Russia

  • Opposition to Nord Stream 2 Gathers Steam on Both Sides of the Atlantic

    Natural gas pipeline would connect Russia to Europe

    Opposition to Nord Stream 2—a pipeline that will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany while bypassing Ukraine—is building on both sides of the Atlantic.

    On December 11, the US House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution expressing opposition to Nord Stream 2. The nonbinding resolution calls on European governments to reject the pipeline and expresses support for US sanctions on entities involved with the project.


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  • Is Russia About to Invade Ukraine?

    Vladimir Putin must be kicking himself. Four years ago, he could have invaded and seized most of Ukraine in a few weeks. Believing that Ukrainians were an "artificial" nation led by "fascists," however, he figured an invasion was unnecessary and the state would collapse on its own. Now, Ukrainians are daily demonstrating their desire to leave the Russian zone of influence forever. An invasion may be the only thing that could postpone the inevitable, but it's an extremely risky undertaking that could result in Russia's collapse.

    So, what's Putin to do? He's caught between a rock and a hard place. Although war—whether big or small—would serve no Russian interests, it is all the more likely as Putin grasps at straws to sustain his declining legitimacy.

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  • The Negative Consequences of Putin’s Strategy

    It has become an accepted line of thought that Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing chess on the international stage while the majority of Western leaders play checkers. His high-profile appearances among other world leaders at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires and the centenary of the end of World War I in Paris were noted by some as more evidence Putin had brought Russia back to superpower status. Through land grabs in neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, a major military intervention in Syria, and disinformation campaigns throughout the Western world, the ex-KGB strongman has certainly returned his country to international significance. Recent developments in the Sea of Azov seem to signify another tactical victory with major potential consequences. And yet, have these moves had their intended strategic outcomes? Is Putin really a master strategist taking advantage of hapless European and American leaders?

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  • Why Pro-Russian Candidates Won’t Win Ukraine’s 2019 Elections

    Those who believe Ukraine has not fundamentally changed since the launch of Russia’s military aggression are dead wrong. In fact, the 2019 elections will clearly illustrate that pro-Russian candidates have not only lost significant support, they will barely win any national offices.

    Pro-Russian candidates are hampered from achieving success in the 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections by four factors.

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  • How to Weaken Putin’s Hand (The Answer Isn't What You Think)

    Ukraine is making international headlines again. Conflict in the Black Sea, war in eastern Ukraine, new anti-corruption institutions, and the imminent independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been widely reported and hotly discussed. But one important topic has gone largely unnoticed in the West—Ukraine’s ongoing local governance reform. The transformation of Ukraine’s administrative structure may seem dull, but it has become one of the most consequential post-Euromaidan reform efforts.
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  • Sultoon Quoted in Bloomberg on US Penalties against Viktor Vekselberg


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  • It's Time to Stop Appeasing Putin – Here's How to Deter the Emboldened Russian President

    MUNICH – There are few better places in the world than here to reflect on the need to end Western appeasement of Vladimir Putin and his growing list of international crimes. The latest was last Sunday’s Russian attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea -- and its purpose of asserting Kremlin control over its still-sovereign neighbor.  

    This Bavarian city of beer halls and baroque beauty has another claim to fame it would rather shake, one that made its name synonymous with appeasement. On September 30th, 1938, beyond a date when one could have doubted Adolf Hitler’s perils, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and Italian leader Benito Mussolini signed the Munich Pact, which handed Nazi Germany large parts of Czechoslovakia in the name of peace.

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  • From the Azov Sea to Washington DC: How Russophobia Became Russia’s Leading Export

    Vladimir Putin had a simple explanation for the wave of international condemnation that engulfed Moscow in the wake of Russia’s November 25 Black Sea attack on the Ukrainian Navy. According to the Kremlin leader, it was all Ukraine’s doing. “Kyiv is actively stirring up anti-Russian sentiment,” he lamented. “That’s all they have—and it works.”

    This is far from the first time Moscow officials have sought to explain away serious accusations by attributing them to conveniently vague notions of anti-Russian bias. Indeed, the formerly moribund nineteenth century concept of Russophobia has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance since 2014, becoming the Kremlin’s excuse of choice whenever faced by a new round of allegations. Whether the crime in question is the invasion of Ukraine, an attempted coup in the Balkans, chemical weapons attacks in rural England, or electoral interference across Europe and the United States, the Kremlin has clearly decided the best form of defense is to ignore the charges completely and condemn the international community for surrendering to anti-Russian hysteria.   
    Moscow’s motivation is not difficult to grasp.

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  • How the West Got Martial Law in Ukraine Totally Wrong

    The past several days have been historic ones in Ukraine’s development as a sovereign and democratic nation. Moscow’s unprovoked attack on and seizure of three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea on November 25 began this process. This attack represents a serious escalation of Kremlin aggression because it was done openly by regular Russian military forces. Moscow was not hiding its role—as in the Donbas—behind the fiction that local “separatists” were running a rebellion.

    Russian naval forces first rammed one of the Ukrainian boats and then opened fire. Ukrainian communication intercepts show that Russian commanders on shore gave their ships orders to undertake this action and noted that the situation was being monitored by senior officials in Moscow. The Kremlin was likely trying to provoke the Ukrainian ships into firing in order to justify a larger Russian military response. Moscow successfully used this tactic to start its 2008 war with Georgia, but Ukraine wisely did not take the bait.

    In response, President Petro Poroshenko convened Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council (NSDC), which recommended that the government declare a state of martial law covering the entire country for two months. 

    For many in the West, “martial law” conjures up images of dictators and troops strutting down city streets in fatigues.

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  • What Would a Tymoshenko Presidency Mean?

    Many Western observers would like to see a change in Ukrainian leadership following the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Some would prefer to see a young MP from parliament’s Euro-Optimists group become president; others hope the country’s next leader will come from one of Ukraine’s new parties, such as Democratic Alliance or Power of the People.

    The most likely scenario, however, is that Yulia Tymoshenko will become the next president, and that her party’s share in parliament will significantly increase. It is possible that Petro Poroshenko will remain president, but as of November 2018, Tymoshenko is the leading candidate. And for the parliamentary race, her party leads in the polls with a significant margin.

    What will happen if the former prime minister, her party, and their allies take over government next year is difficult to predict, but the West should prepare now for that possibility.

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