Debacle at Debaltsevo Calls For a New Approach to Ukraine

Anti-Putin grafitti in Debaltsevo. Image: Pryshutova Viktoria/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) on 18 February, 2015.

Before coming up with solutions it is first advisable to determine the nature of the problem. Right now the United States is considering sending arms to Ukraine, while here in Canada the Defence Minister, Jason Kenney, has been mulling the deployment of Canadian soldiers to train the Ukrainian Army. But is a lack of arms or training the real reason for the Ukrainian Army’s defeats?

To answer that question, it is worth looking at what has been happening in the town of Debaltsevo, where a large Ukrainian contingent, possibly several thousand strong, was encircled by rebel forces. The government in Kiev has repeatedly denied that its troops were surrounded, but even Ukrainian military journalists acknowledge that the main road out of Debaltsevo is in rebel hands and that troops of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have captured most of the town, as well as a substantial number of prisoners. On the night of February 17-18, a large part of the garrison escaped through gaps in rebel lines, but Ukrainian sources report heavy casualties in the process. Substantial quantities of equipment have been destroyed or have fallen into rebel hands. Ukraine has suffered a serious defeat. » More

From 1989 to 2014: Young Vladimir Putin and the Irony of Helsinki

Mikhail Gorbachev & George H.W Bush signing an agreement on chemical weapons in Washington , D.C, 1990. Image: Executive Office of the President of the United States/Wikimedia

A quarter of a century has passed since the end of the Cold War. In the West, a new generation of leaders is in power, most of whom had little personal involvement in the East-West standoff that defined international politics for most of the post-1945 era.  By contrast, Russia has been under the stewardship of a leader who came of age politically with the fall of the Iron Curtain. Mikhail Gorbachev recently warned that a new Cold War is emerging. But what, if any, are the links between the events of 1989 and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014? Can we make sense of Europe’s renewed confrontation with its eastern neighbour by peering into the past? Reflection on the events of 1989 sheds light on those of 2014 in two ways: by illustrating how Vladimir Putin’s personal experiences of the end of the Cold War have shaped his foreign policy priorities, and by highlighting the importance of Mikhail Gorbachev’s acceptance of the Helsinki principle in shaping the post-Cold War European order. » More

Between the EU and Russia: Opportunity or Dilemma for Serbia’s OSCE Chairmanship?

Between Europe and Russia. Image: bandvela/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the Security and Human Rights Blog on 22 January, 2015.

On 15 January, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić outlined the priorities of the 2015 Serbian OSCE Chairmanship at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. Foreign Minister Dačić stressed that the main priority of the Serbian Chair would be to continue supporting a peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine. In this context, he expressed support for the work of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and their respective roles in helping to implement the Minsk protocols as well as the peace plan for the east of Ukraine. » More

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Frozen Donbas?

A Soviet-era monument in the city of Donetsk. Image: Andrew Butko/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Moscow Center on 17 November 2014.

Russia is invading Ukraine, again. As usual, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refuted hard evidence from journalists and international observers. Both NATO and the OSCE have confirmed that heavy weaponry and combat troops are moving to Donbas from Russia. A detailed look suggests that although the ceasefire has been seriously violated (again), what we see is mostly a tactical operation aimed at reinforcing rebel positions, not preparation for a full-fledged war. » More

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Can China’s Silk Road Vision Coexist with a Eurasian Union?

Central Asia on an old globe. Image: Carol Van Hook/Flickr

This article was originally published by Eurasianet.org on 12 November, 2014.

There is a good chance that economic jockeying between China and Russia in Central Asia will intensify in the coming months. For Russia, Chinese economic expansion could put a crimp in President Vladimir Putin’s grand plan for the Eurasian Economic Union.

Putin has turned to China in recent months, counting on Beijing to pick up a good portion of the trade slack created by the rapid deterioration of economic and political relations between Russia and the West. Beijing for the most part has obliged Putin, especially when it comes to energy imports. But the simmering economic rivalry in Central Asia could create a quandary for bilateral relations. » More

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