Tag: Ukraine

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The Russian Orthodox Church, headquartered in Moscow, is facing a challenge to its authority over Ukrainian congregations. My reading, of summary histories, of Russia, and of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), suggests deep roots to such conflict. Church and state politics seem closely intertwined, at least where Moscow is concerned. Although both churches trace […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America tackle four big stories today. First, they welcome the resignation of disgraced GOP Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. After another Twitter slam against his attorney general, they wonder why President Trump doesn’t just fire Jeff Sessions if he hates him so much. They also discuss the massive shift in opinion on free speech on both the left and right after ABC cancels “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet. And they marvel at the fake assassination of a reporter in Ukraine to smoke out the people really trying to kill him.

Carter Page: Perhaps an Idiot but No Dummy


Carter Page, the former Merrill Lynch banker, is no doubt very ambitious. He tried to leverage his degree, his business savvy and his Russian Rolodex to untold riches. And while his ambition and naiveté may have led him to be a recruitment target for Russian intelligence in 2013, he’s no dummy. He helped the FBI in their prosecution of Russian intelligence operatives and knew well that he was at least one of the “idiots” that Russian spies had targeted as a source of American intelligence. It defies all logic to assume that subsequent to his FBI cooperation, Page would allow himself to be targeted a second time as an intelligence source by Russian spies, or that Russia would attempt to recruit him. Page may be an idiot, even something of a Russian apologist and Putin fellow traveler, but he’s not stupid

Very early on, Obama and his inner circle were well aware of Page’s Russia background and cooperation with the FBI and the Justice Department. He was implicated in the Steele Dossier and claims these implications are entirely false. We know that this Dossier is uncorroborated and that it was paid by and prepared for the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Yet this Dossier was used to obtain warrants to surveil Page. Page has not been charged with any crime.

The real question is this: why implicate Page in the Dossier? Why?

Stalin Lives: The Scouring of Crimea


Welcome to the 1930s, Comrade. The Ukrainian language is now forbidden in Crimea. That’s not all that the Russian government has forbidden there. The Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches are also forbidden. The forbidden list also includes Ukrainian political parties and Ukrainian-language media. History is repeating itself in the Russian ethnic cleansing of Crimea.

The ethnic cleansing is not restricted to Ukrainians. Crimean Tatars who returned to Crimea decades after the mass deportations ordered by Josef Stalin have been targeted as well. In 2016, the Russian government banned Crimean Tatar organizations. One activist, Ervin Ibragimov, was abducted in May 2016; his whereabouts are unknown to this day. Ukrainian activists have also been abducted and disappeared as well.

The FSB and so-called self-defense units intimidate, harass, and abduct those who are resisting the Russian occupation. They also put pressure on citizens to inform on anyone who does not acknowledge Russian authority.

“Your Longest, and Your Worst, Day”


“If you threaten us, it will be your longest, and your worst, day.” — Jim Mattis.

The Russians’ longest day occurred on February 7, when 500 (including Russian mercenaries) launched an attack on a base housing Syrian opposition forces along with US military advisers.

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Oooo…whatta title!

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the controversies around Donald Trump’s relationship with the Russian government and analyzes the trajectory of Washington’s relationship with Moscow.

Syria, Russia, and Trump


I’m not sure how much news about Aleppo is filtering through the non-stop election coverage. Although my sense was that Gary Johnson did, indeed, know what Aleppo was (and just flubbed the question through some kind of inattention), that kind of inattention is only possible if the subject just isn’t something you think about all that much.

I don’t know whether he’s typical of American voters. It’s not something the next president will be able to ignore, though, that’s for sure. Aleppo’s now a hellscape reminiscent of the Battle of Stalingrad. Even by the horrifying standards of the Syrian war, the past week’s events Aleppo represent a new level of depravity. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes killed more than 300 people, most of them civilians and many of them children; more than 250,000 civilians are trapped. They’re under attack by the Syrian military and by thousands of foreign militiamen commanded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah fighters, and Russian ground troops; and they’re under bombardment by heavy Russian and Syrian air power — the most sustained and intense bombardment since the beginning of the war. A genuine Axis of Evil, if anything ever was, has emerged from this. Most of the civilians are, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, being killed by Russians. I don’t know how reliable they are, so take this with the usual caveats:

Why Wars Break Out: Bucharest Declaration Edition


Claire has started two excellent discussions here and here about the causes of war. I look forward to reading her argument in subsequent posts. But I also wanted to throw out my anticipatory two cents on the subject without being constrained by commenters’ 250-word limit. In the case of The Big One – China – the causes of war, if there is to be one, will be the same structural ones identified by Thucydides 2,500 years ago. Like Athens and Sparta, this is a paradigmatic case of rising and declining powers clashing. But in the case of lesser conflicts, one can never overestimate the role of ordinary human stupidity and inability to grasp the perfectly predictable consequences of foolish actions.

Nuclear Disarmament Doesn’t Pay


And the Ukraine example proves it, writes Andreas Umland in World Affairs Journal:

Not everyone in Europe agrees with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent description of Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “criminal.” Across the EU, Kremlin lobbyists, America-haters, and those the Germans call Putinversteher (“Putin-understanders”) disseminate justifications and apologies for Russia’s absorption of the Black Sea peninsula and its hybrid war in the Donets Basin, also known as the Donbas. Such “explanations” partly succeed because most citizens of the West are, in fact, not particularly interested in Crimea, the Donbas, or Ukraine as a whole. First and foremost, EU citizens want calm. International law is not national legislation. Ukraine’s problems ultimately belong to the Ukrainians.

ISIS’ Other Victims


These monsters — we run out of words, don’t we? — have victimized so many more people this week than the maimed and murdered in France. So many desperate refugees — fleeing monsters like them — will now again drown in the sea, like they have been, or be shot at the borders, or returned to be imprisoned, starved, tortured, sold into sexual slavery, and barrel-bombed.

That so many in the US are now agitating not to accept refugees breaks my heart. You aren’t wrong about the security risk. But as someone whose entire neighborhood was just turned into an abattoir — as someone who could easily have been in any of those places — I still say: Find a way. We’re America. We’re this country, remember?

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On Monday, Vladimir Putin met briefly with Barack Obama at the United Nations because he was  hungry and wanted to eat the president’s lunch, drink his milk shake, and then gobble up other nations for dessert. Actually, we think that only happened metaphorically, but we’re not 100% sure because it’s hard to imagine President Dweebypants […]

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The Strategika Podcast: Angelo Codevilla on Our Ambiguous Russia Policy


Codevillo-Angelo-bio-photoThings always get lively when Angelo Codevilla joins us on the Strategika podcast. In this installment, Angelo looks at the history of American policy towards Russia and Ukraine and argues that we’ve been weakened by a tendency to say one thing and do another. To hear his full diagnosis of the situation, listen in to the podcast embedded below or subscribe to Strategika in iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

The Strategika Podcast: Victor Davis Hanson on Understanding Putin


victor_davis_hansonAt the Hoover Institution, we’ve just released a new set of podcasts from our Strategika series on military history and foreign policy (subscribe to Strategika on iTunes here). We begin this series — which focuses on Russia and Ukraine — with a conversation with the great Victor Davis Hanson, who, amongst his many other accolades, chairs the Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group at Hoover that produces Strategika. In this episode, Victor attempts to get inside Vladimir Putin’s mind: analyzing his motivations, his ultimate goals, and the possible means of deterring him.

What Ukraine Should Do Now


Vladimir_Putin_12024In a new piece I have up at Forbes, I lay out exactly what’s at stake for the West with Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine. In short, Putin wants nothing less than to unravel NATO. The U.S. has been decidedly unhelpful in assisting Ukraine, even though our allies there are much more reliable than the ones we’ve been arming in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. So what should Ukraine do now? My suggestion:

If I were Ukraine, I might concede Donbass and Crimea on a de facto but not de jure basis. Russia will not let them go under present circumstances. Let the Donbass (or that part that it presently holds) be a problem for Russia and the separatists to contend with; don’t let its self-appointed leaders dictate Ukrainian policy. When the time is right, the Donbass can come back into the fold. I would maintain a formidable standing army to defend the remaining Ukrainian provinces that have come to hate Putin’s Russia with a vengeance. I imagine that Odessa, Kiev, Zaporozhe and Lviv will make short change of self-appointed Muscovites when they arrive to proclaim new people’s republics. Who knows? If active hostilities ended, maybe even Barack Obama would supply defensive weapons. He’s good at shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

The upshot:

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From the front page of the Sept. 1, 1939, New York Times: Charging that Germany had been attacked, Chancellor Hitler at 5:11 o’clock this morning issued a proclamation to the army declaring that from now on force will be met with force and calling on the armed forces “to fulfill their duty to the end.” […]

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Putin’s Russia: A Cornered Bear


High energy prices have been a boon to Russia for years. Shrewdly, Vladimir Putin spent this mountain of cash solidifying his grip on power. He eliminated rivals, silenced critics, and propagated a cult of personality to create a millions-strong volunteer army of often violent devotees. In the minds of many Russians, l’etat c’est Vlad.

But with a massive oil glut from North America and OPEC, Russia’s economy is crashing. The ruble has been dropping for a week. To prop up the currency, the Russian central bank suddenly and surprisingly jacked up interest rates to no avail.