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Analysis and Comment (131)

The sweet smell of success: Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. The sweet smell of success: Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. EPA/Daniel dal Zennaro

Ukraine steels itself for winter as Putin forges ahead with Novorossiya

The EU-Asia Summit in Milan, Italy, delivered little, if any, tangible progress to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. Relations between Russia and Ukraine’s major European allies remain just a few degrees…
Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists organised formidably online. Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists organised formidably online. Facebook

How social media transformed pro-Russian nostalgia into violence in Ukraine

When Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Victor Yanukovych, was ousted in late February, thousands of outraged and fearful people in southern and eastern cities took to the streets to demonstrate against…
Time for Brazil to pull in the harvest? Time for Brazil to pull in the harvest? Sweeter Alternative

Hard Evidence: who will reap rewards from Russia farm sanctions?

The Russian ban on the imports of some agricultural products from the US, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway has sparked much debate over the likely impact on American and European farmers…
Pls retweet. Pls retweet. EPA/Miguel A. Lopes

How the Russia-Ukraine crisis became a magnet for memes

On May 26, the day after Ukraine elected Petro Poroshenko its president, a meme surfaced on the Russian Internet (or RuNet, as it’s colloquially known) depicting Ukraine as a chocolate bar. A reference…
Signed, sealed, delivered: Ukrainian president Poroshenko. Signed, sealed, delivered: Ukrainian president Poroshenko. EPA/Sergey Dolzhenko

Restive Ukraine signs EU pact and hands rebels self-rule

On the same day that it finally voted to ratify the EU Association Agreement that helped spark the Euromaidan protests in 2013, Ukraine’s parliament also voted to give self-rule to the rebels holding major…
Charting new waters. Charting new waters. EPA/Alexey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/KREM

BRICS keep supporting Russia in bid to rebalance world power

While Western nations beef up economic sanctions and Nato discusses what stance to take toward Russia, the BRICS are maintaining tacit support for Moscow despite the Ukraine crisis. This is not entirely…
Peace in our time? Poroshenko and Putin shake hands in Minsk. Peace in our time? Poroshenko and Putin shake hands in Minsk. EPA/Sergei Bondarenko

Ceasefire struck, but Ukraine isn’t out of the woods – so what happens next?

It has been reported that the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian insurgents have signed a ceasefire agreement at the meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in Minsk. This had hardly looked assured in…
People just aren’t that bothered. People just aren’t that bothered. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

What does the public really think about NATO?

World leaders are congregating in Wales this week for the 2014 NATO summit, where some of the most pressing political issues of the day will be on the agenda. Despite the high stakes, a survey of the general…
NATO Baltic air policing mission highlights rising tensions north of Ukraine. NATO Baltic air policing mission highlights rising tensions north of Ukraine. EPA

Russia’s borders: minorities and military manoeuvres rattle nerves in the Baltics

Anxiety over the crisis in eastern Ukraine has ratcheted in recent days amid claims of an effective Russian invasion, and warnings of NATO making a 4000-troop reaction force available to the region. As…
A company in need of a reconnection with customers. A company in need of a reconnection with customers. Shamshahrin Shamsudin/EPA

What Malaysia Airlines must do to survive (and maybe even thrive again)

Malaysia Airlines was hit with two extraordinary crises this year that have rocked the confidence of customers and left the company struggling to manage the damage. Lone passengers are posting pictures…
David Cameron and Anders Fogh Rasmussen have a plan. David Cameron and Anders Fogh Rasmussen have a plan. Luke MacGregor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Explainer: what’s on the agenda at the NATO summit?

NATO member states are meeting this week in Wales at what could prove a milestone summit. Since the 2012 Chicago meeting, the security landscape has changed dramatically and important questions about NATO’s…
Celtic Manor welcomes careful drivers and diplomatic debaters. Celtic Manor welcomes careful drivers and diplomatic debaters. Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

An old threat calls for a radical new approach from NATO

World leaders are beginning to converge on Newport in Wales for two days to reflect on NATO’s aims and objectives, ahead of the organisation’s main summit on Thursday and Friday. While in Wales, they’ll…
Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. EPA/Tatyana Zenkovich

Explainer: when does a conflict become a war?

Is the conflict in Ukraine a war? This question has been raised in recent reports about a Russian invasion in Ukraine on the Caspian Sea. The USA and other NATO powers call it an “incursion”; the Baltic…
Ukrainian footage purportedly showing captured Russian soldiers. Ukrainian footage purportedly showing captured Russian soldiers. EPA

Further claims of Russian troop deployments follow capture of soldiers in Donetsk

The announcement by the Ukrainian government that a combined group of Ukrainian armed forces and Security Service personnel detained ten Russian paratroopers inside Donetsk in east Ukraine should perhaps…
Compensating their exporters. Compensating their exporters. EPA/Wolfgang Kumm

How the EU is handling Russia’s food import ban

The European Commission has announced emergency EU funding of €125m for fruit and vegetable growers hit by the ban imposed by Russia on imported Western food in retaliation for the West’s own sanctions…
The evidence is out there, waiting to be found. The evidence is out there, waiting to be found. Igor Kovalenko

Here’s how you find out who shot down MH17

More than a month has passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with the loss of all 298 lives on board. But despite the disturbances at the crash site near the small town of Grabovo, near Donetsk…
Devastation: the remains of Donetsk’s history museum. Devastation: the remains of Donetsk’s history museum. EPA/Sergei Ilnitsky

Inside Donetsk, a city at war, while the jaw-jaw over Ukraine continues

The past few days have seen another round of the seemingly endless cycle of escalation and de-escalation that has characterised the crisis in Ukraine for several months. The Ukrainian government has claimed…
The United Nations Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security – a task aided by the veto power. The United Nations Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security – a task aided by the veto power. Francois Proulx/Flickr

Don’t be too quick to condemn the UN Security Council power of veto

Recent events in Gaza and Ukraine and the ongoing gridlock in Syria have dominated newspapers and airwaves – and debate in the United Nations Security Council. Despite UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…
No more Spanish strawberries? Excellent news for this lady. No more Spanish strawberries? Excellent news for this lady. Sparkle Glowplug

Why farmers in Belarus will profit under Putin’s sanctions

Increasingly the saga of East-West economic relations is developing independently of the actual conflict in Ukraine and the surrounding region, leading to various unexpected outcomes. Take Russia’s own…
Overdue for reform: UN Security Council. Overdue for reform: UN Security Council. EPA/Jason Szenes

UN Security Council veto is killing people

The conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and Syria are symptomatic of deeper problems in the international system. If the Security Council were to fulfil its role under the UN Charter, tackling many of these tragic…
Australia’s trade relationship with Russia looked better in 2007. Australia’s trade relationship with Russia looked better in 2007. Dean Lewins/AAP

Tough talk but little to lose on Russian trade sanctions

Poke a Russian bear with a stick and he will retaliate. That’s the lesson facing Australian exporters today. When Australia announced it would join the United States and Europe in placing trade sanctions…
Pavel Gubarev: self-proclaimed ‘People’s Governor’ of Donetsk region. Pavel Gubarev: self-proclaimed ‘People’s Governor’ of Donetsk region. EPA/Photomig

Self-styled people’s governor of Donetsk tells us: these areas have always been Russian

There are two competing and irreconcilable narratives about the crisis in eastern Ukraine that divide public opinion and media coverage in the region and the country – as much as they divide Russia and…
The St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is a sign of the city’s former historical significance. The St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is a sign of the city’s former historical significance. matt shalvatis

Historical Kiev, a city ringing with ‘holy, heavenly songs’

A city glistening with the light of holy icons, fragrant with incense, ringing with praise and holy, heavenly songs. These lines referring to the “mother of Russian cities” and the “joy of the world” may…
Isolated by sanctions - but does Putin care? Isolated by sanctions - but does Putin care? EPA/Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti

Explainer: how will sanctions against Russia work?

The sanctions against Russia just announced by the EU and the US are widely reported to be the harshest since the end of the Cold War. The package includes cutting off Russia’s state-owned banks from international…
This piece of fuselage might hold vital clues about the downing of MH17. This piece of fuselage might hold vital clues about the downing of MH17. EPA/Robert Ghement

What this photograph might tell investigators about what really happened to MH17

Much has been made of the possibility that the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was the work of an anti-aircraft missile. Even without confirmation or corroboration, investigators will have a wealth…
A separatist soldier hands an MH17 black box to a Malaysian delegation. A separatist soldier hands an MH17 black box to a Malaysian delegation. EPA/Robert Ghement

Explainer: what will MH17’s black boxes reveal?

The news that the black boxes from Malaysia Airlines flight M17 has been handed over to Malaysian authorities, will lead to many questions about what information they have to offer. The two recorders have…
The Russian media’s support for the Kremlin is almost a given. The Russian media’s support for the Kremlin is almost a given. ITAR-TASS

Russian media coverage of MH17 leaves no room for dissenting voices

Growing evidence suggests that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down with the loss of 298 lives by separatists in the Donetsk region using a surface-to-air missile. Yet in Russia this human tragedy…
A train carrying the remains of crash victims is guarded by pro-Russian separatists. A train carrying the remains of crash victims is guarded by pro-Russian separatists. EPA/Robert Ghement

Russia must co-operate with investigation of MH17 or risk wearing the blame

US Secretary of State John Kerry has left the rest of the world in no doubt as to who America blames for the downing of MH17, appearing on several Sunday talkshows to point the finger at pro-Russian separatists…
A challenge for EU and Ukraine relations. A challenge for EU and Ukraine relations. Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas

Writing from Kiev, the city is boiling with rage. And now all Europeans too may boil with rage as 189 Dutch and smaller numbers of Belgians, British, French and Germans perished, when their Malaysian Airlines…
Power broker. Vladimir Putin. Power broker. Vladimir Putin. Fernando Bizerra Jr/EPA

MH17 was a victim of the new cold war’s first proxy conflict

It remains to be seen precisely how and why the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed over the territory of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. But whatever…
America has never apologised for its own passenger plane shooting incident. America has never apologised for its own passenger plane shooting incident. EPA

History shows US response to MH17 will be all talk, no action

President Barack Obama has declared the apparent shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine is a “terrible tragedy” and warned that “the world is watching”. He has offered full assistance…
Show of hands: the UN Security Council. Show of hands: the UN Security Council. EPA/Justin Lane

Explainer: international law and flight MH17

As the events surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine become clearer, more and more voices are claiming the plane may have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists in eastern…
Debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Arilines flight MH17, which crashed over the eastern Ukraine. Debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Arilines flight MH17, which crashed over the eastern Ukraine. EPA

Black box scuffle could mask the truth about flight MH17

Normally, when a crashed aircraft’s black box is recovered, it can reveal exactly what happened to cause the disaster but in the case of MH17, the political instability between Ukraine and Russia could…
Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have successfully defied the government in Kiev, but will have gravely harmed their cause if they brought down flight MH17. Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have successfully defied the government in Kiev, but will have gravely harmed their cause if they brought down flight MH17. EPA

Q&A: Flight MH17 and the spiralling conflict in Ukraine

The shooting down of flight MH17 has thrust the separatist conflict in Ukraine back into the international spotlight. The Ukrainian government and Russian-backed rebels have been locked in a military and…
Ukrainian separatist rebels under the banner of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ are reportedly responsible for shooting down Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian separatist rebels under the banner of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ are reportedly responsible for shooting down Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. EPA/Stringer

Ukrainian rebels gain firepower but may have blown their cause

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine represents considerable escalation of the military capabilities of the insurgency based around the “Donetsk People’s Republic”. Although…
Peace Brigade may be a somewhat misleading name for this militia. Peace Brigade may be a somewhat misleading name for this militia. EPA/Ali Abbas

Modern conflict blurs the line between soldiers and civilians

As I write this, the people of Gaza hopes for an end to the week-long Israeli bombardment which has killed more than 180 Palestinians – many of them civilians have been dashed after Hamas rejected the…
Installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the Boyarka village near Kiev. Installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the Boyarka village near Kiev. Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Russia’s game of chicken with Ukraine leaves Europe on the edge

As with the previous Russia-Ukraine gas disputes in 2006 and 2009, how we describe the current stand-off between the two countries is a matter of semantics. Those earlier disputes found solutions based…
In Warsaw, a newly unveiled memorial puts freedom of speech at the heart of Poland’s liberation from communism. In Warsaw, a newly unveiled memorial puts freedom of speech at the heart of Poland’s liberation from communism. Aleksandra Hadzelek

Liberation of Poland and Eastern Europe all started with a word

“It all started with a word,” said Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski at the opening of a memorial to freedom of speech, “and the word was ‘freedom’“. The event completed three days of commemorations…
Shake? Please? NATO Secretary General Rasmussen (l) visits Romania. Shake? Please? NATO Secretary General Rasmussen (l) visits Romania. EPA/Robert Ghement

Ukraine gives NATO a reason to exist – but big players demur

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), once again saved from potential irrelevance, has come to the fore in the West’s reaction to the Ukraine crisis. In the aftermath of its withdrawal from Afghanistan…
Petro Poroshenko has won a clear first-round victory in Ukraine’s presidential election. Petro Poroshenko has won a clear first-round victory in Ukraine’s presidential election. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

‘Chocolate King’ Poroshenko wins Ukraine presidency but violence continues

With the outright victory of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine’s presidential elections on May 25 now confirmed, hopes are running high for a new beginning that will deliver a swift way out of a protracted crisis…
Eye of the tiger: Polish PM Donald Tusk. Eye of the tiger: Polish PM Donald Tusk. EPA/Jozef Jakubco

EU election: Polish campaign dominated by Ukraine crisis

The EU election is the Polish government’s first real strength test since it was elected in October 2011. The poll on May 25 kicks off an electoral marathon, which will culminate in the autumn of next…
Who’s going to wage war with China over a rock in the ocean? That is why Beijing feels confident in claiming and building on this disputed reef in the South China Sea. Who’s going to wage war with China over a rock in the ocean? That is why Beijing feels confident in claiming and building on this disputed reef in the South China Sea. EPA

Ukraine crisis offers lessons in how to handle China’s ambitions

Since the end of the Cold War it has become accepted knowledge that economic ties between the major powers prevent conflict. In a world of globalised production chains and capital flows the general argument…
Just not that simple, really. Just not that simple, really. EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

Ukraine referendums: another attempt to rewrite ethnic history

The referendums on independence from Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk, defying Putin’s call to postpone, pose deep questions about what “independence” would actually mean – and whether it can actually be…
A World War II tank rumbles onto the streets in Lugansk, Ukraine in preparation for Victory Day. A World War II tank rumbles onto the streets in Lugansk, Ukraine in preparation for Victory Day. EPA/Igor Kovalenko

Ukraine separatists engaged in high-risk game as they press on with referendum plan

Vladimir Putin’s statements giving qualified support for presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25, calling on separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone their planned referendums and announcing a pull-back…
Russia steps back - but it’s too late for this family. Russia steps back - but it’s too late for this family. EPA/Roman Pilipey

Russia’s nationalist quest risks future of European borders

Vladimir Putin has called for the postponement of the planned referendum in eastern Ukraine just four days before the vastly pro-Russian provinces were due to vote on secession. The Russian president also…
Perhaps the Quad can do a better job. Perhaps the Quad can do a better job. streetwrk.com

How the EU could help save Ukraine at the eleventh hour

Ukraine is disintegrating before our eyes, with escalating anarchy, civil war and proxy war with Russia, and dozens killed in Odessa on Friday. Acting President Alexander Turchinov officially declared…
Power games unmasked. Pro-Russian protesters gather outside the seized City Hall in in Mariupol, Ukraine. Power games unmasked. Pro-Russian protesters gather outside the seized City Hall in in Mariupol, Ukraine. Anastasia Vlasova

Ukraine clashes raise stakes in struggle to control the Donbas

It is the most serious conflagration since armed pro-Russian forces began taking control of official buildings in the Donbas. At least one anti-government protester is believed to have been shot dead by…
Assembling the Nord Stream in 2011. Assembling the Nord Stream in 2011. Bair175

Russia, Ukraine, and Europe are tied by gas dependency

The German energy giant RWE has begun to “reverse flow” supplies of gas from Europe back to Ukraine via Poland, a process first arranged in 2012, with an agreement to deliver up to 10 billion cubic metres…
The hanging of Masha. Bruskina on October 26 1941 was the first of the Nazis' many public executions in occupied Russia. The hanging of Masha. Bruskina on October 26 1941 was the first of the Nazis' many public executions in occupied Russia. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/masha.html

Academics and ‘barbarians’: why one article aroused Russian ire

It’s not easy for Australians to become famous in Russia. It would seem harder still to become a figure of loathing in Russian print and online media. But Associate Professor Timothy Lynch, who teaches…
Balancing energy security and emissions reduction: even more complicated than this. Balancing energy security and emissions reduction: even more complicated than this. Bruno Fahy/EPA

EU energy security is only as strong as its weakest link: the former Eastern Bloc

With tensions running high in Ukraine and the release of the third part of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, energy security and climate change are on governments' agendas. Specifically, how to reduce…
On the edge. Pro-Russian protesters clash with police in Donetsk. On the edge. Pro-Russian protesters clash with police in Donetsk. EPA?Roman Pilipey

Ukrainian troops fight to fill east’s dangerous power vacuum

Kiev is fighting to regain control over the eastern region of Ukraine, with troops acting to take back occupied buildings across the Donetsk region. The occupation of government buildings in cities over…
Eastern Europe relies on the network of gas pipelines that runs from Russia through Ukraine and Belarus. Eastern Europe relies on the network of gas pipelines that runs from Russia through Ukraine and Belarus. EPA/Eustream/AAP

Will the Ukraine crisis open up a new gas market for Australia?

The ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine has exacerbated Europe’s vulnerability caused by its reliance on Russian gas. The situation has locked the two nations into a dispute over paying for gas…
One people, one voice: Putin takes to the airwaves. One people, one voice: Putin takes to the airwaves. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

One nation, one voice: press control and propaganda in Putin’s Russia

Even as speculation continues about whether Russia’s recent foreign policy behaviour will result in a return to conflict in Europe, a war of words is already ongoing in Russia itself and it is one that…
Baroness Ashton with the foreign ministers of Sweden, Germany and Croatia. Baroness Ashton with the foreign ministers of Sweden, Germany and Croatia. EPA/Simela Pantzartzi

EU should speak with a single voice on Ukraine crisis – but that’s not going to happen

Europe’s neighbourhood is in flames. To the south, the optimism provoked by the Arab spring quickly gave way to concern about successor regimes. To the east, all eyes are on Ukraine as some 40,000 Russian…
Putin talks; Gazprom’s CEO listens. Putin talks; Gazprom’s CEO listens. EPA

Gazprom may yet be a victim of Putin’s Ukraine policy

Gazprom’s decision to hike the price of the gas it sells to Ukraine came as no surprise as it was flagged more than a month ago. At that time the company’s website showed the Russian prime minister, Dmitry…
Come and have a go, then. Come and have a go, then. EPA/Jakub Kaczmarczyk

Pressuring Russia with missile defences is a strategic misfire

On 3 April, as a direct consequence of events in Ukraine, US officials announced they would be suspending talks with Russia about NATO ballistic missile defence plans in Europe. They also warned that further…
The protector of “Russians” (wherever they are). The protector of “Russians” (wherever they are). Kremlin.ru

How Vladimir Putin has changed the meaning of ‘Russian’

The crisis between Russia and Ukraine reveals how dramatically Vladimir Putin’s nationalism has changed over the past 14 years. After he came to power in 2000, Putin preferred to refer to people in Russia…
Outside the occupied government building in Donetsk. Outside the occupied government building in Donetsk. EPA/Photomig

Ukraine veers closer to collapse as activists in Donetsk proclaim ‘people’s republic’

Ukraine appears to be heading towards another crisis. Protests in the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk have turned violent and pro-Russian protesters occupied government buildings, calling…
Time to point the finger. Viktor Yanukovych speaking with reporters during a press conference in Kiev. Time to point the finger. Viktor Yanukovych speaking with reporters during a press conference in Kiev. Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

The seven grave mistakes that prompted the Ukraine crisis

The situation in Ukraine remains tense, yet the odds are that it will now stabilise. It is unlikely Russia will invade eastern Ukraine, both because it is unclear whether this was in the plans (if such…
Wheels in motion. EU seeks out sanctions in response to Ukraine crisis. Wheels in motion. EU seeks out sanctions in response to Ukraine crisis. Robert Ghement

Soak the oligarchs – a robust alternative for EU sanctions against Russia

The current stand-off between Russia and Ukraine has left the European Union looking perhaps flatfooted and ineffectual. It is an unfair reflection of reality. The EU is not a military alliance and so…
Kerry and Lavrov keep talking. Kerry and Lavrov keep talking. EPA/Martial Trezzini

Can the US and Russia talk their way out of crisis in Ukraine?

Talks between US secretary of state John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Paris, followed after a week of high-level diplomacy, including a phone call between presidents Obama and Putin…
The Veneto region, with its picturesque capital Venice, has voted in a referendum for independence from Italy. The Veneto region, with its picturesque capital Venice, has voted in a referendum for independence from Italy. Matthew Gast/Flickr

Context is critical to European independence referendums

Just as Venice risks disappearing beneath its waters, it is making a remarkable political reappearance. The Venetian Republic existed for more than 1000 years until it came to an end at the hands of Napoleon…
Strong words don’t mean strong measures. Strong words don’t mean strong measures. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

West opted for Russia sanctions due to lack of any other policy

The invasion of Crimea and Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s Eastern borders have set a difficult task for Western diplomacy. Since Russia is a nuclear power, despite being militarily diminutive…
A poster in Kiev’s Independence Square voices fears of another war between Ukrainians and Russians. A poster in Kiev’s Independence Square voices fears of another war between Ukrainians and Russians. EPA/Robert Ghement

Ukraine’s ‘forgotten history’ sowed seeds of bitter division

World War Two didn’t end in Ukraine in 1945. After the devastation of German occupation, which left the country in ruins and millions dead, Ukrainian nationalists continued to murder thousands of Jews…
On message: a pro-Russian newspaper in Simferopol, Crimea. On message: a pro-Russian newspaper in Simferopol, Crimea. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

Ukraine, Kremlin propaganda and the Cold War trap

Facebook can be a confusing place. For the follower of Ukrainian and Russian politics the messages could not be more different. At the same time that “Euromaidan PR” is posting pictures of “Putler” and…
Russia’s economy is more rusty than people realise. Russia’s economy is more rusty than people realise. Johan Viirok

Crimea exposes Russia’s neglected economic base

No amount of international sanctions will reverse Russia’s takeover of Crimea. But unless Vladimir Putin can now extend his influence over eastern Ukraine, the incomplete triumph could undermine him. If…
Too close for comfort? Narva Bridge on Estonia’s Russian border Too close for comfort? Narva Bridge on Estonia’s Russian border Hannu

The tiny Estonian town that could spell the end of NATO

The Russian invasion and rapid absorption of the Crimean peninsula might seem like the spark ready to ignite a new Cold War. In fact, given the feeble Western response so far, the more likely outcome is…
Will the global community definitively stigmatise Russia as an international pariah until it renounces the use of force to challenge a UN member’s territorial integrity? Will the global community definitively stigmatise Russia as an international pariah until it renounces the use of force to challenge a UN member’s territorial integrity? EPA/Alexey Nikolsky

What can Australia and the global community do about Russia?

The international community has been impotent since Russia responded to the November 2013 Ukraine crisis with force, culminating in annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea this month. The G7’s…
Demonstrators clash with police in Caracas, Venezuela, where violent street protests have raged for weeks. Demonstrators clash with police in Caracas, Venezuela, where violent street protests have raged for weeks. EPA/Santi Donaire

Don’t write off Maduro: why Venezuela is not another Ukraine

A wave of street protests, some violent, has been sweeping Venezuela. These attracted international media coverage, which often presented protests as the expression of a national crisis that anticipated…
Standing guard. Police at the Regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine. Standing guard. Police at the Regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine. PHOTOMIG/EPA

Crimea is lost, now Ukraine’s future depends on a delicate power game in the East

Now that Ukraine has lost Crimea, which seems certain to be reunited with the Russian Federation, the future of the remainder of the country depends on what happens in the urban, industrial and populous…
Jubiliation in Crimea - but what comes next for Ukraine? Jubiliation in Crimea - but what comes next for Ukraine?

Now Crimea’s in the bag, where next for Putin and Russia?

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has now apparently formalised the annexation by announcing two new laws that make Crimea and Sevastopol subjects of the Russian Federation and has signed a treaty to…
Trust between Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder helped lubricate the Nord Stream deal. Trust between Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder helped lubricate the Nord Stream deal. EPA Pool/Yuri Kadobnov

Energy trade between Europe and Russia will depend on trust

Much of the discussion on the current Ukraine crisis concerns European energy security and dependence on Russian gas. The different reactions of EU member states to the Ukraine crisis highlight an underlying…
Triumph or charade: pro-Russian supporters celebrate in Simferopol. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov. Triumph or charade: pro-Russian supporters celebrate in Simferopol. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov.

Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine as EU considers sanctions against Russia

Crimeans have voted by a huge margin to secede from Ukraine. According to early reports released after 50% of the ballots had been counted more than 95% of votes were in favour of joining Russia. EU foreign…
Crimean referendum campaign posters in Sevastopol. Crimean referendum campaign posters in Sevastopol. EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze

Ukraine crisis: Crimea is to all intents and purposes Russian

The Crimean crisis is sliding from bad to worse, not least for the inhabitants of what until a month ago was an idyllic peninsula waiting for the glory of springtime. As the ultra-right and neo-Nazi thuggery…
In post-Soviet Russia, orange and black are the new black. In post-Soviet Russia, orange and black are the new black. RIA Novosti

World War II symbolism runs deep in Ukraine-Russia standoff

Many of the images of pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine, from Crimea to Donetsk, have shown them wearing black-and-orange-striped ribbons. The symbolism here is opaque to most Western observers, it…
Russia keeps its secrets under its hat, but cyber war’s nothing new. Russia keeps its secrets under its hat, but cyber war’s nothing new. San Diego Shooter/Flickr

Cyber war in Ukraine – business as usual for the Russian bear

In a war – declared or otherwise – bravery and perseverance are not enough. Communications are important. Effectiveness means being able to command your troops and gather information. It also means being…
For the future of Crimea: pro-Russia supporters rally. For the future of Crimea: pro-Russia supporters rally. EPA/Artur Shvarts

Explainer: how can Crimea legally secede from Ukraine?

We believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow…
Many screens - one voice. Many screens - one voice. EPA/Sergei Ilnitsky

Resignations shine unwelcome light on to Russia Today

For a TV network which wants to become a household name to millions around the world, Russia Today has certainly generated a lot of publicity in recent days as it broadcasts about the political crisis…
The war at home: a rally in Moscow for the people of Crimea. The war at home: a rally in Moscow for the people of Crimea. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

Russia fuels Ukrainian crisis with disingenuous diaspora politics

The incursion into Ukraine by Russian forces, ostensibly in the name of “protecting” the Russian population of Crimea from harassment and violence at the hands of ethnic Ukrainians, is a classic case of…
Ukrainian far-right protesters commemorate the creation of the Ukrainian division of the SS in Lviv in 2011. Ukrainian far-right protesters commemorate the creation of the Ukrainian division of the SS in Lviv in 2011. EPA/Markiian Lyseiko

Far-right party jeopardises Ukraine’s path to democracy

Following days of protest and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s new interim government was announced on 26 February 2014. This is not an ordinary government. Politicians linked to the…
Command and control: Vladimir Putin is calling the shots. Command and control: Vladimir Putin is calling the shots. EPA/Alexey Druzhinyn/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool

On Ukraine, Putin has outfoxed the West at every turn

As talks stall between US and Russia in the ongoing crisis over Ukraine, Russia – written off by so many just two weeks ago as “humiliated” and “at a loss” – now appears to be in control of the situation…
Demonstrators in downtown Donetsk. Demonstrators in downtown Donetsk. EPA/Photomig

Eyewitness: Russia and Ukraine supporters face off in Donetsk

A tense evening in Donetsk. Around 1,000 pro-Russian supporters gathered in front of the building which houses both the regional state administration and the regional council late on Wednesday afternoon…
There’s lots of talk, but little walk. There’s lots of talk, but little walk. neiljs

How can Ukraine, Crimea and Russia secure a stable future?

The situation in Ukraine is still highly volatile, especially in relation to Crimea and continuing uncertainty about Russia’s intentions. But there is a need to consider what a longer-term solution might…
Laying flowers in Kiev. Laying flowers in Kiev. EPA/Sergey Dolzhenko

Ukraine faces a nerve-jangling week of ‘red lines’

Having given himself the authority to invade Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin is now pushing right up against the red lines, if he has not already overstepped them. This is the point at which…
Hands off: a protester confronts Russian troops in Balaklava. Hands off: a protester confronts Russian troops in Balaklava. AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov

Putin calling all the shots in Ukraine: what next for relations between Russia and the West?

After days of heightening tensions and increasingly aggressive rhetoric, Russian president Vladimir Putin requested, and was promptly granted, authorisation to deploy Russian troops in Ukraine until the…
William Hague at a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. William Hague at a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Ukraine highlights a crisis in British foreign policy created by its retreat from an EU role

Events in Ukraine mark not only the start of a momentous shift in the region, but serve to chart the disturbing erosion of Britain’s global clout. If only the UK government would take its lead from the…
Barriers erected and loyalties made clear. Barriers erected and loyalties made clear. Anton Pedko/EPA

Crimea: the polarised peninsula threatening to rip Ukraine apart

These are dangerous times in Crimea. While the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has exposed the division between the country’s pro-Western and pro-Russian populations, another divide is more clear-cut and arguably…
Tired: all sides are hoping for an end to violence in Ukraine. Tired: all sides are hoping for an end to violence in Ukraine. Ilya Varlamov

Russia or EU? Ukraine torn by the horns of a dilemma

Ukraine’s problems have come to a head over the past week as the violence has escalated in Kiev and other major cities. When security forces began using live ammunition against protesters in Independence…
Don’t make a fuss: the Ukrainian women’s ski relay team celebrate their win at Sochi. Don’t make a fuss: the Ukrainian women’s ski relay team celebrate their win at Sochi. Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

IOC rules at Sochi go too far with ban on black armbands

During the Sochi Games, much has been written about “ambush marketing”, and its applications at, and around, the Olympics. At Sochi2014, there have already been many examples of non-sponsors exploiting…
A protester plays the piano atop a burned-out bus in Kiev. A protester plays the piano atop a burned-out bus in Kiev. Ввласенко

How could the EU do more for Ukraine?

When in Kiev recently I asked many Ukrainians how they thought the raging political and now violent conflict would end. All said they had no idea, but one of them said he had eight scenarios, which included…
Is Ukraine slipping towards civil war? Is Ukraine slipping towards civil war? Ilya Varlamov

East or West? Battle lines clear in struggle for Ukraine’s future

Recent images emerging from Ukraine reveal a country which in places resembles a battlefield, causing some to comment on the possibility of the country sliding into civil war. These fears were generated…
From orange to blue and yellow: Ukraine’s protesters fly the EU flag front and centre. From orange to blue and yellow: Ukraine’s protesters fly the EU flag front and centre. AP

Ukraine’s opposition needs help from Europe’s 89 generation

I will never forget the 12 hours I spent in the Ukrainian women’s prison in Kharkiv. Never in my life have I seen such misery or degrading treatment of prisoners, Nor will I forget my brief conversation…
Vlad the impaled. Vlad the impaled. Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Goodbye Lenin? Ukraine has been wondering for 20 years

That late summer day, the crowds were joyful. They cheered as the flag they had come to loathe was lowered. In its place, the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine rose above parliament. As the demonstrators…
If not you, then who? If not you, then who? mac_ivan

Dreams of a new Europe dashed in Ukraine

Mass protests in Ukraine have come one week shy of the 22nd anniversary of the USSR being signed into obsolescence. Ukrainians are protesting against a decision made by their government that will make…