Rusia

What does Vladimir Putin want? It’s a question Washington finds hard to answer because we Americans rarely put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Two important essays, by Dmitri Trenin in Foreign Affairs and Eugene Chausovsky in Foreign Policy, provide some clues. Both suggest that the Russian president has stayed in power since 1999 not by being a reckless gambler but rather by being careful, even rational.

Trenin points out that Putin has watched four waves of NATO expansionism since he took power. His military incursions have usually been reactions to events rather than grand initiatives of his own. In 2008, the response followed Georgia’s decision to retake the separatist province of South Ossetia.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Wednesday, President Biden gave a news conference — and admitted something he shouldn’t have: “There are differences in NATO as to what countries are willing to do, depending on what happens.” Though this was a serious diplomatic blunder that undermined efforts to deter his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Biden was correct in his assessment — and especially in respect to one country. Germany cannot be depended upon when it comes to imposing sanctions on Russia.

While the United States and Britain have sent defensive weapons to Ukraine, neither has committed to direct military action to deter Putin from using the 100,000 soldiers he has amassed at the Ukrainian border.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mother of one of the so-called Cyborgs, Ukrainian servicemen who died during defending Donetsk airport, touches his picture on a memory wall in Kyiv on Jan. 21. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve lost count of the number of calls and emails I’ve received from foreign correspondents this month. “What’s the mood like in Kyiv?” “Are there military drills in Kharkiv?” “Are people expecting help?” I do my best to respond patiently (though I can’t help feeling a bit irritated).

Ukrainians are getting on with life: returning from holidays, working and generally staying calm. There is no panic in the capital, which today looks like any European city. The nervous talk is coming almost exclusively from Washington, Geneva or Brussels.

Make no mistake, the threat of more than 100,000 Russian troops stationed near our borders is a matter of existential importance.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin (left) with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Kremlin's Security Council, in Moscow on Dec. 3. (AP)

While the world’s attention is understandably focused on the Kremlin’s growing threats against Ukraine, a less-noticed political scandal brewing in the Balkans has served as a reminder that Vladimir Putin already has at least one client regime in Central Europe. Last week, Serbia’s independent media revealed that the country’s security agencies are effectively running errands for Russia’s Federal Security Service — and assisting the Kremlin in going after its political opponents.

Last May, a group of Russian municipal lawmakers and democracy activists attended an educational seminar in Belgrade. The meeting, co-chaired by prominent opposition leader Andrei Pivovarov and me, was intended as a (less eventful) sequel to our earlier conference in Moscow, at which all the participants were arrested.…  Seguir leyendo »

The NATO flag is displayed during NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group military exercises in Adazi, Latvia, on Oct. 5, 2019. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the United States and NATO against encroaching in Russia’s backyard. Specific Russian concerns include Western support to the Ukrainian government that involves military training, procurement, exercises, infrastructure and advanced weapons.

The West, in Putin’s view, is not practicing proper geopolitical distancing — and is getting too close to Russia for comfort. Two rounds of diplomatic talks last week between Russian and Western officials ended without defusing the situation on the border with Ukraine. Further talks are planned this Friday.

What do Ukrainians think? Left out of this debate, but central to it, are the views of ordinary Ukrainian citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reservistas ucranianos entrenan cerca de Kiev. Credit Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA vía Shutterstock

Es una pena que Ucrania permaneciera en buena medida ausente de las conversaciones de la semana pasada entre diplomáticos estadounidenses, europeos y rusos. Sobre todo porque lo que está en riesgo es nuestro futuro, y lo que Kiev pide podría sorprenderlos.

Nuestro país no está rebosante de esperanzas por la llegada de un defensor de Occidente ni tampoco por un rescate de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) en caso de una invasión rusa. Lo que queremos de los aliados occidentales que comparten nuestro deseo de convertirnos en una verdadera democracia libre del yugo ruso es ayuda para prepararnos para la guerra y, si Moscú invade, tener una oportunidad de resistir.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a series of high-level talks between the United States, European allies and Russia wind down this week, an uptick in Moscow's military muscle on its borders will remain a preoccupation of western diplomats long after they return to their duty stations

The roughly 100,000 Russian troops stationed near Ukraine constitutes the biggest security crisis in years for Europe and its allies, including the US. While in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin took this month's brutal crackdown from the regime's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as an opportunity to remind protesters revolutions will never be allowed to spread in the region and by deploying Moscow-led security alliance troops to help quell the unrest, the central Asian country remains firmly in his sphere of influence

The tone of Putin's rhetoric and the trajectory of military deployment leave little doubt over his intentions: to regain control over a wide swath of the former Soviet Union -- even to the point of rolling back the footprint of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Cold War years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Predictably, negotiations last week between the United States and Russia went nowhere. The two sides were simply too far apart.

All the United States wants is to avoid an expanded Russian invasion of Ukraine. Such a move would thrust Europe into its largest conflict since 1945 and violate one of the underpinnings of the post-1945 world order — a prohibition on wars of aggression that Russia has already ignored in both Georgia and Ukraine.

That’s a pretty minimal demand, but it might be more than Vladimir Putin is willing to grant. The Russian dictator has not been subtle or secretive about what he wants.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian reservists training near Kyiv. Credit Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA, via Shutterstock

It’s a shame that Ukraine was largely absent from talks last week among American, European and Russian diplomats. Especially since it is our future that is at stake — and Kyiv’s asks might come as a surprise.

Our country is not brimming with hope about a Western savior or a NATO rescue in the face of a Russian invasion. What we want from our Western partners that share our desire for us to be a true democracy free from Russia’s yoke is help in preparing for war so we might stand a chance if Moscow invades.

While we Ukrainians appreciate that American leaders take pains to say, “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” that’s not exactly happening.…  Seguir leyendo »

Guerra en la frontera rusa

«Existe una zona del espectro de los conflictos donde predominan las actuaciones situadas al margen del principio de buena fe entre estados (bona fide) que, pese a alterar notablemente la paz, no cruza los umbrales que permitirían o exigirían una respuesta armada. Es la llamada zona gris». Así se expresa la Doctrina para el empleo de las Fuerzas Armadas, que «describe la forma de empleo de las Fuerzas Armadas y establece las normas fundamentales con las que éstas operan».

Este concepto de zona gris lo entendemos todos y es un fiel reflejo de la guerra actual. Los gobiernos huyen atemorizados de la palabra guerra ya que supone el fracaso de la humanidad y no quieren sentir la responsabilidad de que su malfacer deba continuarse con otros medios, suyos, que miran como ajenos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldados ucranianos en la región del Donbás. AP

La tragedia de Europa es que Alemania no está plantando cara a Rusia, y la Unión Europea no está plantando cara a Alemania. Una invasión rusa tendrá muchos perdedores. Preveo que la Unión Europea, aparte de la propia Ucrania, será uno de los principales.

Cuando Rusia invada, pondrá de manifiesto sin querer las divisiones internas de Europa. Digo “sin querer” a propósito, porque no creo que este sea el objetivo primordial de Putin. Lo que a él le preocupa es que las “revoluciones de colores” —como él las llama— en la periferia de Rusia puedan acabar penetrando en la política rusa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia’s focus on Ukraine is certainly intense. The Kremlin has massed troops and equipment along their common border; launched major cyberattacks against Kyiv’s government computer systems; planted operatives in the eastern Donbas region who could stage false-flag operations as pretexts for Russian invasion; and escalated a long-standing insistence that Ukraine is not a legitimate sovereign state.

In high-profile meetings with Western diplomats, Moscow has called for extensive revision of Europe’s post-Soviet political order and even beyond, threatening to deploy troops to Venezuela and Cuba. The West’s consensus is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is readying to invade Ukraine, finishing what he started in 2014 with Crimea, this time annexing all of Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian soldiers take part in drills at the Kadamovskiy firing range in the Rostov region in southern Russia on Jan. 13, 2022. (AP)

As Ukrainian government websites came under a cyberattack Friday, the White House accused Russia of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for invasion. For months, maps highlighting Russian troop deployments near Ukraine’s border have shown Russian forces massing east of Ukraine — as well as along the northern border, close to the capital, Kyiv.

Over the past year, Russia has been gradually shifting troops, adding to an already robust and permanent military posture. Russia first deployed additional forces in significant numbers in early March 2021. Some of these military units never left the area. In late 2021, the Russian military presence increased further, and additional forces continue to move toward Ukraine, many traveling all the way from Russia’s Far East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why would Putin invade Ukraine?

The looming threat of a full-scale Russian attack on Ukraine kept the world on edge for much of 2021, and for good reason — an attack of this magnitude would arguably be the most significant invasion of a European country by a more powerful neighbor since Adolf Hitler’s assault on Poland in 1939.

But what purpose would this move serve? As Russia’s preparations and threatening rhetoric have mounted, analysts have pointed out that another invasion of Ukraine would make little sense from a foreign and security policy standpoint.

The dominant foreign policy argument is that Russia is threatening war to extract concessions from Ukraine and the West.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian soldiers take part in drills at the Kadamovskiy firing range in the Rostov region in southern Russia on Jan. 13, 2022. (AP)

As Ukrainian government websites came under a cyberattack Friday, the White House accused Russia of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for invasion. For months, maps highlighting Russian troop deployments near Ukraine’s border have shown Russian forces massing east of Ukraine — as well as along the northern border, close to the capital, Kyiv.

Over the past year, Russia has been gradually shifting troops, adding to an already robust and permanent military posture. Russia first deployed additional forces in significant numbers in early March 2021. Some of these military units never left the area. In late 2021, the Russian military presence increased further, and additional forces continue to move toward Ukraine, many traveling all the way from Russia’s Far East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Poniéndonos tremendistas, la amenaza de Putin a Ucrania podría recordarnos un poco a la de Austria-Hungría a Serbia, que arrastró a Europa y buena parte del mundo a una guerra que nadie quería. O el conflicto en la región de Donbass, en el este de Ucrania, podría tener mayor similitud con el desmembramiento de Checoslovaquia por la cuestión de los Sudetes, con mayoría de población alemana, en el que el apaciguamiento de los occidentales a Hitler en la conferencia de Munich fue seguido por la invasión de Polonia y el estallido de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Hitler era un irredentista que quería recuperar lo perdido como consecuencia de la PGM y liberar a alemanes que se habían quedado bajo soberanías ajenas, pero esas reclamaciones no eran más que el primer paso hacia un Tercer Imperio alemán de expandidas fronteras y radical supremacía étnica.…  Seguir leyendo »

Troops in Almaty march in a Thursday ceremony marking the beginning of Russian troops' withdrawal from Kazakhstan. (Str/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Kazakhstan, the key strategic partner of the United States in Central Asia, is in turmoil. Until the end of 2021, it was a confident (bordering on smug), upper-middle-income country; its leaders routinely boasted about success at fostering interethnic peace and stability.

Yet in the course of just a few days it has been rocked to the core by the double blow of unprecedented nationwide protests and a power struggle among members of the top political elite. On Jan. 11, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced a deadline for the departure of the roughly 2,500 foreign troops he had invited into the country to help control the unrest.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kazakh law enforcement officers stand guard at a checkpoint in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Jan. 8 after mass protests triggered by an increase in fuel prices erupted in the country. (Pavel Mikhayev/Reuters)

To the world’s slippery slopes, add Kazakhstan. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies organized a quick transfer of power there this week, but analysts say the situation remains volatile.

With Russian military backing, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appeared to consolidate power on Saturday, containing protesters who had attacked government buildings last week. Tokayev called Putin to voice “special gratitude” for the Kremlin’s assistance. Russia and other former Soviet states had sent about 2,500 troops to Kazakhstan on Thursday to quell unrest.

Tokayev’s forces on Saturday arrested Karim Massimov — a former prime minister who had been heading Kazakhstan’s intelligence agency and is seen as friendly to the West — and charged him with treason.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukraine Is Only One Small Part of Putin’s Plans

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is playing a game of suspense.

When he kicked over the global chessboard late last year, amassing thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border, he sent the world into panic. An invasion seemed imminent — and beyond it loomed the threat of a new global confrontation, contested by nuclear-armed powers. Things haven’t calmed down since: A call between Mr. Putin and President Biden on Dec. 30, where the leaders traded threats, did little to take the sting out of the situation. Any incident along the Russian-Ukrainian border could bring inferno.

The Kremlin’s reasoning for the escalation is curious.…  Seguir leyendo »

The German Chancellor's foreign and security policy adviser Jens Plotner (left) enjoys a hot drink before talks with Russia and France on strengthening stability in Europe. Photo by Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images.

Russia should be pleased with what it has achieved by parking part of its army within reach of Ukraine. Ahead of the upcoming US-Russia meeting and later planned talks within the OSCE and the NATO-Russia Council, there is every sign Russia may end up getting something for nothing – which will only confirm for Moscow that military threats are the best way to achieve its goals.

Russia’s demands have been widely written off as unrealistic. But based on past performance, Moscow has good reason to believe that it can extract substantial concessions. This belief will have been strongly encouraged by the responses to date of US president Joe Biden – both the early mention of finding an ‘accommodation’ for Russia’s concerns, and the promise of negotiation which endorses Moscow’s demands as acceptable for discussion.…  Seguir leyendo »