As the US Congress Reconvenes, It and Europe Must Respond to the Kremlin’s Coming Offensive in Ukraine
Russia has moved a massive wave of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery into Ukraine’s Donbas region in recent days, accompanied by new uniformed troops without insignia, to bolster the armed forces of the Russian-sponsored Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.
This military escalation follows Moscow’s political support for pretended elections to consolidate the two mini-states, a step that Europe and the US regard as a fundamental violation of the Minsk peace process launched in August. Ominously, evidence is growing that this buildup is preparing a new offensive by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war against Ukraine—a campaign of attrition against Ukraine’s economically fragile state.
In Stakhanov, a Cossack Rebel and Local Radio Mix Nostalgias for Russia’s Greatness and Soviet Goodness
While analysts of Russia’s assault on Ukraine debate the veiled question of President Vladimir Putin’s motives, little is hidden about how the Kremlin and its proxy forces are selling themselves to the long-demoralized people of southeastern Ukraine. As Moscow and the rebels work to solidify the two “people’s republics” in the Donbas region, their theme is a mix of nostalgias—for the theoretical equality of Soviet life and the greatness of Russia.
Analysts: Moscow Fights Now with Mercenaries and Local Trainees, But in 20 Weeks May Again Send Its Own Troops
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in southeastern Ukraine is sliding back quickly into all-out war. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said this morning that its forces have killed 200 separatist fighters and destroyed four tanks, plus artillery in the past twenty-four hours of battle at the airport in Donetsk city. While those specific numbers were not independently confirmed, fighting has surged throughout the Donbas region and both sides have buttressed their forces in the war zone as a two-month-old attempt at a cease-fire has disintegrated.
Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk Must Cut Short Their Recent Signs of Rivalry
As Ukraine’s new leading political parties renew their talks today, they can waste no time in forming the government that now must grapple with a financial emergency, economic crisis, and war in the east. They must avoid acrimony or drawn-out negotiations, yet some signs indicate that they may be slipping in that direction.
Amid Horse-Trading by Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, a New Parliament Speaker Is Likely
The Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford, writes on the likely makeup of Ukraine’s post-election government. His key observations are below, and you can read his detailed analysis on his own blog.
Ukrainians Will Get Gas, Too, But Their Cost and Risk of Cutoffs Remain High
European Union leaders in Brussels may be celebrating the gas deal signed Thursday between Ukraine and Russia as an assurance of Russian gas supplies to Europe this winter, but Ukrainians can at best take cold comfort from the agreement. EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who had been brokering the talks for months, partly dictated the timing of the deal, applying the pressure to complete it one day before his term in office ended.
The terms of the deal do more to protect Russia’s flexibility to manipulate gas supplies for political ends than they do to ensure that Ukrainians can stay warm this winter at market prices. For starters, there is the agreed price for the gas: $378 per thousand cubic meters through the end of the year and then $365 through March 2015. While those are better than the rate of more than $400 that Moscow had been asking, it is still well above the average European gas price of $304.
Donetsk, Lugansk Vote for ‘Parliaments’ Violates Truce and Raises Risks, Say Analysts
The Russian-backed, miniature, “people’s republics” declared in southeastern Ukraine are preparing to elect parliaments and heads of state on Sunday, a step backed by Moscow to consolidate their self-declared statehood. Those elections promise to further undermine the already wobbly political deal that underpins the half-effective ceasefire in the war. Does that increase the risk of a new surge in fighting?
The former director and deputy director of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company, Naftogaz, will have been waiting today to hear if they are elected to Ukraine’s parliament, not least because winning seats would offer them immunity from prosecution. Prosecution for what?