Moscow is putting on a full-court press—using energy exports, information warfare, trade, arms sales, and efforts to obtain military bases in Cyprus, Montenegro and Serbia—to subvert the process of European integration, undermine democratic values and institutions, and erode the independence of Balkan states. Moscow also seeks to maintain and perpetuate the ethnic tensions that tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s, even as the states that emerged from that bloody chaos stand poised to move on to a new era.
On April 7 the government challenged billionaire Rinat Akhmetov’s grip on energy companies. Some parliamentarians are pushing to curb the power of Dmytro Firtash, another tycoon whose empire expanded under Viktor Yanukovych.
“The key issue is the ‘de-oligarchization’ of the country. We are trying to bring order to the government, whereas the oligarchs want chaos,” Poroshenko recently told ICTV.
Former Putin advisor says they will not, advocates stronger responseWestern sanctions on Russia are not working and a proposal to provide defensive weapons to Ukrainian security forces will not deter the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, according to Andrei Illarionov, a former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“For those few people who are there [on the sanctions list], yes, it is rather painful,” but otherwise sanctions are “barely seen” in Russia, Illarionov said at the Atlantic Council on April 7.
After Putin’s disappearance on March 5, the Russian media and the blogosphere dealt with little else.
However, the main “Putin event” was not the resurfacing of the Russian President at a meeting on March 16, but the airing of a documentary commemorating the first anniversary of the annexation of Crimea the day before.
As Kyiv Slashes Spending, the Economy’s Real Shrinkage This Year May Be 10, Not 6, PercentThe International Monetary Fund last month threw what looks like a much-improved financial lifeline to Ukraine—and indeed, the new loan program is welcome help for a desperate need. But a check on the math of one prominent IMF realist suggests that the cost of the overall aid package could be a Ukrainian economic shrinkage this year of an extremely painful 10 percent—much more than the IMF predicts publicly.
Putin’s War is Not Over Donbas, but a New Russian EmpireAccording to Vladimir Putin, Crimea and Ukraine are where the spiritual sources of Russia’s nationhood lie. And he “always saw the Russians and Ukrainians as a single people. I still think this way now.”
People observing the crisis triggered by Putin’s aggression against Ukraine therefore ought to understand what these words mean. Quite simply they mean that for Putin—and for much of Russia as well, even without the constant incitement of Kremlin propaganda—there is no such thing as a separate Ukrainian people, national identity, culture, or history. Seen through this Russian lens, the concept of a Ukrainian state independent of Russia is at best a legend or fantasy. At worst it incarnates a threat to the very existence of the Russian state. And obviously Moscow will meet that threat with violence.