Posts Tagged eastern europe

Czech Republic Moves To Expand Gun Rights

From NRA-ILA:

Exactly two weeks after the Czech Republic announced that they would challenge restrictive changes to the European Union’s European Firearms Directive in the European Court of Justice, the small nation has once again acted to defend themselves against transnational gun controllers. On June 28, the Czech Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Czech Parliament) approved a constitutional amendment to protect Czech citizens’ right to possess firearms and ammunition, with a reported 139 of 200 deputies voting in favor.

Specifically, the proposed constitutional amendment ensures that Czech citizens have a right to keep and bear arms in order to participate in preserving national security.

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments

The Problems Foreign Powers Find in the Balkans

The Problems Foreign Powers Find in the Balkans is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Summary

Russia, Turkey and the West all share one rival in the Balkans: political instability. Located at the confluence of three historic empires, the strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has long been the focus of competition among global powers. Now it is just one arena in the standoff between Russia and the West. Yet, with both sides attempting to buy influence with investments and energy projects, and with Turkey struggling to keep pace, internal political challenges threaten to undermine outside efforts to develop and shape the region. As major powers use their financial and political clout to gain influence in the Balkans, weak local governments will continue to balance among competing nations.

Analysis

Regional and world powers have paid an inordinate amount of attention to Balkan countries lately. On May 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Serbia, just a few days after the Chair of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, met with Serbian leaders in Belgrade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina on May 20 — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan have paid similar visits in the past month. Western leaders have also demonstrated an interest in the region, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visiting Bulgaria in January, while high-ranking U.S. officials regularly visit Romania. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Russia Targets NATO With Military Exercises

Russia Targets NATO With Military Exercises is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Summary

Russian military exercises, the latest in a series across the country, have taken on a threatening posture. While the most recent installment is not the largest exercise Russia has conducted, the areas involved and the forces included seem to have been deliberately chosen to send a warning to NATO; the exercise itself seems to simulate a full-scale confrontation with NATO through the forward deployment of nuclear armed submarines, theater ballistic missiles and strategic bomber aircraft. Strategic weapon systems, including assets that are part of Russia’s nuclear capabilities, have also been deployed to locations near NATO’s borders. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

No Comments

Gaming a Russian Offensive

Gaming a Russian Offensive is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Summary

Editor’s Note: As part of our analytical methodology, Stratfor periodically conducts internal military simulations. This series, examining the scenarios under which Russian and Western forces might come into direct conflict in Ukraine, reflects such an exercise. It thus differs from our regular analyses in several ways and is not intended as a forecast. This series reflects the results of meticulous examination of the military capabilities of both Russia and NATO and the constraints on those forces. It is intended as a means to measure the intersection of political intent and political will as constrained by actual military capability. This study is not a definitive exercise; instead it is a review of potential decision-making by military planners. We hope readers will gain from this series a better understanding of military options in the Ukraine crisis and how the realities surrounding use of force could evolve if efforts to implement a cease-fire fail and the crisis escalates.

Russia’s current military position in Ukraine is very exposed and has come at a great cost relative to its limited political gains. The strategic bastion of Crimea is defensible as an island but is subject to potential isolation. The position of Ukrainian separatists and their Russian backers in eastern Ukraine is essentially a large bulge that will require heavy military investment to secure, and it has not necessarily helped Moscow achieve its larger imperative of creating defensible borders. This raises the question of whether Russia will take further military action to secure its interests in Ukraine.

To answer this question, Stratfor examined six basic military options that Russia might consider in addressing its security concerns in Ukraine, ranging from small harassment operations to an all-out invasion of eastern Ukraine up to the Dnieper River. We then assessed the likely time and forces required to conduct these operations in order to determine the overall effort and costs required, and the Russian military’s ability to execute each operation. In order to get a baseline assessment for operations under current conditions, we initially assumed in looking at these scenarios that the only opponent would be Ukrainian forces already involved in the conflict.  Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Viewing Russia From the Inside

Viewing Russia From the Inside is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn’t rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo — the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

No Comments

Why Moldova Urgently Matters

Why Moldova Urgently Matters is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Robert D. Kaplan

“NATO’s Article 5 offers little protection against Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” Iulian Fota, Romania’s presidential national security adviser, told me on a recent visit to Bucharest. “Article 5 protects Romania and other Eastern European countries against a military invasion. But it does not protect them against subversion,” that is, intelligence activities, the running of criminal networks, the buying-up of banks and other strategic assets, and indirect control of media organs to undermine public opinion. Moreover, Article 5 does not protect Eastern Europe against reliance on Russian energy. As Romanian President Traian Basescu told me, Romania is a somewhat energy-rich island surrounded by a Gazprom empire. The president ran his finger over a map showing how Romania’s neighbors such as Bulgaria and Hungary were almost completely dependent on Russian natural gas, while Romania — because of its own hydrocarbon reserves — still has a significant measure of independence. In the 21st century, the president explained, Gazprom is more dangerous than the Russian army. The national security adviser then added: “Putin is not an apparatchik; he is a former intelligence officer,” implying that Putin will act subtly. Putin’s Russia will not fight conventionally for territory in the former satellite states, but unconventionally for hearts and minds, Fota went on. “Putin knows that the flaw of the Soviet Union was that it did not have soft power.” Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

No Comments

Borderlands: The New Strategic Landscape

Borderlands: The New Strategic Landscape is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

I will be leaving this week to visit a string of countries that are now on the front line between Russia and the European Peninsula: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan. A tour like that allows you to look at the details of history. But it is impossible to understand those details out of context. The more I think about recent events, the more I realize that what has happened in Ukraine can only be understood by considering European geopolitics since 1914 — a hundred years ago and the beginning of World War I.

In The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman wrote a superb and accurate story about how World War I began. For her it was a confluence of perception, misperception, personality and decisions. It was about the leaders, and implicit in her story was the idea that World War I was the result of miscalculation and misunderstanding. I suppose that if you focus on the details, then the war might seem unfortunate and avoidable. I take a different view: It was inevitable from the moment Germany united in 1871. When it happened and exactly how it happened was perhaps up to decision-makers. That it would happen was a geopolitical necessity. And understanding that geopolitical necessity gives us a framework for understanding what is happening in Ukraine, and what is likely to happen next. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

During the Cold War, U.S. secretaries of state and Soviet foreign ministers routinely negotiated the outcome of crises and the fate of countries. It has been a long time since such talks have occurred, but last week a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Americans and Russians negotiated over everyone’s head to find a way to defuse the crisis in Ukraine and, in the course of that, shape its fate.

During the talks, U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear that Washington has no intention of expanding NATO into either Ukraine or Georgia. The Russians have stated that they have no intention of any further military operations in Ukraine. Conversations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been extensive and ongoing. For different reasons, neither side wants the crisis to continue, and each has a different read on the situation. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , ,

No Comments