Jeffrey Mankoff

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A mural representing World War II in an underground pedestrian crossroad in Rostov on Don, a Russian city near the eastern border with Ukraine. (Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)

More than seven years after annexing Crimea and occupying eastern Ukraine, Russian forces are again massing along the Ukrainian border. Behind Russia’s demands that Ukraine not join NATO lie Russian leaders’ enduring belief that Ukraine and Ukrainians are inalienable parts of Russia’s own history — and that Western support for Ukraine is just the latest example of what Russian President Vladimir Putin has called “deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity.”

When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Putin declared that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.” He has often repeated this claim. Western analysts are inclined to dismiss Putin’s depiction of Russo-Ukrainian unity as cheap propaganda or deliberate disinformation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia and China wrapped up joint military exercises on Wednesday in the Sea of Japan, the largest naval drills China has ever conducted with a foreign partner. The exercises took place amid mounting U.S. frustration over Russian and Chinese efforts to block United Nations Security Council action against the Assad regime in Syria and fuel U.S. concern about an anti-American axis between the two authoritarian great powers.

Although Chinese-Russian relations have improved in recent years as trade has expanded, old border disputes have been resolved, and the tempo of meetings between top leaders has increased, their collaboration masks serious differences. Only major missteps by the United States could make American fears a reality.…  Seguir leyendo »