A Better Army and Economy Will Help Kyiv Stay Independent of MoscowAs the United States and NATO search for the right ways to oppose Russia’s seizure from Ukraine of the Crimean Peninsula, policymakers should note a surprising industrial fact: Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, having sold more than $1.3 billion in weapons and related products in 2012 (the latest year for which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has published its annual estimates).
This suggests a long-term policy tool that the West can use to help Ukraine build its frail economy and upgrade its own military as a better bulwark against Russian coercion. That is, help the Ukrainians modernize their (almost entirely state-owned) arms industry and their national defenses.
Edward Joseph, at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, notes the uncertainty over Russian intentions in Syria, and over the effect of of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on Moscow's role in Syria. He writes that now is the time for US diplomacy to test Russia on Syria with a new diplomatic effort there. An excerpt of his essay is below, and you can read the full article on the Atlantic Council's MENASource blog.
As outrageous and unsettling as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is, the fact remains that the real killing continues to take place in another area of Russian interest: Syria. Indeed, more than a quarter of the 136,000 Syrians killed in the war have died over the past five months alone. In a tragic irony, one of the most intensive bursts of lethality—thanks to stepped up aerial bombardment by the Assad regime—took place during the recent, short-lived Geneva peace talks. Whatever Russia’s professed interest in the diplomatic track for Syria, the results at the peace table were abysmal. The question now is whether Moscow’s designs on Ukraine have changed anything with respect to the three-year old conflict in Syria and the massive suffering and instability that it has spawned.
“We’re in the first inning of a nine-inning game on the shale revolution in the United States,” Conoco CEO Ryan Lance recently boldly predicted. Given the dramatic impact of the shale revolution on the U.S., global energy and the geopolitical landscape—not to mention on declining GHG emissions—one can only hope he is correct.
The meetings yielded a strong statement from NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rassmussen who declared that "Russia must stop its military activities and threats." However, the alliance announced no actions to reinforce Ukraine's security and demonstrate clearly Western resolve in the face of Putin's aggression. Options that should be considered include the following: