UkraineAlert

Ian Brzezinski: Our policy “conveys hesitancy and a lack of unity and determination. It has failed to convince Putin to reverse course. Indeed, it may have actually emboldened him.”   


The West's current strategy toward Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine not only promises continued conflict in Ukraine but also poses an increased danger of wider war, the Atlantic Council's Ian Brzezinski told the US Senate this week.

If the West holds to its current course, Ukraine is likely in the next six to eighteen months to lose more territory and see an even weaker economy, while Russia's economy will likely be only somewhat weaker and its leaders marginally more isolated, Brzezinski, a Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said April 28 in testimony to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

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Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko is no pushover. The former professional boxer turned politician has never been knocked down in a professional boxing match. Known for his powerful punches, Klitschko's 87 percent knockout rate is the second-best knockout-to-fight ratio of any champion in heavyweight boxing history.

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Ukraine has a problem with global public relations. Despite its fundamentally compelling narrative—a recent democracy defending itself against a much larger, authoritarian neighbor—the country's efforts remain uncoordinated, unprofessional, and unfiltered. Even as the state relies on a worldwide diaspora in its struggle for survival, it shows few signs of effectively harnessing its expatriates and the sympathies of foreign audiences. Worst of all, it has not reached a consensus on what message it is trying to send to the wider world, largely abandoning the information space to its adversaries.

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In October 1949, as the defeated forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan and Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China, Republicans in Congress blamed Harry S. Truman for losing China. Some demanded a pivot from Europe to Asia in US foreign policy. Truman might have been persuaded a few years earlier when US relations with the USSR were cordial. After meeting Joseph Stalin in Potsdam in 1945, the American President wrote, "I like Stalin. He is straightforward. Knows what he wants and will compromise when he can't get it."

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A growing number of Russian analysts, in Russia and abroad, have taken to calling Vladimir Putin's regime "fascist." And they don't use the term casually or as a form of opprobrium. They mean that Putin's Russia genuinely resembles Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany.

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Ilya Ponomarev has not slept in the same bed for more than a few nights since August 2014. The two-term legislator from Russia's third-largest city Novosibirsk has been living in exile since Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, stripped him of parliamentary immunity.

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Editor's note:

It's unfortunate that in a time of critical issues that legislation that disenfranchises certain, if often extreme, points of view looks like it's going to become law.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is expected to sign four laws on "decommunization," recently passed by Ukraine's parliament, which enact an official version of the nation's 20th century history. The laws ban Nazi and Communist symbols and the "public denial of the criminal nature of the Communist totalitarian regime 1917–1991," open former KGB archives, replace the Soviet term "Great Patriotic War" with Second World War, and provide public recognition to anyone who fought for Ukrainian independence in the 20th century.

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Ukraine will remain at the heart of the conflict between the US and Russia beyond the 2016 presidential election. In the polls, Americans are united on Ukraine; the majority of respondents support increased sanctions on the Kremlin. All of the major presidential candidates, save Senator Rand Paul, take a tough approach with Moscow and support arming Ukraine.

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The Ukrainian government's well-executed showdown in March 2015 to rein in the country's wealthiest oligarch is the first of many battles with the oligarchs that lie ahead. In the battle with the oligarchs, President Petro Poroshenko—the owner of Roshen Confectionery Corporation and an oligarch himself—is uniquely positioned to fight. The President and his reform-minded parliament will need all the help they can get when they face their likely next opponents: Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitro Firtash.

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When Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine captured a fighter pilot loyal to Kyiv in June 2014, they got more than they bargained for. Nearly a year later, Nadiya Savchenko is on trial in Russia, and at the center of an international imbroglio. “This isn’t an ordinary case,” Russian attorney Mark Feygin said at the Atlantic Council on April 14, about his client. “It should be understood as a political affair, not a legal one.”

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