Policy Memo # 562
Erik Herron, Cynthia Buckley, Ralph Clem 11 Jan 2019
(PONARS Policy Memo) Since the armed conflict in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine began in early 2014, over 10,000 lives have been lost and nearly two million persons displaced, making this one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. The considerable damage wrought to the infrastructure, especially healthcare facilities, of what had been one of Europe’s major urban-industrial areas and home to some 6.6 million people, remains underappreciated...
Policy Memo # 561
Kimberly Marten 04 Jan 2019
(PONARS Policy Memo) Yevgeny Prigozhin, the corrupt military contractor from St. Petersburg who funds the informal armed organization known as the Wagner Group, expanded his lucrative foreign adventures into Africa in 2018 with Russian state support. His fortunes continued to rise even after scores of his fighters were killed and wounded by a United States air strike in eastern Syria. This memo presents (though in-text links) the most reliable evidence...
Policy Memo # 560
Dmitry Gorenburg 03 Jan 2019
(PONARS Policy Memo) Since the Ukraine crisis, the dominant Western perspective on Russian foreign policy has come to emphasize its increasingly confrontational, even revanchist, nature. Experts have focused on discontinuities in Russian foreign policy either between the ostensibly more pro-Western Yeltsin presidency and the anti-Western Putin presidency or between the more cooperatively inclined early Putin period (2000-2008) and the more...
Policy Memo # 559
George Gavrilis 20 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) Civil and territorial conflicts in Eurasia are often treated as distinct from their counterparts in other parts of the world. The Tajik civil war in the 1990s, the separatist conflict in Moldova, and the battles over Ukraine’s sovereignty are seen as products of the collapse of Communism and the resurgence of Russia. “What Is Happening in Russia’s Backyard?” asks the very title to one such article? This angle limits us. While a...
Policy Memo # 558
Alexandra Yatsyk 19 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) Russia has been playing a multi-fold game in the digital arena. It engages in international cyber attacks, spreads select narratives strategically overseas using the open media rules of Western societies, and simultaneously restricts, piece-by-piece, independent media and individual Russian voices at home. Russian domestic and international cyber policies can be manifested through several recent cases. First, Russia’s state-...
Policy Memo # 557
Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau 18 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine and Belarus pursued competing strategies in their relations with Russia. The question was whether a drift away from Russia, as in Ukraine’s case, or a close alliance with it, as in Belarus’s case, would eventually provide more favorable conditions for development and state- and nation-building. In practice, the two countries often jostled with each other for Moscow’s economic offerings,...
Policy Memo # 556
Mark Kramer 12 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) After the Soviet Union broke apart, the Russian government fought two highly destructive wars against insurgents in Chechnya—in 1994-1996 and in 1999-2009. Both wars caused immense bloodshed, dislocation, and property damage. The first war ended in a humiliating setback for the Russian authorities, but the second war resulted in a forceful reassertion of Moscow’s control over the rebellious province and the establishment of a pro...
Policy Memo # 555
Mikhail Alexseev 11 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) Whereas it is hard to imagine the Donbas retuning fully to Ukraine’s control without Russia ending its multi-year military and economic backing of the separatist entities there, the question of the region’s reintegration is highly prevalent in Ukraine’s political and social life. The Donbas war has been the number one concern over the last three years among Ukrainians who now also see their government’s ability to end this war as...
Policy Memo # 554
Viatcheslav Morozov, Xymena Kurowska, Anatoly Reshetnikov 07 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) Russia has often been accused of violating the norms of “civilized” international interaction. It has engaged in small-scale incidents such as violations of national airspace and aerial brinkmanship to cyber-attacks and major violent acts such as military interventions, territorial annexations, and assassinations. In some of these cases, Moscow might simply interpret the rules differently. In others, it might be deliberately...
Policy Memo # 553
Aliaksei Kazharski 06 Dec 2018
(PONARS Policy Memo) The 2014 crisis between Russia and Ukraine has produced new security concerns in Minsk related to a hypothetical Russian intervention and occupation of Belarus. But the crisis has also allowed Minsk to reap some short-term diplomatic benefits and improve its image in the West. When Ukraine became a target of Russian hybrid aggression, Belarusians naturally lost part of the attention they had enjoyed as victims of “Europe’s last...
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