Navalny’s Killing Shows Putin Senses Leeway as US Wavers over Ukraine

Democratic Security Outlook 2024: 19 - 25 February

19 February 2024

Putin’s regime killed Alexei Navalny in a show of defiance as the US’s dithering over aid to Ukraine helps the Russian army advance on the ground.

Upcoming on Visegrad Insight:

  • Oksana Forostyna analyses how the military setbacks and leadership changes affect moods in Ukraine.

EU/REGIONAL

  • Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died suddenly in an Arctic penal colony after years of harsh treatment by the Putin regime aiming at silencing him.
  • Navalny’s wife, Yulia, and many world leaders, including from CEE, hailed Navalny as a hero and blamed and condemned the Russian dictator.
  • Navalny’s killing is the latest political murder aimed at neutralising Putin’s critics or potential rivals. It took place days after Tucker Carlson gave the Russian dictator a platform in a softball interview, the Republicans again blocked the Ukraine aid package and Donald Trump made scandalous remarks over NATO and Russia.
  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the bloc to follow the blueprint on common funding in response to the Covid-19 pandemic with a massive increase in spending on defence procurement that would boost the European arms industry.
  • The EU is mulling a 100 billion euro defence fund for military equipment purchases as Russia has ramped up its arms production and military spending to over 7 percent of GDP to continue its war in Ukraine.
  • Von der Leyen is also expected to follow a proposal of her EPP grouping in the European Parliament to create the post of Defense Commissioner in the next college to coordinate the EU military spending. Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Estonian PM Kaja Kallas are seen as potential CEE contenders for the post.
  • Kallas has been put on a “wanted list” by Russian law enforcement agencies along with dozens of Western officials and citizens seen as aiding Ukraine’s war effort.
  • Hungary again vetoed new sanctions on Russia drafted by the EU on the grounds that it would hit three Chinese and Indian firms that are said to supply Moscow’s war machine, according to the FT.
  • The European Commission started an in-depth probe over alleged distortion of the single market by a subsidised Chinese train maker involved in a Bulgarian tender. The case marks the first time the EU uses new regulations to protect the single market from unfair foreign competition.
  • Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of planning a full-scale aggression on the country after a border incident in which three Armenian soldiers were killed.
  • Greece legalised same-sex marriage despite the objections of the Orthodox Church.

Ukrainian army withdraws from key city in the east 

UKRAINE

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