Europe

  • Another Ukraine Crisis Tests US Resolve

    The seizure by Russian forces of three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Sea of Azov on November 25 highlights Moscow’s strategy of broadening its “creeping annexation” beyond Ukraine’s land borders and into the Black Sea. Russia’s refusal to abide by agreements providing Ukraine rightful passage and access to the Sea of Azov is an attempt to pressure Ukraine and undermine its economy and national security.

    Rising tension between Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea reinforces how dangerous the Ukraine-Russia conflict remains for the region and for the world.

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  • An Opportunity for the EU to Give Ukraine a Helping Hand

    Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait and the blockade of the Sea of Azov threaten a dangerous escalation of the war in Ukraine. As before, Russia’s goal in Ukraine is not so much to hold or conquer territory but to demonstrate that it has the capacity to put further pressure on the Ukrainian government with impunity, thereby questioning both the ability of the Ukrainian government to give an adequate response to Russian actions and the unity of Ukraine’s supporters in the West.

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  • Russia’s Provocations in the Sea of Azov: What Should Be Done?

    On November 25 Russian vessels blocked Ukrainian ones from entering the Sea of Azov, fired on Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea, rammed some of those ships, seized three Ukrainian ships, and wounded six in these exchanges. Russia also dispatched helicopters to the area to maintain surveillance and fire capability over any approaching Ukrainian vessels. By any standard, these are acts of war. We should remember that the United States went to war with Great Britain in 1812 because of such incidents. Second, Moscow’s claim to own Crimea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait as inviolate Russian territory is wholly illegal. Russia’s claims rest on nothing more than force directed against supposedly weaker targets. We can be sure that it would not behave this way toward a NATO ally. 
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  • Deal or No Deal? The Perils of Extricating the UK from the EU

    The United Kingdom now has a withdrawal deal with the European Union. In painstaking detail, set out in a 585-page document, it settles various aspects of the exit process, and is accompanied by a much briefer (and non-binding) political statement of principles for a future relationship between the UK and the EU.

    But now the real problems start. The agreement has been criticized on all sides, with even its chief protagonist, British Prime Minister Theresa May, conceding that it is far from perfect. In the much over-used metaphor, it kicks the can down the road on a number of crucial issues, not least how to avoid a hard border in Ireland, and will struggle to obtain support from the House of Commons.

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  • Latvia Struggles to Form a Government

    In the early hours of October 7, it became clear that Latvia had followed in the footsteps of many of its European neighbors. The newly-elected parliament was fragmented, the ruling coalition had lost its majority, and populist parties enjoyed significant gains. Latvian voters demonstrated widespread disillusionment with politicians and politics in general—compared to 2014, turnout in the parliamentary elections on October 6 dropped by nearly five percentage points, a record low since the country regained its independence twenty-seven years ago. Most worryingly, all this happened amidst healthy economic growth.   

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  • Q&A: Russia Attacks Ukraine Again. How Should Ukraine, NATO, and the West Respond?

    On November 25, Russia fired on the Ukrainian Navy in the Black Sea, injuring at least two Ukrainian sailors. Many experts have warned that Russia is opening a new front in its forgotten war in Ukraine on the Black and Azov Seas, illegally boarding commercial Ukrainian vessels and increasing its military presence to about 120 patrol boats and ships. The Russian MFA twitter feed is full of insinuations about a Ukrainian provocation. 

    We asked Atlantic Council experts and friends the following: How should Ukraine respond? How should NATO and the West react to this latest round of Russian aggression? What would it take to force the Kremlin to stop its menacing actions in Ukraine and around the world?

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  • Herbst Quoted in Kyiv Post on Azov Sea Conflict


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  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict Heats Up the Sea of Azov: Echoes of Russia’s War with Georgia?

    Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov bear eerie echoes of Russian provocations that led to the war with Georgia in the summer of 2008.

    “For months, Russian forces have been working to make the Azov Sea an internal Russian body of water in order to both cut off Ukraine’s eastern ports and cement Moscow’s hold on Crimea,” said Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council.

    “Moscow’s incrementalist approach is like the ‘creeping annexation’ we witnessed in Georgia in 2008—any single move tends not to be dramatic, but in the aggregate Russia makes strategic gains. Today, the Russians escalated with the aim of intimidating Ukraine into backing off its own effort to assert its access to its own territorial waters and its own ports,” he added.

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  • Aslund in Politico Europe: In Ukraine, It's No Longer About Little Green Men


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  • An American Tradition that Ukraine Doesn't Need

    It’s Black Friday in Kyiv, Ukraine, and retail is booming. Abundance is everywhere. Like everywhere else, Black Friday sales are plastered on store windows around town.

    For Ukrainians, this reality comes in shocking contrast with the events of 1933 eighty-five years ago. Ukraine was breadless and in crisis. Corpses littered the streets in central and southern Ukraine, then part of the USSR.

    William Henry Chamberlain, the American journalist and Moscow correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor traveled to Ukraine in October 1933. He only reported what he saw in 1934, after he had permanently left the Soviet Union. He famously said: “There was no other catastrophe of such scale in human history that would have drawn so little attention of the world.” Chamberlin’s book Russias Iron Age was one of the few, if not the only, comprehensive contemporary views on the effect of Russia's five-year economic plan, and the famine which devastated parts of the Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine, during 1932-1933. 

    This year—as is the tradition on the third Saturday of November—Ukraine is commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, a man-made, politically induced famine which took the lives of over four million Ukrainians. This famine was an instrument of the national policy of the Bolsheviks and their last effort to conquer the resistance of the Ukrainian peasantry against the Soviet system. 

    Fast forward to today. Many are shocked by the tactlessness of shops which nevertheless advertise their sales with a "Black Friday" message. Just one day before every Ukrainian is asked by the National Memory Institute to light a candle in memory of the innocent victims of the Holodomor, the Black Friday craze begins. It’s beyond tone deaf.

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