Amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has reportedly ordered Russian politicians, state officials, and employees living overseas to return to the “Fatherland.” The order also instructs them to bring all relatives living abroad, including children attending schools in Western countries, back home.
The Russian website Znak.com reports that the order to bring home relatives living abroad and children studying in Western countries affects all “administration staff, regional administrators, lawmakers of all levels, and employees of public corporations.”
The order, according to the Daily Star, warns that state officials or employees “who fail to act will put their chances of promotion at risk.”
The Kremlin directive, described as an “urgent call,” has left affected Russian officials worried and sparked speculation after the Russian authorities failed to explain the reason for the order. But analysts pointed out that it comes amid worsening relations and rising tensions between Russia, the U.S., and its key Western allies over the crisis in Syria.
According to analysts, relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest since the height of the Cold War. The rising tensions have in turn sparked fears that the Syrian crisis could escalate into a global war.
“This is all part of the package of measures to prepare elites for some ‘big war,'” Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky was quoted saying, according to News.com.au.
Relations soured further recently after the U.S. government took the decision not to further pursue talks with Russia over Syria and formally accused the Kremlin of sponsoring cyber-attacks against U.S. institutions, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The Obama administration also accused Russia of meddling in the U.S. presidential election scheduled on November 8, 2016. The Hillary Clinton campaign announced recently that an FBI investigation was ongoing into Russia’s role in hacking its systems for emails.
But the Russian government has denied the accusations.
In a related development in the souring relations between Russia and the West, President Putin suddenly canceled a visit to France scheduled for October 19 after tensions flared between both countries over Russia’s role in Syria, specifically Moscow’s bombing of Aleppo in support of the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria.
Putin canceled the visit to Paris, where he was scheduled to attend a ceremony at a Russian Orthodox Church after French President Francois Hollande accused Russia and its Syrian government ally of “war crimes” in eastern Aleppo.
Hollande had insisted that Putin must meet with him during his visit to Paris to discuss the Syrian crisis.
France reportedly threatened that it will ask prosecutors with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open investigations into wars crimes allegedly committed by Syrian government forces and the Russians in eastern Aleppo.
“With Russia, France has a major disagreement on Syria,” French President Francois Hollande reportedly said, according to Reuters. “The Russian veto to the French security resolution prevented putting a stop to the bombing and the declaration of a ceasefire.”
Russian policy expert Fyodor Lukyanov commented that Putin’s sudden cancellation of his visit to France was a worrying development that recalls the height of the Cold War.
“This is part of the broader escalation in the tensions between Russia and the West, and Russia and NATO,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.
The Russian authorities were also upset by the decision to ban the Russian Paralympic team from the Rio Olympics following an accusation of use of drugs by the athletes, analysts observe.
A major signal of the rising tensions was Russia’s recent moving of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea near the Polish border and Lithuania.
The move, which has caused alarm to Polish officials, places major Western cities, including Berlin, within reach of Russian nuclear strike, according to reports. Polish officials described the move as of “highest concern.”
And from all appearances, Russia has stepped up preparation for an imminent nuclear war.
Earlier this month, Putin ordered about 40 million Russians, nearly a third of the country’s population of about 140 million, to participate in civil defense exercises, as part of preparations for a nuclear attack.
Official Russian sources also claimed that Russia has built enough nuclear bunkers to house 12 million to 14 million residents safely in the event of a nuclear attack on the country
Retired Russian Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky commented on Russia’s stepping up of preparations for global war in an interview with BBC News.
Citing the recent economic sanctions against Moscow and the banning of Russia’s Paralympic team over doping allegations, he accused the West of a “campaign to hit Russia everywhere possible” and argued that Russia was merely reacting to Western aggression.
“There is a campaign to hit Russia everywhere possible [and] of course there is a reaction,” he said. “As far as Russia sees it, as Putin sees it, it is full-scale confrontation on all fronts. If you want a confrontation, you’ll get one. But it won’t be a confrontation that doesn’t harm the interests of the United States. You want a confrontation, you’ll get one everywhere.”
[Featured Image by Ivan Sekretarev/AP Images]