In February of 2022, I could not imagine a scenario where Ukraine, without any other military allies, would be able to repel a Russian invasion, much less start winning back some territory that they lost. True, many got it wrong, but what did we not see? I overestimated the competency of the Russian military and assumed greater demographic resources would be sufficient to explain the result of the conflict. More importantly though, I underestimated the galvanizing force that nationalism would have on a country under attack. If Ukraine wasn’t the most cohesive ethnic group with a cohesive national identity, this Russian invasion strengthened the cultural cohesion and the political identity to successfully fight back. The video below is a good explanation of the changes in the war from 2021 to Sept. 2022.
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
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.