The sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and Europe for its interventions in Ukraine have worked much faster and inflicted much more damage on the Russian economy than anybody could have expected. The sanctions sought to deny Russian banks and companies access to the international capital markets. The increased damage is largely due to a sharp decline in the price of oil, without which the sanctions would have been much less effective. Russia needs oil prices to be around $100 a barrel in order to balance its budget. (It is now around $55 a barrel.) The combination of lower oil prices and sanctions has pushed Russia into a financial crisis that is by some measures already comparable to the one in 1998.
22 December 2014
Until ‘Black Tuesday’ on 16 December 2014, 15 years after he first took power, there were no grounds for any consideration of whether Putin might resign or call snap elections. Now it has become absolutely essential to consider this scenario, although it remains as unlikely as ever, in order to drag Russia out of this serious economic and political crisis.
As Vladimir Putin revives the tradition of wars of aggression on European territory, the Russian past has be adjusted – in speaking of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as good foreign policy.
As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the alliance between Hitler and Stalin that began the Second World War. In speaking of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as good foreign policy doing so he violates both the long Soviet taboo and adjusts his own prior position that the agreement was “immoral.” What might he have in mind?
06 November 2014
Russian president says he sees nothing wrong with treaty with Nazi Germany that led to the carve-up of Poland – and blames Britain for destroying any chance of an anti-fascist front
Vladimir Putin has said there was nothing bad about the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the non-aggression treaty which led to the carve-up of Poland at the outset of the Second World War, suggesting Britain and France were to blame for Adolf Hitler’s march into Europe.
Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine is continuing, writes John Besemeres, many Western observers are surprisingly coy about naming it for what it is. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is making his intentions clearer in the Baltic states.
A few weeks after Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian airliner on 17 July, Russia infiltrated some 6000 more of its regular forces, including crack troops armed with high-tech weaponry, across the still-porous Ukrainian border.
Europe can resolve this crisis and counter Russia’s aggression, but it needs a clear 10-year plan.
Timothy Garton Ash.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014.
The European Union must develop a 10-year plan for Ukraine. This plan will also define what Europe itself will be a decade hence. In tribute to Europe’s pivotal politician, who has clearly led Europe’s evolving policy towards Ukraine, we might call it the Merkel plan. If it succeeds, a characteristically European version of liberal order will have prevailed over the conservative, nationalist recipe for permanent, violent disorder represented by Vladimir Putin. If it fails, Europe fails again.
Why the West should stop being angelic towards Putin
For Vladimir Putin, the West’s tolerance is weakness and dialogue is failure to impose force. Because KGB-styled Russia believes that either you devour, or you are devoured. Europe’s “silence of the lambs”, writes Volodymyr Yermolenko, is not a proper response to Russia’s war.
Throughout its modern history Russia continuously tried to play a double game: to look “civilized” to please the West, but also look “sufficiently barbaric” to scare it. Combining these alternatives, it often sculpted an image of a “good barbarian”, a “barbarian-you-can-accept”.
MOSCOW — Russia and Ukraine are now at war. At least 2,200 people have died in the conflict; thousands more may die yet. The Western powers — America, Europe, NATO — now have no good options, but they cannot do nothing
Vladimir Putin’s increasingly reckless interventions in Ukraine should force the West to reevaluate everything it thought it knew about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the past two decades of Western policy on Russia.
When the Gaza War and the threat from ISIS pulled global attention away from Ukraine, you could almost hear the sighs of relief emanating from the Western capitals: Finally, something to distract us from this Eurasian conundrum! This isn’t to say that Western leaders don’t understand that the war in Ukraine has implications for both the international order and the West’s own internal workings. By now they appreciate the stakes (or at least they ought to); they just haven’t been able to come up with an answer.
Saturday, 10 May 2014 Edward Lucas As a naked display of awesome military firepower, its message could not have been clearer. Yesterday, Russia marked Victory Day — the anniversary of its defeat of Nazi Germany — in Moscow with a parade overseen by President Putin, who watched as tanks, assault helicopters and line upon line […]