• Bad Advice

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently advocated building intermediate-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to target and presumably use against Russia. No doubt Poroshenko calculated that he might gain a political advantage during the final days of a tough campaign for reelection by adopting this hawkish stance. And he may have also thought it made military sense as well. It appeals emotionally to a population that has been fighting Russia for five years with little overt progress. And since this advocacy casts Poroshenko as an aggressive patriotic defender of Ukraine, this posture might conceivably yield him political dividends.

    However, it would be a disastrous decision for both strategic and operational reasons.

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  • Too Little, Too Late

    On November 25, the Russian Coast Guard attacked and illegally seized three Ukrainian naval vessels on international waters in the Black Sea. The twenty-four Ukrainian sailors on board were arrested for having violated Russian territorial waters and jailed in the nineteenth century KGB prison Lefortovo in Moscow.

    These Ukrainian sailors were on Ukrainian vessels going from one Ukrainian port to another, while passing through Ukrainian or international waters. They did nothing wrong.

    It’s important to understand what Russia is doing on the Black Sea. Russia wants to turn the vast Sea of Azov from a joint Russian-Ukrainian water, as agreed to in a 2003 bilateral Russian-Ukrainian agreement, into an exclusively Russian territory. International shipping into the two important Ukrainian commercial ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk is increasingly harassed and delayed by Russian inspections.

    Many supporters of Ukraine called for early and firm Western sanctions on Russia to deter the Kremlin from further aggression in the Sea of Azov and for the release of the twenty-four Ukrainian sailors, but they kept wishing.

    Almost four months after Kerch, on March 15, the West managed to do something.

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  • Fried Quoted in Reuters on U.S., EU, Canada Impose Sanctions on Russians Over Ukraine

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  • A ‘Renewed Resolve’ in Congress to Reinforce NATO

    In an exclusive interview, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) says US role in NATO has been ‘worth every penny’

    There is a “renewed resolve” in the US Congress “to reinforce NATO and its mission, to rededicate ourselves to meeting certain goals like the 2 percent goal for defense spending, and to send clear and unmistakable messages to Vladimir Putin’s Russia that the physical compromise of sovereign territory will not be tolerated and that Article 5 is alive and well,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA).

    Proof of this bipartisan congressional resolve Connolly talks about is evident in the invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress in April.

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  • Herbst Quoted in Newsweek on Russian-Ukrainian Relationship Deterioration

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  • Fried quoted in Euractiv on Russia disinformation

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  • Simakovsky quoted in Newsweek on Trump Administration weighing sending more lethal aid to Ukraine to combat Russia

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  • European Involvement with Nord Stream 2 Is a Deal with the Devil

    Since having seized Ukrainian territory and energy installations in 2014, Russia and its gas company, Gazprom, have been waging systematic economic warfare against Ukraine in an attempt to destroy Naftogaz—Ukraine’s energy company and the single biggest source of state revenue—and the Ukrainian state. To date, however, Russia has failed. Indeed, Naftogaz won three arbitral awards against Gazprom in 2017 and 2018; these were about Gazprom’s efforts to divert gas using the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, blocking Central Asian gas from traveling through Ukraine. But Gazprom has refused to pay the $2.6 billion arbitration award granted to Naftogaz. Instead, Russia is blocking that award, building Nord Stream 2, and trying to use the pipeline to suffocate Ukraine’s economy and strengthen its grip on European energy supplies.

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  • O'Toole quoted in Newsweek on Putin's wealth

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  • One Year Since the Skripals Were Poisoned, Russia Has Not Given Up its Confrontational Policy Toward the West

    On March 4, 2018, a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, were found critically ill on a park bench in Salisbury, England. It was later determined that they had been poisoned by Novichok, a deadly nerve agent. The attack was linked to the Russian state.

    One year later, “Russia shows no sign of rethinking its confrontational policy toward the West,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and  Security who served as the US ambassador to Russia from 2001 to 2005.

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