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TOPIC: azerbaijan

Geopolitics

The 'Union State' — Inside Putin's Plans To Rebuild The USSR With A 1990s Treaty

What are Vladimir Putin's long-term goals in Ukraine? An overlooked treaty from the mid-1990s reveal that his ambitions go far beyond Ukraine to building a Russian Empire 2.0.

What does Vladimir Putin want?

One big clue is the “Union State”, a supranational organization consisting of Russia and Belarus that was founded in 1996. The union aimed to gradually create a single political, economic, military and cultural space.

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But Putin’s vision for the union doesn’t stop with Belarus. He has been quietly but diligently building the formations of the USSR 2.0 for decades.

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One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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Women, Life, Freedom: Iranian Protesters Find Their Voice

In the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police mid-September for not wearing her hijab properly, many Iranians have taken the streets in nationwide protests. Independent Egyptian media Mada Masr spoke to one of the protesters.

On September 16, protests erupted across Iran when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested and beaten by morality police for her supposedly unsuitable attire. The protests, witnesses recount, have touched on all aspects of rights in Iran, civil, political, personal, social and economic.

Mada Masr spoke to a protester who was in the prime of her youth during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to possible security retaliation, she walked us through what she has seen over the past week in the heart of Tehran, and how she sees the legacy of resistance street politics in Iran across history.

MADA MASR: Describe to us what you are seeing these days on the streets of Tehran.

ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: People like me, we are emotional because we remember 2009. The location of the protests is the same: Keshavarz Boulevard in the middle of Tehran. The last time Tehranis took to these streets was in 2009, one of the last protests of the Green Movement. Since then, the center of Tehran hasn’t seen any mass protests, and most of these streets have changed, with new urban planning meant to make them more controllable.

Remembering 2009 triggers many things, such as street strategies, tactics and the way we could find each other in the middle of the chaos. But this is us now, almost at the back. Up front, there are many younger people, especially girls. They are extremely brave, fearless and smart.

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How Russia's Setbacks In Ukraine Could Reignite Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

Azerbaijan’s recent shelling of Armenia is the worst hostilities since the war in 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. While in the past, Russia, a historic ally of Armenia, sought to restore peace, the Kremlin may make a different calculus this time.

-Analysis-

Almost two years ago, what is now referred to as the “Second Karabakh War” broke the uneasy truce which had been in effect between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1994. After 44 days of intense fighting – with thousands of dead on both sides – it ended in a precarious, Russian-mediated ceasefire on November 10, 2020.

The nine-point document setting out the terms of the ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus largely cemented the gains made by Azerbaijan during the war. Among others, it provided for a withdrawal of Armenia’s troops from Azerbaijan and the restoration of economic and transportation links between the two countries.

This is particularly important for Azerbaijan, whose access to its Nakhchivan exclave is separated by Armenia’s Syunik province. The agreement also included arrangements for the stationing of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh until at least 2025.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

Armenia-Azerbaijan Reignites, Greenpeace Nuke Protest, Godard Dies

👋 Ushé-ushé!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine continues to reconquer territory, fresh clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border leave at least 49 dead and France says adieu to two 20th-century titans of the visual arts. Meanwhile, business daily Les Echos draws a profile of Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia's top 10 billionaires who continues to grow his business despite Western sanctions.

[*Kanuri, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon]

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Jeff Israely and Emma Albright

Putin’s Troops Make Hasty Retreat Back Into Russia

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service posted a video Tuesday morning with the caption "Vovchansk is back home.” In the video, Ukrainian troops can be seen removing Russian flags and signs from buildings in the city in the northeast Kharkiv region. Vovchansk was occupied on the first day of the invasion and reports began to come in Sunday that it had been vacated by Russian troops.

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The city is one of more than 20 settlements of the country liberated over the past 24 hours. In his Monday evening address, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian military had liberated more than 6,000 square kilometers of the country's territory in the east and south.

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Bertrand Hauger

Kremlin Pessimism, BoJo’s Toast, Airbnb Leaves China

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Tuesday, which marks three months since the war in Ukraine started. Meanwhile, BoJo is in trouble again, and millionaires at Davos ask to be taxed more. Persian-language, London-based media Kayhan explores what the future of Lebanon could look like after the election defeat of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

[*Swedish]

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Geopolitics
Jordi Joan Baños

A Visit To Shusha, A Ghost City Marked By Culture And Ethnic Cleansing

The capture of the city sealed last year's Azerbaijani victory against the Armenians — the latest change of control after a century of war and ethnic cleansing.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Pandora Papers, Japan’s New PM, Spicy Medicine Nobel

👋 Bom dia!*

Welcome to Monday, where the financial secrets of the rich and powerful are exposed in a massive data leak, the two Koreas get on the phone for the first time in months, Japan has a new prime minister and there's a spicy Nobel prize winner for medicine. For Paris-based daily Les Echos, we have Anna Rousseau reporting on how fashion-famous France is finally starting to catch up with the plus-size market.

[*Portuguese]

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Geopolitics
Kayhan-London

Iran-Azerbaijan Tensions: How Khamenei Overplayed Islamic Ties

Azerbaijan's flourishing ties with Turkey and Israel threaten Iran's regional trade and strategic security after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei overestimated his ability to woo Azerbaijan leader, Ilham Aliev, because both nations are predominantly Shia Muslim.

-Analysis-

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have sent armored and artillery units for maneuvers Friday close to the Islamic Republic's northern border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin & Bertrand Hauger

North Korea Fires Missiles, R. Kelly Guilty, New John Lennon Song

👋 Hyvää huomenta!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea conducts its third weapon tests in just over two weeks, R&B singer R. Kelly is found guilty of sex trafficking, and an unearthed John Lennon tape is up for auction in Denmark. Meanwhile, we take a look at why despite being an oil- and gas-rich country, Iran has been marred by widespread blackouts in recent years.

[*Finnish]

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Geopolitics
Paul Tavignot

In Azerbaijan, The 'Sextape' Is An Instrument Of Repression

Critics of Ilham Aliev's regime accuse the government of using sexually explicit material — including images of wives and daughters — to strong-arm its opponents.

For some of Azerbaijani's opposition figures, Big Brother has moved into the bedroom, with the result being the distribution of "sex tapes' on social networks.

Often the videos are filmed by cameras hidden in the victims' homes without their knowledge. Once recorded, the intimate images are "shared" — along with nude photographs and/or personal correspondence — onto a Telegram channel or Facebook accounts.

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