Andrew C. Kuchins

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With reports that violence in Ukraine is spreading beyond separatist-controlled areas, it is clear the so-called Minsk-II ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas is teetering.

If the United States wants to avoid the prospect of the violence spilling over into a broader conflict, it will need to keep the option of more direct involvement -- including the provision of arms -- firmly on the table.

Until recently, the White House has understandably been focused on countering the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a reality that allowed the Europeans (especially Germany) to take the lead in crafting a response to Russia's aggression.…  Seguir leyendo »

The shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine may finally force Washington and Europe to wake up to the danger of the conflict there escalating into full-blown war between Russia and Ukraine.

This potential cataclysm has been inching closer to reality in the last week. The Ukrainian security council has said Russian weapons and troops have been crossing into Ukraine, and military aircraft from both sides have engaged each other. Documented videos purport to show artillery fire into Ukraine from the Russian side. On Sunday the Russian media went berserk with reports of the first casualty of a Russian civilian on the Russian side, from an artillery shot of disputed origin.…  Seguir leyendo »

After five and a half weeks in transit limbo, NSA leaker Edward Snowden was granted temporary one-year asylum in Russia on Thursday.

The White House expressed "disappointment" and again raised the threat of possibly canceling the meeting between President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin next month when the U.S. president is scheduled to travel to Russia for the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg.

But just how disappointed should Washington be with this development?

With Snowden being allowed to leave the transit area, the move can provide an opportunity for U.S. authorities to make contact with him somewhere in Moscow. It is my understanding that while Snowden has been in the transit area, it has not been possible for U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Three years ago this month, after Russian military forces invaded Georgia, the U.S.-Russia relationship reached its lowest point, at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Bush administration virtually froze relations for its last five months in the White House.

President Obama and his team took office in January 2009 and soon signaled their interest in improving ties with Moscow. The main reasons are well known: need of Russian support in trying to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program; increasing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan; and return to a more multilateral approach in nuclear arms control and security.

Despite considerable skepticism in Moscow and Washington, Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have made significant progress in restoring the bilateral relationship with important achievements on all the issues above as well as a number of others.…  Seguir leyendo »