Atlantic Council

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Volodymyr Ruban Crosses the War’s Front Lines to Negotiate With Russian-Backed Separatists


Amid the war in southeast Ukraine, hundreds or thousands of people have been imprisoned by  both sides – some as enemy combatants, others more arbitrarily. The man whom both sides call to get hostages or prisoners released is an officer of Ukraine’s military reserves, Colonel-General Volodymyr Ruban. Working nearly alone and unarmed, Ruban since May has negotiated the release of more than 200 military and civilian hostages.

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As NATO Convenes Its Summit, It Should Stiffen Its Doctrine and Arm Ukraine for Self-Defense


The Kremlin’s seizure of Crimea, its six-month-old war-by-proxy in southeastern Ukraine, and now its invasion of the southeast with its own paratroopers, armor, and artillery, are conclusive proof of a dangerous policy that requires a strong, comprehensive response from the Transatlantic community. This danger should have been evident in 2008, when Russia sent its army to seize Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia.  There was an unfortunate tendency then – which is still apparent in some quarters now regarding Ukraine – to see these Kremlin aggressions as individual acts, each focused on a specific problem, rather than as components of a broader, more threatening campaign. 

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Ahead of the NATO Summit next week, President Barack Obama will visit Estonia to reassure Baltic allies of US support amid Russian aggression in Ukraine. In Tallinn, President Obama is to meet the presidents of all three Baltic states: Estonia's Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvia's Andris Berzins, and Lithuania's Dalia Grybauskaite.

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky Calls for General Strike in Russia to Protest Invasion


The Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chairman of Yukos, once Russia’s biggest oil company, is speaking out against the toll that the Kremlin’s undeclared war on Ukraine is taking on Russians. Khodorkovsky, a Putin foe who spent nearly ten years in prison on politically motivated tax charges, published a statement on his website today entitled “We could and can stop this.” A general strike, he says, could do so.

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Russian military officials stood at a cemetery surrounded by forest in far northwestern Russia, early Tuesday morning, and carefully vetted the army officers, soldiers and family members arriving for a funeral to be held in secrecy. Two paratroopers from Russia’s 76th Airborne Division were to be buried. They died last week – no one would say where or how – just a day or two after President Vladimir Putin decorated their unit for “carrying out combat missions with courage and heroism.”

Putin was silent on what that mission is.

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As Media Harden Their Accounts of Russia’s Assault, Will the West Harden Its Response?

Russia’s attacks into Ukraine this week (exactly six months after its troops began their invasion of Crimea) are bringing the actual word ”invasion” into media headlines. Atlantic Council analysts and others say the key question now is how hard a response the US and its allies will muster, notably by the NATO Summit in Wales that opens in seven days.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin is again raising the ante,” with just the latest of many escalations in Russia’s attack on Ukraine, said Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Adrian Karatnycky. “If the West does not respond with significant lethal military aid to Ukraine and with broad sanctions on entire sectors of Russia’s economy, Putin will view it as open license to expand his now-transparent invasion. By contrast, such a focused reaction from the West can open the door to a real negotiation between Russia and Ukraine.”

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Residents Recount Their Struggle to Survive Daily Shells and Gunfire


Building by building, daily artillery explosions are blasting and burning Ukraine’s southeastern-most provincial capital, Luhansk, into a ruin whose remaining residents are those too poor or aged to escape. Roughly half of the city’s pre-war population of about 450,000 has fled—to other locales in Ukraine or to Russia, and those who remain describe a daily struggle to find food, water, and the receding cellphone signals that offer their only chance at communicating with the world outside.

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‘No Political Will’ for a ‘Large-Scale War’ Against Graft, Tetiana Chornovol Says


Ukraine’s most prominent anti-corruption campaigner, Tetiana Chornovol, has quit her post as head of the government’s National Anti-Corruption Committee, writing on the prominent Ukrainian news website, Ukrainska Pravda, that the government is unprepared for “an uncompromising, large-scale war against corruption.”

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Rebels Parade Prisoners to Declare That Ukraine Is Nazi-Inspired


Ukraine’s government marked the country’s twenty-third anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union yesterday with a military parade and a vow by President Petro Poroshenko to sustain Ukraine’s war against Russian-sponsored separatists in the southeast. In Donetsk, the separatists paraded bruised and dirty Ukrainian soldiers, their hands bound behind them. Bystanders threw eggs at the prisoners, accusing them and Ukraine’s government of being Nazi-inspired.

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Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has designated Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to be its new leader and the country's 26th prime minister when current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is inaugurated as president next week. Davutoğlu will become the third prime minister to hail from the ranks of the AKP since it first came to power in 2002.

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