Russia has lost an empire and not yet found a role. Only the Russians themselves can decide what that should be, and it will take some time. The new Russia will certainly not arrive this 9 May, when Vladimir Putin's Kremlin celebrates the 70th anniversary of the end of what Russians call the great patriotic war. It may not emerge until 9 May 2025, or even 2045, but we should never abandon hope for that other Russia, and we must keep faith with the Russians who are working for it.
On April 9th 2015, the Ukrainian parliament took a long-awaited step towards a competitive and secure energy plan in Ukraine. By an overwhelming majority of votes, the Parliament adopted a new gas market law.
While the western media present any talk of Russian involvement in recent high-profile killings as the 'Kyiv version', like the 'Kremlin version' of Boris Nemtsov's murder, it is by no means only Ukrainian politicians who are expressing concerns which, if warranted, would have seriously frightening implications.
Europe is surrounded by war.
It's been fascinating to watch the Russian economy adjust to sharply lower oil prices. With a little help from the central bank, the country's recession might not be as bad as previously thought.
WASHINGTON, DC – Ukraine may not be grabbing as many headlines now as it did a year ago, but the crisis there is far from over. The latest ceasefire agreement, concluded in Minsk in February, has contained, but not stopped, Russian military aggression. And, though the stabilization program that Ukraine agreed with the International Monetary Fund last month is superior to last year’s deal – this one includes both more financing from the IMF and a more credible economic-reform plan from the government – it will be insufficient to repair the country’s economy. What Ukraine really needs is to escape the old Soviet order – and, for that, it needs the West’s help.
Despite a relative lull in fighting in eastern Ukraine over the past several weeks - daily casualties have hovered in the single digits recently - prisoner of war (POW) exchanges, a central element of the Minsk agreements, have stalled. According to the Feb. 11 "Minsk II" treaty, the Ukrainian and separatist leadership had until the end of February to withdraw heavy weaponry from the conflict zone. After this process was completed, they would have five days to exchange prisoners on an "all for all" basis.
Gazprom is decreasing its business in Europe in a move that marks a departure from the group's aim of controlling the entire value-added chain. The company has sold its stake in a German distributor, for example. High-flying plans to get involved in power plant construction have now been shelved.
Predictions that the war in Ukraine might be past its worst point can only be advanced with caution and caveats. Over the past 18 months, the western world has been consistently surprised by unexpected escalations and brutal events – from the annexation of Crimea to the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Even now, fighting continues. Last week, saw an escalation of conflict around Donetsk, with six killed in one day.
"Our people survived [deportation by] Stalin," commented a manager of ATR, which, until April 1, was the only Crimean Tatar television station left. "Will they not survive these current problems?" Russian authorities had just shut it down - along with other media outlets - by refusing to register it under Moscow's complex religion laws.
On Feb. 5 2010, just a day after Romania gave the go-ahead for an overhaul of the US plan to deploy medium-range ballistic missile interceptors, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev affixed his signature to a new "military strategy" intended to serve as the basis of defence policy for the next ten years. On Dec. 26 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an updated version of this military doctrine, which details new threats to national security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has an optics problem: Even as he asks people to be patient with the economic turmoil brought on in part by his response to Western sanctions, new income and property declarations are demonstrating that he and his top staffers aren't sharing the pain.
Editor's Note: To counter Russian propaganda lies about the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27, Dmitry Tymchuk has set up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. He served in the Army air defense from 1995-1998, the National Guard from 1998-2000 and in the Defense Ministry in subsequent years on missions to Iraq, Lebanon and Kosovo. His blogs are translated into English by Voices of Ukraine. The Kyiv Post has not independently verified his findings, but will correct any misinformation brought to our attention at firstname.lastname@example.org or 38-044-591-3344 or any of our contacts at www.kyivpost.com/contacts.
In 1917, the old Russian Empire took a sudden turn from reality and entered the realm of fantasy.
Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, likes to say that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Such views are reminiscent of the Tsarist Russian Empire and negate Ukraine's recognition as a separate nation in the Soviet Union, whose collapse he laments as the "major geopolitical disaster" of the past century. Moscow, indeed, views the Ukrainian state as at best a legend or fantasy.
When Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine captured a fighter pilot loyal to Kyiv in June 2014, they got more than they bargained for. Nearly a year later, Nadiya Savchenko is on trial in Russia, and at the center of an international imbroglio. "This isn't an ordinary case," Russian attorney Mark Feygin said at the Atlantic Council on April 14, about his client. "It should be understood as a political affair, not a legal one."
A relative hiatus in the fighting in eastern Ukraine (at least until this week) and a relative stabilisation in the Russian economy are prompting two questions. Is the worst of the war over and might better economic news calm the Kremlin - or is this a lull before a new storm?
The Russian media are full of reports about "alarming" arrests and intimidation in Odesa of members of a newly-formed 'People's Council of Bessarabia' who were merely trying, so the reports say, to defend the rights of the area's national minorities. The reports certainly are alarming, but for different reasons. Representatives of national minorities in Odesa have condemned the formation of this body as a provocation, deny its claims about discrimination and persecution and challenge its members to identify themselves and explain why they're seeking a repetition of the scenario in eastern Ukraine.