The good news is that Russian and Donbas separatist leaders have called an end to the "New Russia" project, which had targeted eight Russian-speaking Oblasts of eastern and southern Ukraine for separatist agitation and union with Russia. The bad news is that while it always was a mistake to assume Ukraine's Russian-speakers were fans of president Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's political vacuum and its selective "de-oligarchisation" are allowing diehards from the former ruling Party of Regions grouped in the Opposition Bloc and funded by Ukraine's powerful gas lobby to retain influence in eastern and southern Ukraine.
In February 2015, I am back in Kharkiv, my home town where I grew up and lived half of my life. My last visit was more than two years ago, when Kharkiv was still a sleepy, apolitical provincial town, mentioned, if at all, in Western media due to Yulia Tymoshenko's imprisonment in the local hospital. The dramatic events of the last year I experienced mainly via social networks. With the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych's regime and the beginning of the so-called "Russian spring", as violence on the streets of Kharkiv began escalating, I could hardly sleep for weeks.
Despite strong pressure from the Kremlin, the European Union voted to support the United States in maintaining targeted sanctions on Russia because of its occupation of Ukrainian land. But just continuing the current sanctions on Moscow is not enough to restore Kyiv’s territorial integrity.
Moscow is sending conflicting signals about its plans for Ukraine. For once, there are signs it is seeking an honorable exit and a comprehensive settlement.
What does the commander of a fortress do when he sees enemy troops approaching? He prepares for a siege by storing up food and ordering his men to dig wells. He also hangs enemy spies and potential rebels. What does a leader do who wants to rule forever and ensure that he remains safe from discontented subjects? He simulates the conditions of a besieged fortress in order to convince his people that they must tighten their belts and accept a wartime economy, and to give himself the right to deal as he wants with naysayers and critics. George Orwell has given us an outstanding description of that system of rule.
The main players in Greece's increasingly bitter fight with its European creditors are Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has consistently demanded that Athens implement hard-hitting austerity measures if it wants a bailout. But in the background, hoping to exploit a geopolitical opening, waits Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For one year, Russia has pursued a long, costly war of aggression against Ukraine. Its objective is obvious: to destabilize Ukraine so that the new democratic regime fails. Therefore, the West should adjust its goals accordingly to offer Ukraine financial support.
Marking the opening in a Russian village of a museum and bust of Joseph Stalin, Russia's Culture Minister has spoken of the place the dictator holds in the country's history and historical memory. His claim that all of Russia's history must be revealed, "without anything removed" clashes badly with an official move classifying for a further 30 years virtually all records regarding the KGB and its secret police predecessors.
Having just lauded Kennan Institute Director Matthew Rojansky and two colleagues for a fine piece on Ukraine's relationship with the United States, I hate to change my tune and criticize him for a subsequent article co-written with a Ukrainian academic, but their views on the "new Ukrainian exceptionalism" are so divorced from reality as to be mystifying.
Greece has voted overwhelmingly against a compromise that would have allowed Europe to continue financing it. Now it must be forced out of the euro area and perhaps from the European Union - otherwise everybody will demand the same no-strings deals, and aspirants from Eastern Europe will want to join the bloc for all the wrong reasons.
Armenia’s equivalent of the FBI has announced that it is investigating police use of force against demonstrators protesting a planned electricity-rate increase.
Russia's politics have long been virtual. But this alternative reality has become more intense -- and more toxic -- of late.
The Kremlin wants to rewrite Europe's security order as a bulwark against Nato, while wooing China.
A Ukrainian military unit last week released footage from a drone showing a large new Russian military base in eastern Ukraine, equipped with T-72 tanks, barracks, communications equipment and even a parade ground. International observers reported "increased intensity" of fighting in the region, in violation of a cease-fire.
Russian relations with the West appear to be settling into a desultory summer calm. The two sides may be facing each other with clenched teeth, but with the West preoccupied with multiple crises - from ISIS to Greece - it appears increasingly inured to confrontational Russian rhetoric and multiple periodic provocations. The Western desire to contain and calm may be understandable. But complacency could prove to be really dangerous in an atmosphere ripe for miscalculation.
Ukraine will end 2015 with its worst ever rate of economic growth. Vladimir Putin might be feeling triumphant. No wonder he tirelessly “poured gasoline” on Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and started slaughtering people on Donbas. Now everyone can see for themselves what Maidan must really mean. If you go out to protest, then your territory will be taken away, you’ll see war, your national currency will fall. But where there are no protests, life is just fine for the docile and responsible…
After Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Sochi on May 12, a barrage of articles urged Western leaders to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with an off-ramp for his various Ukrainian adventures.
Vladimir Putin continues to chip away at Ukraine while the west just watches.
Over the years, Barack Obama has been often compared to Franklin Delano Roosevelt - largely because both were elected after a severe global economic crisis, raising hopes that they could fix the flaws in the economy that had caused it to implode.