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
There are many simmering conflicts around the world that are not fully resolved but that can intensify very quickly because the underlying issues remain tense even in periods of relative calm. The Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict centers around the ethnic Armenian enclave (Nargorno Karabakh) inside Azerbaijan. To make things more complicated, there is an exclave of Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan) to the west of Armenia.
There have been ethnic/political tensions is this region for generations, but the collapse of the Soviet Union changed the status quo, and there was a cease-fire called in 1994, but that has dissolved in the last few weeks. Now, Turkey and Russia are both seeking to resolve the dispute (or carry out their regional ambitions if you like to approach this more cynically). This shows how a border conflict between two countries can quickly become a broader that can polarize the international community as countries “pick sides” in the conflict. While this is a distressing bit of news for global security and peace, this is a excellent case study to explore many political geographic topics; enclaves, exclaves, borders, sovereignty, devolution, international conflict, etc..
Al Jazeera (10/14)-Updates: Turkey denies accusations, Russia calls for truce
*The Sunday Times-Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of breaking ceasefire
*The Jacobin Magazine-What’s Really Driving the Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict
This is the story of how Sudan became two nations, and of an ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains that has changed the lives of millions of people. In parts 2–5 of our VR series, We Who Remain, follow the lives of four people living through the war: http://ajplus.co/nuba360. Produced in partnership with Nuba Reports and Emblematic Group.
The first video in this 5-part video is a bit slow, but provides the historical and geographic context needed to understand the developmental, ethnic, and political issues that remain so difficult to resolve. The Subsequent four videos provide a more human, personal glimpse into facets of the conflict.
“After four-plus years of fighting, Syria’s war has killed at least hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. And, though it started as a civil war, it’s become much more than that. It’s a proxy war that has divided much of the Middle East, and has drawn in both Russia and the United States. To understand how Syria got to this place, it helps to start at the beginning and watch it unfold.”
Over a year ago I posted a previous version of this video highlighting the complexities behind the Syrian war. Much has happened since then and this updated version adds more detail and includes a very helpful timeline to show how more internal and external forces became involved in the fighting. This is an incredibly complicated geopolitical situation because of all the regional and international players involved.
The president is expected to sign his new, more limited rule Monday.
It’s hard to discuss this topic in detail without a partisan political views. Underneath all of those opinions are geographic perspective about how the world works as well as geographical imaginations on how things should operate.
“In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, sending 120,000 people from the US west coast into internment camps because of their ethnic background. Two-thirds of them were born in America. The treatment of Japanese-Americans during the World War Two was denounced by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 as ‘a policy motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.’ He signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps.“
“In a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, commission chief Yasmin Sooka reported murder and rape on an ‘epic’ scale. ‘We are running out of adjectives to describe the horror,’ she said.”
Since December 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that began as a primarily political conflict, but has since taken shape between the country’s two largest ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer. One of the many tragedies has been the impact on the children living in South Sudan.
How Assad and Russia achieved a major victory at a devastating cost
Reports from Aleppo have been particularly harrowing for the past month, as Syrian government forces, supported by Russian airstrikes and Iranian-backed militias, have squeezed the remaining rebels out of the eastern portion of the city. The collapse seemed to come all at once, with fighters loyal to Bashar al-Assad making more territorial gains in the city’s rebel enclaves since mid-November than they had in the previous four years since the opposition first seized it.
As the offensive reached its final stages this week, the United Nations received reports of massacres of civilians; a spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights said women and children had been shot trying to flee.
During the fighting between the Assad regime and the rebels, ISIS has taken advantage of the situation to recapture Palmyra.