A Ukrainian soldier near Vovchansk, Ukraine, May 2024. Inna Varenytsia / Reuters

As the war in Ukraine enters its third spring, leaders from Brazil, China, the Vatican, and elsewhere have urged Ukraine to negotiate with Russia. Ukrainian forces are unlikely to break through fortified Russian lines, the argument goes, and Kyiv should recognize the reality of Russia’s territorial annexation. Ukraine has successfully used drones to both surveil and attack Russian targets, but drones alone cannot win the war. And so, hampered by weapon and personnel shortages, Ukraine will not be able to reclaim territory. Russia has successfully turned this fight into an attritional struggle in which Moscow holds several advantages: a larger population, greater defense industrial capacity, and well-prepared defenses in the Donbas, Kherson, and especially Crimea.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Giant Crater in Siberia Is Belching Up Russia’s Past

As the world warms, permafrost is thawing across two-thirds of Russia, threatening cities and towns that were constructed to house miners sent to dig up a subterranean trove of oil, gas, gold and diamonds. Even the roads are buckling, cracking and collapsing, as if in a slow-motion earthquake. And outside a small town called Batagay, deep in the Siberian hinterland, a crater is rapidly opening up — known to local residents as the gateway to the underworld.

From space, it resembles a stingray impressed on the coniferous forest. Already more than half a mile deep and about 3,000 feet wide, the Batagaika crater is growing as the ground beneath it melts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por qué Ucrania tiene que entrar a la OTAN

Durante la ceremonia de la firma del Tratado del Atlántico Norte, el 4 de abril de 1949, el entonces presidente de los Estados Unidos Harry Truman observó que si este «sencillo documento» hubiera existido en 1914 y en 1939, «habría evitado los actos de agresión que llevaron a dos guerras mundiales». Según sugirió, la alianza que acababa de crearse aseguraría la paz disuadiendo a posibles agresores.

El éxito de esta estrategia de seguridad colectiva se refleja en la cantidad de países que han hecho uso de la política de puertas abiertas de la OTAN. Desde 1949, la alianza ha crecido de doce a 32 miembros (siendo los añadidos más recientes Finlandia y Suecia).…  Seguir leyendo »

A resident waiting to be evacuated from Vovchansk, as Russia continues its offensive in Kharkiv oblast. Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

The Russian offensive on the Kharkiv region this month has, after 20 months of relative peace, again placed many of the villages where my charity works, repairing homes destroyed by bombs, at the forefront of the war.

I began volunteering in Kharkiv two years ago, having dropped out of my master’s degree in Russian literature and set up the charity to support Ukrainians. After the region’s liberation in September 2022, hundreds of thousands of people had started to return to Kharkiv city and the wider region from other parts of Ukraine, and countries that had taken them in as refugees. The villages where I work were reawakening, the craters that lined the streets had been filled, shops were reopening, electricity was back on.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Ukrainian serviceman patrolling an area in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, May 2024. Stringer / Reuters.

The U.S. Congress’s approval last month of a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine came not a minute too soon. Ammunition shortages resulting from Washington’s months-long dysfunction have eroded Ukrainian frontline positions and left cities and critical infrastructure exposed to missile and drone barrages. Top military and intelligence officials in Kyiv have advised Ukrainians to brace for territorial setbacks in the coming months. Already, the Russian military has stepped up pressure on Kharkiv, forcing thousands of Ukrainians to flee out of fear that Russian forces could soon reoccupy their towns.

The infusion of U.S. aid should help Ukraine stabilize the front and protect its skies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Ukrainian serviceman firing a howitzer toward Russian troops in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, May 2024. Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

The U.S. government decided to provide more assistance to Ukraine just in the nick of time. By the end of April, right before the aid package passed, the war-torn country was emptying its last reserves of ammunition and rationing artillery rounds and shells—and Ukrainian forces began to lose ground in part as a result. The $60 billion now flowing into Ukraine will help correct these disparities, providing Kyiv an opportunity to stop Russia’s offensive. The aid package also serves as a massive psychological boost, giving Ukrainians newfound confidence that they will not be abandoned by their most important partner.

But the aid package alone cannot answer the central question facing Ukraine: how to win the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

El oso ruso está mostrando en Ucrania unos colmillos que parecen mucho menos mellados de lo habitual. Las huestes de Putin están avanzando en diversos frentes con una rapidez superior a lo acostumbrado en esta guerra, amenazando Járkov, la segunda ciudad de Ucrania. Podría creerse que este es el orden natural de las cosas: que el rodillo ruso está en marcha una vez más; que los rusos se han puesto las pilas y han engrasado los engranajes oxidados de su poderosísima máquina de guerra, aunque les haya costado dos años, de manera que el potencial material y demográfico del coloso ha de imponerse fatalmente sobre su vecino más pequeño; que en una guerra prolongada, Rusia tiene forzosamente todas las de ganar.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping attend an official welcoming ceremony in front of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, Beijing on May 16, 2024. (Photo by SERGEI BOBYLYOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

With his visit to China this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to show that he still has friends in high places. President Xi Jinping of China is the perfect candidate.

Judging from the latest joint communique issued by Beijing and Moscow, China firmly views its relationship with Russia in the light of its protracted competition with the United States and the US-led world order. The People’s Republic, for the first time, openly reprimanded Washington in a joint statement with Russia.

However, the communique tellingly omits any inclusion of the ‘no limits’ partnership first referred to in January 2021. Instead, China stressed their relationship is based on a ‘confluence of interests’.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hanna, de 74 años, abandona Vovchansk cargada con unas pocas pertenencias y su loro. Valentyn Ogirenko. Reuters

Cuando todos pensábamos que el frente norte estaba estabilizado, Europa se ha despertado con una ofensiva rusa sobre Járkov, la segunda ciudad de Ucrania. Las opciones de tomarla son nulas, sobre todo viendo lo que le ha costado a Rusia tomar ciudades mucho más pequeñas como Avdivka o Bajmut. La sorpresa ha sido mayúscula porque en ninguno de los análisis racionales que se pueden hacer de la guerra en Ucrania se planteaba esta opción. Si esto es así, ¿por qué Rusia ha llevado a cabo esta ofensiva?

El primer motivo ha sido el deseo militar ruso de acercarse a Járkov para castigar a la población con artillería de corto alcance.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente ruso, Vladímir Putin, junto a su exministro de Defensa, Serguéi Shoigú, el pasado 9 de mayo

Hay varias interpretaciones plausibles a los recientes movimientos en la dirigencia rusa, que ha suscitado mucha atención también fuera del país. Como ocurre a menudo con la Kremlinología, estos relatos no consiguen aclarar completamente los cambios, ya que se basan en una lógica que puede estar ausente o ser secundaria.

Algunos ven en la sustitución del anterior ministro de Defensa, Sergei Shoigu, una reacción al fracaso ruso en la guerra contra Ucrania. Sin embargo, el nuevo cargo de Shoigu como Secretario del Consejo de Seguridad de Rusia, del que ya era miembro como ministro de Defensa, se puede considerar en un cierto sentido un ascenso.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian servicemen fire in the Kharkiv region on May 15, amid a fresh Russian assault. Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty Images

It was a carefully choreographed show of force in Beijing Thursday as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived for yet another meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. They were all smiles.

Meanwhile in Europe, the atmosphere could have hardly felt less jovial.

On Wednesday, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times and gravely wounded in an assassination attempt. Fico is reportedly out of danger now, with many details about the shooting still unclear. But the dramatic event added to the foreboding sense of crisis across the region; the feeling that, as tense as the situation is, it’s time to prepare urgently, because it might turn much worse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia Has Opened Up a New Front. What Comes Next?

Last week, the Russian military opened a new front in its invasion of Ukraine.

Launching an offensive into the Kharkiv region, Russian forces quickly advanced several kilometers, managing to reoccupy several villages that were liberated during Ukraine’s successful offensive in September 2022. They have not yet reached the main line of defenses east of the city, which are held by brigades better equipped and more experienced than those closer to the border. But the situation is serious.

By threatening Ukraine’s second most populous city, Russia hopes to pin Ukrainian resources in the region, exposing the front elsewhere. Ukraine’s immediate priority is to stabilize the front line and prevent a major Russian breakthrough, which it may be able to do.…  Seguir leyendo »

Laying flowers in memory of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, Moscow, February 2024. Evgenia Novozhenina / Reuters

On May 7, as Russian President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his fifth term in office, no one in Russia was prepared to protest. Given the country’s protracted and costly war in Ukraine, its creeping autocracy, and now this spring a major terrorist attack and widespread floods, outsiders may have wondered why people are not taking to the streets in large numbers and calling for an end to Putin’s rule. Are Russians simply unable to think and act for themselves?

The situation is more complicated than it appears. Yes, Russian society is in a state of conformist apathy, justifying the war to itself by borrowing words given to the public by the authorities; the political opposition is in exile, in jail, or dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters waving Russian flags and holding a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the DRC, in Kinshasa on 1 March 2023. Photo by ARSENE MPIANA/AFP via Getty Images.

Russia has been courting the states of the Global South to circumvent Western sanctions and avoid international isolation – with notable success. In February 2024, Moscow hosted the first ‘For the Freedom of Nations’ forum with 400 delegates from 60 countries, aiming to rally the countries of the Global South against ‘Western neo-colonialism’.

The previous year, it hosted both a Russia-Africa summit and a first international parliamentary conference of Latin American countries. Moscow has also actively lobbied for the expansion of BRICS, which it currently chairs, and sent Foreign Minister Lavrov on several tours across the Global South. This week, Russia is hosting its Russia and the Islamic World Kazan forum, expecting more than 11,000 delegates from 79 countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Buque rompehielos ruso en la ruta marítima del Polo Norte. Foto: Dmitrii Tropinin (@dtropinin)

En la decimocuarta ronda de sanciones sobre Rusia, la Unión Europea (UE) estudia incluir una prohibición de los transbordos de gas natural licuado (GNL) ruso en los puertos europeos. La medida pretende dificultar la logística de las exportaciones de gas ruso desde el Ártico, que necesita durante los meses de invierno emplear buques metaneros rompehielos. Estos buques, escasos por sus elevados costes de producción, mantenimiento y de operación, entregan el GNL que transportan en puertos europeos para que sean posteriormente transportados por buques metaneros convencionales al mercado asiático, especialmente China. Las sanciones, por tanto, no reducen los volúmenes de gas natural suministrado a la UE y no deberían tener un impacto sustancial en los precios de referencia europeos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aerial view showing the construction works in the area where the Chinese company Cosco Shipping is building a port in Chancay, some 80 km north of Lima, on August 22, 2023. Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images

Pity the Peruvian negotiators who, five years ago, signed an agreement with the Chinese giant Cosco Shipping Ports. The agreement was about the Port of Chancay, located near Lima, which was to become a megaport and “the gateway from South America to Asia”, as one Cosco manager told The Associated Press. But now, as the massive port nears completion, an “administrative error” by unnamed officials in Peru has given Cosco Shipping Ports exclusivity over operations at the Port of Chancay, the Peruvian port authority (APN) announced in March. Other infrastructure operators still hoping for large Chinese investments should pay heed.

That’s bad news, because the two-terminal construction is be completed later this year, and Peru has great expectations.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin arrives to review honour guards following his inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin's Sobornaya Square in Moscow on 7 May, 2024. (Photo by RAMIL SITDIKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty images)

On 7 May, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his fifth presidential term. The ceremony took place in a very different context from his previous inaugurations, with a war raging and the army rattling its nuclear sabre.

Team Navalny and Proekt (an independent Russian investigative journalism outlet) released new footage of ‘Putin’s Palace’ on the Black Sea to coincide with the event – but its impact will be negligible. With their network destroyed, Navalny dead, and the war in Ukraine ongoing, anti-corruption investigations have long lost their effectiveness.

Russian presidents appoint new governments at the start of each presidential term – including a new prime minister.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente de Rusia, Vladímir Putin, preside el desfile del Día de la Victoria, el 9 de mayo en Moscú.MAXIM BLINOV/POOL (via REUTERS)

Usar el dinero de Rusia para pagar las entregas de armas occidentales a Ucrania parece una idea inteligente. ¿O tal vez demasiado inteligente?

El Grupo de los Siete países industrializados tiene intención de incautar las reservas de divisas de Rusia, que ascienden a unos 280.000 millones de dólares. De ellos, 210.000 millones están depositados en Euroclear, una entidad depositaria con sede en Bélgica.

Después de que Rusia invadiera Ucrania, la respuesta inmediata de Occidente fue congelar el dinero para privar a Rusia de los medios financieros para financiar la guerra. Ahora los aliados occidentales quieren dar un paso más y apoderarse de los activos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Firefighters put out a fire in a destroyed house in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 3 after it was struck by a Russian bomb. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

Ever since Ukraine’s second-largest city repelled Russia’s invasion attempt in the early months of 2022, Kharkiv has stood as a national success story in the grueling war with its larger neighbor. Against overwhelming odds, Ukrainian forces pushed back the attackers and denied Russian President Vladimir Putin one of his key early war aims. In the midst of that fight, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov told me in an interview he was determined to keep his city free — which was not a given at the time.

Two years after that victory, however, Terekhov leads Kharkiv as it once again faces an existential threat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Depuis le début de l’année, plus de 4 000 drones à longue portée et presque autant de missiles balistiques ou de croisière ont frappé la population, les bâtiments civils (hôpitaux, écoles, universités, immeubles d’habitation) et les infrastructures économiques et énergétiques de l’Ukraine. Ces bombardements destructeurs ne ciblent pas les positions militaires ukrainiennes. La Russie cherche, avant tout, à terroriser la population, à désintégrer le tissu social et à provoquer l’effondrement économique de l’Ukraine, en menaçant et désorganisant chaque instant de la vie quotidienne, en interrompant la distribution de l’eau et de l’énergie, en rasant les équipements hospitaliers et éducatifs, en dévastant les installations industrielles du pays.…  Seguir leyendo »