
  • "WATCH: Russian MoD Releases Never Before Seen Footage of 'Yars' Rockets in Action!" (Vesti.ru, November 1, 2019; watch the video)
  • "WATCH: Russian Tu-160s Take Scenic Patrol Flight Over Indian Ocean From South African Base!" (Vesti.ru, October 30, 2019; watch the video)