The Great Debate

Putin waging information war in Ukraine worthy of George Orwell

By Lucian Kim
November 14, 2014

A chicken walks near a residential block and a car damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk

It was a familiar scenario this week. First the government in Kiev said that Russia was sending convoys of men and weapons to support pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Then U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe, confirmed those claims, saying “there is no question anymore about Russia’s direct military involvement in Ukraine.” His remarks were summarily denied by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said it had stopped paying attention to his “unfounded proclamations.”

from Ian Bremmer:

Oil price plummet won’t help U.S. with Iran or Russia

By Ian Bremmer
November 11, 2014

A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London

Plummeting oil prices — down more than 25 percent since June to three-year lows — should relieve pressure on consumers at the pump. But is it pushing oil-exporting regimes past the breaking point?

What is the best way for the U.S. to counter Russia’s natural gas threats?

By Leslie Palti-Guzman
November 6, 2014

General view of Bogorechanske gas storage facility in Ivano-Frankivsk region near Ukraines western borders

After last week’s gas agreement between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union — which made clear Russia’s energy dominance over Europe — some have asked whether the U.S. could use its gas reserves as a “geopolitical weapon” to “stand up to Russian aggression,” as U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement earlier this year.

Putin’s created an economic crisis and left Moscow no easy way out

By William E. Pomeranz
November 4, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Western sanctions have left Russia in dire financial circumstances — stuck somewhere between recession and stagnation. Though proven solutions exist for what now ails Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s geo-strategic and political choices have rendered these traditional economic approaches unworkable.

from John Lloyd:

Ukraine’s vote proves Putin wrong and puts anti-Semitic past behind

By John Lloyd
October 31, 2014

Local resident listens before receiving a ballot during a parliamentary election inside her house in the village of Havronshchyna near Kiev

One of the themes that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried out to besmirch the Ukrainian revolt against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich earlier this year was that fascists and anti-Semites were behind the uprising. The protesters, he proclaimed, were revolting in both senses of the word: They had chased out an elected president (true) and their actions had allowed “anti-Semitic forces [to go] on a rampage” (not true).

Putin’s Moscow is anxious, gilded and hollow

By Lucian Kim
October 25, 2014

Putin chairs a meeting with members of the presidential council for civil society and human rights at the Kremlin in Moscow

The last time I saw Maria Baronova on Nikolskaya Street in Moscow, she was taking part in a silent anti-government demonstration before being bundled into a police bus with a half dozen other protesters. Now, almost three years later, we meet for a beer in an English pub on that same ancient street near the Kremlin. So much has changed. The Moscow protest movement fizzled out after Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency; activists like Baronova were prosecuted, and a blanket of repression is muffling the last voices of dissent.

‘In Putin’s mind, Ukraine is not a nation’

By Jason Fields
October 14, 2014

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How dangerous is Vladimir Putin?

Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans moderated a panel of experts searching for answers to that question at a Newsmaker event hosted at the company’s Times Square offices in New York on Oct. 14. The panel was comprised of New Yorker Editor David Remnick, author of the award winning Lenin’s Tomb, former chess champion and Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen and Roger Altman, who served in the Treasury Department under presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and is currently chairman of investment advisory firm Evercore.

U.S. doesn’t face much threat from Syria’s air power – rebels aren’t so lucky

By Robert Beckhusen
September 30, 2014

berk -- jet firing missile

The White House is in a difficult spot when it comes to Syria. Not only is the United States at war with Islamic State, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s foes, but U.S. aircraft are also flying through the same airspace, and focused on part of the same mission,  as the Syrian Air Force.

Is there a new crack in the West’s sanctions regime against Russia?

By William E. Pomeranz
September 26, 2014

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President Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations Wednesday offered to roll back the U.S. sanctions if Russia takes the “path of diplomacy and peace.” This overture comes on the heels of an emerging ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine and continuing discussions in Minsk to find a political solution to the turmoil in eastern Ukraine.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why this Ukraine ceasefire will stick

By Anatole Kaletsky
September 19, 2014

A boy sits on an APC as he poses for a picture during a parade in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine

The war in eastern Ukraine, which has had more impact on the European economy than any news coming out of Frankfurt or Brussels, appears to be ending. Despite the sporadic attacks that have wrecked previous ceasefire attempts.