Conflicto territorial

Tras el choque del mes pasado en el valle del Galwan (región de Ladakh), en el que murieron 20 soldados indios y una cantidad desconocida de uniformados chinos, la India y China se preparan para un duelo prolongado en la disputada frontera en los Himalayas (aunque se informa de una retirada del sitio del enfrentamiento). Lo más importante, sin embargo, es que la reciente escaramuza puede ser señal de un cambio más amplio en la geopolítica asiática.

Esta idea puede parecer a primera vista exagerada, ya que ambos países venían haciendo esfuerzos aceptables por convivir. Si bien nunca llegaron a una solución duradera respecto de su disputada frontera de 3500 kilómetros (2200 millas), en 45 años no hubo un solo disparo en la línea de control efectivo (LAC por la sigla en inglés).…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump managed to avoid touching off a forest fire in the tinder-dry forest around Mount Rushmore with his Independence Day fireworks display, but instead his administration seems to be doing its best to set Asia on fire in the South China Sea.

Two aircraft carrier strike groups headed by the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz have moved into the South China Sea for the largest military exercises in years just as China has been holding its own drills around the Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974 in a move the United States has never accepted.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian army convoy drives toward Leh, on a highway bordering China, on June 19 in Gagangir, India. (Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

On June 15 at 6.30 p.m., Col. Santosh Babu, an Indian army officer from the southern state of Telangana, organized 20 of his men to accompany him on what he thought was a straightforward mission. He’d been informed that the monthlong simmering tension between India and China at different points of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh was drawing to a close. Military commanders had agreed to “de-escalate»; the Chinese were to withdraw from areas inside Indian territory. His job that evening was to ensure that the two tents erected by the Chinese inside the Galwan Valley (named such by the British for Rasool Galwan, a teenage Indian trekker who helped save their lives in 1895) were taken down, per the negotiated agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

World War II veteran Ivan Timchenko, 103, with his granddaughter in Baku, Azerbaijan during the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Eighteen months on from a reported agreement by Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers to prepare their populations for peace, both states have in reality remained largely preoccupied with consolidating domestic power due to enduring socio-economic frustration and populations radicalized by the ‘four-day war’ back in 2016.

A rapidly evolving international context since then has been dominated by regional tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East, and between the United States and Iran. And the COVID-19 pandemic now presents both Yerevan and Baku with new threats and problems.

Armenia’s measures to contain the virus were roundly criticised as ‘too little, too late’, while the de facto authorities in Nagorny Karabakh were rebuked by many in civil society for pressing ahead with elections despite risks to public health.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party protesting against China in Mumbai on Friday. Credit Divyakant Solanki/EPA, via Shutterstock

Tensions between Indian and Chinese troops have simmered since early May in the remote, high Karakoram mountains that separate India’s northern Ladakh region from the alkaline desert of Aksai Chin, which is claimed by India but controlled by China and abuts its Xinjiang province.

It is a forbidding landscape of cold deserts, snow-capped peaks, sparse vegetation and freezing temperature about 14,000 feet above sea level. On Monday evening, in a brutal hand-to-hand battle, Chinese soldiers killed at least 20 Indian soldiers with wooden staves and nail-studded clubs, in the severest escalation of the dispute on the Sino-Indian frontier in decades.

British colonial authorities bequeathed India a border with China that was neither delineated on a map nor demarcated on the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday, for the first time in 45 years, Indian and Chinese soldiers engaged in fatal, localized skirmishes along the more than 2,000-mile disputed boundary between the two countries. It’s a significant escalation of tensions between the two Asian nuclear powers, who have been engaged in a sometimes-violent standoff since early May, though one that had until this week not led to any deaths.

The situation had already attracted considerable international concern, with President Trump on May 27 offering U.S. diplomatic assistance to India and China to help resolve what he called at that earlier stage “their now raging border dispute.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, in the first deadly clash with Chinese troops in 45 years came as Beijing and New Delhi had supposedly reached an agreement to lower the tension along the border in the mountainous region of Ladakh, high in the Himalayas.

India blames China for trying to alter the status quo at the Line of Actual Control, or the LAC. Since May 5, Chinese troops had crossed the border and squatted on Indian territory, triggering a standoff. When Indian soldiers went into the Galwan Valley to supervise what was meant to be the agreed retreat of Chinese troops from the area, they were attacked by 500 Chinese troops with stones, iron rods, nails and other objects.…  Seguir leyendo »

La COVID‑19 no es la única amenaza que este año cruzó las fronteras de la India. Según informes alarmantes del ministerio de defensa indio, China ha desplegado una «cantidad significativa» de soldados a través de la disputada «línea de control efectivo» (LAC, por la sigla en inglés) que discurre a lo largo de la frontera entre ambos países en los Himalayas. Hasta ahora, las transgresiones se produjeron en cuatro puntos de la frontera más larga y disputada del mundo, con la aparición de miles de soldados chinos en Sikkim y en partes de la región de Ladakh, al noreste del valle de Cachemira.…  Seguir leyendo »

Human rights activists hold placards during a protest against India's newly inaugurated link road to the Chinese border. Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images.

One of the more serious recent military stand-offs between India and China took place in 2017. The following year, however, a summit between China’s President, Xi Jinping, and the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, appeared to change course back towards some kind of peaceful co-existence.

From the Indian perspective, views towards China have varied between strategic hawks and other groups – notably commercial – benefitting from engagement with China. The latter appeared to be in the ascendency.

However, a series of flare-ups along the border in May might be changing that calculation. Several reports of unarmed combat between soldiers have been reported at separate locations along the border.…  Seguir leyendo »

In early May, Chinese and Indian troops got into a fistfight on their border at Naku La Pass adjacent to the Indian state of Sikkim. A few days earlier, a brawl among border guards at Pangong Lake sent troops to the hospital. In recent weeks, Chinese soldiers also crossed the “line of actual control” (LAC) around the Galwan River valley.

Here’s what we know — and don’t know — about China’s recent actions in this long-standing territorial dispute.

1. China hasn’t taken this type of action in at least a decade

The territorial dispute along the China-India border falls across three different areas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marking the Day of The National Flag of Ukraine, a day before celebrations of the anniversary of state independence. Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images.

The recognition by Ukraine of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider grave crimes allegedly perpetrated in its territory has led to the ICC Prosecutor’s preliminary examination identifying a wave of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are claims of persecution, forced conscription, deportation, sham trials, enforced disappearances, and property seizure – in Crimea. As well as killings, torture, inhuman treatment, sexual violence, and indiscriminate shelling – in Donbas. The court now needs to decide whether to open a full investigation which could lead to charges against specific individuals, as in the trial currently taking place in the Netherlands over MH-17.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rally in support of keeping Crimea as part of Ukraine. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Russia’s ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and support of separatist hostilities in the eastern provinces of Donbas have resulted in 1.5 million internally displaced persons, 3,000 civilians killed, and a growing list of alleged violations of international law and socio-economic hardship.

But Ukraine is struggling in its efforts to hold Russia accountable – either as a state or through individual criminal responsibility – as it cannot unilaterally ask any international court to give an overall judgment on the conflict.

So it focuses on narrower issues, referring them to authorised adjudication and arbitration platforms such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), European Court of Human Rights, UNCLOS arbitration, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).…  Seguir leyendo »

People attend a demonstration of military equipment and hardware on the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Feb. 23. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)

Wednesday is the sixth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. After a hastily organized and deeply contentious referendum on March 16, 2014, following Russia’s military occupation of the peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of accession with Crimean leaders in Moscow two days later.

An avalanche of international criticism followed. Analysts pointed out that this was the first annexation by one state of the territory of a neighboring state on the European continent since World War II. In the United Nations, 100 countries condemned the unauthorized referendum and affirmed their support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

In Crimea itself, the annexation was popular, especially among Crimea’s large population of older ethnic Russians.…  Seguir leyendo »

Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a ceremony welcoming Ukrainians who were freed by pro-Russian rebels during a prisoner exchange. Photo: Getty Images.

One of the key messages at the heart of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign in 2019 was a very simple one: peace in Donbas, the war-torn region of Ukraine where Russian-supported separatists continue to fight a war against the Kyiv government. Zelenskyy’s message was based on the assumption that if a ceasefire could be respected, and all Ukrainian prisoners-of-war could return home, then peace would have been achieved.

Nine months after Zelenskyy’s inauguration and two months after his first Normandy Four summit (which brings together Germany and France with Ukraine and Russia to discuss Donbas), it appears more likely that this approach will lead Ukraine into a Russian trap.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aphrodite rose gracefully out of the waters of the eastern Mediterranean and its Nereids guided sailors in distress. How did this sea, cradle of so many civilisations, end up as a military flashpoint? This year its eastern shores could become Europe’s equivalent of the South China Sea, bristling with great power tension, or a model for co-operation. I would like to believe the latter but it is going to require a leap of faith in the ability of hard-nosed autocrats to give ground and in terrorist groups to show restraint. That’s a stretch.

Let’s start with the positive. The discovery of large undersea hydrocarbon reserves is giving shape to a new regional constellation: Egypt and Cyprus, Israel and Greece.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le sommet qui a réuni à Paris, le 9 décembre, la Russie, l’Ukraine, l’Allemagne et la France a produit des effets significatifs et aura un impact sur le processus de paix dans l’est du Donbass. L’absence de résultats marquants est paradoxalement rassurante, car tout compromis accepté par le président russe aurait signifié une concession unilatérale du président ukrainien.

Tout d’abord, Volodymyr Zelensky a fait connaissance avec Vladimir Poutine en terre européenne, à Paris, sous les regards protecteurs d’Emmanuel Macron et d’Angela Merkel. Le chef d’Etat ukrainien s’y trouvait en position de force diplomatique. Il pouvait accepter de serrer la main de son adversaire et lui rappeler la position de son pays, et les « lignes rouges » infranchissables.…  Seguir leyendo »

En diciembre de 1994, Ucrania rubricó el Memorando de Budapest para convertirse en un Estado libre de armas nucleares. Los firmantes, Estados Unidos, Rusia y el Reino Unido, reafirmaron entonces su compromiso “de respetar la independencia y soberanía y las fronteras existentes de Ucrania” y “de no recurrir a la amenaza o al uso de la fuerza contra la integridad territorial o la independencia política de Ucrania”. El mismo mes, 25 años después, Ucrania se vuelve a reunir en París con sus homólogos de Rusia, Alemania y Francia, para negociar el fin de la violación de todo lo anterior por parte de uno de los signatarios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eteringbang, es un poblado de una calle junto al río Cuyuní. Eteringbang no se encuentra en los mapas de Google, pero está ubicado al otro lado de San Martín de Turumbán, del lado venezolano del Cuyuní. CRISISGROUP/Bram Ebus

Justo en las afueras de Etheringbang, un pequeño puesto fronterizo guyanés en medio de la selva en la frontera venezolana, el río Cuyuní que separa a Guyana de Venezuela corre por orillas llenas de maleza. En el lado norte, me dicen los lugareños, se encuentra un campamento de guerrilleros colombianos, viviendo a unos 700 km. de su país natal, mientras otros grupos armados también operan cerca. Desde mi posición junto al agua no puedo distinguir el campamento, pero veo a tres hombres vestidos de negro, uno con un arma de alto calibre, parado en un pequeño claro. Mantengo una distancia prudente y veo cómo al pasar un bote de pasajeros los hombres de negro le exigen al capitán que se detenga.…  Seguir leyendo »

A banner reading 'No capitulation!' is unfurled above the entrance to the city hall in Kyiv as part of protests against implementation of the so-called Steinmeier Formula. Photo: Getty Images.

In 2016, the then-German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, suggested a way around the impasse in east Ukraine.

He proposed that elections in the areas held by Russian-backed insurgents – the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) – could be held under Ukrainian legislation, with Kyiv adopting a temporary law on ‘special status’, the main disagreement between Russia and Ukraine in the Minsk Agreements. This law would become permanent once the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had declared that elections correspond with OSCE standards.

The reaction in Ukraine was strongly negative. The so-called Steinmeier Formula contradicted Kyiv’s position that elections in the occupied Donbas should only go ahead in a secure environment – requiring the prior withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of the eastern border to Ukraine’s control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir region, was under guard last month days after India said it would revoke the area’s autonomy.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a plethora of comments from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and senior officials of his government painting an apocalyptic picture of India’s reorganization of its province of Jammu and Kashmir — and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India.

Under Prime Minister Khan’s watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time. Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »