As events unfold in Ukraine, PONARS Eurasia has created this page for media members and the public to source accurate and up-to-date analysis from experts.

Please feel free to use materials from this page with the citation “according to [expert’s name] in a PONARS Eurasia press release.” For contact information for any of the quoted experts, please email: adminponars@gwu.edu.

See the PONARS Eurasia Executive Committee Statement condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine and Statement condemning scholars’ support for the invasion.

Elliott School Alumna Jenna Segal Establishes Fund to Help Scholars in Ukraine

September 2022 — Generous gift will bring visiting fellows to GW and support other scholars abroad

PONARS Eurasia Members Answer Pressing Questions About the Invasion

Tuesday, April 12th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): One of my best friends who fled Kyiv with his family to Western Ukraine is now considering moving back to Kyiv. They will be joined by relatives who fled from Mariupol and made it to their town in the West. So, we may see some return migration and with it, a growing determination to rebuild and greater resilience in resisting Russia’s military aggression. (April 12th, 2022)

Volodymyr Kulyk (Kyiv, Ukraine): The main implication for civilians is the possibility of returning to their homes in the cities of northern Ukraine, particularly Kyiv. Although the authorities urge the refugees to wait a bit longer, many thousands have already returned, and many more will return in the following days. Related to this, economic activities resume in the northern regions, helping many residents to become self-sustainable and contributing to a sense of normality among the population. At the same time, this premature return complicates the effort to overcome the consequences of the recent siege/blockade and prepare for new Russian attacks which can by no means be excluded. (April 12th, 2022)

Elizabeth Wishnick (Montclair, NJ): There’s no sign that China is reconsidering its support for Russian positions on Ukraine. Although China called the reports from Bucha “disturbing” and urged further investigation, Chinese officials refused to assign blame to Russia and spoke out against its removal from the UN Human Rights Council. (April 12th, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: I see some evidence that China is reconsidering its official neutral position, but it is not in the direction that the US government would want. China has not changed its official neutrality towards the conflict, but since the revelations of the atrocities in Bucha, some Chinese sources show skepticism about Russian soldiers having committed them. (April 12th, 2022)

Sean Roberts (Washington, DC): There is no indication of a change in China’s policy yet. China continues to adopt a dual, seemingly contradictory, policy of observing western sanctions of Russia (to avoid secondary damage to China’s economy) while supporting Russia politically in its propaganda by blaming the US and NATO for what is happening in Ukraine. This is likely to continue since Xi Jinping shares Putin’s belief that the US-led ‘west’ represents an existential threat to their countries. (April 12th, 2022)

Monday, April 11th

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Massacres in Bucha and Mariupol did not happen by chance. State-run RIA Novosti’s articles on the “deUkrainization” and “deEuropeanization” of Ukraine, the dismemberment of Ukraine into “people’s republics” without the name “Ukraine” in their titles, Dmitrii Medvedev on “Ukrainianess as a fake” – all of it created the ideological background for the genocide of Ukrainians.

Additionally: Stop it, Prime Minister Modi!  (For today’s conversation between Biden and Modi). Russian Nazi-type propaganda which was re-sent to me from India (see the brutal video if one can): “This is a google translation of what’s spread in our language Malayalam (Kerala, India) via WhatsApp: In the past, the Ukrainian army invaded Chechnya, killed many innocent people, looted their property, and set fire to their homes.  An old man reciting Surah Al-Fatihah is mocked by the Ukrainian army and brutally murdered in front of his wife and daughter. Today…times have changed.  The Chechens who joined the Russian army have now entered Ukraine…to pay off old debts.”

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Such meetings – and, equally, phone calls – will have zero impact on the situation. This particular visit is arranged to help Vienna save face and pretend it has a balanced position (unlike neighboring Hungary) while in reality it is simply trying to keep as much as possible from the pre-war model of energy relations with Russia (exactly as Hungary). Whether Austria can be perceived by Moscow as a messenger of the EU is highly doubtful. (April 11th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): I believe that these phone calls and meetings produce more harm than benefit. They reinforce Putin’s positioning himself as someone who everyone wants to meet, beg, inflate his status and self-confidence. As for the rationale that they are trying to gather his mood, thinking, I do not see this taking place. Putin keeps his real plans to himself. So, complete isolation might work better in fact. (April 11th, 2022)

Friday, April 8th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): While reasons vary by country, one common denominator explaining both India and Brazil is the rise of autocratic-leaning nationalist populists to power such as Modi and Bolsonaro who galvanize popular support by attacking liberal norms attributed to the U.S.  Broadly, anti-Americanism reduces opposition to Putin. India also illustrates the role of energy and military dependence on Russia. (April 8th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): The question of human rights is tricky for many countries. Those states which were against the resolution are authoritarian ones.  Those which abstained like India, Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa do not want to complicate relations with Russia. Noteworthy that India and South Africa abstained from the March 2 UN GA resolution to stop Russia’s aggression (while Brazil and Indonesia supported it). However, in the voting on Russia’s suspension from UN Council for Human Rights abstentions were not counted, the decision is made based on 2/3 of those who voted. So the practical thing was that these countries were not against the resolution. Interestingly, Serbia voted for both resolutions denouncing Russia. (April 8th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): The revelations about atrocities in Bucha and other places in Ukraine that were recently liberated are taking their toll. It is hard to pretend that you do not notice or that you are ok with it. So, voting “no” would be siding with Russia, and therefore risky in terms of reputation losses and relations with the U.S. Voting yes would be really challenging Russia and complicating future relations with it. So, abstaining was their only choice. (April 8th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): We now see more evidence of horrific effects with widespread cases of rape;  women are the ones fleeing Ukraine with their children and having to deal with traumatic dislocation and risks of deportation to Russia and exploitation in order to stay alive and preserve the life of children, i.e., the future of families. Their role in resistance is outstanding, from sustaining communities to military service, going back to the Invisible Battalion movement since 2014.  (April 8th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Clearly, the war increased the pressure on women. Women and children are overwhelming in 4 mln Ukrainian refugees and 6 mln IDPs within Ukraine. At the same time, Ukrainian women are not passive. They join the fight, they are volunteers helping the army and civilians around. There are many examples when women are bringing their children and parents to safe places in Ukraine or abroad and then coming back to stay with their husbands defending the country. (April 8th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The Le Pen victory will undermine EU’s resolve to sanction Russia and provide military support for Ukraine; while condemning the Russian invasion, she appears to downplay Russia’s war crimes and longer-term security threats to Europe. (April 8th, 2022)

Recent Questions

Friday, February 25th

Polina Sinovets: Putin wants to transform Ukraine into the Russia-like model, where the puppet government will be fully dependent on Russia both politically and economically. And of course this new “Russia like state” won’t have any ambitions towards European or Euro-Atlantic integration. (March 2, 2022)

Danielle Lussier: Putin wants to build his legacy as the leader who reintegrated Russian lands that were divided with the dissolution of the Soviet Union—what he once called “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the [20th] century.” Along the way, he is seeking to permanently disable the liberal international order—specifically NATO. (February 27, 2022)

Henry Hale: Putin said openly he plans to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. Translation: he needs nothing less than the full capitulation of Ukraine’s military to claim success, and he intends to install a puppet government in Kyiv. The larger goal is to establish a “sphere of influence” and force a new European security order. (February 26, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Based on his December 2021 ultimatum, his objective is regional hegemony in Europe. His track record indicates he seeks to safeguard his power and riches from democratic challenges, command the resources of former Soviet states and enable his inner circle to pick off assets globally through bribery or coercion. He will go as far as he can. (February 25, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Significant, determined resistance from the army and volunteer forces. The refusal of thirteen defenders of Zmiinyi Island on February 23rd to surrender in the face of imminent death is your indicator. Survey data on willingness to take up arms over Donbas also supports this conclusion. (February 25, 2022)

Tymofii Brik: Audio Answer (February 28, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: With targeting Gazprom and turning off SWIFT the sanctions will start to bite. But they will have minimal effect on Putin’s quest for territory. Russia has enough resources to absorb the initial hit and then cope through countersanctions and diverting to China. The sanctions are highly important, however, to boost the Ukrainian resistance, resilience and morale. (February 28, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk: I believe that sanctions will have a strong effect but only over time. More sanctions would be even better, like cutting Russia from SWIFT, sanctioning the Russian leader, or targeting the energy sector. They might materialize in the coming days and this would provide useful pressure, but there is a time shortage as Ukraine needs relief right now. (February 25, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Close to zero this year and minor constraints as years go on. Putin has opportunities to adapt that the Soviet leaders didn’t have during the Cold War—he will retain significant capital raising opportunities in China and elsewhere and continue to use the energy assets as a tool to undermine sanctions and split up the West. (February 25, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Short of a military defeat and the loss of control over the media, the political consequences will be minimal. One way to gauge the anti-war protest is to see how many Russians come out when one might expect them to come. Feb 27, the anniversary of Nemtsov’s assassination could be an opportunity, but the turnout was small and short and the leader left in a hurry. (February 28, 2022)

Henry Hale: Short-term rallying-around-the-flag is likely, but as body bags and economic costs arrive, expect some sobering up. People may not admit it publicly. But as the Arab Spring and 1989 teach, the end can come suddenly and brutally for aging, unpopular autocrats despite strong repressive machines. Cronies quickly become opportunists upon sensing a shifting political tide. (February 28, 2022)

Danielle Lussier: Putin is unlikely to face immediate political consequences within Russia. Yet, a prolonged invasion could splinter the economic and security elites that run the regime. Over time, if Putin’s mass political legitimacy starts to crumble, soft-liners from among existing elites might see an opening to build an elite-led opposition. (February 27, 2022)

Mariya Omelicheva: The Putin regime has preventatively built several mechanisms for depressing and countering the political costs of its aggression. These include tight control of Russia’s informational space, effective state propaganda about the Western threat, highly sophisticated repressive machinery for quelling any dissent, and a hawkish inner circle that benefits the most from Russia’s economic isolation. (February 26, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: This depends on his military campaign’s cost and duration. The relatively modest scale of protest against the invasion on Feb 23 (much smaller than for Navalny) hardly portends a major upheaval. The Kremlin will increase capacity to repress. Absent military defeat, Putin may even benefit from patriotic rallying. (February 25, 2022)

Monday, February 28th

Mikhail Alexseev: Ukraine’s military estimate about 4,300 Russian battle deaths, with over 200 taken prisoner. The losses of equipment are sizeable, but core capabilities are hardly degraded. Russia will increase indiscriminate bombardments of cities including probably thermobaric weapons. More AA weapons supply to Ukraine, a no-fly zone at least to protect the supplies, combined with a quiet but visible change in the nuclear posture will most likely succeed. (February 28, 2022)

Polina Sinovets: I am sure this is just a demonstration of military might aimed to coerce the West from supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion. In particular, to coerce NATO from the decision to close Ukraine’s sky from the Russian missiles and aircrafts which is requested by Kyiv and is currently widely discussed in the West. I don’t believe that Russian nuclear forces will be used against Ukraine as it will totally ruin the Putin’s dream of joining “brotherly Ukrainian nation” to the wider Russian world. Plus, Putin has enough of conventional forces to defeat Ukraine with no resort to nukes. So the threat is mostly oriented at NATO and the US to remind them one more time to stay away from military support of Ukraine. (March 2, 2022)

Pavel Baev: The nuclear “alert” that Putin declared on Sunday is only a demonstrative political gesture and has no practical meaning. Strategic forces are supposed to be on high alert, and it is impossible to identify or verify any change in their status. One nuclear move that would make a difference is removal of non-strategic weapons from centralized storages and bringing them to delivery systems, for instance combat ships. The problem is that these weapons were stored for 30 years, and nobody in combat units has experience in handling them, only theoretical knowledge. Risk of an accident is set to be extra-high. (February 28, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Two factors interact: (1) growing international military support to Ukraine and (2) continuing Ukraine’s resistance to aggression. The nuclear alert is therefore a bluff to scare Ukraine’s allies into inaction and also to keep his generals in line, lest they doubt his ability to project power and turn against him. (February 28, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Significant, determined resistance from the army and volunteer forces. The refusal of thirteen defenders of Zmiinyi Island on February 23rd to surrender in the face of imminent death is your indicator. Survey data on willingness to take up arms over Donbas also supports this conclusion. (February 25, 2022)

Wednesday, March 2nd

Volodymyr Dubovyk: The SOTU address has not signaled a new policy or approach, but rather doubled down on the existing one. Gradual increase in sanctions pressure plus coordination of the allies actions plus helping Ukraine remains the approach. Message to Russian oligarchs “we are coming for you” could be also seen as a sign to them to consider acting against insane Kremlin behavior. Release of 60 mln barrels of oil from strategic reserves was a good move too. Unity of the West coupled with isolating Russia remains the core. (March 2, 2022)

Pavel Baev: Biden’s key theme of upholding democracy against the challenge from autocracies has gained new momentum from the outstanding elaboration on the war in Ukraine in his address. One point that could have been made stronger is that Kyiv will not fall to the Russian attack, that Ukraine will prevail in repelling the aggression not in the long run, but in the coming weeks. (March 2, 2022)

Mariya Omelicheva: The crux of US approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine remains the same: sweeping sanctions but no American troops. This effectively precludes a “no fly zone” over Ukraine desperately asked for by President Zelensky. A ban on Russian bombers to enter the Ukrainian airspace will have to be enforced by military means leading to direct engagements of US/NATO forces with the Russian military personnel and risking escalation that the US seeks to avoid at all costs. (March 2, 2022)

Henry Hale: Biden said little new last night. Lots of moral support and more weapons and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, along with massive economic sanctions on Russia. With even Republicans applauding that, this was a rare bipartisan moment for the US. But US troops and air cover only for NATO countries around Ukraine. (March 2, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: No. I felt it was bittersweet for Ukraine’s ambassador. Great recognition of the effort, but no pledges of new military support or sanctioning Russian oil exports. The closure of the airspace is something, but it won’t save Ukrainian cities from the raging murderous onslaught of Russian blanket bombardments as I write this. (March 2, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Don’t see it happening. No reports of any crack in the ranks. Abramovich made a wily move to protect his assets with Chelsea FC. He didn’t say anything in support of Ukraine. His ties with Putin are well known. He and his kids live the life of luxury in London unsanctioned while his money contributed to the Russian military might now obliterating Ukrainian cities. (March 2, 2022)

Joshua Tucker: Even powerful dictators need to make sure they have some support in the population, be it from elites and or masses. If oligarchs speaking out are symptomatic of a more general decrease of support for Putin among Russian elites, it could herald more repression of a sign of Putin’s vulnerability. (March 1, 2022)

Stanislav Markus: Not in the short term. It’s the guns, not the money, that speaks loudest in Russia today: Putin is more likely to listen to the siloviki than to the oligarchs as he weighs his next steps. However, in the long run, as the sanctions take their toll on the economy and more oligarchic capital flees Russia, Putin’s economic ability to wage war should be curtailed. (March 1, 2022)

Vladimir Gelman: I don’t think so. First, Putin do not trust business people, both private owners and state managers. Second, none of these people were able to affect Putin’s key political and policy decisions previously. They are cowardly enough not to challenge status quo at least as of yet. (March 1, 2022)

Olexiy Haran discusses brand new polling results from Ukraine in a video commentary (March 2, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: Brilliantly. He is a hero. I suspect the majority of Russians still see him the way Putin sees him. (March 2, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk: Zelensky has made his share of mistakes prior to the invasion. But since invasion has started he has found his mojo. His PR of frequent, clear, reaffirming messages connects well. His refusal to evacuate from Kyiv is emboldening people. This is surprising, perhaps, to both Moscow and West. (March 1, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: The way states are always affected by war refugees. Except this is estimated to be on a much larger scale (4 million expected). (March 2, 2022)

Caress Schenk: European countries are proving much more open to Ukrainian refugees than those from conflicts in Syria and Libya. However, global racial hierarchies are still at play since Africans fleeing Ukraine were initially given lower priority than Slavic Ukrainians. As long as support for Ukraine is high, efforts to assist refugees should remain robust. (March 1, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev: The impacts are immediate, but any change in perception is likely to be slow. At first, they will wonder what’s going on, but how they answer those questions to themselves will vary and subject to filtering typical of schematic reasoning and compounded by media messaging. The regime also appears to be very efficient in arresting those who may be the biggest doubters. (March 2, 2022)

Henry Hale: Short-term, most Russians are likely to blame the West, not Putin. Putin “warned” Russians the West would impose sanctions even if Russia did nothing, and most Russians now blame NATO or Ukraine itself for the war. But as time passes, research shows, people tend to punish leaders for bad economies regardless of responsibility. (March 2, 2022)

Stanislav Markus: The impact will differ for different population groups. For those watching state TV (older, more rural, less educated), sanctions will reinforce Putin’s narrative of victimization by the West. For younger, more educated, and more urban Russians, sanctions will highlight Russia’s new pariah status. (March 1, 2022)

Vladimir Gelman: Russian’s perceptions of the war may become negative but I doubt that there will be a major turn of blame attribution towards Putin. I even more skeptical about increasing of protest potential. I would expect an involution – Russians will try to find ways of personal survival but not raise their voices against the regime. (March 1, 2022)

Thursday, March 3rd

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): I would not put much trust in the FOM poll on sensitive political questions. The Levada Center is the most reputable one. It shows rallying for Putin since the renewal of the Russian military buildup; we do see his approval jump from 63% in November to 71% in February. If Levada still uses election-data weights to bump Putin’s ratings, the real numbers are probably about 10% lower. However, the increase would still be there. (March 3, 2022)

Ora John Router (Milwaukee, WI): In three early polls of uncertain quality, support for the “military operation” has registered at 59%, 65% and 68%.  All were conducted mostly before the financial crash on Monday.  And in all polls, support for the war was lower than support for recognizing LNR/DNR. (March 2, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): A lot depends on how long the military conflict lasts and how long Ukraine’s wheat exports are blocked. If Russia prevails militarily, it would gain a serious lever against the Western sanctions by controlling Ukrainian grain supplies. (March 3, 2022)

Caress Schenk (Astana, Kazakhstan): Russia depends on migrants from Central Asia. Some now seek Russian citizenship by joining the army to fight in Ukraine. Others hear criticism of Russia from home. In previous economic downturns, migrants have remained, but if they go home now in protest, Russia’s economy will be crippled from below. (March 3, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Not at all; but the stoppage of oil and gas imports to the U.S., Europe and other countries would challenge the regime toward the end of the year. However, it’s important to understand that the Russians are resilient to economic hardship based on their history and that scapegoating the West for them would also blunt the pain. (March 3, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): Economic collapse is unlikely in the next few weeks, as Russia has spare capacity, but likely in 1-3 months. Putin will deepen capital controls and potentially take over indebted oligarch-owned firms. (March 2, 2022)

Friday, March 4th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The Western businesses are rightfully indignant about Putin’s brutal and inhuman aggression against Ukraine and wouldn’t like their reputation to suffer. It is their way also to enhance the government-level sanctions. They are invaluable to boost the spirit of Ukrainian people. They add to long-term economic costs and also could sow doubt among the Russians about the official narrative on the war. (March 4, 2022)

Dinissa Duvanova (Bethlehem, PA): The next tool in economic warfare that the West can put on the table is the total embargo of the Russian economy. With the trade embargo all assets and property of foreign companies working in Russia would be effectively lost. By pulling out now corporations can exit at lower cost. (March 4, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): Western firms are exiting, first, to avoid the reputational liability of doing business in a country that’s waging unprovoked war and, second, to minimize sanction-related future adjustments. (March 3, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): A military defeat or stalemate in Ukraine could see his power rapidly unravel, within months. A military takeover, no matter the cost, would boost not only his popularity but his chokehold on the elites; enable him to credibly shift the blame for mass atrocities his troops are now committing onto Ukraine’s democratically elected leaders and the West; and thus boost the prospect of him ruling indefinitely. (March 4, 2022)

Henry Hale (Washington, DC): The invasion raises chances Putin could fall soon. But he wields powerful repressive and media resources. Even if masses and sanctioned cronies oppose the war, as signs indicate some already do, he can cow masses into silence and divide-and-conquer elites. Such “stability” can unravel suddenly, however, with unexpected triggers. Much depends on how the war goes. (March 4th, 2022)

Danielle Lussier (Grinnell, IA): Putin can hold on longer than the West anticipates due to widespread trust and stoicism. Trust in Putin as a leader is higher than trust in abstract political ideas or institutions. Ordinary Russians show stoicism in economic hardship, and Putin manipulates this resilience by casting the West as the instigator. (March 4, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): Potentially for years to come as long as he retains control of coercion (military, police, FSB). (March 3, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The West has a long way to go to step up the pain on Putin. It can take the cue from British dockers who refused to unload a Russian LNG tanker. A global blockade, including the use of navies, on Russian air and maritime shipments could be introduced. Energy imports from Russia can be stopped. But the best sanctions would be increased military assistance particularly anything that offsets Russia’s air power advantage. (March 4, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): A no-fly zone over Ukraine plus disconnecting all of Russia from SWIFT would stop the military advance. (March 3, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Deadly. Not only providing the staging ground and supplies but not also troops. Mounting sanctions on Belarus, catching up to those already imposed on Russia have increased costs. Further sanctions on Russia need to be equally applied to Belarus, or perhaps more stringently (noting the “Belarusian shrimp” technique to evade sanctions after Crimea). (March 4, 2022)

Henry Hale (Washington, DC): Belarus has supplied a critical launching ground, facilitating Russian troops’ encirclement of Kyiv. This dramatically departs from Minsk’s previous stand, which sought good relations with Kyiv even while being Moscow’s closest ally. Supporting the invasion appears to be the price Lukashenka is paying for Putin’s help in suppressing protests against his stolen 2020 election. (March 4, 2022)

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Belarus is fully responsible for providing its territory for the aggression against Ukraine. However, Lukashenko will be reluctant to directly involve his military. This would undermine his support even among loyalists and troops. There are legal grounds for impeaching Lukashenko who violated both old and amended versions of the constitution. (March 4, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Absolutely not. Such talks typically achieve success if the parties actually stop fighting while they talk. Russia’s attacks got more intense and brutal at both rounds of talks. (March 4, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): There is no sign that they can. In many ways they resemble “talks” in previous months when they actually were a smokescreen for the preparation for invasion. The maximum positive outcome would be creating humanitarian corridors for civilians from the besieged cities, but even this is far from certain. (March 4, 2022)

Monday, March 7th

Julie George (New York, NY): The Russian economic and financial devastation, combined with its expected military losses, portend vulnerabilities in the other de facto states (South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria) as well for as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia is a security guarantor for Armenia via-a-vis Azerbaijan, and the political realities in Nagorno-Karabakh are as yet uncertain. Russia’s preoccupation with Ukraine means that its attentions – and capabilities – are elsewhere. The Ukrainian endgame – especially if it involves Russian expulsion from Crimea – brings a stark precedent for Georgia regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of whom enjoy Russia’s protection. For South Ossetia in particular, there are implications for the moving Administrative Boundary Line that separates the de facto South Ossetian territory and Georgia proper. In the last decade, Russian and South Ossetian forces have moved that line farther into Georgia, with much rhetorical outrage from the Georgians but little action. There may be interest from the Georgians to redress this matter. (March 7th, 2022)

Judyth Twigg (Richmond, VA): The longer-term health implications of the war. Of course the immediate violence and casualties, including Russian targeting of health care facilities, are the most urgent concern, but we should also be watching for the spread of infections like COVID-19, tuberculosis, and polio, as well as drug and supply shortages for treatment of people with these and other diseases. (March 7th, 2022)

Caress Schenk (Kazakhstan): While refugees are flooding Westward, Putin has passed a decree allowing foreign citizens to enter Russia from Ukraine visa-free. Rhetoric from the Kremlin that groups of Chinese and Indian students have been mistreated by the Ukrainians creates a pretext to politicize refugee flows Eastward as rescue missions for allied governments. (March 7th, 2022)

Tymofii Brik (Ukraine): Unprecedented support of institutions by the Ukrainian population. Our data have shown that the decentralization reform has dramatically increased trust to local authorities, satisfaction with community local services, satisfaction with local family doctors, and also increased civic participation (e.g. participatory budgets). This has boosted local resilience and local trust, now we also see new waves of trust and support towards national institutions (President, Prime minister, regional administrations). (March 7th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo): There has been surprisingly little activity in the cyber-domain, and Russian hackers (controlled by SVR/FSB/GRU) are obviously ordered to stay put, but a surprise attack on, for instance, European energy grid, is a distinct possibility. The impact could be augmented if such attack is synchronized with an interruption of Russian natural gas export to Germany. (March 7th, 2022)

Ivan Gomza (Ukraine): One million Ukrainian refugees headed to the West. They represent the most vulnerable members of the society (women, adolescents). They are valuable prizes for human traffickers. Amidst the turmoil, innocent females can be abducted by the mafia as sex slaves. More effort should be directed by accepting countries to mitigate the threat. (March 7th, 2022)

Scott Gehlbach (Chicago, IL): The flight of the educated class from Russia. These are among the Russians most skeptical of the war and opposed to Putin. Organized protest against the war will not be impossible in their absence, but it will be harder. (March 6th, 2022)

Polina Sinovets (Ukraine): As we can see from the Russian forces’ defeat at Mykolaiv,  their poor logistics leave them unprepared to take Odessa. That’s why many experts believe that Russia’s aim in current negotiations is to take a break, restructure their troops, and improve logistics to finally break through at the Southern front. (March 7th, 2022)

The Ukrainian territorial defense has prepared intensively, and they are ready to follow the way of their Mykolaiv (or Nikolaev) comrades. The general expectation is that Odessa will be treated differently than Kharkiv, with the emphasis placed not on bombings but on troops landing and “sleeper agents” waking up in the city. They are preparing to fight on these terms. There is also great reliance on the strong Ukrainian military garrison there, which combines land forces with seals and sea artillery, some of which just recently destroyed the Russian corvette “Vasily Bykov”. The hope is that if the Russians reach Odessa, fights will concentrate around the city or at its suburbs. (March 7th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Ukraine): Odesa was seen as the one of the earliest and most obvious targets of this assault. Yet, fortunately for the city, this has not materialized. It could be that Russia first wants to bring land forces from the east closer to the city, and there are delays there. Sea landing seems risky. Russia lost several air planes already. Defenders of the city had time to reinforce their lines. Yet, an assault can still be mounted. (March 7th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Ukraine): The Russian Orthodox Church and its head Cyril supported the war. Onufriy, the leader of ROC in Ukraine denounced the war but its clergy considered it not enough. They curse Cyril with an obscene lexic. They also demand Onufriy to conduct extraordinary meeting to withdraw from Moscow (see this video). Very probable that a lot of them will join the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. (March 7th, 2022)

Caress Schenk (Kazakhstan): Without diminishing the important work of a few scholars, I fear social scientists have not integrated perspectives on ROC into our analyses enough. We are learning troubling things from our colleagues in humanities and remain indebted to them for their work clarifying the influence of religion on the current context. (March 7th, 2022)

Oxana Shevel (Medford, MA): The Russian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch’s support for the war against Ukraine will have far reaching ramifications. In Ukraine, Moscow-aligned UOC-MP began to distance itself from ROC and we will quite likely  see it breaking from ROC and eventually uniting with independent OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). If this happens, Putin will unify Ukrainian society on yet another dimension. (March 7th, 2022)

Tuesday, March 8th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The assistance is crucial. The key is to offset Russian air power superiority. This superiority provides Putin with unmeasurable power to hurt Ukraine, destroying cities and civilians. This power to hurt diminishes the valiant heroic resistance of Ukraine’s defense forces and presents the biggest mortal threat to Ukraine. (March 8th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): The longer the war drags on, the more important Western military supplies to Ukraine will be. The current deliveries need to be aimed at covering the urgent tasks on the battlefields, first of all attacks on the long-stretched Russian supply convoys, which means primarily light anti-tank missiles. It is also essential to help Ukraine to organize new battalions in the rear areas, like L’viv, and for that some heavier equipment, including armored vehicles is needed. This area of building and training new battalions also needs protection from air strikes. (March 8th, 2022)

Andrey Semenov (State College, PA): With over 13000 detained after antiwar rallies and 60 cases opened under the new law on spreading “fake news” about the military, opportunities to publicly express opinions critical of the government are severely cut. Discontent is likely to submerge to semi-private social networks with a goal of persuading the undecided and reinforcing participation in the next wave of mobilization. (March 8th, 2022)

Kornely Kakachia (Tbilisi, Georgia): The Georgian government’s policy of accommodating Russia will be difficult to sustain—as well as dangerous to Georgian sovereignty—when the West and Russia are locked in a major conflict over Moscow’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. Tbilisi’s position confuses its Western partners, alienates its closest allies (including Ukraine), and strengthens Russia’s perception of Georgia deliberately returning to Russia’s sphere of influence. If the Georgian government does not adapt to changing circumstances, it will risk being isolated internationally and being left alone with Russia. (March 9th, 2022)

Emil Dzhuraev (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan): The Central Asian countries, more than most others and just short of Belarus, are under Russian influence and have been trying to maintain a neutral position on the war. Not openly joining and supporting Russia is already a negative message from them to Moscow, and a nod in favor of Ukraine. However, a lot is at stake for them linked to both options – supporting Russia or supporting Ukraine. As time goes on and war theatre evolves, risks for Central Asian states remain high and may grow still higher, from massive economic fallout as ‘collateral damage’ due to anti-Russia sanctions to straightforward request from Putin to join Russia’s side. (March 9th, 2022)

Sean Roberts (Washington, DC): Central Asian states have neither explicitly criticized nor overtly supported Russia’s invasion. The lackluster performance of Putin’s military emboldens some Central Asians to ponder the waning of Russia’s regional hegemony, but more immediately, especially in the EEU member states of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, they worry about downstream impacts of sanctions. (March 8th, 2022)

Caress Schenk (Astana, Kazakhstan): In Kazakhstan, Russia’s aggression is seen through the January 2022 events (Kazakhstan’s largest-ever political crisis) and uncertainty over what inviting CSTO peacekeepers will eventually cost. The public seems split, some in strong support of Ukraine, others in support of Russia. The government is unwilling to make a clear stance. (March 8th, 2022)

Wednesday, March 9th

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Two analogies: 1) Stalin’s unprovoked attack on Finland in 1939 after provocations made by Stalin himself. Stalin declared the “Finnish Democratic Republic” with no territory. He appointed a “government” led by Soviet Communists of Finnish origin and even signed a treaty of “mutual assistance.” The war united Finns despite their ideology; the Soviet army was incompetent, and suffered huge losses. Having gained some territorial concessions, Stalin had to stop and disband the “FDR”.  2) The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. One of the pretexts was the “potential installment” of US missiles there. The invasion led to international isolation, 15,000 killed Soviet soldiers in ten years or war (compared to at least 4,000 Russian soldiers in two weeks in Ukraine), and economic collapse and became one of the factors that led to the USSR’s collapse. (March 9th, 2022)

Ivan Gomza (Ukraine): The Russian incursion in Ukraine resembles the Japanese gamble in Mongolia terminated with a rout at Khalkhin Gol (1939). The operation was a culmination of the 8-year-long Japanese penetration in continental East Asia. Poorly planned and inadequately supplied, the attack was driven by false historical parallels: the Japanese were fighting near Mukden, where the Japanese crushed the Russians in 1905. They despised the opponent ever since and expected to waltz into Mongolia to gain a territorial concession. Besides, the Kwantung Army was reputed as one of the best in the world. Driven by hubris and misperception, the Japanese lost 60,000 men as opposed to 10,000 Soviet casualties and withdrew. (March 9th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): I would venture an argument that Russia’s invasion into Ukraine constitutes a strategic blunder of unprecedented proportions in the annals of military history. Hubris is an ancient term that comes to mind. Underestimating the enemy is a common enough mistake, but overestimating one’s own capabilities in such a spectacular way makes a new textbook case for military academies. The plan for executing offensive operations with a significantly inadequate number of troops and no reserves, along several long roads without proper air support and dismal logistics goes so far beyond limits of common strategic sense, that many experts refused to believe the intelligence data exposing this plan in all essential detail. (March 9th, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): Targeting oil trade will not change Putin’s willingness – but it will seriously diminish his capacity to continue the war effort. (March 9th, 2022)

Judyth Twigg (Richmond, VA): The United States only gets 3-4% of its oil from Russia, making yesterday’s announcement of an import ban primarily symbolic. From Putin’s perspective, it’s a blip in the overall sanctions landscape. It’s a smart domestic political move by the White House, though, allowing Biden to blame rising gas prices and any other economic disruptions in the U.S. on “Putin’s war.” (March 9th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): It would not by itself. But it is adding pressure to the moves already made and indicates that the U.S./West is probably not done yet. The EU contemplates its own new batch of sanctions. Piling sanctions up is the way forward and sends a strong signal to the Russian leadership, economy and society. It is also the right thing to do morally. (March 9th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): The US ban on importing Russian oil is mostly a symbolic measure showing that the economic pressure is set to increase every day, but in fact, the closure of McDonald’s restaurants in Russia makes a far stronger symbolic impact. (March 9th, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): An opportunity that has not been explored so far is China’s (potential) role as a mediator. China has deep (although different) links to both Ukraine and Russia, and is interested in the end of this war at this point. It would be a credible mediator for both Ukraine and Russia. (March 9th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): So far close to none. The Israeli prime minister and Turkish president have offered their services but were all but ignored in Moscow. Beijing might have a better chance but does not seem to be interested, maintaining its pro-Moscow position instead. The West is seen as an ally to Ukraine and opponent to Russia, so it could not act as a mediator. The outcome will be decided on the ground in Ukraine where Ukraine’s heroic defense added with Western aid could impact more than any mediation efforts as of now. (March 9th, 2022)

Oxana Shevel (Medford, MA): With humanitarian situation reaching crisis proportions in multiple cities under Russian bombardment, efforts to achieve ceasefire to allow civilians to evacuate and supplies reach besieged cities are critically important. Unfortunately Russian army’s gross disregard for civilian life and mounting evidence of war crimes so far stood in the way, and there is very little trust on the Ukrainian side that Russian promises of humanitarian corridors will be kept. International agencies such as the Red Cross should be acting more aggressively in demanding ceasefire and engaging in negotiations at all possible levels. (March 9th, 2022)

Thursday, March 10th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): China buys energy resources from Russia; there’s intense and little publicized cooperation on advanced military technology; China has been providing advice to the Kremlin on how to control the internet. And China matters by its very existence. Just thinking of its potential would stiffen the Kremlin’s resolve to withstand sanctions. (March 10th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): China has effectively distanced itself from Russia since the start of the war and has done nothing to soften the impact of Western sanctions, while its de facto compliance with the extraordinary severe economic punishment adds to the impact. In my understanding, Putin – postponing the launch of the offensive operations until the end of Beijing Olympic games – expected more support. He had, apparently, misinterpreted signals from Xi Jinping (democracies, like happy families, are all alike, but each autocracy is enforced in its own particular way) and now can only guess what advantage will China take from Russia’s looming defeat. (March 10th, 2022)

Elizabeth Wishnick (Montclair, NJ): For now, China appears to be complying with financial sanctions. China’s commercial banks are not providing financing to Russia and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has put its loans to Russia and Belarus on hold. There has been talk of China’s Cross-Border Inter-Bank Payment (CPIS) system helping Russia work around its ban from SWIFT, but this is not a viable replacement as it only uses the Chinese yuan which is not yet a global currency, and CIPS is connected to SWIFT. However, China continues to buy oil and gas from Russia and it remains to be seen whether Chinese oil companies will take advantage of the exit of Western companies from the energy sector to make long-coveted investments. (March 10th, 2022)

Sean Roberts (Washington, DC): Politically, China sends clear messages that it supports the Kremlin, but it remains cautious on the economic front. It will likely provide a lifeline to Russia’s economy over time via both banking and trade, but presently many of China’s global enterprises implicitly observe western sanctions to preserve their business elsewhere. (March 10th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): This is important as a focal point of information and casting the light systematically on Russian actions that have amounted and/or could amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. Even if Putin prevails and ignores the Court, the investigation materials would represent an authoritative record to counteract what surely would be Russia’s rewriting of Ukraine’s history. (March 10th, 2022)

Mariya Omelicheva (Washington, DC): In addition to the ICC, Germany and Spain opened investigations into suspected Russian war crimes. While the modern technologies make the task of collecting, transmitting, and authenticating evidence easier, the challenge will be to connect Putin directly to offenses and convict him. The ICC does not hold trials in absentia. To arrest Putin will require a regime change in Russia. In an unlikely scenario of a new government in Moscow, Russia can still hold in-country trials to allay collective shame. (March 10th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The exodus would need to be in the millions to make a systemic impact. Since those who disagree with the war are more likely to flee, the exodus would reduce mass protest likelihood. If the exodus increases, the Kremlin may resort to greater brutality to occupy Ukraine faster and/or close the borders for those trying to get out. (March 10th, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: In the near-term Putin will view this new round of Russians leaving Russia as a positive as this is a better alternative to tens of thousands taking to the streets to demonstrate against the regime. He views them as traitors anyway, so good riddance. Of course for the medium and long term benefit of the country, this amounts to a new era of brain drain, but Putin does not see that as his problem. If the numbers significantly increase in the weeks and months ahead, it may be viewed more negatively for its economic impact, and we may see more restrictions. But for now, sure, leave the country, but leave your hard currency. (March 10th, 2022)

Stanislav Markus (Columbia, SC): Politically, the exodus may stabilize Putin’s rule and facilitate repression because it is above all the dissenters, i.e. those not zombified by Putin’s propaganda, who are leaving. Economically, it will speed up Russia’s decline due to brain drain. (March 10th, 2022)

Friday, March 11th

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): Turkey has long had its balancing act between the West and Russia, and now between Ukraine and Russia. They depend on Russia in many respects, but are clearly troubled by the current war and destabilization in the region. Relations with Ukraine are also friendly, as Ankara supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sells it Bayraktar drones. Unfortunately, Turkish media is full of pro-Russian narratives. There is a lot of blame of NATO and the US in leading up to this war. But the mediation effort is sincere. It is just not that impactful in terms of impacting Moscow’s position. (March 11th, 2022)

Ayse Zarakol (Cambridge, UK): Erdogan had backed himself into a corner foreign-policy wise and also due to the dismal state of the Turkish economy. He is trying to survive this crisis with minimal damage by playing both sides. He may even hope to gain from the situation by becoming a critical middle player everyone has to (or can) work with. (March 11th, 2022)

Sener Akturk (Istanbul, Turkey): Turkey has both structural and ideational reasons for backing Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including but not limited to the prevention of Russian hegemony in the Black Sea, and protecting the rights of Crimean Tatars, and thus supported Ukraine militarily (e.g., Turkish drones) and politically to recover its occupied territories since 2014. However, Russia has been among the top two trading partners of Turkey for decades, and thus Turkey would prefer a negotiated end to the Russian invasion. (March 11th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): Turkey is exposed to multiple risks generated by the war in Ukraine and has mitigated some of them, for instance ensuring the safe passage for some 20 commercial ships stranded in the Sea of Azov. It sent a strong signal to Moscow by closing the Straits for the Russian Navy, and the message has apparently registered as the Black Sea Fleet has remained passive. As the war drags on, tensions between Russia and NATO in the Black Sea theatre are set to escalate, and Turkey can hardly hope to remain out of Moscow’s list of “hostile states”. If Russia tries to apply military pressure, Ankara might respond asymmetrically, for instance in Syria. (March 11th, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): The creation of the International Legion (IL) serves at least two purposes. First, to mobilize freedom-minded individuals and military professionals from around the world to support Ukraine. Second, to prepare the ground for an international military coalition against Russia. While NATO is trying to contain the war in Ukraine, Ukraine itself seeks external military and/or peacekeeping support. Since its inception, on February 27, there have been around 20,000 applicants from more than 50 states to join the IL. More information on the IL can be found on the official website.

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Aside from blatant egregious lies such as “genocide” against ethnic Russians, the democratically elected leaders being labelled “drug-addicts, terrorists, and Nazis,” and “we didn’t start a war,” there are some seemingly inoccuous tropes that mischaracterize the conflict in favor of the Kremlin’s propaganda and yet are widely used in the media: “conflict in Ukraine,” “war in Ukraine,” “Ukraine crisis,” and similar. Perhaps the AP style guide needs to direct the media to use proper terms such as “Russia’s war on Ukraine,” “Russia’s attack against Ukraine” or “Russia-Ukraine war.” (March 11th, 2022)

Caress Schenk (Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan): When the maternity hospital at Mariupol was bombed, Russian media spun the story that photos in Western media were produced by “crisis actors”. They called this Western coverage fake news. The language of fake news becomes dangerous and dizzying when it’s mobilized by both sides and it clarifies very little. (March 11th, 2022)

Ivan Gomza (Ukraine): Russia has a long tradition of disparaging anti-imperial and anti-colonial Ukrainian movements as “fascist.” Likewise, Russian statesmen usually condemn Ukrainian patriotic feelings as “ultra-nationalist.” They are playing the same card during this war. While deliberately shelling civilian infrastructure to sap moral and inflict indiscriminate casualties, Russian propaganda machine alleges that only “neo-Nazis are being targeted.” This outrageous double-speak must be universally denounced. (March 11th, 2022)

Monday, March 14th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Putin’s outreach to international allies for military support in Ukraine is of big concern. Can we see any movement of Chinese cargo toward Russia that may indicate the transfer of weapons, ammunition and other military-related goods? Is India helping militarily? How many and what kind of Syrian forces may join? What about Iranians and Iraqis? (A sideline on that: Would Syrians join Russia as a way to migrate to Europe?). (March 14th, 2022)

Elizabeth Wishnick (Montclair, NJ): The Russian invasion of Ukraine has significant implications for Arctic governance. On March 3rd the seven Arctic Council states (minus Russia) said they would not attend meetings of the Council in Russia, which is the rotating chair through the spring of 2023, and put the work of the Council on hold. This organization has sought to avoid the discussion of hard security issues but now they are preventing its work.  This is also a blow for China’s interest in playing a greater role in Arctic governance–to the extent that China is seen as a tacit supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Beijing’s Arctic ambitions will be met with even greater skepticism.  However there may be resource investment bargains in the Russian Arctic that are up for grabs and we’ll see if China goes for them or resists, given the threat of western counter-sanctions. (March 14th, 2022)

Judyth Twigg (Richmond, VA): An article in yesterday’s Izvestiya (thanks to Paul Goode for the tip) hyped the risk that “Ukrainian militants and extremists” will try to hide among war refugees deep inside Russia, intending to commit sabotage and spread “Nazi propaganda.” The 2010 Russian census identified almost two million Ukrainians, about 1.4% of the population, living in Russia. Those Ukrainians may now be falsely accused of belonging to or supporting “bandit formations,” scapegoated by the Putin regime as part of its pro-war propaganda effort. (March 14th, 2022)

Danielle Lussier (Grinnell, IA): More than 50% of refugees are children, and most of the rest are maternal caretakers. We do not know how many refugee and internally displaced children are without the protection of a guardian. They constitute an extremely vulnerable population that are at risk of exploitation, kidnapping, and human trafficking. (March 14th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): The long-planned Cold Response 2022 military exercise is getting underway this week in Norway with combat ship and troops from many NATO states partaking, and it can be informative to watch Rusia’s reaction. Various counter-measures, from missile launches inside NATO exercise area to jamming the GPS signal, were tried by the Northern Fleet in 2018-2019, and this time around the tensions are much higher. Defense Minister Shoigu reported to Putin last Friday on new preparations for countering NATO activities, and the High North may be designated as the theatre to show Russian resolve. (March 14th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Air support is crucial as well as the delivery of longer-range missiles to disable Russian artillery and missile systems. Audacious hybrid deterrence moves on NATO’s part could not only relieve the sieges but compel the Kremlin to revise the whole invasion: humanitarian airlifts and airdrops to the besieged cities using NATO military aircraft (as in the 1948 Berlin airlift) as well as a joint naval “freedom of navigation enforcement mission” specifically to Mariupol (similar to the missions in the South China Sea). (March 14th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): This is a perfect opportunity to switch from the ongoing appeasement to deterrence. The strikes at Yavoriv signify that Putin keeps escalating–in terms of intensity, civilian targeting, and now geographic scope. Add to that the seizure of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, dams at risk, and potential use of chemical or biological weapons by Moscow. Does the U.S. want to take on these issues now, while there’s still time to give deterrence a chance, or later, when Russian missiles hit Poland and Russian tanks roll into Lithuania? (March 14th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odessa, Ukraine): Russian strike at Yavoriv training base was a precision strike, while, theoretically, some of the missiles might have gotten of track. Moscow warned that it sees Western military supplies to Ukraine as a legitimate target. But to target them is hard for Russia logistically. So, Moscow is trying to send a message to the West: stay out. Anti-tank weapons continue to flow across the border but Kremlin now worries more about more serious stuff, like anti-air weapons and airplanes. It threatens to escalate but hardly is ready to escalate vis-a-vis West. 

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): The right to self-defense is in the UN Charter. Hence, the supply of arms to Ukraine is totally legitimate. The US should think creatively to secure it. Also, the US or other allies can strike mercenary recruitment points in Syria (Trump was not afraid of doing it against Russia’s Wagner group); the US and the EU can urge Serbia to stop analogous recruitment. It is important to disconnect all Russian banks from SWIFT and prevent Visa and Mastercard from working inside Russia. (March 14th, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): The West should supply Ukraine with anti-missiles systems and take control over the sky in the western part of  Ukraine. These steps will both secure the delivery of critical resources to Ukraine and protect the evacuation of the Ukrainian refugees to the EU countries. (March 14th, 2022)

Tuesday, March 15th

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): I do not expect any major new initiatives or asks on his part. The no fly zone remains a distant possibility. He might mention it, but would not focus on it too much. The supply of jet fighters and anti-air systems would definitely make it into the address. NATO membership will probably not be mentioned, except for, perhaps, Zelensky reiterating his realization that progress here is not possible, thus also sending a signal to Moscow. He would surely thank the U.S. for the aid, but might ask for even more of it, on a scale of the new Marshall plan.  Finally, he would surely ask to increase pressure on Moscow, more sanctions, and closing the loopholes that help Russia to circumvent those sanctions. (March 15th, 2022)

Oxana Shevel (Medford, MA): The west should do “Berlin Airlift” drop off to Mariupol. Announce it, state that the airlift will have only humanitarian supplies (not weapons), invite media, human rights groups, and Russian embassy to inspect departing planes and drop supplies to save dying people in Mariupol. Do it now! (March 15th, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: I support the idea of an international humanitarian airlift proposed in today’s Wall Street Journal by Doug Feith and John Hannah to support besieged Ukrainian cities. This is an urgent need, and has been for more than a week in places like Kharkiv and Mariupol. The US could take the lead in organizing the international community on this, but it would be best if the deliveries were made by a non-NATO country. (March 15th, 2022)

Joshua Tucker (New York, NY): Past research shows that when authoritarian regimes ban access to social media platforms, people who use them find ways around the ban, such as by downloading VPNs.  In addition, with so many Russians having friends and relatives in Ukraine, information about the war will also travel via messaging apps. (March 15th, 2022)

Wednesday, March 16th

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): This visit served two main purposes – symbolic and practical. While major Western news agencies operate under a narrative of the inevitable fall of Kyiv, the arrival of three prime ministers may change the perception that Kyiv, like all of Ukraine, will repel the aggressor. The attitude change has already been visible in the Polish media. The practical component aimed to agree on the types of military assistance that each of the countries has subsequently offered to Ukraine.

Andrew Kuchins: On one hand, this is simply recognition of reality; a reality that existed when Putin made his European security proposals last December. Personally I wanted to engage the Russians genuinely on the proposals to see whether it might have been possible to prevent this war. I was sure Putin would attack if he did not get any traction. More on the question, I think it would be politically useful for NATO to make the call rather than for Zelensky be seen to make the decision that would hurt him in domestic politics. He is clearly considering this given his references to Switzerland and Austria: neutrality but no demilitarization.

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): It does not mean that Ukraine cancels its aim to join NATO; it reflects the frustration that NATO does not want Ukraine’s membership. In this situation, Kyiv theoretically may consider a non-bloc variant but with real security guarantees (not Budapest-type paper “security assurances”). These security guarantees provided by the US, UK, France, perhaps Turkey, Poland, etc., should include immediate military support, including troops on the ground if another “guarantor” (Russia) attacks Ukraine. Despite disillusionment with NATO’s inability to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, 72% of Ukrainian support joining NATO (with only 12% against). (March 16th, 2022)

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Zelensky’s words are a realistic reflection of reality, unfortunately. NATO is driven by the wish to “de-escalate” and “not to provoke” Moscow. However, admitting this publicly, Zelensky grossly weakens Ukraine’s bargaining position vis-à-vis Russia, unnecessarily offends some of Ukraine’s NATO partners, and de-consolidates his own domestic power base. (March 16th, 2022)

Oxana Shevel (Boston, MA): This remark signals what Zelensky has already been expressing – that’s what is important for Ukraine are tangible security guarantees, not necessarily formal membership in NATO. But who will provide such guarantees and how they can such guarantees will be enforced remains unclear, and the fate of the Budapest Memorandum is not encouraging. At the same time, signaling that Ukraine may be open to not seeking formal NATO membership if its security can be assured otherwise widens negotiations space with Russia. (March 16th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): It was not unexpected, and he said something similar before. So, first of all, it is a bitter acceptance of reality – not having the immediate perspective of membership. But, also, no doubt, this is the message to Moscow within the framework of the talks that Kyiv has with them. Certainly, Moscow wanted a big permanent neutrality treaty. But they will have to do with this for now. It is important not to make any formal commitments. Because they may look like a defeat for Ukraine and also contradict Ukraine’s constitution. Moscow can still try and frame this as their victory, and they probably will. But Kyiv should frame it differently. In a way, Zelensky outlined this frame today: We are capable of defending ourselves with aid from particular countries even while being outside of NATO. (March 16th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): Russian military strategy has changed three times in the course of three weeks, and each war plan is flawed in a different way. The fiasco of blitzkrieg is well-documented, the failure to advance by armored columns simultaneously on Kyiv (from two directions), around Kharkiv, and on Mykolaiv/Odesa followed suits, and the current plan for besieging Kyiv and Kharkiv and capturing ruined Mariupol is unraveling due to the lack of reserves and logistics. Any strategically sensible plan D would require shifting efforts away from Kyiv, which is impossible because of inflexible political aims. A sudden collapse of one of the overstretched groupings might resonate in the overloaded war machine and produce a complete breakdown. (March 16th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): It looks like Russia is consolidating and expanding the shift from using the power to defeat to using the power to hurt as its main military strategy. It is methodically bombing residential areas and infrastructure to cause unbearable pain and compel Ukraine to accept its terms without necessarily taking more territory. It is also increasing the power of denial — i.e., the attack on Yavoriv near Poland with 30 missiles suggests that Russia is likely to target supply routes to prevent Western military aid from reaching the Ukrainian army. (March 16th, 2022)

Thursday, March 17th

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): His appeal has probably consolidated U.S. support, even though it was already high, both among the elites and public. It could be that he has somewhat sped up the process of providing more assistance. The no-fly zone remains a non-starter. Zelensky seems to realize this clearly now. In his address to the Congress, he mentioned no-fly zone, but then quickly moved to alternatives like provision of jet fighters and anti-air systems. Some of this was probably in the works by the Biden administration by that day, but providing this aid right away is a priority, since every day matters here on the ground, delays can be very costly and U.S. weapons are making quite a difference. (March 17th, 2022)

Mariya Omelicheva (Washington, DC): An impassioned plea of President Zelensky to the U.S. Congress moved American lawmakers emotionally but less on the key dimensions of policy. The legislators support increased military assistance to Ukraine (and Biden pledged additional anti-aircraft systems, small arms, and drones) but no direct American involvement. The new Pew Research Center Survey conducted on March 7-13 finds that 62% Americans oppose the US “taking military action” in the war.  (March 17th, 2022)

Danielle Lussier (Grinnell, IA): Everyone is expected to engage in the social, economic, and political sanctioning of Russians who take an anti-war stance. There is no tolerance for openly questioning the official narrative. Putin has made it clear: one cannot be both anti-war and a member of the Russian nation in good standing. (March 17th, 2022)

Richard Arnold (New Concord, OH): Putin’s statement may signal that he is preparing extremely harsh repressive measures against anti-war Russians, even to the point of purges and concentration camps.  The regime has a history of telegraphing its intentions and it appears that anti-war Russians are not leaving the country fast enough for him.  If there are elites willing to resist,  this could devolve into civil war in Russia. (March 17th, 2022)

Friday, March 18th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Somewhat closer than earlier, but formidable barriers remain. Russia’s insistence on “neutrality” and “demilitarization” will be impossible to accept for Ukraine without security guarantees that are not just on paper. Putin is fighting not just Zelensky, but the Ukrainian people, and they wouldn’t want to be left unprotected having been through Russia-made hell. If he accepts a bad deal, he will be swept away. (March 21st, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): They are getting closer, allegedly, but not there yet. Russia is inflicting maximum pain on Ukraine to force an agreement on its terms. Ukraine sees that the Russian military is underperforming, unable to reach its objectives. This motivates Kyiv to prolong the fight, to improve their chances for a better deal. Moscow’s stance softens somewhat, but for now there are apparently still conditions of Moscow that Kyiv rejects. (March 18th, 2022)

Oxana Shevel (Medford, MA): This depends on Russia’s end game and how strong (or not) it feels it is against the Ukrainian military. Since Putin can’t achieve his maximalist initial objectives of capturing Kyiv and deposing Ukrainian government, he may agree to a ceasefire to buy time, to consolidate the territorial gains Russian forces made in the southern and eastern Ukraine specifically, and use the time to re-supply and strengthen their troops. Russia will likely push for at least the capture of Mariupol before agreeing to a ceasefire since they are not agreeing to a ceasefire to allow for humanitarian corridors for civilians. (March 18th, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): Russia’s ceasefire suggestion is a withdrawal (of Russia) to the position prior to February 23. This seemingly peace-oriented formula looks like a test of Ukraine’s readiness to make concessions. This formula is unlikely to be accepted by Ukraine as it leaves the occupied Donbas under Russian control. However, I do not think Putin will be ready to discuss a real ceasefire until his next escalation attempt fails. In Putin’s view, the cost of victory is still higher than the cost of participation in the war. (March 18th, 2022)

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Reaching a ceasefire quickly is only possible if Ukraine makes serious concessions. This is not unlikely. Facing insufficient Western military (delay with decisions concerning deliveries of air defense systems) and political (no promise of EU membership) support as well as Europe’s reluctance to further increase sanctions on Russia, and unable to stop the destruction of country’s infrastructure by Russian strikes Kyiv may fall into a diplomatic trap the same way it did with Minsk-II agreements. (March 18th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The key is deeds, not words. The best case scenario is if China doesn’t change what it is doing–i.e., rhetorically supports Moscow but doesn’t bail it out economically and militarily. To preclude or minimize China tilting toward Moscow in deed, it would probably take not only the threat of costs by Washington, but also a promise of inducements. (March 21st, 2022)

Elizabeth Wishnick (Montclair, NJ): Barring some massive escalation by Russia (use of chemical weapons, for example) I don’t see China changing its official position on Ukraine. To do so would be to admit that Xi Jinping’s personal engagement with Putin–they met 38 times–and emphasis on the China-Russia partnership were mistaken.  Considering that he aspires to a third (or unlimited term) as President he is unlikely to make any major foreign policy changes prior to the 20th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party in the fall of 2022. (March 18th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): There are some signs of Beijing recalibrating their public messaging away from full support of Moscow. Their state TV ran a story of civilians being killed in Ukraine by Russian troops the other day. Despite their recent strategic partnership declaration Beijing might consider that Putin went too far in his Ukraine adventure. He probably told Xi about this upcoming military operation, but not the scale  of it or level of brutality. Beijing does not want to be associated with those scenes of carnage in Ukraine. They also beware of U.S. sanctions, not interested in protracted destabilization of the world markets. (March 18th, 2022)

Sean Roberts (Washington, DC): China is unlikely to change its official stance towards the situation in Ukraine substantially, but it is already changing nuances. It has avoided overtly supporting the invasion from the start, but it has also persistently sought to blame the US, EU, and NATO for the invasion rather than Russia. It continues to support the conspiracy theory about US-funded bio-labs in Ukraine, even linking them with the origins of COVID.  However, it is now dictating that China’s media be neither ‘pro-Russian’ nor ‘pro-Ukrainian’ while seeking not to threaten the China-Russia relationship and finding opportunities to criticize the US and NATO. (March 18th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): China can continue with its lukewarm and essentially immaterial support for Russia until the prospect of defeat comes closer. Facing a worsening situation in the warzone and mounting pressure from the West, Putin might try to proceed from the vague nuclear hints to more specific threats – and China could then play a crucial role in preventing nuclear escalation by unequivocally warning against any attempt to deploy non-strategic warheads from the storages closer to the delivery systems or to stage a nuclear test. Putin is in no position to overrule Chinese “No”. (March 18th, 2022)

Kirill Rogov (Moscow, Russia): Leaving aside the question of some conspiracy that we cannot know about (if we knew, then the other side would know). And talking about a “split of the elites” in the terminological sense I think the term is appropriate when it becomes public. When disagreements within elites become visible in the public field. In this case, these disagreements (“split”) become a signal for the management of the lower level and the population, organizing society around dividing lines. At this stage, we do not see anything of that kind. Moreover, Putin has been quite successful in demonstrating his ability to coerce the elite into loyalty. The key development in this regard is Nabiullina’s proposal for a new term. There are very noteworthy rumors (and they are well known in Russia) that she submitted her resignation on the first day of the invasion. (It is useful to look at the recording of Putin’s first meeting with the economic bloc since the invasion.) It is against this background, in my opinion, that her new nomination should be perceived. Putin demonstrates his confidence that no one in the elites has the strength and chances to rebel. And this is what we have at this moment. (March 18th, 2022)

Monday, March 21st

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The forced deportation of Ukrainians to Russia and whether some are being sent to remote cities to do forced labor; efforts (or lack thereof) on the part of Biden administration to increase economic pressure on Russia and on having more of our allies on board (Mexico is a particularly frustrating case given their dependency on us); closing the Bering Strait to deter China from backing up Moscow. (March 21st, 2022)

Judyth Twigg (Richmond, VA): The risk of human trafficking to unaccompanied children fleeing Ukraine. UNICEF has identified more than 500 children crossing alone into Romania since the war started. The real number of separated children is likely far higher. UNICEF/UNHCR “Blue Dots” safe spaces for Ukrainian women and children, offering one-stop access to health screenings, vaccination, and information/support services, are being scaled up rapidly. Their child protection screening protocols should also be widely implemented in train and bus stations, shelters, and other locations where at-risk children are likely to pass through. (March 21st, 2022)

Richard Arnold (New Concord, OH): Navalny’s fate is not getting attention it deserves, in my opinion.  While the pro-Democracy activist keeps getting years added to his sentence, he and his staff are still criticizing Putin.  The fact that Navalny has not yet been killed suggests something interesting, in my opinion. (March 21st, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): Just as on the military, political or economic front, Russia is facing stiff resistance in the cybersphere. In addition to ‘Anonymous’ – an international hacktivist group involved in the cyberwar on the side of Ukraine, a volunteer ‘IT Army’ has been created in Ukraine on February 26. The initiative was launched by the Ukrainian government and by the latest count has amassed nearly three hundred thousand specialists worldwide. Beginning in basic, D-Dos attacks, the initiative has moved on to target better-protected government and commercial sites in Russia. According to one observer, “More than half of Ukraine’s IT army’s targeted sites have faced partial or total outages in Russia, based on the samples collected.” (March 21st, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): I’d add this to the list above. After a few reports on the Anonymous succeeding in breaking into some sensitive Russian government servers and of Ukrainian cyber experts minimizing the impact of Russian attacks, not much has been reported on major news outlets. (March 21st, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Whether it was actually a hypersonic Kinzhal used remains to be verified. It is significant that the Russians claimed they did it: it would appear to reflect the Kremlin’s continuing bluff to deter NATO’s military support to Ukraine, ultimately indicating that with bolder U.S. support Putin would fold rather than escalate further. (March 21st, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): In military-strategic terms, the strikes by air-launched hypersonic Kinzhal missile are of minor significance – this weapon system is developed for breaking through complex missile defense systems, which Ukraine doesn’t have. The strikes are intended to provide distraction from the ineffectual performance of Russian air force, which was supposed but failed to establish dominance over the whole theater of war and provide close air support for the advancing battalion tactical groups – and has by now reduced its activity to a dozen or so sorties a day. It may also be important for the top brass to show that at least one of the six “wonder-weapons” advertised by President Putin in the 2018 address to the Federal Assembly actually works. (March 21st, 2022)

Tuesday, March 22nd

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): It’s a very powerful psychological and emotional tool to frame the lies about Ukraine, NATO and the West posing an existential threat to Russia and to fan mass public support for the invasion and also to justify harsh repression of opposition to Putin at home. (March 22nd, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): His search for negotiated solutions is primarily a sign of his humanity, and not a sign of weakness or faith in bargaining. If any round of talks creates a pause in Russia’s bombings of civilians even for an hour, many lives would be saved. But this is not a weak position, for the Ukrainian people are determined to fight to either victory or death. (March 22nd, 2022)

Wednesday, March 23rd

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Zelenskyy’s persistence regarding his meeting with Putin is even more irrational now than it was before the war. At the moment Kremlin could agree to have the meeting only if Kyiv indicated readiness to make major concessions. Unless and until it becomes evident to Moscow that the time is on Ukraine’s side, which implies significant changes of the situation on the ground in all aspects, expecting anything from the meeting makes zero sense for Ukraine. (March 23rd, 2022)

Robert Orttung (Washington, DC): As long as Putin remains in power, it will be impossible for Navalny or any other opposition figure to operate in Russia. They will have to work from outside the country. It is important for the West to support these Russians because they will be the only hope in building a peaceful Russian society once the current regime collapses. (March 23rd, 2022)

Andrei Semenov (Perm, Russia): Navalny team until its demise in 2021 was the most voicefrous and formidable opposition organization in Russia. Pressure on its former activists continues; many are in exile, imprisoned, or under arrest. The future of the network hinges upon possible political transformations in Russia, specifically, prospects of establishing accountable government with viable democratic institutions and constrained security apparatus. (March 23rd, 2022)

Thursday, March 24th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Very significant — Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic makes several important points and the bottom line is Ukraine needs more military assistance. (March 24th, 2022)

Volodymry Ishchenko (Berlin, Germany): The suspension of the opposition and left parties is meaningless for Ukraine’s security because the relevant parties are not pro-Russian and those who considered collaborationism could collaborate outside of the party organizations. The suspension is even harmful because it signals to the local organizations of the suspended parties, the local council members, mayors in the occupied cities that they may face persecution in Ukraine, so they may start looking towards Russia. (March 24th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): It is not the “disappearance” as such that is surprising, but the fact that the Kremlin hasn’t tried to disprove speculations by confirming that Shoigu is busy directing the “special operation”. His name might appear at the list of virtual attendees of the Security Council meeting on Friday, but this is hardly convincing evidence. What makes Shoigu’s position unique is that only he can be held responsible for the spectacular blunders in the initial phase of the war – and that his involvement is absolutely necessary for any palace coup to succeed. (March 24th, 2022)

Monday, March 28th

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Russia’s intensifying bombings of Ukraine’s fuel depots, schools, hospitals and residential areas, the massive destruction of Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv — indicating the hopelessness for negotiated settlements; the poisoning of two Ukrainian negotiators who were in talks in Belarus; the rising security risks for NATO and the US of NOT providing stronger airpower defensive support to Ukraine. (March 28th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): We should watch the attempts by Ukraine’s certain Western allies to pressure Zelensky to accept Moscow’s conditions for a ceasefire. Basically, many have argued that Zelensky should have come to compromise with Russia even prior to February 24th. Their main argument now is to stop carnage in Ukraine. However, Zelensky is his own man now and he feels emboldened by heroic resistance and popular support; the levers for the West are limited, and therefore, we can expect no rush to a peace deal by Kyiv. (March 28th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The very fact that he did; that he took a long time to explain the situation; and the harshness with which the Russian state has responded; the courage of Russian independent journalists. (March 28th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): As long as the Russian government continues to sell oil and gas internationally close to the current levels, the economic “collapse” is not an issue. (March 28th, 2022)

Judyth Twigg (Richmond, VA): One data point from a sector not under sanctions – pharmaceuticals – indicates that shortages are already setting in. People are stockpiling essential medicines. Prices are up despite government attempts to regulate them. Most international drug manufacturers have said they’ll stay in Russia, citing humanitarian concerns that they claim rise above geopolitics, and many are promising to donate all profits from Russian sales to Ukraine relief funds. Nonetheless, growing reputational, contractual, supply chain, and payment issues will likely lead to production bottlenecks and slowdowns. Russia’s domestic pharmaceutical industry, which in principle has benefited from aggressive import substitution policies over the last decade, doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity to pick up the slack. (March 28th, 2022)

Tuesday, March 29th

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): They have come to recognize the limits of their military advance. This is the primary reason for any potential shift. Yes, potential, since it remains to be seen if they would indeed withdraw their forces elsewhere. Right now it is too early to say. Important is whether they will continue to fight to expand to grab the entire Donbas. If so, this would mean continuation of the war. (March 29th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Most of Russia’s statements since Crimea on the military situation in and around Ukraine have been strategic lies. There’s no reason why this one would be different. I’d watch for actual troop movements and activities. A partial withdrawal from the North followed by resupply and reinforcement and another push on Kyiv and West of Kyiv is not to be excluded. (March 29th, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): It makes perfect strategic sense to concentrate efforts on the Donbass region, but it sets a difficult task to pull in the long “tentacles” reaching to Mykolaiv and Kyiv (from two direction). Every retreat can easily turn into rout, given the low morale among the exhausted battalion tactical groups. What is also predictable is that common strategic sense is set to be overruled by irreducible political ambitions, so the aim of capturing Kyiv – unfeasible as it is – cannot be conveniently abandoned. (March 29th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): Ukraine needs the same things as before – financial and military assistance and pressure on Moscow. The war has not ended, so military supplies are as needed as before. Many regions are in ruins and close to one third of the population is displaced, which means that Ukraine needs large scale financial aid. Also, the West should not pressure Kyiv towards premature and half-baked peace deal, which could be detrimental to its long term interests and sovereignty.  (March 29th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): It desperately needs more capable air defense systems (Avenger, M-SHORAD, S-300 from Greece, S-400 from Turkey) and fighter jets (the Migs stationed in Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia); these are essential to reduce Russia’s capacity to force Ukraine’s surrender through the mass slaughter of Ukrainian civilians including the possible use of air-dispersed chemical or biological weapons. (March 29th, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: The Ukrainians need heavier and more offensive military equipment so they may conduct more effective counteroffences. This could be a moment for Ukraine to really build momentum and strengthen their negotiating position by having the Russian military more on the run. Second, the sanctions regime should be structurally stengthened starting with a European boycott of Russian oil and gas. Sanctions are far less effective when implemented on slow piecemeal basis only in reaction to what Russian does. The Kremlin has done far and away enough to justify totally hammering their economy! Also, stop wasting time chasing around oligarchs’ assets on the theory that bringing them more pain will alter Putin’s calculations. They have no influence with Putin, and for the most part he could care less if they are impoverished. If anything, he supports this. (March 29th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Good to hear that “no inch of NATO territory” can be attacked. Frustrating to hear that NATO countries are not ready to provide tanks and planes as they may become “offensive weapons,” that is: Ukrainians, you cannot counterattack and liberate occupied cities and villages. Economic sanctions should be expanded, i.e. disconnecting ALL Russian banks from SWIFT, and a real exit (not fictional one as in the case of McDonald’s) of Western companies from Russia.  Western Universities: remove the names of Russia’s oligarchs from the titles of your academic programs. (March 29th, 2022)

Ivan Gomza (Ukraine): Ukrainians need hardware and software. Hardware comes in the guise of munitions and military equipment necessary to protect vital facilities like oil terminals and hospitals since both became favorite targets for Russian artillery and aviation. Software is the belief that helps Ukrainians to continue fighting. They must rest assured that after the eventual cease-fire, there will be no “business as usual” approach to Russia – sanctions will not be lifted until after Russia pays for war damages and tangible security guarantees for Ukraine are achieved. (March 29th, 2022)

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Most, Ukraine needs weapons that would effectively protect its infrastructure. It needs a promise of EU membership as a symbol of unity and belonging. Return of Western diplomats to Kyiv would be a sign of trust that Ukraine can prevail (and, besides, Lviv is not necessarily a safer location). Western governments should be much more persistent vis-a-vis those companies that continue business as usual in Russia. The secondary sanctions to ensure that all loopholes in the sanction regime are closed should be introduced vigorously and consistently. (March 29th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): Roman Abramovich is presumably someone who can talk to both sides informally. Whether he is the one who can get through to Putin is not clear. These talks might be useful to see the limits of parties’ positions. Ukraine needs peace, but not at any costs. There is no appetite for any sort of capitulation in the country. It appears that the Ukrainian delegation might be willing to deliver too much without securing proper returns from Moscow. This would not solve Ukraine’s security predicament and might generate domestic disagreements.  (March 29th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): His motives are unclear, but his participation gives the Kremlin an additional potential pretext to unilaterally break any ensuing agreement by calling it unjust and blaming it on the devious influence of the oligarchs. (March 29th, 2022)

Paul Goode (Ottawa, Canada): Putin has long worked through oligarchs to realize policy goals, and Zelenskyy likely requested his participation to ensure a direct line to Putin in negotiations. Abramovich may be motivated personally to rehabilitate his reputation, relax sanctions, and possibly to get in on post-war reconstruction contracts in Ukraine. (March 29th, 2022)

Wednesday, March 30th

Richard Arnold (New Concord, OH): The draft serves to focus attention on the young people who are dying in the war.  The rich and well-connected can usually escape drafting through a variety of means, including bribery.  This year we are likely to see an even larger number of draft-dodgers and possibly protests against the mandatory nature of the draft.  As those who can escape the draft are typically urbanites and ethnic Russians are leaving the rural areas, lots of the conscripts are minorities.  It’s difficult to be certain, but the ethnic dimension might also have an impact. (March 30th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Ukrainian oligarchs keep a low profile. Most of them are outside Ukraine, presumably in the West.  Novynsky, Akhmetov’s partner and staunch supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church, seems to be in Russia. Kolomoyski is afraid to leave Ukraine as he could be extradited from other countries to the US. Their main TV channels: “1+1” (Kolomoysky), Ukraina  (Akhmetov), ICTV (Pinchuk) and even Inter (Liovochkin-Firtash) are now united with the official Rada channel for a patriotic “joint information marathon”. Poroshenko (whom Zelensky is trying to include into the official “list of oligarchs”) is staying in Ukraine helping with territorial defence and volunteers’ projects. Poroshenko announced that he met with Zelesnky in the first days of war and that they agreed to work together for the victory. Nevertheless, Venediktova, Zelensky-appointed Prosecutor General, declared that legal prosecution of Poroshenko on the alleged charges of “betrayal of national interests” will be continued, not a wise step regarding national unity.  (March 30th, 2022)

Danielle Lussier (Grinnell, IA): Totalitarianism comprises a legitimizing ideology, a mobilizing mass party, and concentrated power in an individual that is not held accountable and cannot be peacefully removed. Putin has concentrated political and economic power and closed access to alternative sources of information, but a coherent ideology for mass mobilization is missing. (March 30th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Previously, I was arguing that Putin’s Russia represented an authoritarian model but it was distinct from a totalitarian one. Since 2014, the regime could be depicted as the fascist one, yet fascism may be authoritarian, not necessarily totalitarian. Since February 2022, with political and criminal repressions against anti-war protesters, closure of the last independent media outlets, censorship, blocking of social media, outrageous Nazi-type propaganda, chauvinism and war crimes the regime is quickly transforming into totalitarian one.  (March 30th, 2022)

Thursday, March 31st

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Belarus is already waging the war against Ukraine by providing the Russian troops bases of operation, including the brutal bombardment of Northern Ukrainian cities. Friends who fled Kyiv suburbs also reported Belorusian “marauders” operating in their neighborhoods, indicating most likely direct military involvement. Belarus has about 45,000 troops and dispatching some of them would offset Russian losses in manpower. (March 31st, 2022)

Ryhor Nizhnikau (Helsinki, Finland): It is not likely in the near future. Currently, high costs clearly outweigh its limited benefits. Sending Belarusian troops would not boost Russia’s war efforts. To the contrary, it might destabilize the fragile domestic status quo and thus potentially require Russia to intervene on behalf of the regime. (March 31st, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): The likelihood of a direct invasion from Belarus remains high. The attack is possible in the direction of Volyn, in order to block the aid channel from Poland, and from the north – in the direction of Kyiv. However, the lack of combat experience and low motivation of the Belarusian military is unlikely to make this offensive successful. If failed, Lukashenko risks losing military support in the face of a new wave of domestic protests. (March 31st, 2022)

Arkady Moshes (Helsinki, Finland): Direct involvement of the Belarusian troops in the invasion of Ukraine is increasingly less likely. The national consensus in Belarus, based among other things on a generally adequate understanding of how unsuccessful for Russia the operation has been going especially around Kyiv, is that the troops should stay home. Going against this consensus would threaten Lukashenka domestically. Furthermore, analysts currently agree that the strength of any would-be Belarusian contingent would not suffice to make a difference. (March 31st, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): One doesn’t need any intelligence to conclude Putin was misinformed about the likelihood of swift takeover of Kyiv. It is also typical in any setting that some subordinates try to cover up errors. But overall Putin must have a good idea of what is going on, considering that for any general who would cover up mistakes, there’d be another general willing to rat him out and earn trust and promotion. (March 31st, 2022)

Pavel Baev (Oslo, Norway): There is more to this US/British intelligence report than just stating the obvious. That Putin was misinformed about the basic strategic parameters of the war is beyond doubt – the initial Blitzkrieg plan is the evidence. The news is that Russian top brass has started to provide the CinC some assessments that can no longer be hidden, first of all that Kyiv cannot be captured or besieged (a similar assessment on Odesa is apparently postponed). Putin’s reckoning with a very “improved” version of reality goes very hard, but his anger against Shoigu and his generals cannot yield any energy for making a last push for victory. (March 31st, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): This is part rallying effect and part totalitarian convergence (expressing the view a respondent believes is the most accepted view in society–except unlike in a democracy that consensus is obtained through intimidation, repression, elimination of opponents, and state propaganda). (March 31st, 2022)

Danielle Lussier (Grinnell, IA): This high level of support reflects the effectiveness of Russian propaganda, the complete collapse of independent media, and visible repression of anti-war sentiment. Many Russians accept the story of themselves as “liberators” and are struggling to reconcile any other interpretation of events, while others dare not express lack of support. (March 31st, 2022)

Friday, April 1st

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Russia has a lack of manpower plus a desire to intimidate Ukrainians with war criminals. However, the quality of this manpower is low, they will fight in a totally different country in a totally hostile environment. Under Trump the US struck Russian Wagner mercenaries, striking recruitment centers in Syria is an option now. (April 1st, 2022)

Svitlana Kayuk (Dnipro) at the invitation of Richard Arnold (Muskingum, OH): My city is not occupied and relatively far from the front. We didn’t work for the first three weeks, we got used to a new way of living. Every day and every night there are alarms when we have to go to the shelter. I haven’t slept normally in a long time. Sometimes, shells come to the city and then the house shakes – it is scary and difficult to get used to. But quietly – we work. Everyone finds some kind of job: how to help the military, the fleeing, the wounded. Everyone is very organized. I read the news all the time. As a university lecturer, I have been conducting classes online with students for about two weeks with roughly 70% being present. We are trying not to fall into the barbarism that the war and Russia brought, and therefore we must learn. By now, students are used to reacting quickly and changing habits quickly. I learned a lot of new things: where it is better to hide, how to provide first aid, etc. We closely monitor politics, we support the authorities in everything, but not blind support. Therefore, in social networks we express dissatisfaction with the terms of negotiations with Russia. The city changes daily. At first, there were few people on the streets because some left. Now there are more refugees from more dangerous areas are coming here. We buy only the necessary things: food and medicines. We don’t think about anything else. On the streets of the city there are people only during the day, in the evening the city freezes, there is practically no light, only a little from the windows. Everyone is trying not to go out in the evening. From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., a curfew continues and it is impossible to go outside.‎ (April 4th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): It would be good to learn more about ordinary people’s lives in areas recently seized by Russian forces (such as Kherson and Melitopol); also, evidence in settlements recently reclaimed by Ukraine indicate evidence of summary executions of civilians; and little is known from the mainstream media coverage here about the impact on people in the occupied territories of DNR/LNR in the Donbas and on those used as decoy refugees back in February as part of the false flag op to justify the invasion. (April 1st, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): The major story which is hardly reported, even after more than a month of this massive war, is the fate of the internally displaced persons in Ukraine. We are talking about a huge number of people. The minimum number mentioned is 6,5 mln, but this is possible a serious undercount. Uprooted people, leaving everything behind, most often with a job, so no means to earn means to provide for themselves and families. Have to spend funds on housing and food. Let tending for themselves with very little to no assistance. International community should do more to help. (April 1st, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): India’s militarized territorial disputes with China and Pakistan give it the incentive to boost its military capabilities from all likely sources and at the lowest cost; it also has interest in cheaper oil and is developing nuclear power plants with Russia (as in Kudankulam). (April 1st, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: India prides itself as very independent at least going back to its role as a founder of the non-aligned movement in the 1970s. India also holds close relations and remains very grateful and cognisant of Moscow’s support in their war with Pakistan in 1971. But while their official position is neutral, Indian social media shows support for Ukraine. This contrasts the official Chinese neutrality but where their social media favours Russia. (April 1st, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): I would say it is not a middle position, it is very close to the Russian narrative. It was understandable when there was a need to evacuate Indian students. But now I believe it’s a bit cynical in attempts to get Russian goods and energy resources at discount prices. Russian propaganda is extremely powerful in India, i.e they spread via WhatsApp in Malayalam language (state of Kerala) lies about Ukraine’s “invasion” and massive killings in Chechnya in 1999(!). The notorious Sputnik agency is on Indian TV. At the same time, Indian TV is no longer saying that “Kyiv is encircled, invasion almost complete”, now they say that Russian military victory is “unlikely”. (April 1st, 2022)

George Gavrilis: The near-total destruction of Mariupol has received scant attention. Little information is flowing out of the city, coming via scattered accounts from news and social media sources in Ukrainian, English, Greek.  War crimes in Mariupol will be exponentially worse than those being documented this week in Kyiv’s outskirts. (April 4th, 2022)

Volodymyr Dubovyk (Odesa, Ukraine): The focus will probably stay on the situation on the battleground, specifically intensifying the fight for Donbas. Aside from this, to watch for are the missile strikes elsewhere in Ukraine, including my hometown of Odesa, and its impact on economy, infrastructure, delivery of weapons, humanitarian efforts. What would be the outcome of the horrific findings in Bucha and other newly liberated towns and villages? Will this transform into new sanctions and more pressure on Moscow? Will Mariupol fall and what would happen elsewhere in the South? Russia consolidating its positions there or preparing to withdraw to pre 02/24 positions? (April 4th, 2022)

Andrew Kuchins: Presidential Election results in Hungary and Serbia and current polling for the French first round on April 10th suggest that Russia’s war in Ukraine is not changing these elections. Pro-Russian authoritarian Victor Orban was elected for the 5th time and maintained his 2/3 majority in the Parliament. Serbian pro-Russian President Vucic was re-elected for a second term. The top contenders in France, incumbent Emmanuel Macron and rightist pro-Russian Marine Le Pen have maintained remarkably stable numbers going back to 2021, with Macron polling at 27/28% and Le Pen at 21/22%. At this point there is little evidence to support thesis of great victory for liberalism. La plus c’est change, la plus c’est la meme chose it seems. (April 4th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Cutting off Russia’s energy supplies would be the most painful. Even the current debate on ending Russia’s oil and gas imports should send an important message to the Kremlin.  Slow and incremental implementation reflects the degree of dependency of various states on Russian energy imports.  One concern is that if the sanctions cause severe harm to European economies, they would be in a weaker position to support Ukraine. (April 5th, 2022)

Joshua Tucker (New York, NY): The most painful would be a European boycott of Russian energy. The reason it hasn’t yet been implemented is the potential immediate costs to European citizens, which could involve both higher prices and shortages. The question therefore is whether political pressure to react to the atrocities in Bucha is sufficient to overwhelm the fear of the domestic political consequences of higher energy prices. (April 5th, 2022)

Robert Orttung (Washington, DC): The most important sanction against Russia is banning its energy sales to the outside world. No civilized country can purchase these supplies in good conscience. Sales continue because, even though Russia has become a pariah, the thinking of most people has not changed. Each country and every individual has to change behavior to switch away from fossil fuels and that is a hard thing to do. (April 5th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): One consistent and powerful lesson from history of such trials (Nuremberg, former Yugoslavia) is that they only become possible and meaningful in the event of a military defeat or departure from power of the perpetrators. Yet, even in the absence of such outcome, a war crimes trial would have a positive symbolic effect and will also strengthen international support for Ukraine’s struggle for independence and national survival. (April 5th, 2022)

Jean Francois-Ratelle (Ottawa, Canada): Since 2013, Ukraine has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction meaning that crimes falling under its jurisdiction (e.g., crime of aggression, war crimes, crime against humanity, and genocide) committed any actors on Ukrainian territory could be prosecuted by the Court. An alternative option would be using the universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and genocide in national courts like the Pinochet case. (April 5th, 2022)

Richard Arnold (Muskingum, OH): A war crime’s trial for Putin remains a theoretical but unlikely possibility.  The ICC has no jurisdiction in Russia which is not a signatory of the Rome statute.  Putin is not in ICC detention and so they could try him in absentia as they tried to do with al-Bashir in 2010, but even then they opted against it because Article 63 prohibits it.  War crimes trials would have to come after the war is over, so a better example is Nuremburg or the ICTY (although this, of course, diminishes Putin’s incentive to negotiate a peace). (April 5th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): The things to watch is Russia pivoting to India and China; undertaking measures to reduce its dependency on the dollar and the Euro; and selectively incentivizing countries within the EU to veto collective sanctions on Russia (thinking of Hungary, for example). (April 5th, 2022)

Yuriy Matsiyevsky (Ostroh, Ukraine): Russia is importing sanctioned products from Europe, including military equipment, through Belarus and Georgia. Thus, foodstuffs and equipment are imported from Germany to Russia, though convoys of trucks have been blocked for several weeks by Ukrainian volunteers on the Polish-Belarusian border. On April 4, such a blockade began in Germany. The Georgian authorities do not dare to impose sanctions and according to the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Georgia has given permission to create a channel for smuggling banned goods into Russia. China, India, and Kazakhstan in their turn have not given up trade and investment in Russia, which could mitigate the impact of sanctions. (April 5th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): It will not change anything. From the very beginning Zhirinovsky was considered a puppet of the Kremlin and KGB-FSB. He was believed to represent marginal far-right chauvinistic views. However, what Putin’s regime is saying and doing right now goes far beyond all the extremes of Zhirinivsky. Putin’s regime is fascist and becoming more and more totalitarian. (April 6th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): They are likely to increase Ukrainians’ determination to fight, demonstrating what awaits them if they lose on the battlefield or surrender. If Ukraine’s allies also respond by providing the military support Zelensky requests and by using military capabilities to signal resolve (for example, with humanitarian relief, say, dispatching a US Navy hospital guarded by destroyers to Odesa), the Kremlin will be more likely to make concessions and sue for diplomatic settlement on conditions acceptable to Ukraine. (April 7th, 2022)

Serhiy Kudelia (Geneva, Switzerland): It will have at least three important implications. First, the systemic pattern of atrocities against civilians in multiple locations may indicate that Russia is engaged in ethnic cleansing campaign or genocidal violence. This will increase pressure on the West to take more forceful actions in response to the conflict, such as possible intervention on humanitarian grounds. Second, it will complicate or stall ongoing peace talks by making even minimal or symbolic concessions to Moscow untenable for the Ukrainian authorities. Thirdly, it may raise the overall intensity of violence and lead to growing disregard for international humanitarian law, particularly in Donbas where Ukrainian and Russian armies will face each other in the coming weeks. (April 7th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Long overdue. It’s important not because of any tangible impact in restricting Putin’s family resources, but as a signal of determination to keep the sanctions going and mounting over time. (April 7th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): The Russian elite and their families should not have a “normal way of life” enjoying Western benefits, advantages, style of life and the very living in the West. They should suffer materially and symbolically. Therefore, the sanctions should be expanded to the large circle of Putin’s supporters and their relatives, including banning visas and permissions for living, studying or working in the West. Ukrainians have demanded it since 2014, but in vain. (April 7th, 2022)

Brian Taylor (Syracuse, NY): The sanctions on Putin’s daughters, who previously were never officially confirmed as his daughters, are primarily symbolic.  They are meant to send a signal to Putin that the financial noose will continue to tighten around those personally connected to him. The European Union may take the same step tomorrow. (April 7th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev (San Diego, CA): Yes, particularly with respect to providing military assistance to Ukraine. (April 7th, 2022)

Olexiy Haran (Kyiv, Ukraine): Authoritarian and nationalistic, pro-Putin Orban undermined the EU unity, values and principles long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 (the necessity of Central European University to leave Budapest was notoriously symbolic). The situation is even more so after the start of Russia’s full-scale war. Mr. Orban refused not only to supply arms to Ukraine, but to use Hungarian territory for the transit of arms to the fighting Ukrainians. He also agrees to pay in roubles for Russian energy resources. What I never understood was the mood in Hungarian society regarding Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Hungarian revolutions were crushed by the Russian empire in 1848 and by Soviet tanks in 1956. Hungarians are so proud of their fight for freedom; they lived under Communism and know all the lies of Russian propaganda, so why do they believe it now? Nevertheless, Hungarian civil society is providing important humanitarian support and ethnic Hungarians from Ukrainian Transcarpathia are fighting for Ukrainian independence. (April 7th, 2022)

Resources

Erik Herron on WDTV explaining the barriers to a negotiated peace

Yoshiko Herrera on Live at Four discussing the impact of the latest round of sanctions on Russia (April 6th, 2022)

Marlene Laruelle on The Mehdi Hasan Show (April 6th, 2022)

Marlene Laruelle on BBC NewsHour, starting at 46:11 (March 18th, 2022)

Mikhail Alexseev discussed Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s role and leadership with TaiwanPlus News starting at 8:30 (March 29th, 2022)

Marlene Laruelle explains the Russian population’s reaction to the war in an interview with Fox News (March 17th, 2022)

Brian Taylor appears in the Fox Nation special “Who is Vladimir Putin?

Olexiy Haran discusses brand new polling results from Ukraine in a video commentary (March 2, 2022) (March 2, 2022)

Tomila Lankina explains the Social Origins of Putin’s War (February 28, 2022)

Olexiy Haran shares his view from Kyiv (February 27, 2022)

Joshua Tucker on Yahoo Finance (February 24, 2022)

Joshua Tucker on The Mehdi Hasan Show starting at 9:00 (February 22, 2022)

Marlene Laruelle, Marine Le Pen, the Rassemblement National and Russia: history of a strategic alliance.The Conversation. April 21th, 2022

Volodymyr Dubovyk, “Russia Inflicts “Maximum Pain” as War Drags On, 11 Million Ukrainians Displaced.” Democracy Now! April 14th, 2022

Peter Rutland, “Ruble’s recovery masks sanctions’ economic pain,” Asia Times, April 13th, 2022

Pavel Baev, “Russia’s Quick Victory Vanishes, as Protracted War Looks Inevitable,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, April 11th, 2022

Maria Snegovaya, “Will Putin Outlast the War?” Journal of Democracy, April 2022

Lauren McCarthy, “Why Putin uses Russian law to crack down on dissent.The Washington Post. April 7th, 2022

Elizabeth Wishnick, “Beijing’s View From the SidelinesForeign Policy. April 7, 2022

Nikolai Petrov, “What are the chances of the Ukraine invasion leading to Vladimir Putin being toppled from within?Independent. April 6th, 2022

Peter Rutland, “Five Wrong Ideas About Russia’s War on Ukraine.Independent. April 6th, 2022

Jordan Gans-Morse and Ian Kelly, “Ukraine is on the front line of defending Western democracy,” The Chicago Tribune. March 30, 2022

Scott Radnitz and Harris Mylonas, “Putin’s warning about Russian ‘fifth columns’ has a long, sordid lineage,The Washington Post. March 30, 2022

Samuel Charap, “The Perilous Long Game in Ukraine,” Foreign Affairs. March 30, 2022

Richard Arnold, “Russian Cossacks and the Continuation of the War in Ukraine.” Eurasia Daily Monitor. March 30, 2022

Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon, “A False Dawn for Liberalism? Why the War in Ukraine May Not Revive the West.Foreign Affairs. March 29, 2022

Susanne Wengle, “Ordinary Russians were already worried about rising food prices. Then came war and sanctions.The Washington Post. March 4, 2022.

Mikhail Alexseev, “Op-Ed: Failing to supply MiGs to Ukraine, the West just flunked Putin’s testLos Angeles Times. March 15, 2022.

Olga Gulina, “Human Costs of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Changes in the EU MS’s Legislation for Ukrainian Refugees” PONARS Eurasia, March 2, 2022

Peter Rutland, “Ordinary Russians are already feeling the economic pain of sanctions over Ukraine invasion,” The Conversation, February 28, 2022

Kimberly Marten, “How this invasion threatens NATO: Seeing Putin’s gameplan,” The New York Daily News, February 25, 2022

Oxana Shevel, “Op-Ed: Putin is a prisoner of his own delusions about Ukraine. They will be his undoingLos Angeles Times, February 25, 2022

Marlene Laruelle, Decoding Putin’s Speeches: The Three Ideological Lines of Russia’s Military Intervention in Ukraine, Russia Matters, February 25, 2022

Henry E. Hale, “Would Russia’s Own People Punish Him for Invading Ukraine?” February 24, 2022

Maria Snegovaya, “Paying the Price for Putin’s Adventurism: Russian Public Opinion Leans Toward Butter Not GunsA Restless Embrace of the Past? The Conference on Russia Papers 2022

Irina Busygina, (No New) Lessons Learned, Russian Analytical Digest, February 18, 2022

Maria Popova and Oxana Shevel, Putin Cannot Erase Ukraine, No Russian Invasion Can Undo Ukrainian Nationhood, Foreign Affairs, February 17, 2022

Volodymyr Ishchenko, A Russian Invasion of Ukraine Could Destabilize Russia’s Political Order, Truthout, February 14, 2022


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Event Recordings

Ukrainathon: 24 Hours of Expert Lecture Related to the Invasion, PONARS Eurasia Event, March 16-17, 2022

Ukrainian Scholars Discuss Current Crisis with Russia | Dubovyk, Haran, Kudelia, Malyarenko, Shevel, C-Span; GW Today; Elliott 360; YouTube, PONARS Eurasia Event, February 7, 2022


Policy Memos

PONARS Eurasia Policy Memos on Ukraine >