English: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. President Vladimir Putin with Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev. Русский: МОСКВА, КРЕМЛЬ. Встреча с директором Федеральной службы безопасности Николаем Патрушевым. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
September 12, 2014
It’s my pleasure to offer an insightful guest post from Johan Wiktorin, former Swedish Military Intelligence and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. Follow him on Twitter: @forsvarsakerhet
In Ukraine, the cease-fire is on the ropes with daily reports of artillery-fire and shootings. It is established that the Russian Armed Forces is one of the warring factions. A couple of weeks ago, the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, acknowledged on television that Sweden had verified, supposedly by its own intelligence services, that Russian artillery was firing into Ukraine.
There are other proofs as well. In a long blogpost at Bellingcat a few days ago, journalist Iggy Ostanin showed convincingly that the individual Buk SAM-system that shot down MH17 in July has returned to Russia and resumed its place in the 53th Brigade of the Russian PVO (Air Defense Forces). Continue reading →
Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling around for the gaps that have emerged in NATO’s defenses, and it may take more than military spending to patch them up
A few years ago, when NATO strategists would stop to consider a possible threat from Russia, their chief concern was the possibility, however slight, that the Russian state would implode, lose control of its nuclear arsenal and allow a few warheads to fall into the wrong hands. That at least was the worry Ivo Daalder expressed in the fall of 2010, when he paid a visit to Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to NATO. But on the whole, he says he just wasn’t very concerned about Russia at the time. The alliance was too busy with that year’s troop surge in Afghanistan and with newfangled threats like cyber warfare.
“As a security concern Russia wasn’t really on the agenda in 2010,” he tells TIME by phone on Friday from Chicago. “The focus with Russia was really on cooperation.” Continue reading →
This edition considers the current state of the Russian economy. Firstly, Philip Hansen assesses the reasons for the economic slowdown that predated the Ukraine crisis, highlighting that the radical reforms needed to improve business confidence seem unlikely to be undertaken. He also notes that fallout from the Ukraine crisis will have a negative impact on the short-term prospects for growth, and that although in the medium term some restoration of growth is possible, this will only likely reach rates below the global average. Secondly, Irina Nikolaevna Il’ina, Carol S. Leonard, and Evgenii Plisetskij examine the resilience of resource abundant regions in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, by way of a case study of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug. They argue that long-term efficient and cooperative budget planning and performance account for the resilience of such regions.
The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the “old ways,” trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin‘s actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the “old ways,” while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization?
The Kremlin’s approach might be called “non-linear war,” a term used in a short story written by one of Putin’s closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of “managed democracy” that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the “fifth world war.”
Surkov writes: “It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all.” Continue reading →
English: Map showing the maximum territorial extent of countries under the direct influence of the Soviet Union — between the Cuban Revolution/21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union/Sino-Soviet split. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reflects neither strategic wisdom nor military strength. In fact, it reflects just the opposite. Putin invested over $50 billion and significant personal capital in the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming G8 Summit. That has now been squandered. It was clearly humiliating for Putin to watch as the Ukrainian president he had strongly supported, if not hand-picked, was forced to flee Kiev. This was particularly true, given that President Yanukovych fled in response to a popular uprising driven by opposition to his efforts to establish closer Ukrainian relations with Russia at the expense of closer ties to Europe.
Putin assuaged this humiliation with a military invasion of Crimea on March 1. On March 20, the Russian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a treaty presented by Putin to formally annex the Black Sea peninsula. At this juncture, it seems impossible to envision Moscow backing down, withdrawing its forces, and returning Crimea to Ukrainian control. President Obama, as well as Western European leaders, have acknowledged this reality. The so-called “post-Cold War era” has now come to a close, and the West must now confront a new European security environment. What is the nature of the new threat? What is the general outline of a new strategy for the United States and its NATO allies?
It is important to realize that the longer-term threat posed by this new era does not herald a return to the Cold War. That “twilight struggle” had an ideological underpinning. It pitted Marxist-Leninist ideology against democracy and market economies. When Nikita Khrushchev made his famous threat, “We will bury you!” in 1956, he was not necessarily predicting imminent war so much as a belief that history was on the side of Communism. He believed that it was Communism, with its focus on a command oriented economy rather than the Soviet military, that would ultimately triumph. Continue reading →
KIEV, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s extremist organization Right Sector has moved its headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk, said its leader Dmitry Yarosh who is running for president.
“It’s easier to monitor the situation in Donbass from Dneptropetrovsk,” Yarosh said on Wednesday.
Earlier, local media reported a meeting in camera between Yarosh and head of the Dneptropetrovsk regional administration Igor Kolomoisky.
The Right Sector leader denied receiving funding from oligarchs. “We’re not using oligarchs’ money in politics, but when a war is on, we do not object to their funding the army,” he said. Continue reading →
Russia may have become an international outcast in the wake of its annexation of Crimea and continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine. But for one group of powerful multinationals, Russia these days is less pariah than promised land.
Big Western oil companies from BP to Shell have not just stayed the course in Russia in recent months — many have essentially doubled down on oil and gas investments there and built even closer ties with Russian energy firms. Taken together, the deals could send billions of dollars flowing into the Russian economy just when Barack Obama’s administration is trying to hammer it hard enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his annexation of Crimea and stop menacing eastern Ukraine.
“We’ve made clear that we’d be prepared to target certain sectors of the Russian economy if we see a significant escalation, including direct Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Laura Lucas Magnuson has said. Continue reading →