Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts

20 April 2019

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr 

In this article, Niklas Masuhr writes that NATO is prioritizing conventional military capabilities to deter Russian encroachment on the Alliance. Further, Western planners and strategists view the war in Ukraine as a key benchmark that defines future capability requirements. As a result, various adaptive processes are underway within national armed forces.

This article was originally published in the CSS Analyses in Security Series by the Center for Security Studies on 3 April 2019. The article is also available in German and French.

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped. 

19 April 2019

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr 

In this article, Niklas Masuhr writes that NATO is prioritizing conventional military capabilities to deter Russian encroachment on the Alliance. Further, Western planners and strategists view the war in Ukraine as a key benchmark that defines future capability requirements. As a result, various adaptive processes are underway within national armed forces.

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped. 

13 April 2019

The WTO Strikes Again


Late last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued what the media is calling a “historic” ruling on the applicability of Article XXI, which allows nations to take trade limiting actions in the name of national security. The decision will inevitably be appealed and thus will get caught up in the dispute over the Appellate Body, but it’s worth making some comments now since, even though the case is not about the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the decision has implications for them since they are also being litigated at the WTO, and the complainants are using many of the same arguments.

The case that was decided last week concerned Ukraine’s objections to Russia’s actions in blocking the shipment of goods between Ukraine and Kazakhstan or the Kyrgyz Republic that transited Russia—actions Russia defended on the grounds of national security. In making its defense, Russia argued that Article XXI is self-defining; that is, that each country has the right to define its own national security any way it wants, and the WTO has no right to second-guess such decisions. That is the same position the United States has taken on its steel and aluminum tariffs, and, in fact, the United States supported the Russian position in its case through a brief it filed with the WTO, even though the United States has not supported Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. (The European Union, which has also not supported Russia in the Ukraine conflict, took Ukraine’s side in the WTO debate.)

21 March 2019

y Waiting for a Reality Check in Crimea, Five Years on

By Sim Tack

Russia has solidified its control over Crimea, but the contestation of that control by Ukraine and the West continues to loom large in their respective relations with Moscow. Military action or more sanctions are unlikely to convince Russia to relinquish control over Crimea. The disconnect between pragmatically achievable objectives and symbolic resistance to Crimea's annexation has created a standoff that is now perpetuating itself. In international relations, extended crises or disputes eventually behoove affected parties to accept realities, albeit at a cost to those involved. 

It's been half a decade since events radically changed Ukraine. Beyond demonstrations in Kiev, where President Viktor Yanukovich fell from power as a result of the euromaidan movement, the pro-Europe protests led to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Five years on, the status of Crimea continues to be a source of great contention, as Kiev rejects the Crimean Peninsula's accession to Russia, which exercises de facto — and, as far as Moscow is concerned, de jure — control over it. Even outside Ukraine, the events that occurred in Crimea in 2014 continue to cloud political and military relations between Russia and the West, and several of the sanctions against Russia center directly on the Crimea question.

20 March 2019

Is the Risk of Ethnic Conflict Growing in Ukraine?

By Elise Giuliano

The Ukrainian presidential election is only weeks away, and its outcome is highly uncertain. President Petro Poroshenko is lagging in the pollsbehind Volodymyr Zelensky, a television actor whose only political experience consists of playing the president of Ukraine in a sitcom. The country will head to the polls while still at war in its eastern region of Donbas, where in 2014, local separatists forcibly seized government buildings and declared people’s republics in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Since then, the conflict has taken on elements of both a civil war and an interstate conflict, with Russia arming separatist combatants and sponsoring the breakaway regions. Violence is muted but steady: the number of deaths recently reached 13,000, one-quarter of them civilian.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine’s leading presidential candidates are all running on platforms resisting Russia. The choice is logical given popular anger over President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and continued interference in Donbas. But Poroshenko differs from other candidates in that he couches his anti-Russian message in a national identity incorporating elements of Ukrainian ethnicity. Whereas his campaign slogan in 2014 was “A New Way of Living,” his current slogan is “Army! Language! Faith!”

7 March 2019

Are The Russians Coming?: Russia’s Military Buildup Near Ukraine – Analysis

By Felix K. Chang*

(FPRI) — Long before the Kerch Strait incident in October 2018, Russia had already begun to strengthen the forces in its Southern Military District, which spans from near Volgograd to Russia’s border with Georgia and Azerbaijan. Naturally, that has caused concern in Kiev, since the district also abuts the restive eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas and is responsible for Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. One of Ukraine’s biggest worries has been Russia’s reactivation of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division in late 2016. Posted only 50 km from the border between Russia and Ukraine, it is equipped with an unusually large number of tanks. Its force structure includes two tank regiments, rather than the standard one; and each of its two motorized rifle regiments has an attached tank battalion.[1] Russian media refers to the division as the “steel monster.”

27 February 2019

FIVE YEARS (IS/IS NOT)* A LONG TIME IN UKRAINIAN POLITICS (*DELETE AS APPLICABLE)

Ian Bond

It is five years since Ukraine’s then president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country for Russia. Since then, some commentators say a lot has changed, while others say not much. But however confused the picture, Ukraine still merits attention.

On March 31st, Ukraine will hold its second presidential election since 2014’s so-called ‘Revolution of Dignity’. None of the leading candidates is scandal-free: the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, formerly a successful businessman, turned up in the Panama Papers in 2016, allegedly transferring funds out of Ukraine illicitly. Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who made a fortune in the murky gas business in the 1990s, has long been suspected of corrupt ties to another former prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko (imprisoned in the US in 2006 for money laundering). And Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian whose best known character is a school teacher who becomes president of Ukraine, seems to be backed by Ihor Kolomoiskiy, accused by a business rival in 2015 of ordering contract killings in Ukraine. 

21 February 2019

Ukraine, Russia: Pressure on Moscow Builds Over Its Seafaring Standoff With Kiev


In its 2019 Annual Forecast, Stratfor noted that the Sea of Azov would emerge as a key front in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia — writing that both countries would bolster naval assets in the area, with the United States weighing in through additional security support for Ukraine. A recent meeting between Ukrainian and NATO defense officials, along with upcoming sanction decisions against Russia related to the Sea of Azov, point to the growing importance of this front. 

What Happened

11 February 2019

Putin’s Game Plan in Ukraine

By Konstantin Skorkin

At the end of 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, postponed signing an association agreement with the European Union, choosing instead to pursue closer ties with Russia. Protesters began massing on Kiev’s central square, known as the Maidan. Weeks of tension spilling into violence culminated with Yanukovych’s ouster on February 22.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looked on with anger and alarm. Suppose that what had happened on the Maidan sparked similar protests in Russia?

Putin began to refer to the Ukrainian government as a “junta” in speeches. The term belonged to the Soviet propaganda lexicon: the Kremlin used it to describe the Latin American dictatorships the United States supported during the Cold War. Putin’s revival of this language marked a steep downturn in relations between Moscow and Kiev. Russian state-controlled media took up a propagandistic narrative, in which the new Ukrainian authorities were illegitimate and Russia would not hesitate to “protect” the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine from these “fascist usurpers.”

6 February 2019

10 Years on, Tymoshenko’s Ill-fated Deal Still Haunts Ukraine’s “Gas Princess”

By Theodoros Papadopoulos

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the infamous gas deal brokered with Russia by Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko. The anniversary, which fell on January 18, came at a particularly inopportune time for the charismatic populist, just days before she formally announced her candidacy in Ukraine’s upcoming presidential elections. Tymoshenko is striving to show voters that she can drive progress in a country still blighted by conflict. But, in the eyes of her detractors, the gas deal demonstrates the exact opposite: that she in fact represents the very same conservative, pro-Russian interests she promises to overthrow.

Gas, in fact, is central to Tymoshenko’s platform. The two-time prime minister, famous for her pugnacious oratory and braided blonde hair, says she wants to drive down gas prices, defying Ukraine’s recent commitment to the International Monetary Fund. She thinks the market, rather than government decrees, should determine prices. This is part of a wider commitment to economic growth, increasing salaries and pensions while blitzing graft. On the international front, she pledges to confront Russian aggression and move closer to the EU and NATO, pulling Ukraine from beneath “the hand of the Kremlin” that wishes to impose “devastation and chaos, corruption and poverty” on Ukraine.

28 January 2019

Russia-Ukraine Gas Transit Talks Look Ahead Post-2020

By: Vladimir Socor

On January 21, in Brussels, Russia and Ukraine held ministerial-level talks on the transit of Russian natural gas to Europe via Ukraine (TASS, January 22, 2019). The European Commission is chairing this process, and the ministerial meeting just held in Brussels was the second at this level, the first having been held in July 2018. The Commission is a neutral mediator, impartially seeking to apply the European Union’s legislation to the transit of Russian gas via Ukraine to the EU, in the interest of market competition and supply security for Europe. Correspondingly, Ukraine needs the protection of the EU’s legislation against the recurrence of Russian depredations in Ukraine’s natural gas sector, particularly its transit system at this stage.

23 January 2019

Assessing the Failure of Minsk II in Ukraine and the Success of the 2008 Ceasefire in Georgia

By Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin is a recent graduate of George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she wrote her thesis on Chechen foreign fighters in Syria. She was previously a fellow at NatSecGirlSquad, supporting the organization’s debut conference on November 15, 2018. She can be found on Twitter @amerikitkatoreo. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Summary: In 2019 the Donbass War in Ukraine will enter its fifth year. Over 10,000 people have been killed, 3,000 of them civilians, and one million displaced. Two ceasefire agreements between Moscow and Kyiv have failed, and no new agreements are forthcoming. When compared to the agreement of the 2008 August War between Russia and Georgia, ending the stalemate in Ukraine and determining a victor might be the key to brokering a lasting ceasefire.

21 January 2019

Check Out All of the Places World War III Could Start in 2019

by Robert Farley

The flashpoints may change over time, but the fundamental foundations of conflict—the decay of U.S. military hegemony and of the global international order that has accompanied it—mean that the near future will likely become more hazardous than the recent past.

The world has avoided war between major power war since 1945, even if the United States and the Soviet Union came quite close on several occasions during the Cold War. In the first two decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, great power war seemed virtually unimaginable. Today, with China’s power still increasing and Russia’s rejection of the international order apparently complete , great power conflict is back on the menu.

17 January 2019

Ukraine’s Crumbling Economy

By Ekaterina Zolotova

The country’s persistent economic strife is veering toward crisis.

Ukraine is in internal disarray. Driving the disarray is its deteriorating economic situation. While poor economic conditions predate the 2014 revolution, the subsequent Russia-backed insurgencies and annexation of Crimea exacerbated the underlying economic problems and forced Ukraine to attempt a rapid reorientation toward the West. Ukraine staved off potential disaster in December when the International Monetary Fund, as part of its four-year assistance program, approved a new $3.9 billion standby loan, $1.4 billion of which has been disbursed. (Ukrainian government debt is now approaching 70 percent of gross domestic product.) But the program is just a Band-Aid. This year will be a serious test for Ukraine, as millions of citizens – already hurting from the current conditions – will feel the pinch of economic reforms mandated by Ukraine’s creditors.

13 January 2019

Why Finding a Diplomatic Solution to the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh Should be a US Foreign Policy Priority

William McHenry

There is little doubt that post-Soviet Eurasia is beset with unresolved territorial conflicts. Indeed, all former Soviet states that are not either members of western institutions or in the orbit of Moscow— Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine —have either territorial disputes with their neighbors or self-sustaining internal secessionist movements with considerable foreign support—often provided by Russia itself.

These protracted disputes are described by experts as “frozen conflicts.” Each conflict not only weakens the parties involved, but they are also, more importantly, used by Russia to manipulate the politics of the region to favor the foreign policy goals of the Kremlin. A recent example of this phenom is the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which features a secessionist movement that survives via Russian military support, and recently made headlines as the Russian Navy seized Ukrainian warships near the frontline of the conflict.

1 January 2019

Ukraine conflict: Russia completes Crimea security fence


Russia has finished building a high-tech security fence along annexed Crimea's border with mainland Ukraine.

The fence, more than 60km (37 miles) long, is topped with barbed wire and has hundreds of sensors.

Russian forces annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 - a move condemned internationally. Crimea has a Russian-speaking majority.

Russia's FSB security agency says the fence is necessary to prevent "infiltration attempts by saboteurs".

An FSB statement, quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, said the fence would also thwart smugglers trading in illegal weapons, drugs, alcohol and other contraband.

The fence spans the neck of land connecting Crimea with Ukraine's Kherson region.

Most of its sensors pick up vibrations from any potential intruders, the FSB said, but some are also radio-location devices. Russia has similar equipment along its northern and eastern borders.

28 December 2018

Throwing the Ukraine War in Putin’s Face

Anna Nemtsova

MOSCOW—Russia is fighting Ukraine on several fronts at the same time: Its trolls are waging information war and regular troops are deploying closer to Ukrainian borders. Fear of a huge war is growing here as well as in Kiev. So it was inevitable journalists hoping to understand the Kremlin’s strategy would try to ask President Vladimir Putin pointed questions during his four-hour press conference Thursday.

But Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbaliuk became a hero of the day by pushing the Ukraine war into Putin’s face. He asked the Russian president directly how much money Russia was spending on the rebel-controlled “occupied Donbas” in the east of the country. Several journalists from Kremlin-loyal publications began to laugh, some of them a little nervously.

18 December 2018

Russia ramps up cyber warfare as it loses economic footing in Ukraine

BY ROBERT JOHNSTON

U.S. leaders should keep a close eye on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cyber sleight of hand. Behind the smokescreen of multi-polar chaos, Putin is ramping up cyber warfare to keep Western powers, including the U.S., from keeping Ukraine from Russian state capture.

Russia needs Ukraine to be aligned not only because of the large ethnic Russian population there, but also because it represents the last line of defense between Moscow and the Western powers, as well as a huge economic partner. In five years, however, if current trends continue, Russia’s economic footprint in Ukraine will be diminished to such a capacity that Putin will either have to concede — or be forced into military action against the West.

12 December 2018

The World Has Failed Children in Conflict Zones

MALEIHA MALIK

Though Human Rights Day this year marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is hardly a happy occasion. Around the world, children in conflict zones are increasingly coming under fire because those charged with upholding international law have turned their backs on it.

LONDON – This Human Rights Day (December 10) marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, events over the past few years show that the world is failing to uphold the commitments enshrined in that document, particularly when it comes to protecting children.

8 December 2018

If we want to survive on this planet, we need to abandon the cause of the nation state

BYSLAVOJ ŽIŽEK

If we really care for the fate of the people who comprise our nation, our motto should be: America last, China last, Russia last.


The latest news from the border of Ukraine and Russia indicates that we already live in a pre-war situation – so what should we, ordinary people, do when the explosion of global madness looms?