While Russia appears to have prevailed in its latest showdown with Turkey in Syria—helping Damascus to blunt Turkey’s operations around Idlib and securing an advantageous cease-fire afterward—Moscow’s longer-term strategy for Syria has become murkier after the crisis. This uncertainty is primarily due to Russia’s new oil price war with Saudi Arabia, which seems to strike at one of the pillars of Moscow’s approach by undermining the prospects for Saudi financial support for Syrian reconstruction and raises new questions about the Kremlin’s motives and objectives.
Western analysts have long generally believed that Russia’s goal in Syria has been to force a political settlement to the fighting that would guarantee President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule, at least for the time being.… Seguir leyendo »
As Ukraine battles separatists and Russia appears poised to invade, many historians and scholars are warning of ominous similarities to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. But they are ignoring a more important comparison: 1941.
The United States and Europe have until now relied almost exclusively on the threat of severe economic sanctions to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine. But sanctions — even crippling ones — won’t necessarily avert this.
For 20 years, economic sanctions have become Washington’s preferred policy to demonstrate resolve without using force. Yet the United States has not imposed harsh sanctions on major powers; Iran has been the toughest target, and it hasn’t unconditionally surrendered its nuclear program.… Seguir leyendo »
Why the hysteria about Russia? From the tone of what passes for policy discourse in Washington, one would think that Russian troops were massing on the country’s western border and that opposition activists were being executed by the hundreds. Some realities in Russia are indeed disturbing, but a sense of perspective is needed. If Moscow were really the capital of a brutally authoritarian anti-American state, things could be far worse — and profoundly damaging to U.S. national interests. But demonizing Russia doesn’t change conditions there and only undermines our ability to get what we want and need.
Domestically, Russia is a corrupt and semi-authoritarian country where citizens lack many of the protections in the Bill of Rights and elections are not fair.… Seguir leyendo »
On Thursday, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, publicly distanced the Kremlin from Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, announcing, “We are not concerned about the fate of Assad’s regime.” As Syria’s rebels continue to gain ground and Russia loses faith in Mr. Assad, America has an opportunity to both end the carnage in Syria and improve its relations with Moscow.
Helping oust Mr. Assad is an important American objective, but it pales in comparison with preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Indeed, removing Mr. Assad in a manner that alienates China and Russia, both of which are critical in dealing with Iran, would be a Pyrrhic victory.… Seguir leyendo »
The fates of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are chief among the many issues that are still unresolved in the war between Georgia and Russia. What’s clear, however, is that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered his country’s military to assert his authority over South Ossetia by force. American officials should reflect on the implications of Saakashvili’s behavior for U.S. policy toward Georgia, Russia and the region.
Saakashvili ordered the assault last week knowing that South Ossetia would resist, knowing that his forces would have to take on Russian peacekeepers and knowing that Moscow has been spoiling for a fight. In fact, his own government had claimed for some time that Russia was preparing to attack.… Seguir leyendo »