Steven Pifer

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de mayo de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

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 »

Russian SU-24 fighter-bombers buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in international waters in the Black Sea late in May, just days after the Royal Air Force scrambled to intercept nuclear-capable Bear bombers near British airspace. These dangerous Russian games of chicken are now regular occurrences and come hard upon a Russian threat in March to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Denmark joins NATO’s missile defense system.

As tensions between the West and Moscow sharpen over Ukraine, NATO countries have seen a dramatic spike in provocative actions that risk a harrowing accident or devastating miscalculation. A NATO-Russia military-to-military dialogue would reduce these risks — if President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin allow it.…  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 »

Members of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic army collect parts of a destroyed Ukrainian army tank in Vuhlehirsk, about 10 km (6 miles) west of Debaltseve, February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Feb. 12 Minsk II Ukrainian ceasefire agreement brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a fragile arrangement. Most analysts hold modest expectations. The past few days are proving them right.

Separatist and Russian forces have continued their attack on Ukrainian forces at Debaltseve, despite the ceasefire that supposedly took effect on Saturday. Separatist leaders assert the ceasefire does not apply there, while Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman claims that Moscow is not part of the conflict or the agreement.

President Barack Obama and other Western leaders continue to hope that the ceasefire will take hold. But if Minsk II unravels, as did the first Minsk ceasefire of last September, pressure will likely grow on the White House to provide greater military assistance — including defensive arms — to Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

The new year has brought more misery to Ukraine. Separatist fighters, supported by Russian troops, have launched attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk. Diplomatic efforts have made no progress toward a settlement — or even toward firming up a cease-fire that has all but collapsed. The West, including the United States, needs to get serious about assisting Ukraine if it does not wish to see the situation deteriorate further. That means committing real money now to aid Ukraine’s defense.

Following the intervention by regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine in August, a cease-fire was hammered out in Minsk on Sept. 5.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits Washington on Thursday, he will almost certainly again ask for U.S. military assistance, including defensive weapons. President Barack Obama should say yes. Arming Kiev can deter Russian Vladimir Putin from further aggression and support the fragile Ukraine ceasefire and settlement process. Doing so would also bolster U.S. efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Ukrainian counterattacks started making headway in the summer. Russia responded by supplying heavy weapons to the separatists — including, it is widely believed, the Buk anti-aircraft system believed to have shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in mid-July.

Despite the influx of arms, Ukrainian forces continued to make progress.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S. government concluded this week that Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by testing a prohibited cruise missile. The question now is what to do.

Withdrawal from the treaty would be a mistake. The INF Treaty required the elimination of all U.S. and Soviet land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. As a result, the two countries destroyed 2,692 missiles.

In deciding how to respond, the Obama administration should consider the example set by President Reagan in 1983, when U.S. officials revealed that the Soviets had begun building a large radar installation at Krasnoyarsk, in central Siberia.…  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 »

After three days of horrifying images from Kiev, February 21 brought tentative good news from the Ukrainian capital. President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Oleh Tyahnybok and Arseniy Yatsenyuk concluded an agreement on a political settlement. If it holds, it offers Ukrainians a peaceful path out of the crisis that has gripped their country for the past three months.

But the agreement is fragile. It will encounter opposition from within Ukraine. Indeed, protestors on the Maidan are already calling for Yanukovych’s immediate removal. The Russians may try to undermine it. But the United States and European Union must work to make it succeed; it is the best bet that Ukraine now has.…  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 »

When Secretary of State Chuck Hagel announced this month that the Pentagon would increase the number of missile interceptors in Alaska, he noted that the U.S. missile defense program in Europe would be restructured. This means cancellation of Phase 4 of the plan, which called for the deployment of upgraded interceptors in Eastern Europe.

The decision could open the way for resolving U.S.-Russian differences over missile defense, one of the thorniest problems on the bilateral agenda, and remove an obstacle to further nuclear arms reductions — if Moscow can say something other than “nyet.”

The initial Russian reaction gave little ground for optimism.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the Russian language, Ukraine has two meanings: one, the country of 43 million people that lies on the north coast of the Black Sea, and two, “on the border” or “borderland.” For most of the past 20 years, Kiev’s foreign policy aimed, and largely managed, to fix on Europe’s geopolitical map the first meaning rather than the second. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is now undoing that.

Ukraine became independent in 1991. In 1994, as Washington contemplated the enlargement of NATO, Boris Tarasyuk, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, met Strobe Talbott, the U.S. deputy secretary of state. Tarasyuk noted that NATO’s enlargement to include states such as Poland and Hungary would prompt a negative reaction from Moscow — and also raise a dilemma for Kiev: how could Ukraine avoid becoming a gray zone of insecurity, or a borderland, between an enlarged NATO and Russia?…  Seguir leyendo »

One of the proudest items on the wall of the U.S. ambassador’s office in Kiev from 2006-2009 was a world map showing the Freedom House ranking of free, not free and partly free countries around the world. Visitors could clearly see that Ukraine ranked as the only free country among the post-Soviet states.

Today, however, the Freedom House map shows Ukraine as only partly free. President Viktor Yanukovich, concluding his first year in office, should carefully consider what this means for his oft-expressed goal of integrating his country into Europe.

Ukraine has held a half dozen parliamentary, presidential and nationwide local elections since the Orange Revolution in late 2004.…  Seguir leyendo »

If Viktor Yanukovich, the winner of the presidential race in Ukraine, acts quickly to address his country’s pressing problems, he could move it out of the doldrums and cure the “Ukraine fatigue” afflicting Washington and most European capitals.

As Viktor Yushchenko exits the presidency, Ukraine faces a host of problems. It suffered a crushing 14 percent fall in gross domestic product in 2009. Unwise pricing policies and widespread corruption have put the critical gas sector in virtual bankruptcy. The nasty in-fighting between Mr. Yushchenko and his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, kept Kiev from implementing needed responses to these challenges.

As a result, Ukraine fatigue has again gripped the West.…  Seguir leyendo »