Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has resulted in the deaths so far of more than 8,700 Ukrainian civilians, including more than 500 children. It has caused a massive drop in the country’s economic output, with GDP declining by 29.1 percent. And it has had widespread consequences for the environment: inside Ukraine, in surrounding countries,… Continue reading How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States quickly moved to support the government in Kyiv. With Joe Biden in the White House, having replaced someone who made no effort to conceal his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, this U.S. support was no surprise. Prior to the invasion, the Biden administration had… Continue reading U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?

Eastern Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

Ukraine’s Future: Like Korea or Yugoslavia?

On February 24, the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to commemorate the occasion with a speech. There wasn’t much for Putin to celebrate. The invasion had failed to dislodge the government of Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv or incorporate all of Ukrainian territory into greater Russia. Over the last… Continue reading Ukraine’s Future: Like Korea or Yugoslavia?

Russia and Eastern Europe, Security

Israel’s Strange Ambivalence on Ukraine

There are currently only two Jewish heads of state in the world. The first, not surprisingly, leads Israel. The second is Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. They don’t get along. Religious affiliation by itself does not determine political or military alliances. Plenty of wars have pitted Christians against Christians and Moslems against Moslems. But… Continue reading Israel’s Strange Ambivalence on Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe

Changing My Mind on Ukraine

In the early 1990s, as the war in Yugoslavia spread to Bosnia, I took what I considered to be a principled position. I backed the UN-imposed arms embargo to the region. I urged friends and colleagues not to support actions to escalate the war. I believed that I was in the pro-peace camp. I hoped… Continue reading Changing My Mind on Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe

No Time for a Ceasefire in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin is playing the long game. The Russian leader believes that he can outwait all of his adversaries. Since he has ruled over Russia for more than two decades, he obviously has sound political instincts (as well as a well-deserved reputation for ruthlessness). He is gambling that the Ukrainians, the Europeans, and the Americans… Continue reading No Time for a Ceasefire in Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe, Security

Is Ukraine Going Too Far?

In the last couple months, Ukraine has successfully pushed back against Russia’s invading forces. It retook a large chunk of territory around the northeastern city of Kharkiv. It is on the verge of recapturing the only major city—Kherson in the south—that Russia has occupied since February. Ukrainian forces have also targeted airfields in Crimea and… Continue reading Is Ukraine Going Too Far?

Russia and Eastern Europe

Is Putin in a Corner?

When a country starts casting around for 60-year-old veterans to send to the front, you know that something’s wrong. All hands don’t go on deck unless the ship is foundering. It’s not yet clear whether the Russian ship of state is taking on water. But its military effort in Ukraine is obviously at the SOS… Continue reading Is Putin in a Corner?

Russia and Eastern Europe

Learning from Gorbachev’s Failures

Last year in Moscow, at a performance of the play Gorbachev, the audience gave a standing ovation to the two remarkable performers who played Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa Gorbacheva. The applause became even more thunderous when the performers identified the frail old man in a box seat. A spotlight illuminated Gorbachev as he… Continue reading Learning from Gorbachev’s Failures

Russia and Eastern Europe

The Weaponization of Food

When Russia bombed the port in Odesa last week, it was not an auspicious beginning to the new deal on grain exports. If anyone believed that this agreement between Moscow and Kyiv would have some positive spillover effect on the war grinding on elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian military surely destroyed that wishful thinking. International… Continue reading The Weaponization of Food

Russia and Eastern Europe

Vladimir Putin: Global Gunman

On one side are the dead: 10 people in a Buffalo grocery store. On the other side is the mass murderer who shot them. Why is the media so focused on the survivors of the Buffalo shooting and the stories of the victims? Why haven’t journalists given the gunman an opportunity to tell his story?… Continue reading Vladimir Putin: Global Gunman

Russia and Eastern Europe

A Just Ceasefire or Just a Ceasefire

The United States was not the first major power to dream up the idea of destroying a country to “save” it. But in the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon and his tiny brain trust of one—policy henchman Henry Kissinger—elevated this brutally cynical approach to the status of all-encompassing strategy. What began as the destruction of… Continue reading A Just Ceasefire or Just a Ceasefire

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

No Victory Day

Imagine an Olympic final in basketball, not unlike the one last summer between the United States and France. The score is tied in the final minutes, and tension is mounting among the flag-waving partisans in the stands. France is in possession of the ball when something strange happens. A sudden fog descends upon the play.… Continue reading No Victory Day

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

The Universality of Ukraine

The Russian war in Ukraine has dominated headlines in the United States and Europe. It has been presented as a generation-defining event and as a pivot in geopolitics that will cleave world history into a before and an after just like September 11. Much of the world, however, is not transfixed by developments in central… Continue reading The Universality of Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe

After Putin

A failed military intervention. The genocidal killing of citizens. Economic isolation by the international community. The arrests of anti-war protestors at home and the shuttering of independent media. Any one of these factors could mark the end of an ordinary political leader. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only weathered these challenges, his popularity… Continue reading After Putin

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

Once upon a time, the tutelary gods of nationalism and internationalism met for a chat. They had a superb perch above the clouds. From there, they could see everything happening on the Earth below and they set to arguing, as they so often did. Sophia, the goddess of internationalism, began by proudly pointing to the… Continue reading The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

Russia and Eastern Europe

Ending the War in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has a very clear strategy for ending his war in Ukraine. He intends to wipe the country off the map. Initially, he’d hoped to do so by seizing Kyiv, replacing the government, and absorbing as much of Ukrainian territory into Russia as he thought feasible. Now, after the resistance of the Ukrainians, he… Continue reading Ending the War in Ukraine

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

Why Ukraine Matters

War has been pretty much a constant in human affairs. If you’ve managed to avoid direct contact with war for your entire life, you are extraordinarily lucky in world-historical terms. The Cold War that kept the peace across most of the Global North was accompanied by nearly non-stop proxy wars between Moscow and Washington throughout… Continue reading Why Ukraine Matters

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

No Pasaran: Ukraine 2022

The last surviving member of the International Brigades that fought the fascists in Spain in the 1930s died last year at the age of 101. Josep Almudéver Mateu, born in France, remembered going into battle without any ammunition for his gun. Five kilometers into his march to the front, he was finally able to cadge… Continue reading No Pasaran: Ukraine 2022

Russia and Eastern Europe

Putin’s Cold, Cold Strategy

In his speech on Monday evening recognizing the independence of the disputed eastern territories of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin called Ukrainians “our comrades.” He identified them as “not only colleagues, friends, former colleagues, but also relatives, people connected with us by blood, family ties.” Pity the poor people that Vladimir Putin considers family. It’s like discovering… Continue reading Putin’s Cold, Cold Strategy

China, Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership

The leaders of Russia and China are joining forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing for the Winter Olympics to show solidarity with his largest trade partner at an event that the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia are boycotting diplomatically. The statement that Putin signed with Chinese leader Xi Jinping confirms their… Continue reading Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership

Europe, Human Rights, Russia and Eastern Europe

Helsinki 2.0

The European security order has broken down. You might think that’s an overstatement. NATO is alive and well. The Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe is still functioning at a high level. Of course, there’s the possibility of a major war breaking out between Russia and Ukraine. But would Russian President Vladimir Putin… Continue reading Helsinki 2.0

Russia and Eastern Europe, Security

The Ukraine Crisis Is an Opportunity to Reshape U.S.-Russia Diplomacy

Heading into its second year in office, the Biden administration has been hit hard by rising inflation, another pandemic variant and a stalled agenda in Congress. As it struggles to salvage things, the administration can little afford a major international conflict—especially after finally winding down the 20-year fiasco in Afghanistan. That’s precisely the risk in… Continue reading The Ukraine Crisis Is an Opportunity to Reshape U.S.-Russia Diplomacy

Russia and Eastern Europe

The End of Dissent

I am a foreign agent. Because my program at the Institute for Policy Studies receives some funding from a German foundation, I qualify as a suspect person—according to the “foreign agent” law in Russia. As part of this law, any institution or person that the government deems a “foreign agent” has to make a declaration… Continue reading The End of Dissent