Friday, April 24, 2015

100 Year Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

After a hundred years, there are countries noticeably absent from the list of those that have recognized the Armenian genocide.  Those absent from the list do not need to be named, as their complicit denial is notably consistent with their hypocritical foreign policy in the region.
Majorities in Arctic nations favor cooperation with Russia despite Ukraine; conflict worries rise

(EurekAlert)  A survey of 10,000 respondents in countries with Arctic territory reveals major differences of opinion on issues ranging from Arctic co-operation with Russia to the threat of military conflict north of the 60th parallel, to whether the Northwest Passage is a Canadian or international waterway.

It also shows that the Arctic Council, a forum for the eight nations to manage mutual Arctic concerns and interests, is only vaguely known, if at all, among citizens in the countries surveyed. Governments, on the other hand -including non-Arctic states-and other stakeholders, are according the Council increasing political priority given the North's vast natural resources, centrality to global climate change, and potential as a far shorter route for shipping goods between the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Co-operation with Russia: Only 5% of Russians believe that their country should withdraw from international co-operation in the Arctic. This view is supported in most of the Arctic Council nations where only minorities are supportive of excluding Russia from co-operative Arctic forums: Canada South (38%), Canada North (36%), Alaska (37%), U.S. South (32%), Denmark (31%), Finland (22%), Norway (19%). Sweden and Iceland (44% and 43%, respectively) were most likely to agree that Russia should "withdraw from international co-operation arrangements like the Arctic Council in light of recent developments in Ukraine." 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Arctic Maps

There are a couple of useful maps in Business Insider on the ongoing strategic maneuvers in the melting arctic area worth posting:

Reap what you sow

MOSCOW (AP) — Chechnya's leader on Wednesday told his security forces to open fire on Russian federal troops if they operate in the region without his approval.
Ramzan Kadyrov's comments late Wednesday send a worrying sign about a potential rift between him and the federal security services.
Following the killing of a man in the Chechen capital this week by security forces from a neighboring region, Kadyrov told his forces they can open fire on troops from other regions if they operate without his approval.
"I would like to officially state: Open fire if someone from Moscow or Stavropol, it doesn't matter, appears on your turf without your knowledge," he said in an address to his forces. "We have to be reckoned with."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Russia and America: Stumbling to War

(The National Interest)  AFTER THE Soviet Union collapsed, Richard Nixon observed that the United States had won the Cold War, but had not yet won the peace. Since then, three American presidents—representing both political parties—have not yet accomplished that task. On the contrary, peace seems increasingly out of reach as threats to U.S. security and prosperity multiply both at the systemic level, where dissatisfied major powers are increasingly challenging the international order, and at the state and substate level, where dissatisfied ethnic, tribal, religious and other groups are destabilizing key countries and even entire regions.

Most dangerous are disagreements over the international system and the prerogatives of major powers in their immediate neighborhoods—disputes of the sort that have historically produced the greatest conflicts. And these are at the core of U.S. and Western tensions with Russia and, even more ominously, with China. At present, the most urgent challenge is the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. There, one can hear eerie echoes of the events a century ago that produced the catastrophe known as World War I. For the moment, the ambiguous, narrow and inconsistently interpreted Minsk II agreement is holding, and we can hope that it will lead to further agreements that prevent the return of a hot war. But the war that has already occurred and may continue reflected deep contradictions that America cannot resolve if it does not address them honestly and directly.
An increasingly prevalent view among Putin’s advisers sees hopes of a restoration of Western-Russian cooperation as a lost cause because U.S. and Western leaders will not accept any resolution that meets Russia’s minimal requirements. If the United States and the European Union would largely remove sanctions and restore business as usual, they would urge that Russia swallow its pride and reconcile. But if Russia is going to continue to be sanctioned, excluded from financial markets and denied Western technology, they say, then Russia should pursue its own independent path. Putin has yet to face a decisive moment that would require him to make a fateful choice between accommodating Western demands and more directly entering the conflict and perhaps even using force against Western interests outside Ukraine. And if that moment arrives, we may well not welcome his choice.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Greece Creditors Grim on Prospects of Deal

(Wall Street Journal)  Greece’s international creditors signaled they are losing hope that Athens will do what is needed to unlock bailout funds before it runs out of money, and Greek government bond prices plunged as concerns rose about default and an exit from the eurozone. 
Greece’s international creditors signaled they are losing hope that Athens will do what is needed to unlock bailout funds before it runs out of money, and Greek government bond prices plunged as concerns rose about default and an exit from the eurozone.
Italy’s finance minister on Thursday warned that Greece’s worsening cash crisis could push the country into an accidental exit from the eurozone as time runs out for Athens to reach a financing deal. 

Putin respects choice of leaders who refused to attend Victory Day celebrations in Russia

"Some of them did not want to come themselves. Others were forbidden to do that by Washington," Putin stressed adding that the behavior of some leaders could even be described as shameful.
"But let them make their own choice," Putin said.
Patriotic fervour on the rise in Russia

(BBC)  The vision is part Russian nationalist, and part Soviet: a return to the state of affairs before the USSR collapsed in 1991, when Russia and the territories around it were one country.

A curious hybrid of nostalgia for the Soviet era - multicultural and secular - and a more nationalistic religious adherence to what are described as Russian Orthodox ideas and spiritual values.

Either way, it is a vision of Russia as a country with a unique destiny, perpetually under threat from abroad, alone and misunderstood.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pro-Russian Figures Killed In Ukraine

(Radio Free Europe)  A prominent Ukrainian journalist known for his pro-Russian views has been gunned down in Kyiv, a day after a former lawmaker loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was found dead in the city.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said Oles Buzina was killed near his apartment block on April 16 by two masked gunmen.
The killing followed the death of Oleh Kalashnikov, a former member of parliament for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, who was found dead at his home overnight with gunshot wounds.
Several Yanukovych allies have died in suspicious circumstances over the past three months.

Ukrainian authorities have described most of the deaths as suicides, although officials said some may have been killed or forced to take their lives.

Ukrainian media reported on April 16 that another noted Ukrainian journalist with pro-Russian views, Serhiy Sukhobok, was gunned down three days ago.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Given that it was only created in late 2014, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is very quickly establishing itself as a rival to the International Monetary Fund.  There hasn't been much coverage of this ongoing challenge to one of the most potent American led global institutions, but I'm sure there are some senior officials in the US State Department having fits over this new paradigm behind closed doors.
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