• The Putin Exodus

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    Human capital is fleeing Russia. Since President Vladimir Putin’s ascent to the presidency, between 1.6 and 2 million Russians – out of a total population of 145 million – have left for Western democracies. This emigration sped up with Putin’s return as president in 2012, followed by a weakening economy and growing repressions. It soon began to look like a politically driven brain drain, causing increasing concern among Russian and international observers.

    In this pioneering study, the Council’s Eurasia Center offers a clear analysis of the Putin Exodus and its implications for Russia and the West. The study, which is authored by Ambassador John Herbst and Dr. Sergei Erofeev, examines the patterns and drivers of Russian emigration to the West since 2000 based on the findings from focused interviews and surveys with new Russian émigrés in four key cities in the United States and Europe.

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  • Buy-In From Allies Critical for Effective Sanctions, Says Former US Treasury Secretary Lew

    US approaches to Iran and Venezuela provide a study in contrasts

    While the Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran will be ineffective because the United States does not “have the support of our allies,” its approach to Venezuela—working in concert with friends—“represents more the way things ought to be done,” former US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 19.

    As the Trump administration and the US Congress increasingly view sanctions as effective means to achieve the United States’ foreign policy objectives, Lew, who also served as White House chief of staff to then President Barack Obama, had some advice: “Sanctions are most effective when there is broad buy-in around the world amongst our allies.”

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  • New Legislation Presents Impactful But Measured Way Forward on Russia Sanctions

    Driven by understandable distrust of US President Donald Trump’s continued relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a bipartisan group of US senators have introduced legislation that, if passed, compels the Trump administration to increase the pressure on Moscow. The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019, or DASKAA, is a revisited, and improved version of the similarly named bill that was introduced in response to Trump’s widely panned July 2018 summit with Putin in Helsinki. Several additional Russian-related outrages later, this bill introduced by Senators Graham, Menendez, Cardin, Gardner, and Shaheen likely has a better chance of becoming law than its predecessor, which languished in a Congress distracted by a Supreme Court fight, the summer recess, a competing Russia sanctions bill, and the pre-election environment.

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  • Åslund Quoted in Newsweek on Putin's Personal Wealth

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  • What the Death of the INF Treaty Means for Kyiv

    On February 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Pompeo said Russia had violated the treaty for years. The next day, the State Department notified the Russian embassy and the embassies of the other treaty parties, including Ukraine, of the US intention to withdraw from the treaty. President Vladimir Putin that same day said that Russia also would suspend its treaty obligations.

    Unfortunately, the INF Treaty is headed for demise.

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  • What Putin Must Hear in Munich

    The international community is preparing for the annual Munich Security Conference, which will host more than 500 guests, including forty heads of state and government. I too will attend. Before the conference, I spent part of the week in Kramatorsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, which underwent Russian occupation but was freed by the Ukrainian army. Four years ago, on February 10, Kramatorsk was fired upon by a Russian Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System in a salvo of attacks with prohibited cluster warheads. Seventeen people were killed, and sixty-four were wounded. 

    In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, we spoke about Ukraine’s recent decision to adopt a constitutional amendment, which consolidates Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and the importance of uniting efforts so that no one can prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the EU eventually.

    When I go abroad, I am always asked about the status of the ceasefire. Here I don’t have good news. A ceasefire at the contact line, as envisioned in the signing of the Minsk arrangements, has not become a reality. Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin still maintains the fiction that his country is not involved in the Donbas, Russia is undoubtedly the aggressor state. Putin hopes for a more pliable president after Ukraine’s spring presidential elections.   

    In Kramatorsk, we visited checkpoints, which function as de facto borders within a sovereign state. When Ukraine modernizes these checkpoints and increases the number of heating stations, waiting rooms, and windows for border guards, people told me that they fear that these checkpoints will remain forever. Here they understand the new global order has rapidly changed.

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  • Cohen Quoted in Report News Agency on U.S. Weak Response for Vitol's Violation

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  • When a Pencil Is a Rocket Launcher: How We Talk about War

    In Kyiv, the wordkarandash (pencil) is an ordinary word one might encounter in an office supply store or an elementary school. But in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has killed more than 10,000, displaced another 1.7 million, and injured thousands of civilians,karandash means something else. The Ukrainian military uses it to describe 122-millimeter grad rocket launchers.

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  • We Do Far More than Meddle in Foreign Elections, Top Putin Aide Taunts

    On February 11, Vladislav Surkov, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key aides and ideologists, published a reveling article called “Putin’s Long State.”

    It is not an ordinary piece; it makes the case for a new kind of Russian expansionism, and it should be read closely and taken seriously.

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  • New Political Platform in Ukraine Deserves Second Look

    On February 4, a group of Ukrainian politicians and activists announced the formation of a new political platform. In Ukraine, this would hardly make news. New political platforms are announced regularly, especially during election years.

    But this new platform, the Euro-Atlantic Agenda for Ukraine, deserves a second look. (We previously reported that this platform was getting organized.)

    Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, is the most recognizable of its leaders.   

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