Russia

  • 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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  • Why the Sajdik Plan for the Donbas Will Not Work

    In the last year, there hasn’t been any new momentum in the effort to bring peace to Ukraine. Amid this long-lasting stalemate, the Austrian newspaperKleine Zeitung recently published an interview with Martin Sajdik, special representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, under the ambitious title “We Have a New Plan to Solve the Ukraine Crisis,” that drew attention.

    Sajdik stated the need for a new, legally binding, and more specific “comprehensive package” for implementation of the Minsk agreements. This would include deployment of the UN/OSCE mission in the Donbas, coordination with the UN and OSCE to hold local elections, placement of the UN transitional administration, and establishment of an EU-lead reconstruction agency for the Donbas.

    These elements, which journalists have named the Sajdik Plan, are the highlights of a nineteen-page paper, “Joint UN/OSCE Mission to Eastern Ukraine,” which was disseminated among diplomats during the OSCE Ministerial Council in December 2018. It was recently published by the Ukrainian publication Liga.net.

    The ideas are not new; they have been discussed in one form or another many times within the Normandy and Minsk negotiation formats. But so far, they have not been agreed upon by the negotiating parties. It is unclear why Sajdik chose to inform the general public about provisions in the document that were previously available only to a limited circle of diplomats and experts. Perhaps he wanted to show some progress in contrast to what appears to be a stalemate, or invite a broader discussion. He may even be aiming to put pressure on the negotiating parties to compromise. Regardless, the publication of the Sajdik plan has reinforced the point that the Minsk agreements remain unfulfilled and aspirational.


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  • Is the Kremlin Really Afraid of a Farmer?

    Birthdays are typically lavish affairs in Ukraine. But not for Volodymyr Balukh, who will spend his third birthday in prison for the simple act of displaying a Ukrainian flag in Crimea. On February 8, the Ukrainian farmer turns 48.

    His case shows how Moscow harshly punishes Ukrainians in Crimea who have the temerity to protest against the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of the peninsula.


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  • Fried Quoted in Forbes on Rusal Sanctions


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  • Bryza Joins Turkey's A News TV to Discuss the U.S. Withdrawal From the INF Treaty and U.S.-Russia Relations


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  • O'Toole Quoted in Newsweek on Impact of Sanctions on Russian Economy


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