Posts Tagged eurasia

Threat Analysis Of Possible Future Russian Aggression

From CNAS.org:

In the report, CNAS senior fellows Julianne Smith and Jerry Hendrix examine possible security challenges in effort to prepare the United States and Europe for future existential threats posed by Russia. Smith and Hendrix note that although Europe’s security situation was largely considered stable for much of the last 10 to 14 years, that premise no longer holds true.

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Brussels Attacks Tear at the Fabric of the European Union

Brussels Attacks Tear at the Fabric of the European Union is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Analysis

The March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels come as the European Union is still reeling from the November Paris attacks and scrambling to solve the migrant crisis. More important, they come as nationalist forces are challenging key principles of the Continental bloc, including the free movement of labor and the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls among several member states. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion that is sure to follow will only worsen these social, political and economic crises.

The first outcome of the Brussels attacks will be a fresh round of debate over EU border controls, in particular those in the Schengen zone. The Schengen Agreement came under fire at the start of the migrant crisis in early 2015. The Paris attacks escalated the controversy, particularly because the perpetrators moved between France and Belgium without detection. Consequently, France and other countries enhanced their border controls. The European Commission has since said that it wants all border controls in the Schengen area lifted by the end of 2016. However, the latest attacks — and the potential that more will follow — will make this difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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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 »

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Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy

Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable.

A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Europe’s Malaise: The New Normal?

Europe’s Malaise: The New Normal? is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

Russia and Ukraine continue to confront each other along their border. Iraq has splintered, leading to unabated internal warfare. And the situation in Gaza remains dire. These events should be enough to constitute the sum total of our global crises, but they’re not. On top of everything, the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent last quarter. Though many will dismiss this contraction outright, the fact that the world’s fourth-largest economy (and Europe’s largest) has shrunk, even by this small amount, is a matter of global significance.

Europe has been mired in an economic crisis for half a decade now. Germany is the economic engine of Europe, and it is expected that it will at some point pull Europe out of its crisis. There have been constant predictions that Europe may finally be turning an economic corner, but if Germany’s economy is contracting (Berlin claims it will rebound this year), it is difficult to believe that any corner is being turned. It is becoming increasingly reasonable to believe that rather than an interlude in European prosperity, what we now see is actually the new normal. The key point is not that Germany’s economy has contracted by a trivial amount. The point is that it has come time to raise the possibility that it could be a very long time before Europe returns to its pre-2008 prosperity and to consider what this means. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Putin Survive?

Can Putin Survive? is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine and the Bid to Reverse Russia’s Decline

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine’s president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure.  Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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The United States Has Unfinished Business in Ukraine and Iraq

The United States Has Unfinished Business in Ukraine and Iraq is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

In recent weeks, some of the international system’s unfinished business has revealed itself. We have seen that Ukraine’s fate is not yet settled, and with that, neither is Russia’s relationship with the European Peninsula. In Iraq we learned that the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the creation of a new Iraqi political system did not answer the question of how the three parts of Iraq can live together. Geopolitical situations rarely resolve themselves neatly or permanently.

These events, in the end, pose a difficult question for the United States. For the past 13 years, the United States has been engaged in extensive, multidivisional warfare in two major theaters — and several minor ones — in the Islamic world. The United States is large and powerful enough to endure such extended conflicts, but given that neither conflict ended satisfactorily, the desire to raise the threshold for military involvement makes logical sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Borderlands: The View Beyond Ukraine

Borderlands: The View Beyond Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in George Friedman’s recent series written during his journey from the Baltics, through Central and Eastern Europe and then east to Turkey and Azerbaijan.
I traveled between Poland and Azerbaijan during a rare period when the forces that shape Europe appear to be in flux, and most of the countries I visited are re-evaluating their positions. The overwhelming sense was anxiety. Observers from countries such as Poland make little effort to hide it. Those from places such as Turkey, which is larger and not directly in the line of fire, look at Ukraine as an undercurrent rather than the dominant theme. But from Poland to Azerbaijan, I heard two questions: Are the Russians on the move? And what can these countries do to protect themselves?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Geopolitical Journey, Part 2: Borderlands

Geopolitical Journey, Part 2: Borderlands is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Editor’s Note: Stratfor’s George Friedman is continuing his trip this week across the region, including the countries of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Serbia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. This report on the same region was written in 2010, as he was returning from a similar journey that explored the geopolitical imperatives of those nations. The observations and forecasts then in many ways mirror the reality today, four years later.

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman

A borderland is a region where history is constant: Everything is in flux. The countries we are visiting on this trip (Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland) occupy the borderland between Islam, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Roman Catholic Hapsburg Austria struggled with the Islamic Ottoman Empire for centuries, with the Ottomans extending northwest until a climactic battle in Vienna in 1683. Beginning in the 18th century, Orthodox Russia expanded from the east, through Belarus and Ukraine. For more than two centuries, the belt of countries stretching from the Baltic to the Black seas was the borderland over which three empires fought. Read the rest of this entry »

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Borderlands: First Moves in Romania

Borderlands: First Moves in Romania is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

I arrived in Bucharest, Romania, the day after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be here in a few weeks. The talk in Bucharest, not only among the leadership but also among the public, is about Ukraine. Concerns are palpable, and they are not only about the Russians. They are also about NATO, the European Union, the United States and whether they will all support Romania if it resists Russia. The other side of the equation, of course, is whether Romania will do the things it must do in order to make outside support effective. Biden left Romania with a sense that the United States is in the game. But this is not a region that trusts easily. The first step was easy. The rest become harder.

If this little Cold War becomes significant, there are two European countries that matter the most: Poland and Romania. Poland, which I visit next, stands between Germany and Russia on the long, flat North European plain. Its population is about 38 million people. Romania, to the south, standing behind the Prut River and bisected by the Carpathian Mountains, has a population of about 20 million. Of the roughly 82 million people along the eastern frontier (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria), approximately 58 million live in Poland and Romania. Biden’s visit to Romania and U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Poland provide a sense of how Washington looks at the region and, for the moment at least, the world. How all of this plays out is, of course, dependent on the Russians and the course of the Ukrainian crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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Missile Defense From Raytheon

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Don’t Worry About Russia?

From US News:

With unrest continuing in Ukraine, the West can take some comfort in its modern day military advantage over Russia in Europe. And though numbers alone may not deter Russia from further adventurism, the shift in the balance of forces has been remarkable over the past two decades.

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