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tv   Inside Story 2019 Ep 357  Al Jazeera  December 24, 2019 2:32pm-3:01pm +03

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busy christmas holiday as strikes over pension reform show no sign of easing transport remains heavily restricted with up to 80 percent of train services counselled on monday demonstrators confronted police at one paris tz mainway paris one of paris's main railway stations some set off fireworks and flares inside the 2 week long nationwide walkout has stopped railway services and forced schools to close and fewer palestinian christians from the gaza strip will be able to travel to bethlehem to mark christmas compared to last year celebrations are already underway but many from gaza can't attend because israel hasn't granted them permits according to the greek orthodox church in gaza only $193.00 out of 950 travel applications have been issued there up to date with the headlines on al-jazeera inside story now thanks for watching.
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is glad i'm here putin creating a new reality on the ground in crimea moscow and explained there from ukraine in 2014 and russia as it's been under international sanctions but now the russian president has opened a direct train link to the peninsula so what does this mean for the future this is inside story. hello welcome to the program i'm so whole raman a new road and rail bridge now connects the crimean peninsula with russia the 4000000000 dollar transport link is the longest in europe but it seemed by many in kiev as
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a symbol of moscow's control over the peninsula and the united states and european union consider it a violation of ukraine's sovereignty and impose sanctions on companies involved in its construction. and he has relations have worsened since russia annexed crimea in 2014 the peninsula had only been accessible from mainland ukraine until the bridge was opened last year now marked by president vladimir putin he drove through it on a truck now trains are starting to cross running from st petersburg to crime is largest cities the best of all but on tuesday from moscow to the capital simferopol . russia and ukraine have recently taken some steps to ease those tensions they've agreed to implement a cease fire in eastern ukraine by the end of this year now that deal was reached in paris earlier this month when russian and ukrainian presidents met for the 1st time almost 2 months earlier ukraine's president of la them is alinsky agreed to
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elections in separatist held parts of the dumbass region and in september russia and ukraine each exchanged 35 prisoners ukrainian government troops and russian backed separatists also withdrew from key frontline areas in eastern ukraine over several months. well let's bring in our guest for this edition of inside story well joining me from moscow is victor all of which the lead analyst at the think tank center for actual politics ilya bottom of the earth is the c.e.o. of trident acquisitions which focuses on investment in oil and gas in eastern europe he's also a former member of russia's parliament and the only member to vote against the annexation of crimea in 2014 he joins us from kiev via skype darrent dual is principal russia analyst at the global risk consultancy maple croft
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he joins us now from london gentlemen welcome to this edition of inside story ilya put amount of in the care for i just start with you i mean how significant is this in terms of a milestone in the fractious relationship between ukraine and russia that this bridge has finally been built and is it operation well to my mind there's just a lot was. the main. it's already happened when it was a cartridge last year and since that time mark raimi is already leaving cert to mainland russia which of course it's extremely symbolic because the breach in the larger superstructure or just come from. some portion of the town at the expense of russian taxpayers for example where i mean. i can see. they canceled the construction of the bridge across the or by now because the actual breach across
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france cultural strait is one crimea. other regional fresh in your future they canceled a lot of the railway bridge across the other 3 were so basically would have been done right now it's public relations for mr wood some to support this popularity. is russia a lot of people in ukraine are there it's about this. it's. my personal take on this but at the end of that they. say show me some korea and the occupation is temporary at the end of the crimea go back to ukraine in this case rain would inherit this. huge piece of infrastructure you cannot help it he may be a really a story to tell you're going to got a lot to think about that a lot to comment on as well through this problem victor out of it you heard what eliot had to say i mean from the russian perspective this is yet another you might say infrastructure success for the president but in recent weeks in the sort of
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state of the union the end of year address he did talk about the fact didn't he in his address to the russian people but there were problems with the economy there were problems with corruption and so i wonder how russian people would actually take the opening of this bridge i mean do they do they see it as something that they can take pride in or is it just an unnecessary expense. well of course crimea has a long history of both with russia and ukraine for hundreds of years russia and ukraine were part of a of the same state including the soviet times when the crimea was formally transferred from the russian federation to the ukrainian republic at that time by the crucial of the 1950 s. and of course the vast majority of the population in crimea is russian ethnically russian and they are russian speakers but the main reason why russian and
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readership decided in 2014 to to take crimea was political because the russian leadership the kremlin at that time believed that if crimea remained part of ukraine after the change of power after yanick which was ousted in kiev then they came in believed that the russian black sea fleet that was based in ukraine would no longer be able to function would need to be moved to different bases and russia did not at that time even have bases where we could cause the russian black sea fleet and the cabinet was also concerned afraid that they had to interrupt your mother. with respect because back to your question with respect i have to interrupt you we don't need a history lesson we need because we know the history of the region with respect so
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the question again is. how do you react to this in relation to obviously the history of what's called an independence here in the last couple of years. well the public mostly sees it as a necessary expense yes the economic situation is quite bleak and it's not expected to get better in the next months and years but for the people for that to live in crimea and for the people that seek to travel there of course the new infrastructure projects. look necessary crimea is being blocked isolated by ukraine as a territory that no longer is no longer under its sovereignty and so so moscow is attempting to lay new groundwork new ways to get into crimea. connected to the russian mainland and this bridge both as far as car traffic and
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train traffic is concerned is part of those efforts in the normal to cause bring you in here i mean you've heard sort of the 2 sides of this from our guests in moscow and yet i mean how much of this project is actually symbolic how much of it is actually a political or military military need or an economic need for russia at this moment in time. well it's all 3 of those things at once for the start we should distinguish the fact that. country to ilia we would expect that the occupation of crimea at this point is going to remain relatively permanent abs and he sort of massive political change in russia. crimea as ours was a major booster for putin back in 2014 that's worn off at this point. but at this point you know even if the rest of the world is never going to recognize the annexation there's very little prospect of russia going out so these infrastructure projects are necessary to support the principle to provide direct
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links which will also need to see things with you know electricity fresh water to reduce its dependence on ukraine but they also provide an economic benefit for certain people outside towards the kremlin the people who get these contracts the people who are trusted to carry them out you know this is a very lucrative business for all of them now what this actually means for ordinary russians at this point is hard to see since 2014 we've seen the oil price kalash we've seen a deep recession followed by several years of economic stagnation and falling living standards throughout the regions in particular which has led to an increase in protest activity not just political protests in moscow but protests across places like otc and goals can all of you know against certain aspects of the state's policies whether that be plans for garbage dumps whether that be local infrastructure ordinary russians are very annoyed. and they're annoyed with the
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power structures even if they're not articulating that right now so while this bridge to crimean isn't going to get people out in the streets as to why are we wasting money on this i think. that is right that you know there's. there's a. cream notch the crimean consensus is accepted in russia but it's not saying that people are going to be celebrating with you know fireworks and fanfare well. i think you have you would nodding your head you want to come in on those comments i think. you know i think that you know in say in terms of russians or in the russians take on this i think they will launch is this too much because they don't see the connection where the budgetary flows are coming but for people in crimea from one side of course it's a sign the. truce not forgive them kind of the 2nd ideas on this is a very pregnant but the most important thing that crimea is struggling without
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fresh water. right now struggling on the verge of a political disaster and most close to investing in the bridge which has been constructed by close associates. family which are directly benefiting from the financial part of. the thing. works for a $1000000.00 on the internal private infrastructure like like water supplies the place that. 'd all people in crimea everything victor all of it in moscow in terms of the way russia has proceeded to build a bridge and to solidify its links with crimea is that more in reaction as well to the isolation it's felt from the international community since sanctions were put in place either by the e.u. or by the u.s. . well of course russia has felt the bite of these sanctions and not
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just by the west by the un the us but russia has been forced to. adapt to a new economic reality where the ukrainian industrial enterprises that were part of the russian service the russian military industry defense in the state. russia has now sensually been forced to provide to make its own defense enterprises take over from the ukrainian ones that they dealt with before 2014 russia has also had to build new railway lines around ukraine russia has also been basically felt it necessary to build this bridge due to crimea to connect that insulin to the russian mainland so russia has definitely had to increase its expenditures in a new economic and
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a new jip political reality and this is certainly a long term situation the kremlin understands that and of course i would also agree with my colleague in london that the so-called crimea is our safety act and it was a euphoric moment in 2014 when crimea became part of russia it was a euphoric moment from a new russian citizens and it was something that that. sort of new fides for a few years for several years up until now the massive protest activity that russia saw in 201-2011 electoral cycle and now this effect is wearing off we are seeing the new protest activity not just in moscow but in other parts of the country and we can expect that people are going to manifest their. desires and their dislike of the problems that they see in their life even watch
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that's fastly because the crimea effect is wearing off india and. before we go back to ilya and kids because i wonder what do you think would be the next move now by the e.u. in the us now that this bridge is it will an operation the the road side of the bridge was operational what last year another train side has become operational it is how much of it is a good to the e.u. and the us into any moves will they will they want to this point we wouldn't expect anything beyond some strongly worded letters and expressions of concerns number one this is all just reflecting facts on the ground as you said that the cart bridge is already open this is just opening up the rail network secondly we have to consider the fact of the transatlantic relationship is very very different than what it was in 2014 we have a u.s.
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president hughes approach to foreign policy. we say is a typical of a lot of his predecessors who hasn't shown a lot of enthusiasm for working together with the european union certainly not for coordinating big actions against russia and so the question is 1st off what can you do at this point that actually imposes material costs on the russian federation without massively escalating the situation above and beyond what it is right now and how do you get to that solution and coordinate and agree it between both washington and all the european states and keep in mind that you know france is looking for some way to reach a detente the u.k. is leaving the e.u. and its role in the foreign policy making of the block is going to be up in the air so there's you know there's a whole lot of frayed connections at the moment and. and the mechanisms by which
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these things would usually be coordinated and implemented are just not functioning as they would be and even more importantly there isn't the political will of the top particularly in washington and of course who say you know afraid connections but it's also quite a. a story of moving parts but like a jigsaw puzzle. put them out of in kiev of course one way that kiev has reacted is to get closer to the e.u. in various forms and on various agreements militarily it does want to get close it's even eyeing up potential membership of nato that worries russia potential membership of the e.u. that worries russia which direction do you think kiev is going to go in then with regard to if they can't find a solution with russia they'll find a better partnership with europe and other allies but i think that serves the route or situation the crimea or likely to be across all. roles
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all occupational like it was a show of the baltics it so. we are soviet union. for what like 40 or more years. the west. worked with the so you have relations with the soviet. comic ties with the soviet union but when the soviet union and began to collapse 'd. they. were introduced to the europe. and i think with the crimea more or less. the same to patients we have low budget. it's russian territory but everybody would return to get about and for a while the 2nd which is way more important at the moment we're in eastern ukraine where people are dying every single day and that's where your focus is right now
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that's where the focus from european leaders european union is united states is and the focus of ukraine. i think that's where we find the new media. solution in the meanwhile while. you let me. show ordinary craniums they would have been with. their life. better than it is right now with. a debate yet again for another day with people from crimea victor all of it in moscow i mean you heard our guest in kiev and of course there is obviously 2 sides to this of course from russia's point of view you know as they see you crying getting close to the e.u. or certainly more friendly russia has been thrown out of the g 8 it's had its diplomats removed for example from the united kingdom after the poisoning and the
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accusation that they were behind the poisoning of a former russian agent 2nd ice cripple i mean this sort of schism between russia's relations with. europe is something that doesn't sit well with moscow they would like to be friendly but they car because of the dynamics of their internal politics especially when it comes to crimea who would like to meet putin like to be back in the g. 8 would he like to have better relations with the e.u. or is he actually quite happy with the way things are right now. well the kremlin would like to have a better relationship with the european union a much better relationship with europe in fact. put in serious 2 years in office he had tried to manage a strategic relationship or start a new partnership with germany on their hard shoulder at the time he had tried to improve relations with the u.k. which have almost for decades been invaded tickled for for moscow. he had the right
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to manage should withdraw actually rock at that time the president of france and with other european leaders and of course as years passed by 1st with the conflict in georgia in 2008 and then more sic much more significantly with the change of power in ukraine in 2014 and the russian response to it of course the relationship with europe has frayed moscow has taken a stance whereby it would like to have a better relationship with brussels and with the european capitals but the european capitals are essentially not responding to that and moscow is not willing to make those steps are those concessions that would be needed in the eyes of the european there is to improve that relationship so at this point the russian leadership is quite pessimistic it would like to improve that relationship but it's
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best to mystic about the chances that he'll chances of improving the relationship with europe at the same time it is pursuing. efforts to improve or at least normalize stabilize elations with specific european states that he has only. come good he and some others that may be more attuned to a. more attuned to a more normalized. the ability relationship with russia with less criticism of its mexico foreign policy so we should not at this point expect a significant change either from moscow on moscow side or from the side of from the european side and the leadership is. expected to be as big as it is right now picking up steam in worse we are coming to near the end of a program don i'm a doctor i just bring you in there about that relationship and the most pessimistic on the political front it's funny how strong you might say the euro the pound the
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dollar or the ruble speaks when it comes to building an underwater pipeline from russia to europe they're willing to talk on that level are they not when it comes to the economy and to you might say keeping europe warm. well i mean nordstrom too is as far as germany is concerned an economic project when it comes on line you know even even given the fact that ukraine is obviously quite upset about this because the potential for its pipeline capacity being bypassed by european import demand is going to be such for the forseeable future that. there will be you know even an s 2 won't be able to supply it all and ukraine will still need to be used that's kind of a long term structural interdependence between the 2 countries i want agree with with victor that you know it's very unlikely that we're going to see a reprimand between europe and russia we shouldn't put it down to political will power between either 2 sides you know we've seen mccraw make some very. very forward looking statements with terms of our precious month it comes down to in
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compatibility and basic principles of state craft from the 2 sides europe has certain expectations about the rights of sovereign states even those in russia's neighborhood and there are there will they believe you to choose their own policy that has certain standards on human rights and the independence of courts and you know even as we saw this early putin rapprochement with europe largely or in part because of iraq and because the western allies were distant from the u.s. we were still seeing things like the fascination of alexander litvinenko. you know that certain free ride for russian organized crime and intelligence activities in europe and even as you've talked about building relations with austria hungary and italy we've seen russia intervening in europe to support far rights and in some cases far left populist or anti system parties so it's not so much that russia you know is looking for europe to reengage it's that russia really would like to see
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europe change fundamentally before it feels it can safely engage and to agree vita vice versa we said have to leave it with that sort of pulls for thought for the moment but i'm afraid we have. a lot of times it's been a great pleasure speaking to all 3 of you think television but a lot i think darren dual in london gentlemen thanks very much for joining me on this edition of inside story and of course you can continue to watch this program again any time by visiting our website at al-jazeera dot com and for further discussion go to our facebook page facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter or handle there is that a j inside story for me so ho rahman on the whole inside story team thanks very much for your time and your company.
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yes. i'd. tell you. this i never like. how they're doing with donald here in doha with our current top stories on. 50 student groups in new delhi a manci against a controversial citizenship law the groups are also calling for a national poll tested a across india polling say the new all discriminates against muslims and violates the secular constitution at least 25 people have been killed during protests and the legislation was passed nearly 2 weeks ago elizabeth parliament is at the protest in new delhi in the summer writing hundreds of people are marching down the tone new delhi to a place called john that global god.

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