Tag Archives: Crimea

Did the Kremlin launch an invasion to guarantee Putin’s succession?

Independent Russia has yet to come up with a way of transferring power other than war

By Dmytro Babachanakh  Published 5-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power since 2000 | Image: Kremlin.ru

Much has been written about Russia’s war against Ukraine and yet for many, one fundamental question remains unanswered: why did Vladimir Putin decide to launch a full-scale invasion in the first place?

When the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and occupied the Ukrainian Donbas region in 2014, the explanation for its actions seemed straightforward. In response to Ukraine’s revolution that removed a pro-Russian president, Russia had sought to gain complete control of Crimea and turn it into a military base, weakening Ukraine and stalling the country’s integration with NATO and the EU. Continue reading

Share Button

Western hypocrisy: What Joe Biden gets wrong about Russia

Those in the Middle East know the kind of destruction seen in Ukraine all too well – the West was the perpetrator

By Paul Rogers  Published 4-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr/CC

Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine remains in a violent stalemate. Russian forces are pausing their attempts to occupy Kyiv, having withdrawn some of their forces from around the capital, but a major retreat is highly unlikely given Russia is recruiting several thousand mercenaries from Syria.

The Kremlin’s strategy now is to concentrate on overrunning the southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, before joining up Russian forces in Crimea with those in Donbas to take control of as much of the region as possible. Continue reading

Share Button

Putin’s attack on Ukraine isn’t going as planned. What will happen next?

With an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, harsh global sanctions and low morale among Russian troops, we face an unpredictable few months

By Paul Rogers.  Published 3-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: The Resistor Sister/Twitter

Nine days into Russia’s assault on Ukraine and it is clear the Kremlin’s original plan has been derailed. The aim was to move rapidly on the capital, Kyiv, seizing the international airport to airlift troops in, then link with ground forces moving in from Belarus, occupy the city and take down the government in, at most, 72 hours.

From the start, Russia would make a concerted effort to take control of the Ukrainian air space, mainly with missile attacks on air bases, air defences and logistics support. This, combined with troops spread across the whole country, would induce a fear factor to help cower the people of Ukraine into submission, rather like the ‘shock and awe’ approach used by the US at the start of the Iraq War. Continue reading

Share Button

The Cold War, modern Ukraine and the spread of democracy in the former Soviet bloc countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Michael De Groot, Indiana University

As Russia masses forces and equipment on Ukraine’s border, international tensions over a possible invasion intensify almost daily. Ukraine has emerged as ground zero of what some pundits have dubbed a new Cold War between Russia and the West.

In my view as a Cold War historian, this comparison distorts the Cold War and misrepresents the stakes of the current crisis.

Yet reviewing the Cold War is important because its legacy shapes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policy toward Ukraine. Continue reading

Share Button

What would Western sanctions mean for Russia?

The unprecedented measures proposed by the US, the EU and the UK could create chaos in Russia’s economy and impoverish its population

By Isobel Koshiw.  Published 2-8-2022 by openDemocracy

Russian President Vladimir Putin Photo:: Kremlin.ru

Proposed Western sanctions could almost cut Russia out of the global financial system, creating chaos for the Russian economy and impoverishing ordinary Russians, experts have warned.

The measures threatened by the US, the EU and the UK if Russia incurs further into Ukraine would be unprecedented. Previous countries that have faced similar sanctions – such as North Korea and Iran – were peripheral to the global markets in comparison to Russia. Continue reading

Share Button

No, Critics Declare in Response to Trump, Now Is Time to Give Occupied Golan Heights Back to Syria

“I still remember some people telling me during the last election that Trump would be tougher on Israel than Clinton. Lol.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-21-2019

An Israeli soldier in the Golan Heights, 2006. (Photo: David Poe, Flickr)

Critics on Thursday swiftly condemned an announcement by President Donald Trump that he believes the U.S. should recognize Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory Israel has illegally occupied for over half a century.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the president said on Twitter, “which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Continue reading

Share Button

‘Extremely Concerned’ World Leaders and Experts Implore Trump and Putin to Preserve Nuclear Treaty

Alongside warnings withdrawal from INF would be “stupid and reckless,” one signatory to open letter said conflict “should be resolved through the treaty, not by abandoning it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2019

Photo: kremlin.ru

Elected officials and experts from more than 40 countries have sent an open letter to U.S. President Donald, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and various other world leaders imploring them to preserve the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, from which the Trump administration has said it plans to withdraw, despite warnings that doing so “would be stupid and reckless.

While welcoming progress on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, the letter (pdf) emphasizes alarm over the “erosion” of the INF Treaty; war games and nuclear weapons development the United States ditching the Iran nuclear deal; and “unresolved conflicts between Russia and the West including over Crimea and Syria and between nuclear armed states in other regions including South Asia and the South China Sea.” Continue reading

Share Button

Ukraine’s eastern front: a Trump card in a bigger game?

Everybody wants better relations between Russia and the west. But leaders in Moscow and DC could throw Ukraine under the bus to get them.

By Ian Bateson. Published 1-31-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: @datensuche/Twitter

Last week, as I traveled around Ukraine’s eastern front, I found myself talking to soldiers stationed there. The new US president was a regular topic of conversation. “What’s with your new president? He seems unstable,” said one Ukrainian soldier before opening a gate to a hill-top military base. Another, examining our American passports at a checkpoint, asked us what we thought of him, and then threw in his own opinion that Trump is a “rare piece of shit”.

Others have responded more diplomatically. “If Trump is for democratic values and if his work is aimed at helping the development of democratic countries, then he will support Ukraine,” said Viacheslav Filin, commander of Ukraine’s 46th battalion, known as the Donbas Battalion. But for all of Trump’s talk about putting “the people” in charge, he isn’t very interested in promoting democracy at home or abroad as he dams the flow of information and enacts policy by executive orderContinue reading

Share Button

What is the nature of the “Ukraine crisis”?

New evidence throws light on the origins of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

By Andreas Umland. Published 11-15-2016 by openDemocracy

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine, March 2015. Photo: OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine, March 2015. Photo: OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past few weeks, Russia-watchers have been intrigued by a leak of emails sent and received by the office of Vladislav Surkov, an official adviser to president Putin.

The Surkov Leaks, which have renewed discussion around Moscow’s involvement in the pseudo-civil war and emergence of “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine, confirm once more that the armed conflict in the Donbas is, to large extent, a Kremlin project. The conflict is merely one part of Moscow’s broader policy of undermining the Ukrainian state after the victory of the Euromaidan revolution in February 2014. Continue reading

Share Button

NATO and Russia ‘War Games’ Not Games At All

The nature and scale of ongoing exercises suggest ‘Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.’

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-15.

At the opening ceremony of a NATO exercise in Latvia this June. (Photo:Latvijas armija/flickr/cc)

At the opening ceremony of a NATO exercise in Latvia this June. (Photo:Latvijas armija/flickr/cc)

War games conducted by Russian and NATO forces go far beyond the hypothetical, raising the specter of a very real conflict on the European continent, a new study warns.

According to the European Leadership Network (ELN), a think tank based in London, “[o]ver the last 18 months, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the relationship between Russia and the West has deteriorated considerably”—at least in part due to war games that feed a “climate of mistrust.”

ELN’s report, Preparing for the Worst: Are Russian and NATO Military Exercises Making War in Europe more Likely? (pdf), analyzes a Russian ‘snap exercise’ in March involving 80,000 military personal from bases all across the country, and NATO’s Allied Shield set of war games conducted on air, land, and sea in June, which involved 15,000 personnel from 22 countries.

Though both sides “may maintain that these operations are targeted against hypothetical opponents, the nature and scale of them indicate otherwise: Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia,” the authors write.

NATO’s activities, for example, are “clearly intended to simulate the kinds of operations NATO forces would need to engage in, in the context of a military crisis or confrontation with Russia somewhere in the Baltic region,” the report reads, while the scale and geographical distribution of Russia’s drill “means it could only have been a simulated war with U.S.-led NATO.”

“We do not suggest that the leadership of either side has made a decision to go to war or that a military conflict between the two is inevitable,” the report continues, “but that the changed profile of exercises is a fact and it does play a role in sustaining the current climate of tensions in Europe.”

The exercises also indicate “what each side sees as its most exposed areas,” ELN states, with NATO concentrating its activities in the Baltic States and Poland and Russia focusing primarily on the Arctic and High North, the seaport city of Kaliningrad, occupied Crimea, and its border areas with NATO members Estonia and Latvia.

While Russia and NATO both insist that their moves are defensive in nature, the authors argue that war games can be easily perceived “as provocative and deliberate aggravation of the crisis.”

To “defuse or at least minimize the tensions” between the world powers, the report recommends increased transparency and communication around scheduling of exercises; “restraint in terms of size or scenarios used in exercises;” and—most grandly—the immediate commencement of “conceptual work” on a new treaty limiting deployment of specific categories of weapons.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Share Button