Russian recollections: Don't ignore lessons from history

  • 22 June 2016
  • From the section Europe
A Russian flag printed with President Putin's face Image copyright Getty Images

History is useful when trying to make sense of present tensions between Russia and the West.

At the Defence Academy, near Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, there is a warehouse where library shelves are stacked with an extraordinary collection of military volumes.

Many are in Russian and other languages of the former Soviet bloc: painstakingly and methodically gathered over the past half century, in order to better know the enemy.

Now renamed the Russian Military Studies Archive, it is a precious chronicle of the rise and fall of the USSR, the Cold War and tensions between Russia and the West even now.

Image caption What lessons can these Cold War era spy-craft books teach us?

Since the USSR and Warsaw Pact collapsed and since the advent of digital records, it has become harder to keep archives like this one going.

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What next for President Putin?

  • 31 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
Vladimir Putin Image copyright AP

For the past two years the story of Vladimir Putin's Russia has been a tale of two halves.

His supporters (plus, with grudging admiration, some of his detractors) have hailed him as a skilful strategist. They argue that his interventions in Ukraine and Syria caught Western powers unawares and made the world see that he was an international player to be reckoned with.

Read full article What next for President Putin?

Syria war: Will Vienna talks signal compromise over Assad?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on 20 October Image copyright AP
Image caption The main sticking point will be the future role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

These Vienna talks for the first time include all the external countries involved in the Syria conflict ­including, crucially, Iran.

But none of the groups fighting on the ground have been invited.

Read full article Syria war: Will Vienna talks signal compromise over Assad?

Syria poses challenges for Putin

  • 26 October 2015
  • From the section Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Image copyright EPA

In the mountains above Sochi in southern Russia, the marble halls and panoramic terraces of the Krasnaya Polyana hotel were almost empty.

Built for a G8 summit in 2014 that was called off because of the Ukraine crisis, and still weeks away from this winter's ski season, the resort had the look of an extravagant white elephant.

Read full article Syria poses challenges for Putin

The impact of Jeremy Corbyn's foreign policy

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Reuters

What do Jeremy Corbyn's ideas on foreign policy mean for the UK's international relations?

The Russian ambassador to the UK hailed his Labour leadership victory as the most "radical breakthrough in British politics" in 30 years.

Read full article The impact of Jeremy Corbyn's foreign policy

New-style police have key role in Ukraine

  • 25 September 2015
  • From the section Europe
Valerie Voloshchuk
Image caption Valerie Voloshchuk on a mercy mission

When police officer Valerie Voloshchuk puts on her smart navy uniform in the morning, twists her blonde hair into a neat bun and fixes her pearl earrings, she never quite knows what will await her on patrol.

The 27-year-old former lawyer and one-time air stewardess has been in this job only a few months.

Read full article New-style police have key role in Ukraine

Syria crisis: What's behind the fresh diplomatic push?

A Syrian girl in the aftermath of an airstrike Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Syria's conflict began with a popular uprising, before descending into civil war

The last few weeks have seen intense diplomacy between Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia, in what seems to be a concerted effort to break the logjam over the Syrian conflict.

The multi-faceted civil war has lasted over four years, killed more than a quarter of a million people and dislodged upwards of 10 million, in what is being seen as the worst refugee crisis for half a century.

Read full article Syria crisis: What's behind the fresh diplomatic push?

How does Russia view the West?

  • 10 August 2015
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionEvgeny Buzhinsky says eastern Ukraine remains the flashpoint between Russia and the West

If you ask Western policy makers about the main security threats facing Europe, they come up with two: Jihadists from the so-called Islamic State and President Vladimir Putin's Russia.

The threat from jihadists is clear. But why Russia?

Read full article How does Russia view the West?

What drives women to extreme acts?

  • 28 July 2015
  • From the section World
Leila Khaled Image copyright AP
Image caption Leila Khaled in iconic pose

"I had a pistol in my belt, a grenade in my pocket and TNT in my bag. I was a woman dressed in a fashionable way. I opened my bag for security but the man just saw my make-up and waved me through."

Leila Khaled was probably the most famous female hijacker in the world in the late 1960s - beautiful, dangerous and politically committed to doing whatever might further the Palestinian cause.

Read full article What drives women to extreme acts?

Russian town of Oryol trapped in Soviet past

  • 18 April 2015
  • From the section Europe
Singers in Oryol
Image caption A visit to Oryol brings a strong whiff of nostalgia

On a small stage in a community hall, still grandly called a Palace of Culture, a powerfully built lady belts out an old Russian gypsy ballad.

Then a choir of podgy teenage girls troops out, all dressed in sky-blue party frocks, like something out of the 1950s.

Read full article Russian town of Oryol trapped in Soviet past