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Russia Education Facts


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 university level.

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.

  • COUNTRYAAH: 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 undermines reform.

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 century.

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.


Proportion of children starting primary school

97.0 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

21 (2016)

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 motivated.

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 information.

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.

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 deliveries.

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 Bensouda.

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.

Closes airspace

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.

Regime-critical demonstration

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

May 28

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 the information.


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 elections.

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 opinions” prevailing.

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 stage.

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.

Anti-Majdan demonstrates

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.

Navalnyj grips

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 President Putin.

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.

Extended sanctions

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 Canal.

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.

Unsuccessful negotiations

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.

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