Robert Person

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A Russian Navy amphibious landing ship near Kerch, Crimea, July 2023. Alexey Pavlishak / Reuters

When Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014, the peninsula became crucial to Moscow’s strategy to dominate Ukraine and the Black Sea region. Critical to that domination is the bridge spanning the Kerch Strait, the narrow strip of water that separates Crimea from mainland Russia. Built by Moscow at enormous cost, this bridge opened in 2018 to great fanfare. Since then, it has been a major conduit for the transportation of Russian soldiers and arms required for the war in Ukraine.

The bridge is currently under Russian control and is of fundamental importance to the Russian war effort. It may, however, prove to be the key to Ukraine’s victory—not just in Crimea but in the wider conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since Western governments imposed unprecedented sanctions against Moscow in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian economy has been in free fall. Russia’s central bank has been frozen out of its foreign reserves held abroad, and Russia’s oligarchs have been cut off from their lavish lifestyles in Europe and the Mediterranean. Some Russian banks have been barred from international financial networks.

In an interview last week, the U.S. official credited with designing sanctions against Russia described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s countermeasures as “desperate”. One of those measures is a little-noticed move to prevent capital from leaving the country. My research on the economics behind Russian grand strategy shows it is a tactic that will undermine Russia’s economic growth in the long run, but the Kremlin has few other options.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill tour the Kremlin in May 2010. The Russian Orthodox Church warned Sept. 28 that it would sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community if he grants autonomy to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. (AP)

On Oct. 11, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople — the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide — started a process to grant independence to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church seated in Kiev, freeing it from the control of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. The decision has touched off an intense political storm, and threatens to open a new — and possibly violent — front in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Here’s why.

A brief primer on the Orthodox Church

Unlike Catholicism, Orthodoxy does not have a centralized hierarchy with a pope-like authority figure. Rather, it’s composed of 14 autonomous churches, each of whose authority generally coincides with the national borders of countries with large Orthodox populations.…  Seguir leyendo »