Russia today has a well-educated population
but a large proportion of college educated. The school
system is mainly based on state schools, but there are
private alternatives. The nine-year elementary school is
free of charge. You can also study for free at
The compulsory school comprises two stages: a low
school from grades 1 to 4 and an intermediate school
from grades 5 to 9. Thereafter, the student can choose
between reading a vocational education and a "complete
undergraduate education" corresponding to Swedish high
school studies and takes two years. The school is free
of charge for all students, however, parents often have
to pay for school books, school trips and the like.
Country facts of Russia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
At the end of upper secondary education, all students
write the final exam EGE (pronounced approximately 'jigä').
Russian and mathematics are compulsory subjects, in
addition other subjects can be chosen depending on the
higher education you want to apply for. This system was
introduced in 2009 with the aim of combating corruption
in the education system and simplifying the admission
process to the universities as EGE replaced a system
where each university / university had its own entrance
exam. However, some highly ranked universities have
retained their entrance exams, which to some extent
Almost 60 percent of all Russians between the ages
of 25 and 64 have engaged in academic studies. It is one
of the highest figures in the OECD. There are hundreds
of universities in the country. The most famous is the
Lomonosov University in Moscow, founded in the 18th
Students with sufficiently high grades may study for
free at Russian universities, but there are also paid
places. Another way of obtaining a free place in the
dream education is to participate in so-called Olympiads
- competitions for high school students that take place
in all school subjects. If you win a prize at such a
competition at national level (the prize winners can be
as many as 80 in number) you have the right to read the
subject at any university throughout Russia free of
charge. Because student grants are low, many students
receive financial support from their parents, especially
if they study in another city. Russian students often
live in student homes if they come from another place
and it is common for two or three people to share rooms.
After the Second World War, the Soviet Union invested
considerable resources mainly on technical and
scientific research. The country achieved astounding
success in space research. Among the milestones in that
development is the first atomic bomb test in 1949. With
the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the Soviet Union first
placed a satellite in orbit around the earth, and in
1961 the Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first man in
space. However, when the United States took the
competition seriously during the 1960s, the Soviet Union
found it difficult to keep up with the Americans in the
space race and in other areas.
During the 1990s, the education system underwent
major changes. Syllabuses and textbooks were cleared of
political material and the teaching of history and
literature began to address previously banned subjects.
But there is a return to Soviet education policy.
When Russia defied the outside world in the spring of
2014 and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine (see
Foreign Policy and Calendar), the Ministry of Education
demanded that teachers convey the image that the
annexation was justified and justified.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Russia, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
97.0 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
99.7 percent (2010)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
10.9 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
10.9 percent (2015)
International arrest warrant against Chodorovsky
Russian authorities issue an international arrest warrant against fugitive
regime critic Michail Chodorkovsky. He is charged in his absence for organizing
the murder of a mayor in a city in Siberia in 1998 and for the attempted murder
of two other people. His spokesman dismisses the charges as entirely politically
Amnesty charges of death on civilian
Amnesty International accuses Russia of killing hundreds of civilians since
Russian bombing launched its attacks on targets in Syria nearly three months
ago. According to the organization, some of the Russian attacks can be likened
to war crimes since they appear to have been directed at civilian targets only,
even hospitals. Moscow dismisses the report and says it is based on false
The EU extends sanctions
The EU extends the financial sanctions against Russia by another six months.
The sanctions were imposed following the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner
over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, for which Russian-backed separatists are
suspected. In the first place, the sanctions are directed at the Russian oil and
finance sectors and the military.
Ukraine bans Russian flights
Ukraine bans all Russian aircraft from passing through Ukrainian airspace. In
September, Russian planes were banned from landing in Ukraine, as were Ukrainian
planes banned from landing in Russia.
Financial sanctions against Turkey
The delay will cause Russia to suspend its military cooperation with Turkey
and Moscow announce that Russian bombers on missions over Syria will continue to
be escorted by fighter planes. Both sides downplay the risk of war, but
President Putin orders financial sanctions against Turkey. Russian charter trips
to Turkey are stopped, sales of tourist trips to Turkey are banned and imports
of a number of Turkish goods are stopped. Among other things, the importation of
a number of Turkish foods is prohibited. The ability of Turkish companies and
individuals to conduct business in Russia is limited. In addition, Russia
terminates an agreement with Turkey on visa-free travel for its citizens.
NATO supports Turkey
The shooting is considered to be one of the most serious incidents between a
Natoland and Russia in half a century. Nato agrees with Turkey's version of the
incident but at the same time urges both parties to keep their heads cold. So
does the US, the EU and the UN.
Bombers are shot down by Turkey
A Russian bomber is shot down by Turkish forces in the Turkey and Syria
border regions. Turkey states that the plane violated Turkish airspace and that
it received a number of warnings before the shooting, which is contested by
Russia, which claims that the plane was over Syria. President Putin calls the
event a "back slash" and says it will have "serious consequences" for countries'
relations. According to Putin, the Russian plane had not in any way threatened
Turkey but was busy bombing areas in Syria where Russian jihadists were located.
The Russian bombings in the area have sparked Turkish protests in the past as
Turkey claims that the Russians have attacked villages in Syria (the Turkmen
have Turkish roots) and demanded an immediate halt to the bombings.
Trade relations with Ukraine are deteriorating
The power supply to the annexed Crimean peninsula is broken by sabotage and
the authorities in Crimea before an emergency permit. Russia accuses Ukraine of
deliberately sabotaging the repair of power lines and says that gas supplies to
Ukraine should be interrupted. Russia also threatens to stop exporting coal to
neighboring countries. Ukraine cancels all goods deliveries to Crimea and
threatens to counter Russian boycott of Ukrainian food with a boycott of Russian
Food imports from Ukraine are stopped
Russia decides to stop all imports of Ukrainian food from 1 January 2016 in
response to Ukraine's economic cooperation agreement with the EU.
Passenger plane crashes in Sinai
A Russian passenger aircraft crashes in the Sinai desert and all 224 people
aboard are killed. The plane was on its way from the Egyptian tourist resort of
Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg. It is not immediately clear what caused the
crash. The airline suggests it may be a terrorist act. The Islamic State (IS)
extremist terrorist group claims to have caused the crash, but this is doubted
by experts from various quarters.
Resumed gas deliveries to Ukraine
Russia announces that gas supplies to Ukraine have resumed after the Russian
gas company Gazprom received a down payment of up to half the cost of winter
Crashed plane hit by Russian missiles
The Dutch Accident Investigation Board, which investigated the shooting down
of the Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014,
states in its report that the plane was hit by splits from a Russian-made BUK
missile. The Commission states that the missile was fired from a
rebel-controlled area, but the President notes that the question of who is
behind is not within the Commission's mandate. Russian Foreign Ministry
immediately disputes the information that the missile should have been suspended
from rebel-controlled territory and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rjabkov calls
the entire investigation "angled". According to the Russian arms manufacturer,
the particles that damaged the planet were of a kind found only in older weapons
which were phased out in Russia but which Ukraine still has in stock.
The ICC intends to investigate war crimes
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The
Hague says she intends to investigate whether Russian and Georgian forces were
guilty of war crimes during the conflict in South Ossetia 2008. Proof is, among
other things, that both sides killed peacekeeping soldiers, according to
Turkey accuses of air violation
Turkey accuses Russian flight of violating the country's airspace. Moscow
says it happened by mistake and refers to bad weather. NATO calls the event
"alarming". According to NATO, the violation went on "for a long time" and lacks
a natural explanation. According to unconfirmed reports, the Russian fighter jet
must have locked its radar on Turkish planes nearby.
Talk to the US about Syria
In connection with the air raids, US and Russian officials initiate talks on
how to avoid a confrontation between the respective country's forces in Syria.
Continued flights in Syria
Russia continues with its flights in Syria. Russia claims that the plan
attacks IS while other sources state that the Russian attacks are mainly
directed at US allies fighting against both IS and the Syrian government. The
Russian Foreign Minister rejects this information and claims that IS has been
the target of the attacks.
Trial against Russian soldiers
The trial opens against two Russian soldiers arrested in eastern Ukraine,
which according to prosecutors prove direct Russian involvement in the fighting.
Since the Kiev government banned Russian airlines from flying to Ukraine,
Russia has responded by closing Russian airspace for Ukrainian companies. The
Ukrainian state railway company terminates the cooperation with the Russian
state rail freight companies.
Exchanges prisoners with Estonia
Estonian intelligence officer Eston Kohver, who, according to Estonian
authorities, was robbed of the Estonian side of the border with Russia (see
September 2014) and sentenced to 15 years in prison, is
exchanged for an Estonian citizen sentenced to 16 years in prison for spying for
Russian Bill. The exchange of prisoners takes place on a bridge across the
border between the two countries.
The UN gives a clear sign to Russian fighter jets in Syria
Following Putin's visit to the UN, Parliament's upper house, the Federation
Council, provides the go-ahead for the use of Russian war plan Syria. This opens
the way for Russian attacks on IS. According to a source at the Ministry of
Defense, the air strikes should be coordinated with the Syrian fighter aircraft.
On the last day of September, Russian flights also start bombing targets in
Syria (see also October 2015).
Consider Russian airstrikes
After meeting with US President Barack Obama at the UN meeting, Putin states
that he is considering Russian air strikes against IS on condition that they are
approved by the UN. Obama, for his part, says he is ready to cooperate with all
countries including Russia and Iran to resolve the conflict in Syria but that,
after all the bloodshed, it is not possible to return to the pre-war conditions,
that is, allow Syrian President Assad to sit remain in power.
Men to fight against IS
In a speech before the UN General Assembly, Putin calls on the world to form
a broad coalition against IS. He also says it was a big mistake not to cooperate
with the government of Syria and its army in the fight against IS.
Into the Syrian conflict
Together with Syria, Iraq and Iran, Russia will form a special intelligence
organization to coordinate the fight against IS. Putin also talks to Saudi
Arabia's King Salman on the phone about a solution to the Syrian issue.
For the first time in a year and a half, a regime-critical demonstration will
be held in Moscow, but only in a suburb far from the city center and monitored
by a large police raid. Between 4,000 and 7,000 people join in to listen to
speeches by, among others, blogger Aleksej Navalnyj, whose message is that
"change is possible".
Increases presence in Syria
The US and NATO warn that Russia is increasing its military presence in
Syria. US officials quoted by the Reuters news agency say that Moscow has sent
aircraft, land-based ships and marines to the Russian naval base in the Syrian
port city of Tartus. According to the BBC, anonymous sources in Lebanon claim
that Russian soldiers have participated in fighting. Moscow denies that anything
has changed and points out that Russia has long provided the Assad regime with
weapons and that Russian military experts are in Syria to train the Syrian army.
Extended import stop
Russia expands the boycott of food imports from the West (see August
2014) to include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Albania and Montenegro. The
reason is, according to the Russian government, that the four countries have
joined the EU's sanctions on Russia.
Trial against Ukrainian fighter pilot
In southern Russia, the trial begins against the Ukrainian combat pilot
Nadija Savchenko, who is accused of contributing to the death of two Russian
journalists in eastern Ukraine. She was arrested by separatists in June 2014
and, according to Ukrainian authorities, has been illegally brought into Russia.
In Ukraine, she is considered a symbol of resistance to Russian aggression. The
negotiations are quickly suspended so that the court will decide on her lawyers'
request to have the trial moved to Moscow. The decision to investigate her in a
small town far out in the countryside has been criticized by the defense as an
attempt to impede transparency in the process. Diplomats from a wide range of
countries are present when the trial begins for closed doors.
Russian veto against investigation of Malaysian air crash
Russia vetoes the UN Security Council against the establishment of an
international court to investigate those responsible for the shooting of a
Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The EU, the US and
Australia are among those who sharply criticize the Russian veto. The Dutch
Prime Minister vainly appealed to President Putin shortly before the UN vote not
to stop the court. Russia claims it is too early to start investigating any
before the international investigation into the crash is over.
Ukraine expels Russian Consul General
Ukraine expels Russia's Consul General in the port city of Odessa for
unspecified crimes against diplomatic practice. The Russian government threatens
with the usual diplomatic retaliation.
Continued sanctions and import stops
EU Foreign Ministers extend sanctions against Russia until January 2016.
Moscow responds as expected with extending the counter-sanctions to the West.
For another year, Russia will stop importing most of the food from the EU, USA,
Australia, Canada and Norway.
Putin informs about strengthened nuclear weapons
President Putin says in mid-June that Russia, as part of its modernization of
the defense, will strengthen its nuclear weapons with over 40 new
intercontinental ballistic robots. The statement comes after the US said that it
should strengthen its military presence in NATO countries in Eastern Europe and
the Baltics. Putin is criticized by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who
called the Russian play "dangerous" and a threat to stability. US Secretary of
State John Kerry also expressed concern about the Russian plans.
Prohibition strikes reporting on Ukraine
President Putin issues a decree prohibiting the publication of military loss
data during "special operations" in peacetime. Previously, the prohibition only
applied to military losses during war. All such information is now classified as
state secrets and anyone who violates the ban can be prosecuted. This makes it
more difficult for the media to report on Russia's military involvement in the
conflict in Ukraine.
Two Russians captured in Ukraine
Two Russians are captured in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government claims
that the two men are elite soldiers and believes that they are proof that Russia
is really involved in the war. The men themselves say in a video that they are
Russian military, but the Russian government says that they are no longer
employed by Russia.
Report on Russian activity in Ukraine
A report prepared by colleagues of murdered opposition politician Boris
Nemtsov claims that at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting
in eastern Ukraine. The data is based on media reports and interviews with
relatives of Russian soldiers who have been killed in battle in the neighboring
country. The report claims that Russian forces have made two major offenses into
Ukraine, in the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015, and that both intrusions
were of crucial importance in strengthening the position of the separatists.
According to reports, all Russian soldiers had formally concluded their
contracts with the army before being sent across the border. Their relatives
were threatened with prosecution if they revealed anything. The support to the
Ukrainian separatists has, according to the report, cost the Russian state the
equivalent of over SEK 8 billion. The Russian leadership refuses to comment on
Easy sleep party in alliance with Navalnyj
The murdered regime critic Boris Nemtsov's party RPR-Parnas forms an alliance
with Aleksej Navalnyj's Progress Party. The Alliance intends to set up joint
candidates in this year's local elections and in the 2016 parliamentary
Decisions on military delivery to Iran
Russia decides to supply an air defense system of model S-300 to Iran. The
deal was halted in 2010 after pressure from, above all, the US and Israel, but
now President Putin is lifting the embargo after Iran signed a framework
agreement on its nuclear program. The Russian government also confirms that a
barter program has been launched with Iran. Russia receives Iranian oil in
exchange for various industrial products. The Russian decision is condemned by
Israel and the United States expresses its concern.
Crimean Tatars TV shuts down
The Crimean Tatars TV channel ATR and two radio stations are forced to shut
down since the authorities refused to grant them renewed broadcasting permits.
The channel owners promise to try to find a way to continue broadcasting without
leaving Crimea. Ever since the annexation of Crimea, the pro-Ukrainian media
voice has generally been subject to harassment by the Russian authorities. The
decision to close the ATR upsets the Ukrainian government, as well as human
rights organizations and also the Turkish government, which acts as a kind of
protective power for the related Tatars.
Bodies to unite the nation
President Putin establishes a new government body to strengthen and unify the
Russian nation and to manage the government's cooperation with the nationalist
semi-military Cossack forces. Historically, it was the Cossacks who protected
the borders of the Russian Empire. Today, they carry out certain police
assignments, especially in the southern part of the country. They also support
the conservative line, emphasizing traditional values and Orthodox
Christianity, which Putin has driven since his return as president in 2012.
EU sanctions remain
EU heads of state and government agree that the financial sanctions against
Russia will remain until all the points in the Minsk ceasefire agreement have
been implemented in February. In practice, this means at least until the turn of
the year, when the Ukrainian government will, under the agreement, regain
control of the Ukrainian-Russian border. European Council President Donald Tusk
admits that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the 29 member states
together in the sanctions issue. Sources within the EU say that at least half of
the countries want to start easing the sanctions. The Russian countermeasures
cost many countries a lot of money in the form of non-exports.
Agreement on South Ossetia
Putin signs an agreement that gives Russia control over the Georgian
breakaway republic of South Ossetia's defense and border protection. The EU
describes the agreement as a violation of Georgia's sovereignty and NATO calls
it a violation of international law. South Ossetian leader Leonid Tibilov says
there are no plans to formally connect South Ossetia to Russia, although "the
idea is with our people". The agreement makes South Ossetia so strongly
incorporated into the Russian defense and the Russian economy that it is next to
a matter of annexation.
EU worried about the upgrading of Crimea
The EU is committed to its decision not to recognize the Russian annexation
of Crimea and expresses concern over what the Union leaders see as a military
armament and a degraded respect for human rights on the peninsula.
Great military exercises
The largest Russian military exercise since relations with the Western world
drastically deteriorated will begin on March 16, when 45,000 soldiers from the
Northern Fleet supported by aircraft and submarines are deployed in combat
readiness in the Arctic region. At the same time, military exercises are ongoing
in the Russian Far East and in the Caucasus. Minister of Defense Shuygu refers
to "new threats" to Russia's security and after a few days the exercises are
extended to a total of 80,000 soldiers.
The EU wants an international murder investigation
The European Parliament is calling for an international investigation into
the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Suggests that the OSCE, the Council of Europe and
the UN be linked ; They describe the shooting as "the most remarkable political
murder in recent Russian history" and say that the political atmosphere that
Putin has created has provided a breeding ground for that kind of attack. EU
Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini says that the Russian authorities must put
an end to the "climate of suspicion, hatred and intolerance of dissenting
The United States extends sanctions
The United States extends its sanctions on persons and organizations held
responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine. Among them are leaders of the
self-proclaimed state of the People's Republic of Donetsk, the nationalist
Russian organization Eurasian Youth League, which is accused of recruiting
volunteers for the separatist forces, a Russian bank in Crimea and three
employees of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych.
Award for Motherland service
Putin is reported to have awarded a high award for "efforts in the service of
the Fatherland" to Andrei Lugovoj, who is wanted in the UK as a suspect for the
London 2006 murder of the defunct Russian spy Aleksandr Litvinenko (see UK:
Foreign Policy and Defense). Lugovoj receives the award for "contribution to the
development of Russian parliamentarism". A similar merit medal is awarded to
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
NATO report shows upgrading
Nato claims in a report that there has been a major military upheaval in
Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula a year ago.
Putin allows preparation for annexation
Putin tells in a TV documentary - recorded long before - how he ordered the
military and security services to prepare for the annexation of Crimea several
weeks before the "referendum" on self-government conducted by separatists on the
Ukrainian peninsula. He has previously acknowledged in retrospect that the
Russian military participated in the conquest of Crimea but not as detailed as
has now allowed Russian intervention at the political level at such an early
Five indicted for the murder of Nemtsov
Five men from the Chechnya sub-republic are arrested and arrested for
suspected connection to the murder of Nemtsov. Two of them are identified by the
court as directly involved in the murder. One of them is described as a former
police officer with close ties to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who in turn is
closely associated with Putin. Nothing is revealed about whose or whose mission
they should have acted. The former police are said to have admitted the murder,
but he withdraws the confession after a few days, claiming it happened under
threat. A member of the official Russian Human Rights Council says that
recognition was probably forced through torture. The five are indicted at the
end of the month for contact murder.
Grief march for Nemtsov
The planned demonstration against Putin's war in Ukraine is transformed into
a mourning march for the murdered opposition politician Nemtsov. Tens of
thousands of people are participating and the demonstration is considered to be
the largest since the major events against Putin in late 2011 and early 2012.
Nemtsov is murdered
Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is shot to death with four shots in the
back during an evening walk with his girlfriend. According to sources within the
opposition, Nemtsov was about to publish a report that would prove that Russia
is waging war in Ukraine, which President Putin denies. Nemtsov would also lead
a planned Putin-hostile demonstration in early March. The murder takes place in
the well-guarded area around the Kremlin. Despite all the guards and
surveillance cameras, the perpetrators manage to get away. Nemtsov's supporters
accuse Putin of the murder. The president rejects the charges, calls the murder
"shabby" and promises Nemtsov's mother that the perpetrators will be found.
About 40,000 supporters of Putin conduct a march in Moscow on the anniversary
of the Ukrainian ex-president's Yanukovych's escape from Ukraine to Russia. The
demonstration is organized by the newly formed umbrella organization
anti-Majdan (Majdan is the square in Ukraine's capital that was the
center of protests against the Yanukovych government. The protests became the
prelude to the civil war that is now ongoing, see Ukraine: Current politics.) -
knots, Cossacks, bodybuilders and veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and
Chechnya. Some of the members have fought on the side of the Russian-backed
separatists in Ukraine.
Opposition leader Aleksey Navalnyj is arrested when he handles flyers in the
Moscow metro for a government-critical demonstration to be held on March 1.
Navalnyj is jailed for 15 days for violating a law governing demonstrations.
That means he will not be able to participate in the planned manifesto against
NATO urges Russia to respect the ceasefire
The ceasefire in Ukraine does not hold and Russia is accused by the Ukrainian
government of providing the separatists with reinforced support of Russian
tanks, artillery and ground troops. Defense Alliance Nato calls on Russia to
respect the ceasefire and withdraw all support for the rebels. NATO also
announces that the alliance will provide Ukraine with practical support by
"reforming and modernizing" the country's armed forces.
The EU's extended sanctions against Russians and Russian-supported Ukrainians
will come into force. The new list includes 19 people and nine organizations,
including two Russian deputy defense ministers who are held responsible for
sending weapons and soldiers to Ukraine. Moscow announces that Russia will
respond to the sanctions "by appropriate means". Canada is also tightening its
sanctions on Russia.
Armistice is closed
Putin signs a new ceasefire agreement in Ukraine on February 12. The
cease-fire will take effect after three days. It is far from a broad political
solution to the conflict, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she has no
illusions of a near peace, just "a streak of hope". The political status of the
separatist-controlled areas is unclear, as is the way the Russian-Ukrainian
border is being guarded. The Ukrainian government states that Russia, while
negotiations are underway, is bringing in, among other things, about 50 tanks
and 40 robot systems to eastern Ukraine. The EU says there can be no talk of
easing any sanctions on Russian interests until it is clear that the ceasefire
is respected (read more in Ukraine: Calendar).
Cooperation with Egypt
President Putin goes on a state visit to Cairo where he is greeted solemnly.
During the visit, Russia signs an agreement to build Egypt's first nuclear power
plant. The countries also agree to create an industrial zone along the Suez
Peace discussions without results
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande travel
to Moscow to meet President Putin and submit a plan for peace in Ukraine. The
talks held are described as "constructive" but do not result in anything more
than plans to meet again a few days later, on February 11, in Minsk, Belarus.
Decisions on command centers are condemned
Moscow condemns NATO's defense alliance's decision to establish command
centers in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria in support of the new
spearhead force to be completed in 2016 (read more in NATO: Current Affairs).
Rotenberg receives a billion contract
One of the first Russian businessmen affected by EU sanctions, Arkadij
Rotenberg, receives a multibillion contract for his company Strojgazmontazj to
build a bridge over the Kertj St between the Russian mainland and the annexed
Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Rosenberg is a close friend of President Putin.
Plan for better economy
The Russian government presents a plan to stop the economic crisis in the
country. $ 21 billion will be spent on supporting vulnerable sectors such as the
banks. Agriculture and industry also receive more money. Many buget posts are
cut - though not military spending - while social spending is increasing. Putin
claims that despite the crisis, he will raise the state pensions and salaries of
government employees, as he promised when he was elected president in 2012. The
money for the support package should be taken from the regular budget and partly
from the large welfare fund that Russia built up from previous years' surplus
from oil and gas exports. Russia's Minister of Economy later this month
estimates that the economy will shrink by 3 percent in 2015.
The EU extends sanctions
The EU's Foreign Ministers, convened at an extraordinary meeting in view of
the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine, decide to extend existing sanctions
against people involved in the conflict for another six months, from March to
September 2015. In addition, the EU plans to extend the sanctions list with more
names and possibly add another economic sector in Russia.
Russian-backed separatists are accused of enlargement
Ukraine and the US accuse the Russian-backed separatists of having expanded
their territory beyond what was stipulated in the ceasefire agreement they
signed in September. According to Ukrainian President Poroshenko, Russia now has
over 9,000 soldiers and more than 500 tanks, heavy artillery pieces and armored
squadron vehicles on Ukrainian soil.
EU sanctions against Russia remain
The EU decides to retain all sanctions against Russia until the Moscow
leadership ensures that the ceasefire conditions it endorsed in September are
implemented. The EU notes that conditions in eastern Ukraine have deteriorated
in recent weeks. Russia describes the EU's decision as an "unfriendly act" and
dismisses the Ukrainian government's information on a marked Russian troop
reinforcement as "nonsense".
Strengthened military in Crimea
The Russian defense force announces that Russia will strengthen its military
force on the annexed Crimean peninsula. The military's capacity will also be
increased in Kaliningrad, which is squeezed between Poland and Lithuania on the
Baltic Sea, and in the Arctic. All three areas are potential confounders in the
event of a fierce confrontation with the US and NATO.
Russian economy at "rubbish level"
The credit rating agency Fitch downgrades Russia's economy to a level just
above what is called the "rubbish level". Due to the Western countries'
financial sanctions against Russia and the sharp fall in oil prices in the fall
of 2014, Fitch predicts that the Russian economy will shrink by around four
percent in 2015. Other credit rating agencies later make similar assessments.
Car ban law
A law comes into force that prohibits "people with different forms of medical
and mental disorders" from driving. This includes blind and epileptic people,
but also gambling addicts, kleptomans, transvestites and transsexuals.
Homosexuals are not affected.
Negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany's foreign ministers
on how to enforce the formal ceasefire in eastern Ukraine will in practice be
fruitless. A planned summit between the leaders of the four countries is
postponed for the future.