John E. Herbst

  • Correction Unnecessary

    Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky is unhappy and he has been tweeting.  Specifically, he demands a correction to my August 8 post that criticized some of the points in his opinion piece arguing against sending defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine. He claims that he “did not argue” what I said; he has “no idea how” I could have “read that stuff into” his piece; and he politely requests that I “either change that paragraph or remove the inaccurate reference to” his column.

    Mr. Bershidsky doth protest too much.  You can decide whether or not I misconstrued what he was saying.  Here is what I wrote:

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  • Putin Lashes Out

    Will Russia’s reaction to US sanctions be short-lived?

    [Editor's note: US President Donald J. Trump signed the new sanctions bill on August 2.] 

    The Kremlin’s reaction to the new US sanctions indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a “lashing-out mood,” that, while unsettling, will be short-lived, according to Daniel Fried, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative.

    “I would not take this terribly seriously,” said Fried of the Kremlin’s mandate on July 30 that the United States must cut 755 members of its diplomatic staff in Russia. “These kinds of diplomat wars seem important at the time,” he added, yet, when comparing the current situation to a similar diplomatic fallout between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Fried said it is clear that Russia’s response will not have long-lasting detrimental effects.

    Fried described how “the Soviets tried this,” adding that “this sort of thing captures headlines.” While “it works in the short run; it doesn’t work in the long run,” he said.

    “For now,” however, “we’re going to be in a rough period,” said Fried, a former sanctions policy coordinator at the US Department of State.

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  • Setting the Record Straight about Reform in Ukraine

    Evaluating reform in Ukraine is akin to taking a Rorschach test. For Kremlin propagandists and their witting or unwitting acolytes in the West, Ukraine is an irredeemably corrupt place. To young reformers in Ukraine and some of the country’s well-wishers, progress in transforming the country is agonizingly slow and always in danger of reversal. And to Ukraine’s top leadership and those who worry most about defending the country from Moscow’s aggression, the country has achieved exceptional progress in very difficult circumstances.

    Each of these points of view can be supported when the country’s situation is viewed from a particular angle. But a careful, comprehensive look at the circumstances and dynamics of Ukraine’s reform efforts results in an assessment that is ultimately positive.

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  • Herbst Quoted in VOA on US-Russia Dispute Over Seized Compounds


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  • Herbst Quoted in VOA on Putin's Reaction to Magnitsky Act


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  • Herbst Joins Radio Free Europe to Discuss Changes in Uzbekistan Policies


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  • Herbst Joins VOA to Discuss Trump-Putin Meeting


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  • Herbst Quoted by Business Insider on What Would Happen If Ukraine Joined NATO


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  • Herbst Joins VOA Chinese to Discuss Ukraine


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  • What in the World is Vladimir Putin Up To?

    Russia has decisively expanded its global footprint in a way that analysts say challenges the West and will force US President Donald J. Trump to rethink his “America First” strategy.

    This challenge extends well beyond Russia’s neighborhood—Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic States—to Syria, Libya, and even Afghanistan. Western governments and intelligence agencies have also accused Russia of meddling in elections in the United States and Europe.

    John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “pursuing a clear revisionist agenda designed to change the post-Cold War order in Eurasia; permit Moscow to establish a clear sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space; weaken NATO and the EU; weaken the transatlantic relationship; diminish American prestige and power; and project Russian power globally.”

    With this as a backdrop, Trump and Putin will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7. The meeting takes place amid investigations by a special prosecutor and congressional committees into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

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