Reports out of Milan regarding Oct. 17 much anticipated meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko indicate that little progress has been made toward resolving the nearly yearlong Ukraine crisis. This, given the broader political currents at play in Europe, is unsurprising.
Ukraine is ravaged by war, aggravating its economic and financial crisis. It needs major reforms but also substantial international assistance, not only credits but also ample grants. Its emergency calls for a Marshall Plan.
DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine -- The familiar thump! thump! thump! of shelling a few kilometers away is suddenly broken by the staccato rat-a-tat-tat-tat! of automatic gunfire. We all stop, crouch a little, and look around.
The annexation of Crimea was clearly illegal and contrary to international standards. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to that effect on March 27, 2014, and the international community will always consider Crimea a part of Ukraine no matter how the Russian authorities might try to prove otherwise.
My "Marshall Plan for Ukraine," continued.
But, this time, a few words about the figure at the origin of the Forum in Vienna where I proposed the idea: Firtash, Dmytro Firtash, the man I referred to in my article as "the gas king" but who, as I learned a few days ago in New York, is considered one of the most mysterious and disturbing oligarchs in Kyiv: arrested, last March, in Vienna, bail set at a world record level ($173 million) because the American authorities smell corruption around a titanium concession in India and suspects links with the don of organized crime in the region, the legendary and fearsome Semion Mogilevich.
Last week's synod of bishops at the Vatican has been making headlines across international media concentrating on issues of homosexuality and divorce. One incident that the media has widely omitted to report is the scathing public verbal assault by the Russian Orthodox Church against the Church in Ukraine.
Reading the papers these days I find that the two world leaders who stir the most passion in me are Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. One is everything you'd want in a leader, the other everything you wouldn't want. One holds sway over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the other over nine time zones. One keeps surprising us with his capacity for empathy, the other by how much he has become a first-class jerk and thug. But neither can be ignored and both have an outsized influence on the world today.
Over the past few days, the Swedes has been perturbed by ominous signs that appear to show a foreign submarine may have infiltrated their waters. On Friday and Saturday Swedish forces searched the waters for "foreign underwater activity" in the Baltic Sea, by Sunday there were reports of three "credible" sightings. By Tuesday there were two more.
Christophe de Margerie, CEO of French oil giant Total, died on Monday night outside Moscow along with three others when his business jet hit a snowplow on a landing strip at Vnukovo Airport. Early reports implicate the snowplow driver -- possibly drunk, though his lawyer denied it -- or a ground control mistake. Any allegations in this case need thorough investigation, but so far it seems fair to say that human error killed one of the most powerful men in the world.
When senior Soviet officials wanted to set down the ideological or conceptual framework by which citizens should understand current events, they issued statements that were called "attitudinal papers" to guide national policy and that came replete with ready-made definitions and formulas.
Ukraine has two nonnegotiable priorities in its ongoing war with Russia: survival and reform. Ukraine must survive as a sovereign democratic state in the short term if it is to reform, and it must reform itself in the medium term in order to survive and become a prosperous and secure sovereign democratic state in the long term. Both goals can be best advanced if Ukraine washes its hands of the enclave of the Donbas region that Russia and its proxies now control.
As Russia's attacks on Ukraine revive concerns about the security of its northwestern neighbors as well, last month's NATO summit conference took two noteworthy steps, among others, to address the Russian danger. For one, the allies authorized a new quick-response force to reassure the Baltic States-Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - of the alliance's ability to protect them.
On Oct. 26, Ukrainians will elect their first parliament since the Maidan revolution and the Russian invasions of Crimea and Donbas. Kyiv-based political analyst Brian Mefford, now a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, analyzes Ukrainian politics and elections on his website’s blog. Mefford’s analysis will feature on New Atlanticist and the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert newsletter, beginning with his reading this week of the prospects for Sunday’s vote and Ukraine’s next government.
DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine – Soldier Yaroslav, 28, part of Ukraine’s 25th Battalion, gazes past a tank and into a field toward separatist-held turf three kilometers away. Then he explains why there won’t be a fair election on Oct. 26 in this eastern part of Ukraine.
Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers are due to meet European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in Brussels after presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin said they had agreed on the "basic parameters" of a deal to get gas flowing to Ukraine again this winter.
Ukraine is going to have a highly competitive parliamentary election in a week. Polls suggest that eight parties are going to make it. While some voters are dead set in their preferences, many voters are still uncertain about their choice. Indeed, there are many new faces in the political arena. If party programs provide any guide to how these parties are going to behave in the future, there is a broad spectrum of possibilities offered to voters.
Western leaders boast that the sanctions slapped on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are inflicting real pain, and that's true -- even if Russia's macroeconomic indicators still don’t look worse than those of France, Italy or even Germany. But there's no indication that the punishment is having a salutary effect on Vladimir Putin. In a quick but high-profile trip to meet leaders in Milan last week, the Russian ruler was no more disposed than he has been to retreat from Ukraine or his larger neoimperialist agenda.
President Obama's failed reset and his weak response to Putin's War Against Ukraine stuck him with a reputation of indecisiveness and naïveté, reinforced by cumulating foreign policy failures. Obama, unlike Angela Merkel, members of Congress of both parties, and, lately, Hillary Clinton, still appears to be late to understand Putin's global threat and his goal to destroy NATO. With one intense bill-of-particulars against Putin, Obama coukd outline his plan to stop Putin's expansionism before it is too late. Such a move could save the last two years of Obama’s presidency. Here is what Obama should say.
LONDON -- Looking back over the past quarter-century, it isn't easy to name a Western policy that can truly be described as a success. The impact of Western development aid is debatable. Western interventions in the Middle East have been disastrous.
The silver lining in the recent financial market turbulence has been thecontinued decline in the price of oil, which is down about 25 percent since June. In addition to creating a windfall for US consumers -- one analysisreckoned the savings could amount to $600 per household -- the drop, if sustained, will place considerable pressure on three problematic petrostates: Russia, Iran and Venezuela.