political revue


Year LXIV, 2022, Single Issue, Page 51






When Mikhail Gorbachev became president of the USSR in 1985, the world began observing the policy of the new Soviet leader with great curiosity but, at the same time, with some mistrust. Had the USSR really changed? Was this really the start of a new political phase that would bring the Cold War years to an end? Gorbachev’s assumption of the leadership of the Communist Party and the country, which constituted a real turning point, was the culmination of a profound crisis that Russia had been going through both internally and abroad. The arms race imposed by the US presidency under Ronald Reagan — the US president had even gone so far as to talk of a possible space shield to counter any aggression — was bleeding Russia’s depleted finances dry, while its continued occupation of Afghanistan was proving to be a disaster, both military and political. The number of war dead and the high number of those wounded (about half a million) plunged the regime into a crisis of credibility, and triggered protests in the streets by the families of the victims. All this explains the decision, an epochal turning point, to elect a relatively young man, by Soviet standards, to lead the country.

Gorbachev embarked on the campaign of renewal that gave rise to what is known as the era of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (transparency). Although it turned out to be a very brief era, lasting just six years, it nevertheless completely upset the world balance, culminating in the dissolution of the USSR. Gorbachev's policy had contrasting effects: although met with wide acclaim in the international arena, it failed to eliminate the persistent shadow of fear and suspicion in the West; internally, the desired renewal led to the country’s fragmentation, and failed to overcome the endemic problems linked to corruption, and to the serious backwardness, in both the economic and industrial fields, that was responsible for widespread poverty in the country. In a bold move, Gorbachev, in 1988, ended the occupation of Afghanistan, thus interrupting the sanctions that the West had used against the USSR ever since its 1979 invasion of the country. Moreover, he chose not to intervene to counter the popular protests against the communist regimes that were taking place in Poland and Romania, and effectively took the pressure off Russia’s neighbouring allies. He did not oppose the first US-led Gulf War in 1991, and indeed launched himself into a series of bilateral meetings with the US president Reagan (Geneva, November 1985, and Reykjavík, October 1986) and then with his successor Bush (Malta, December 1989). He also visited the United States (November 1987) to support an arms reduction campaign[1]  and demonstrate a readiness to start new peaceful relations with his country’s old antagonist. There were also numerous meetings with European leaders, organised with the aim of encouraging a rapprochement of the then European Community with the new USSR. All this explains his Common European Home vision, which he set out on several occasions until the drafting of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in November 1990. These efforts to bring about a rapprochement with the West were received with great interest, but a shadow nevertheless persisted. In other words, there remained some doubt as to whether the USSR really was capable of putting an end to the political and military confrontation. This difficult dialogue with Western institutions and governments is recalled by Gorbachev’s economic adviser and close collaborator Ivan Ivanov,[2] who well describes how difficult it was communicating with the European and international institutions and getting them to understand the considerable endeavour involved in pursuing perestroika. This incomprehension is further illustrated by Gorbachev’s failure to get the USSR granted entry into the IMF in 1986. The West resorted to technicalities to justify this decision, but it was really attributable to residual political hostility.[3] Paradoxically, in 1998, when the USSR no longer existed, Yeltsin’s Russia was accepted into the IMF, even though by that time the country was on the brink of default.

The Common European Home.

The Western world greeted Gorbachev with great enthusiasm when, in July 1987, he addressed a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, which for the occasion was exceptionally attended by the MEPs. In his speech he recalled an important principle regarding respect for national sovereignty, repeatedly violated in the past by the USSR,[4] stating that: “The idea of European unification should be collectively thought over once again (…) any attempts to limit the sovereignty of states — whether of friends and allies or anybody else — are inadmissible”.[5] It was a new doctrine that favoured openness to political compromises, and even to forms of liberalisation, and was therefore in complete contrast to the traditional Soviet theories that has been espoused by Mikhail Suslov, who had advocated for armed intervention should any of Moscow’s allies move away from its political leadership. Gorbachev’s Strasbourg speech was undoubtedly important, but the one he gave on August 1, before the Supreme Soviet, was even more significant. By indicating a turning point and throwing down a challenge to his opponents within the Party before the body most representative of Soviet identity, Gorbachev showed immense courage. On the subject of world politics, he talked of the inadmissibility and absurdity of settling problems and conflicts between states through war; the priority of universal values; freedom of choice; the reduction of armaments and the overcoming of military confrontation; the need for economic cooperation between East and West and the internationalisation of ecological efforts; and the correlation between politics and ethics. He went on to point out that each people autonomously decides the fate of its own country and chooses the system and regime it prefers and no one can, under any pretext, interfere from outside and impose their conceptions on another country.[6]

His opponents criticised him for these overtures, convinced that they would lead to the USSR’s dissolution. For them, making concessions to allies, opening up to dialogue with the USA and the West, favouring forms of liberalisation, and ending the centralism of Moscow meant throwing the regime into crisis.[7] Nevertheless, in line with these new choices, the USSR opted not to intervene to repress anti-communist protests in the various Warsaw Pact countries, and went so far as to accept the demolition of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, thus initiating German reunification. These choices earned Gorbachev the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. This was the height of perestroika, but it was also the start of Gorbachev’s downward spiral. His reformism pleased neither Party conservatives nor radical progressives, and his idea that reform could be brought about without dismantling the apparatus of state came up against harsh reality. The reformist effort that was proving so successful in other countries did not find, in Russia, valid support from the Western world, which failed to guarantee the country the political, economic and financial support it needed, choosing instead to stand by and watch, somewhat complacently, the disintegration of the USSR, without ever considering its possible consequences. In May 1990, Yeltsin, in the speech marking his election as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic, called for full sovereignty of the Russian Republic vis-à-vis the other 14 republics that together formed the USSR. This move was made possible by the Soviet constitution itself, which recognised the Soviet republics as sovereign states with the right to separate from the Union, despite the strongly centralised powers that Moscow had wielded up until that point. Perestroika, as Gorbachev himself wrote, was aimed at making the individual republics autonomous, thus creating a true federation.[8] It was around this time that Yeltsin resigned from the CPSU, declaring that the old system had collapsed before the new one had started to work, making the social crisis even more acute, but at the same time adding that radical changes in such a vast country could never be painless, or free of difficulties and upheavals. The challenge to Gorbachev, who advocated “reform without destruction” was thus launched. Gorbachev’s weakness was even more evident following his kidnapping in August 1991 by a military group nostalgic for the old order.[9] The coup failed miserably: Yeltsin, by mobilising popular support, managed to secure the release of Gorbachev, who from that moment on was a largely marginalised figure. Yeltsin’s success against the coup won him the full support of Western leaders, and Gorbachev became yesterday’s news.

So Little Road Travelled, so Many Mistakes Made.[10]

Yeltsin’s rise marked a turning point that would ultimately change the face of Russia and beyond. In the space of just a few months in 1991, the USSR dissolved and 14 republics, following the example of Yeltsin in the Russian Republic, declared their independence and sovereignty. At the same time, Yeltsin announced the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact that had bound, to each other and to the USSR, the Eastern European countries that had been liberated by the Red Army during the Second World War. These acts marked the fall of the communist regimes in those countries. The final act sanctioning the end of the USSR took place on the night of December 25 when Gorbachev resigned and transferred his powers to Yeltsin. On live TV the red hammer and sickle flag was lowered by the Kremlin and the Russian tricolour dating back to the Tsarist era was hoisted in its place. Russia thus entered a period of political turmoil, in which its foreign policy was abandoned due to internal conflicts that forced it to turn in on itself; the same applied to the new republics, too, which found themselves grappling with the drafting of new constitutions, the definition of borders, the division of the Treasury of the Central Bank, and the even more dramatic division of the Soviet armaments, nuclear ones included. It took many years to draw the new face of Russia which, under Yeltsin, embraced the free market for which, after more than seventy years with a state-controlled economy, it was actually totally unprepared.

The dissolution of the Soviet empire broke the fragile global balance, leaving the USA as the only remaining superpower. And from that moment on, the USA, in its bid, often unsuccessful, to police the international order, began intervening in numerous hotbeds of war and tension. Those years saw two other important developments: China’s rise as an economic power, which would soon see it also assuming a political leadership role, and the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, which transformed the European Community into a Union. This reference to Maastricht is important, because for Europe this event marked an epochal transition. However, as Europe’s relations with Russia demonstrated, the Treaty was somehow incomplete, failing for example to assign the Union competences in the fields of foreign policy, defence and industrial policy, and the effects of this are still being felt today. As Russia, in passing from a state economy to a free market one, went through a profound institutional and political upheaval, the European Union failed to step in and develop and propose the common economic and financial policy that would have lent the new Russia indispensable support. Any initiatives taken were in fact left to the individual EU member states, with Germany leading the way. This weakness on the part of the EU was exposed during the dramatic crisis in Yugoslavia whose dissolution, in 1991, was another consequence of the collapse of the USSR; as, indeed, it was when the EU claimed to be in a position to play a role in the crisis in Libya. In reality, it was in no such position and, as had already occurred in Yugoslavia, the USA had to be asked to intervene. This intervention, too, was unsuccessful, and the Libyan question remains unresolved to this day. In short, the EU relied on the USA to manage international crises (for example in Iraq and Afghanistan), and supported and even encouraged the eastward enlargement of NATO to the old Soviet satellite states (Poland was the first to join), before expanding in this same direction itself.[11] The failure to involve Russia in the EU and NATO’s eastward enlargement generated a series of misunderstandings that, over time, favoured a growing rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, as well as a strengthening, in nationalist and extremist circles in Russia, of the idea that the country was being progressively surrounded by the West. Gorbachev himself, while critical of the leaderships that followed him, was also highly critical of the USA for its conviction that only domination and a unilateral approach could guarantee America a leading role in world politics.[12] While Americans regarded Russia’s fragility in the 1990s as confirmation of the success of US foreign policy, and the weak EU meekly supported US choices, China became the first country to show political openness towards Moscow: the old rivalry over whether Russia or China should be considered the legitimate leader of communism in the world had by now been consigned to the past. In making its overtures to Russia, China was certainly not disinterested, of course; it was seeking, rather, to exploit the EU’s lack of substance, and the USA’s determination to keep its giant adversary of the past, for as long as possible, in a position of weakness.

This explains how it came about that, in 1996, Beijing promoted the creation of the Shanghai Five group (now the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO), with the aim of involving Russia and some Asian republics of the former USSR. The idea was that the organisation should foster cooperation in the economic and military fields to counter the separatism and terrorism that was dogging Central Asia in those years. It was the first step in a rapprochement that subsequently led to a strengthening of relations in the economic and military fields between Beijing and Moscow. The initiative had a clear purpose: to favour China’s role in Asia at the expense of the USA and a weakened Russia. In view of what was happening in the Caucasian region with the war in Chechnya, it was also a means of guaranteeing territorial unity on China’s borders, so as to prevent the emergence there of separatist pressures of a political, ethnic and religious nature.[13]

In August 1998, as a consequence of the war in Chechnya and the dire financial situation linked to Russia’s struggle to manage the transition to a free market economy, the country’s Central Bank was forced to declare the country bankrupt; in a scenario reminiscent of the Weimar economic crisis, the rouble had lost all its value and prices were changing by the hour, leaving the people having to resort to bartering.

At that point, with Yeltsin seriously ill, the reins of government passed, the following year, to his heir apparent: Vladimir Putin. That same year, Russia became a full member of the IMF. The USA and the EU had stood by and watched Russia’s complete meltdown without ever intervening, and this fact would not be forgotten.

Refusal to Forget.

Because of the events and circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the USSR, Putin, in public speeches, repeatedly said that he could not forget what he saw as the West’s outrageous and provocative attitude in recent years.[14] Nevertheless, as president, he focused initially on restoring order internally, immediately showing that he was prepared to harshly repel possible opponents. He resumed the war in Chechnya, which he brought to a bloody end in 2009. His actions reinforced his image as a hard man, although this image was cemented only after a number of attacks that shocked Russian public opinion.[15] There grew up around him a circle of so-called oligarchs, who were none other than the former officials who had previously controlled state-owned companies on behalf of the Communist Party. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, these individuals, men with no particular talent or managerial ability, found themselves directly in charge of the various industries, able to assume control of them purely because they had been part of the old state apparatus. Loyalty to the new president helped these “oligarchs” to accumulate vast wealth; anyone who did not support the new regime that was taking shape risked their lives, or prison, and this is a situation that persists to this day.

If Putin’s first objective was to restore order internally and start new relations with the ex-Soviet republics, now independent nations, his second was to bring Russia back into the international arena. Even though this would take time, his intentions were already perfectly clear when he addressed the Munich Security Conference in February 2007.[16] Putin’s argument at that time was that the world had changed, making the criteria established after the Second World War inapplicable, even in relations with allies. With the birth of new centres of power, new dangers were appearing in the world, making it necessary to create a new situation. Otherwise, new conflicts would undoubtedly emerge.

Expressed at a time when Russia was still waging the war in Chechnya, this was a strong position, and one that indicated a readiness to return to the role of a superpower. Putin was also scathing towards Europe’s foreign ministers, whom he bluntly accused of subservience to the decisions of NATO and the United States.

The period between 1985 and the start of the new millennium must therefore go down as that in which the Europeans wasted the chance to mount a common political and industrial action in support of Russia — a wounded “bear” that was crying out for help, and a country that, given its continental dimensions, enormous natural riches, and almost 150 million-strong population, was always destined, before long, to return to the fore and resume its role on the international stage.[17] Russia’s full return to international politics came with the Ukrainian crisis at the end of 2013 when the Ukrainian government led by President Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the EU, preferring instead an economic agreement proposed by Putin, which provided USD 300 billion in financial aid. Such provision of aid was not contemplated by the EU, even though it was known that Ukraine was on the brink of default, with its Central Bank clearly unable to meet an IMF repayment due in the spring of 2014. We are all familiar with the events that unfolded in Ukraine after that. Under the pressure of popular protests, in which the majority were calling for the start of association with the EU and accusing the government of selling out to Russia, the incumbent government was forced to flee. During the demonstrations there were multiple clashes and attacks resulting in numerous victims; meanwhile, with Russian support, part of the Donbass region proclaimed its independence from Kyiv and created the People’s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. Putin milked this crisis: he accused the West of instigating the fall of the regional government, and ensured that the secessionists of Donbass, the country’s richest region, were kept supplied with financial and military aid. In 2014, Putin, emboldened by his strong position, backed the secessionist referendum in Crimea, which resulted in that country becoming a member of the Russian Federation once more. At this point, there began a silent war between the new and generally pro-Western government in Kyiv and the pro-Russian secessionist region of Ukraine. The West responded to these developments by issuing its first sanctions against Russia. Subsequently, in February 2022, the situation in the region precipitated with the start of Russia’s “special operation”, desired and launched by Putin as a means of preventing Ukraine from joining the EU or NATO, which at the time was also considering granting entry to Georgia and Moldova, two other nations that were once part of the USSR.

The war in Ukraine raises numerous considerations that deserve to be explored in depth, because the ongoing conflict changes the whole world balance. Basically, this is no longer just a matter of Russia demanding to play a key role on the world stage, and of Ukraine striving to defend its sovereignty. It is about much more than that. What has become clear, once again, is that global politics knows no boundaries. And just as Gorbachev predicted in a 2019 book, in which he asks how all this could possibly have come about,[18] Europe has clearly become a global political hotspot.

Gorbachev answers his own question, arguing that the events rocking Ukraine can be traced back to the choices made by the Europeans during the 1990s. As the present essay has sought to underline, the eastward enlargements of the EU and NATO have certainly succeeded in strengthening the West and weakening Russia, but unfortunately, alongside this, no policy has ever been activated to give Moscow guarantees, and above all tangible aid. While, on the one hand, the USA’s attitude was and remains understandable, its ultimate aim, always and in any case, being to weaken Russia, the EU on the other hand is guilty of failing to play any kind of mediatory role, even though there has seemed, and still seems to be, room for action of this kind, which has now become more necessary than ever, both politically and economically. The ability to act, however, depends on the existence of a political authority offering direction. It is therefore no coincidence that the current war in Ukraine is completely laying bare the delays that the EU has accumulated over time. Europe, with no government, and faced with a war on its doorstep, now finds itself forced to confront its powerlessness in strategic sectors such as foreign and defence policy, energy and industrial policy. The EU is indeed fragile and, in many ways, impotent. But, at the same time, the war is also exposing the fragility of Putin’s Russia, which, in spite of all the bombastic and bellicose utterances, is undoubtedly weak. The war is showing how a superpower, when its mighty army is badly led and its level of technological capability is inferior to that of an opponent that is supplied with arms from the West, can see its credibility crumble in a matter of weeks. In short, while Russia can certainly be considered a superpower in terms of the extent of its manpower and means, it is weak in terms of intelligence and new technologies. Without pausing here to analyse the course of the war or dwell on the unquestionably despicable nature of the aggression launched by Putin, the succession of six different army commanders-in-chief in the space of a few months, and the need to forcibly recruit over 300,000 young people to fight, are clearly signs of the difficulties thrown up by what had had been meant to be a lightning war, but is actually proving to be a far more protracted struggle. Here is not the place to evaluate the course of the war from a military perspective, also because the scenarios could change rapidly should the conflict extend to Belarus, or should the internal political situation in Russia or Ukraine somehow precipitate. Generally speaking, there is only one thing we can say for sure: that the war will eventually come to an end, even though it is impossible to say how, and how long it will be before this moment comes. But when the end does come, it will mark the start of a new phase in which the EU will be called upon to help ensure that Ukraine goes on receiving material aid in order to rebuild following the destruction it has suffered, and in which a new political collaboration will have to be started with Russia. Russia is an integral part of European history and it is unthinkable that it can be isolated forever. The EU needs Russia, and not only because of its vast natural wealth; equally, Russia needs the EU, for two reasons: first it cannot afford to succumb to Chinese flattery as a long-term solution, and second because the beating heart of Russia lies in Europe, not in Asia.

“We Tried”.[19]

Here, we have briefly run though the mistakes, due to political limitations and an inability to act, made by the Western world and in particular by the Europeans in the years leading up to the turn of the century. The point now is to ensure that those mistakes are never repeated, and in order to do this the EU needs to intervene where Russia is most fragile and needy. The market economy, industrial policy, agricultural sector and average quality of life in Russia can all be taken as indicators of the country’s fragility. Despite the efforts made since the 1990s to open up to the free market, Russia is not a leading industrial nation.

In the manufacturing industry, Russia depends heavily on imports which, because of the war, are forecast to collapse throughout 2023, impoverishing the country.[20] An indication of the level of poverty in the country was provided by former prime minister Medvedev no less, who, in 2019, declared that 19 million Russians (14 per cent of the population) live below the poverty line.[21] The importance of the energy and mining sector in Russia is well known, and accounts for its largest share of exports. The second leading source of exports is the agricultural sector which employs a workforce of 14 million, but impacts the lives of around 60 million citizens who live in rural areas that only have dirt roads. 45 per cent of these citizens have no drinking water, and 5 per cent no access to a sewerage network. These data are the same today as they were in 1990.[22] The yield per hectare of agricultural land is 10 per cent lower than it is in the EU, a sign of slowness to adopt new scientific discoveries in a sector that is vital not only to Russia. Furthermore, while the quality of life of the Russian citizen today has certainly improved compared with Soviet times, this improvement does not extend to greater health protection. Life expectancy is an indication of a nation’s level of development: the longer people live, the higher the country’s development. The average lifespan of a man in Russia is 66 years. In the EU it is 20 years longer. Accordingly, in 2018, the Duma’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 55 (where it had been stuck since the days of the USSR) to 66 met with violent street protests, which forced Putin to have the bill withdrawn.

In addition to addressing the various economic aspects that impact social ones, Russia will need to find a new role for itself among its neighbouring countries, which were once an integral part of its territory. The initial aggression and the way the Ukraine war has unfolded have weakened the solidarity (sometimes imposed) of the Asian republics with which Russia maintains special economic and military relations. During the first votes in the UN condemning the aggression against Ukraine, these Republics abstained or did not participate,[23] thereby showing solidarity with Putin. Instead, during the meeting between Russia and the Asian republics held in Astana in October 2022, some of the presidents distanced themselves. The President of Tajikistan expressly asked Putin to “show respect” to the former Soviet republics, while the Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan expressed their concern that the war was leading to the appearance of a new iron curtain, and called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be respected.[24] These stances, unthinkable until a few months earlier, are a sign of the difficulties that Putin is having: internally, he is coming under pressure both from the most extremist wing and, at the same time, from the faction more open to compromise,[25] as well as, externally, from Asian countries that are showing signs of distancing themselves from Moscow in its moment of weakness. Added to all this, China and India are pressing for an end to the conflict. All this adds up to a highly complex setting in which the EU could play a hugely important role. Were Europe, through specific agreements, to put its industrial capabilities and technological know-how in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors at Russia’s disposal, this would mark an epochal turning point in its relations with the country. However, it is clear that two conditions must first be met. Putin or his successor will have to show that they are willing to reopen a dialogue with the European countries, while the EU will have to initiate the reforms that will allow it to speak with a single voice. Indeed, without a common foreign and industrial policy, the Union would just run into the old problems once again. It will, of course, be a lengthy process, as the war will leave a lasting trail of resentment and lack of trust. As Europeans, our task in this period is to initiate the EU reforms that will finally give us the political authority whose absence has favoured the mistakes of the past. For a long time, we Europeans have preferred to leave fundamental strategic choices to the USA, choices for which, to a large extent, we are still paying the price. What is more, should the hawks continue to prevail in Russia, preventing a return to reasonableness at the level of the Russian leadership, it would be all the more necessary to address problem of strengthening the government of the European Union. The time has come to make the radical choices that will at least allow us to tell the world: “we tried”. Ultimately, this was, and is, the objective indicated by the citizens who took part in the Conference on the Future of Europe. 

Stefano Spoltore

[1] START 1 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

[2] I. Ivanov, Perestrojka e mercato globale, Milan, IPSOA Scuola d’impresa, 1989, pp. 33-76.

[3] M. Ruffolo, L’URSS vuole entrare nel FMI, La Repubblica, 17 August 1986.

[4] One need only think of the Soviet interventions in Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and Afghanistan (1979).

[5] Speech by Mikhail Gorbachev to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, "Europe as a Common Home", July 6, 1989, Wilson Center, Digital Archive,

[6] M. Gorbachev, La Casa Comune Europea, Milan, Mondadori, 1989, p. 193.

[7] C. De Carlo, Le riforme in un regime sono i primi sintomi di un imminente crollo, QN, 6 December 2022.

[8] M. Gorbachev, What Is at Stake Now: My Appeal for Peace and Freedom, Jessica Spengler (Translator), Oboken, N.J., Wiley, 2020. The fact that Gorbachev continued to experience difficulties in his home country even in recent years is shown by the fact that this book was not published in Russia. Instead, it was first published in German in 2019, entitled Was jetzt auf dem Spiel steht.

[9] It is worth remembering how one of the insurrectionists, then an army major, suffered no consequences for his insubordination. He continued his military career and Putin, in the summer of 2022, appointed him Commander in Chief of the Russian army in the so-called special operation against Ukraine: General Surovikin.

[10] S.A. Esenin, Russian poet, quoted in V. Salamov (2018), Kolyma Stories. New York: New York Review Books; V. Shalamov (2020). Sketches of the Criminal World: Further Kolyma Stories. New York: New York Review Books. Salamov’s work describes his experience in the gulags in the 1950s and anticipates by a few years the better-known work by A. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.

[11] NATO’s expansion to the East began in 1999, and in 2004 all the former Warsaw Pact countries joined the organisation. The EU, on the other hand, began expanding towards the East in 2004 and in 2007 all former satellite countries of the USSR became full members of the Union. This enlargement to the East undoubtedly favoured the consolidation of democracy in those countries.

[12] M. Gorbachev, What Is at Stake Now..., op. cit..

[13] Cf. S. Spoltore, Russia and China United in Pursuit of a New World Order, The Federalist, 63, (2021), p. 48.

[14] For example: Askanews, Putin: io non dimentico, 3 December 2015. More recently: Lettera di Putin ai russi,, 19 June 2020.

[15] The most shocking case was the action ordered to break the siege by a Chechen commando at the Dubrovka Theatre (October 26, 2002). The resulting operation led to the elimination of the 39-strong commando, but also saw 129 hostages killed in the clash by special units sent from Moscow on Putin’s orders.


[17] Cf. F. Rossolillo, The Ukraine and the Global Equilibrium, The Federalist, 57, n.1 (2005), p. 31.

[18] M. Gorbachev, What Is at Stake Now..., op. cit..

[19] This was Gorbachev’s reply when filmmaker W. Herzog asked him what he would like written on his tombstone. Interview documentary, December 2019.

[20] European Council forecasts indicate a total of €248bn in 2021, dropping to €133bn in 2022 and to €94bn in 2023.

[21] M. Gorbachev, What Is at Stake Now..., op. cit..

[22] F. Scaglione, Agricoltura russa, dall’izba alla holding, Lettera da Mosca, 5 December 2020.

[23] Kazakhstan and Tajikistan abstained while Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan did not participate in the vote.

[24] Cf. D. Cancarini, Ora che l’Asia Centrale sfida la Russia, Il Fatto, 22 October 2022; D. Cancarini, Guerra Russia Ucraina dipendenza da Mosca, Il Fatto, 13 April 2022.

[25] G. Savino, Cosa sta succedendo dentro il sistema di potere di Putin,, 17 December 2022.



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