Keeping the Donbass Warmed Up

Only days after President Trump and President Putin spoke for the first time, the world witnessed  the Trump administration’s first foreign policy test with regards to Ukraine.  On January 31st, the Ukrainian government and the Russian backed separatists in the Donbass region exchanged fire and shelling which left 8 Ukrainians soldiers dead and 26 wounded.   Continue reading

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Frozen Conflicts: The Colder the Better

In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own economic and political incompetence.  The Soviet Union’s successor, the Russian Federation, was forced to confront the difficult fact that it had lost much of its influence among many of its formerly Soviet neighbors.

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Russia: The Mediator and the Aggravator

The Astana peace talks began last week in Kazakhstan.  The talks include Russia, Turkey, Iran and delegates from the Syrian government as well as some of the opposition forces (not including ISIS or the Levant Conquest Front) fighting against al-Assad.  The peace talks follow a ceasefire that was brokered by Turkey and Russia on December 29th.  These talks were initiated by Russia in response to what they believed to be ineffective peace talks being led by the United Nations in Geneva. Continue reading

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Populism in Russia?

Is Putin susceptible to populism?

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Structural Problems

18996347_303Ahead of the 2018 Presidential election in Russia, Vladimir Putin has ordered a review of the economic problems facing Russia today.  Among the leading names to present proposals at the international ‘Gaidar Forum, Russia and the World: The Choice of Priorities’ was that of Alexei Kudrin.

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The Crimea Model and Conflict in the Balkans

Last week Kosovo and Serbia were nearly engaged in their first conflict since 1999 after provocative actions involving a train.  On January 14th Serbia halted a train leaving from Belgrade heading towards a town in Northern Kosovo, Mitrovic.  The train was recalled amid concerns of a bomb threat supposedly made by ethnic Albania’s in Kosovo.  The train, which was purchased from Russia, was painted with the Serbian flag, and featured pictures of churches and monasteries along with the words ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ in 21 different languages, outraged many ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo.

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Insecurity for Others, or Security for Yourself?

Two weeks ago I wrote about US troops landing in Germany as they prepared for their deployment to the Baltic States and Poland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.  On Tuesday, the United States signed a defense cooperation agreement with the Baltic States and Poland to finalize American commitment to the region.  The US deployment involves 4,000 troops, including 87 tanks, 144 up-armored vehicles, aircraft, and an unknown number of U.S. Special Forces.  Additionally, Norway a NATO member, has also just received 300 U.S. Marines as part of a separate winter training operation to be held over the next year. Continue reading

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