Russia is both a tragedy and a menace. In the Financial Times this week Sergey Karaganov offered an arresting insight into the blend of self-pity and braggadocio currently at work in Moscow. It is as depressing as it is disturbing. Western policy makers seem to believe the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) is the greater danger. But Russia is the nuclear-armed rump of a former superpower and, ruled by an amoral autocrat, it frightens me even more. For Europe and, I believe, the US, there is no greater foreign policy question than how to deal with today’s Russia.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine -- Donetsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Taruta says that the people of Donbas “will feel raped” by the new law passed on Sept. 16 designed to bring self-governance to the region -- Ukraine's most populous -- where war has been raging for months.
On the 27th of June this year, Ukraine (and Georgia and Moldova) signed the Association Agreement with the European Union, to govern policy convergence and later trade. Its supporters see it as setting the seal on a new era of east-west relations.
Russian investigators said on Sept. 16 they had placed Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the chairman of conglomerate Sistema, under house arrest, accusing him of money-laundering in connection with the acquisition of shares in oil producer Bashneft.
BRUSSELS - Any increase in Russian troops in Ukraine's Crimea region would raise tensions and undermine the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, NATO said on Sept. 26.
The Ukrainian Parliament has passed legislation which grants limited self-rule to the east of the country as part of proposals aimed at ending the Kremlin-backed insurgency there.
President Petro Poroshenko insisted the measures, which include special status for the use of Russian as an official language alongside Ukrainian, would not compromise "the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence" of Ukraine.
However, the Kremlin-backed separatists say the plans do not go nearly far enough.
The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine is concerned by the statement by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the deployment of "a proper and self-sufficient troop grouping in the Crimean direction."
MOSCOW - Unlawful armed formations in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR, respectively) have announced the creation of the united armed forces of Novorossiya, the DPR government and Supreme Council said on its Web site on Tuesday.
MOSCOW - President Obama has warned Russia that "there will be costs" for its policies in Ukraine. European leaders and the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have done the same. On Sept. 16, an influential figure in the Russian political elite and a longtime aide to President Vladimir Putin drove home this argument.
Lawmakers ratified the agreement that was rejected by Ukraine's former leader, which led to his overthrow in February. They also passed laws meant to strengthen the truce with rebels.
In late August, Russian-backed rebel forces launched a devastating counter-offensive against Ukrainian troops. They drove them out of border areas of both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine, retook areas south of Donetsk and advanced to within a few miles of the port of Mariupol. A ceasefire came into effect on Sept. 5. It is holding in most areas, but not everywhere. Few have confidence that the fighting is really over and that both the Ukrainians on one side and the rebels and their backers from Russia on the other have not simply called half-time. I took the following photos while reporting for The New York Review over the past few weeks.
Dozens of angry protesters near the Ukrainian parliament seized a prominent opposition deputy on Sept. 16 and dumped him in a trash container, accusing him of failing to back laws to end the turbulence in the country.
One good thing about the Ukraine crisis is that at least now everyone can stop pretending. Russia can stop pretending that it is part of Europe, and Europe can stop pretending it agrees. I remember numerous seminars and conferences with Russian and European politicians at which everyone wore fake smiles and made speeches to the effect that "Europe is our common homeland," the Cold War is over, we no longer pose a threat to each other and so on. The common understanding was that the Cold War had ended with the 1986 summit between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.
A total of 296 attacks on the Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation positions have been registered since the ceasefire began in eastern Ukraine at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said at a briefing in Kyiv on Sept. 16.
"Ukraine is Europe," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the country's prime minister, told lawmakers as they finally prepared to ratify a much-troubled deal with the European Union on Sept. 16. "We are correcting a mistake we made 350 years ago," he added, referring to the time when Ukraine came under the control of the Russian empire. But has Kyiv's step forward towards Brussels come at the price of two back towards Moscow?
Ukraine is preparing a document on protective trade measures which might be used in the event of a tougher trade regime with Russia but for now there is no list containing 94 product groups, said Valeriy Piatnytsky, Ukraine's Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade.
The first power line in Luhansk has been fixed, the second one is now being repaired. Also, efforts continue to re-connect the city's water-supply and water-discharge facilities, the Luhansk city council said on Sept. 16.
MOSCOW - Russia threatened to send more troops to its newly-annexed territory of Crimea on Sept. 16, after NATO began exercises in western Ukraine while Kiev's forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east.
The crisis in Ukraine has created a fundamentally new security situation in Europe. The transatlantic community is now faced with a revisionist power in Europe’s own backyard. Russia has shown that it is willing to use force to extend its influence and control over independent sovereign nations in blatant disregard of international law. From the onset, I have called the crisis a wake-up call. How Western democracies respond to it and reshape Euro-Atlantic security will be, I believe, the defining challenge of the next decade.