John Herbst

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A captured Russian tank in Kyiv, March 2022. Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Over the past weeks, Moscow’s war on Ukraine has taken a turn. After failing to seize Kyiv, Russian forces pulled back to Belarus and Russia, leaving behind a trail of civilian casualties, and regrouped in Ukraine’s east with the aim of making additional gains in the Donbas. Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed General Alexander Dvornikov, also known as the “butcher of Syria”, to lead his country’s campaign. This week, he launched a new, more brutal military offensive in Ukraine’s east.

But as the Ukrainians begin fighting against the renewed assault, Western policy is lagging behind the reality of war on the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

Just over a year ago, President Obama signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which provided congressional backing to sanctions on Russia following the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. Since then, sanctions have hurt Russia’s economy and prevented individuals in President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle from traveling to the West. The Obama administration should be commended for sustaining a successful sanctions regime.

But Washington must do more than just punish Russia. It must bolster Ukrainians as they struggle to build a new, reform-minded government while continuing to fight to maintain their country’s territorial integrity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukraine government forces at a front-line position east of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov last week. So far, the cease-fire has held. Credit Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

As the West remains divided over providing defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is pondering whether to move on the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. The West needs to unite and deter him.

President Obama has now agreed to provide Ukraine with $75 million in nonlethal assistance, a decision which is unlikely to satisfy those in Washington and Kiev who want the United States to send antitank and antiaircraft weapons. A new approach is needed.

The Minsk II cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia, Germany and France last month has changed the political dynamics in Europe. Germany and to a lesser degree France have resisted calls to provide lethal weapons to Kiev, and much of the rest of Europe takes its cue from Berlin and Paris.…  Seguir leyendo »

A visitor walks through a memorial park that is part of a World War II museum complex in Kiev, Ukraine. (Efrem Lukatsky / Associated Press)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have rightly turned down Vladimir Putin's invitation to go to Moscow on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allies' victory in Europe, and President Obama may soon follow suit.

However, there is still a way for Western leaders to attend a commemoration that honors the heroism and sacrifice of the Soviet people during World War II, and Merkel, Cameron and Obama should seize the opportunity because this will be the last major anniversary for so many veterans and other war survivors.

Instead of commemorating V-E Day in Moscow, they should go to Kiev.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the situation in Ukraine has evolved from an internal to an international crisis, Western diplomacy has focused on persuading Moscow to de-escalate tensions. That has made good sense, given the potential for the situation to spin out of control. At the same time, the West should not lose a sense of outrage over Russia’s illegal armed seizure of the Crimean peninsula. The United States and European Union should strive to make the Kremlin’s Crimean venture as expensive as possible.

After former President Victor Yanukovych fled Ukraine in late February and a pro-European acting government took charge in Kiev, Russia moved with stunning swiftness in Crimea.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ukrainians will fight. For the past few days, the Russian military has attempted to provoke the Ukrainians into making the mistake the Georgians made in 2008: shooting first. First, Russia sent unmarked troops off their base in Sevastopol; the Ukrainians did not take the bait. Next, the Russians sent armored units up the road to Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, but still the Ukrainians did not respond with violence. Then these unmarked troops took over airfields and administration buildings around Crimea, effectively occupying the peninsula. The Ukrainians put their military forces on high alert and called up their military reserves — but have not attacked.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukraine is on the verge of spinning out of control. A pro-European protest that began more than two months ago in Kiev’s central square has flared into broad, angry opposition to the authoritarian policies of President Viktor F. Yanukovych. If the United States and European Union wish to encourage a peaceful resolution, they must use their leverage now. Otherwise the situation could degenerate further, to the point where the West will be no more than a spectator.Since its failed initial crackdown in late November, the Yanukovych government has procrastinated, employed force, and only recently offered political dialogue. This has not worked.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine does not seem to think that a formal association with the European Union is worth the release from jail of the leading opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. What should be the appropriate E.U. response?

See also Ukraine's Thorny Road To Association.

The E.U.-Ukraine Association Agreement offers Ukraine substantial advantages. As negotiated, it includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which by opening the E.U. market for most Ukrainian goods and services would give a substantial boost to the country’s exports.

The advantages of this agreement for the E.U. are also considerable. By insisting on political and economic reform, it would strengthen the proponents of an open society in Ukraine and promote stability on the Union’s eastern border.…  Seguir leyendo »