This map can go a long way towards explaining what the Donbas region is, and why it is seen as strategically important to both Russia and Ukraine. This BBC article makes a strong argument that capturing all of the Donbas region would now be Putin’s primary objective. What “winning” this war has meant for Russia has changed; especially now given that a quick takeover of the entire country of Ukraine is impossible. I see 4 reasons why Ukraine has done better in the first month of this war than some expected: 1) the government did not collapse under pressure, 2) the Ukrainian people took up the cause with patriotic fervor, 3) the Russian military was not the power that many expected, and 4) the international sanctions were more impactful in an integrated, global 21st century economy than they would have been just 50 years ago. At the start of the war Russia had (IMHO) much grander ambitions on what would have constituted a victory, but now, control of the entire Donbas region is still the prize that they’ve coveted and would represent an new idea victory. SOURCE: BBC
Roughly half the countries around the world experience low fertility rates, and some get pretty creative in how they encourage procreation.
While many countries have anti-natalist policies (policies to discourage more births), other countries with declining populations have pro-natalist policies in an attempt to increase fertility rates. While not an exhaustive list, this list gives a few more examples that teachers can use to show how countries in stage 4 of the demographic transition are dealing with declining fertility rates.
This week, soldiers from Germany and Belgium are settling into a new posting in Lithuania as part of the latest NATO troop deployment. Will their hosts—and the region—feel more secure as a result of their presence?
This video from the Economist shows how shifting political situations in one country can create some powerful ripples elsewhere. It also shows how fluid geopolitical alliances can either embolden a waxing power, or create anxiety among states that might be waning in regional influence. Supranational allegiances can weigh heavily on smaller states.
It’s been 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union. How has religious freedom fared in this part of the world?
The collapse of the former Soviet Union was one of the biggest political events of the 20th century with long-reaching cultural ramifications. The generations of state-sponsored atheism followed by a variety of new political policies has meant that religious freedoms vary greatly in the regions that were once a part of the USSR. This article gives a good breakdown of all the former SSR’s and the state of religious freedom today in each of them.
Conventional wisdom in the West blames the Ukraine crisis on Russian aggression. But this account is wrong: Washington and its European allies actually share most of the responsibility, having spent decades pushing east into Russia’s natural sphere of interest.
Ukraine is culturally, economically, and geographically connected with Russia. It is a territory that Russia cannot afford to lose as a part of their sphere of influence. John Mearsheimer, in his article Why Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault, gives a detailed account of NATO expansion and how it effected the Russian demand for hegemony in East Europe. Ultimately it is his conclusion that it was this expansion that provoked the Russians, and the current crisis is on the hands of the West. The will of a majority of Ukrainians is be begin economically aligning more with EU/NATO countries. Ukraine decided against Russia, and Russia responded with force. Here is an article where scholars weigh in and mostly disagree with the author’s provocative assessment.
As the country risks becoming a failed state, Kiev must recognise that economic survival depends on Moscow not the west
This is a politically inflammatory title for an op-ed article, given the recent Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Regions and economic regional linkages form and continually reform. Our most likely business partners aren’t necessarily our best friends.
Via Scoop.it – Geography Education
The economic and social turmoil after the fall of the Soviet Union was profound enough to be seen in the demographic statistics. Birth rates dropped as the death rates went up. Typically when birth rates drop it is presented as an indicator of social development, but it clearly is not in this instance. What explains these statistics?