No solution in Donbas
A close look at how events are unfolding in the Ukraine conflict makes clear that the Minsk agreement and the Normandy format, which were supposed to help lead to a resolution, are irrelevant. Russia is digging in, while the West has few strategic options. The most likely scenario now is one where the conflict remains frozen and the Kremlin retains a de facto veto over any Ukrainian move toward the West.
Surprising evolution in U.S. policy toward Ukraine
In no time, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was elevated from Donald Trump’s doghouse to the status of an honored guest at the White House. The U.S. president has discovered reasons to demonstrate to his NATO allies, and the world, his tough stand on Russia. As East-West tension mounts, the conflict over Donbas, a portion of eastern Ukraine captured by Moscow-backed secessionists, may quickly degenerate into a U.S.-Russia proxy war.
The rise of mercenaries in Russian military operations
It is common for global powers to use private military contractors when they do not want their own armed forces to get involved in dirty work. However, Russia’s increasing use of them in places like Ukraine and Syria – where they have taken on major operations – signals the Kremlin’s expectation that it will expand its use of force around the world.
Russia’s 2018 elections: Why the Kremlin is running scared
The outcome of Russia’s presidential election in 2018 appears a foregone conclusion: President Vladimir Putin will remain in power. The issue is the cost of renewing his official mandate, as anger is growing among ordinary Russians at worsening economic conditions and the shameless enrichment of the ruling elite. Next year’s election campaign will offer the disaffected an opportunity to vent their frustration and protest in public. If things get nasty, Russia will not be the only country to feel the consequences.
Realignment in the U.S.-Russia-China triangle
The Trump administration seems likely to revolutionize the United States’ relationships with Russia and China by seeking rapprochement with the former and putting pressure on the latter. That could significantly swing the balance of power in the so-called strategic triangle between the three countries, with repercussions that will reverberate throughout Asia and the world.
Russia and the European balance of power
An effective European response to the dangerous challenge from Russia ought to be an old-fashioned carrot and stick policy; the former being a recognition of Russia’s role as a global power with legitimate security interests, and the latter – credible defense.
Scenarios for Europe
Europe’s basic problem is a lack of leadership. In 2017 it is unlikely to solve the root problems at the heart of its malaise: excessive regulation, a lack of competition and innovation, weakening internal cohesion and an inability to address crises efficiently. A new generation of politicians may emerge that pushes for more market-driven solutions, but it will take several more years for them to be able to implement their vision, if at all.
The Minsk process and Syria
The breakdown of yet another truce in Syria has sent relations between Russia and the United States to new lows. The mosaic of opposing forces and conflicting agendas is so complex that without a strong element of trust between Russia and the U.S., there cannot be a sustainable truce, let alone a realistic path to peace. This path leads through Donbas, in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine and NATO: a story of three summits
Dreams of NATO’s eastern expansion were dead well before Russia’s intervention in east Ukraine. But as Western military cooperation with Kiev deepens, the alliance is beginning to realize it may have got something better – extra political leverage in the east, with no strings attached.
The fraying of sanctions
Two years on, there is no obvious endgame for Western sanctions against Ukraine. Some European Union leaders are already calling for normalized relations with Russia, even as fighting erupted in Donbas. But a “dirty deal” would carry a hefty long-term cost.