Posts Tagged ukraine

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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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 »

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Ukraine fighters, surrounded at wrecked airport, refuse to give up

From: LA Times

A Ukrainian soldier carries grenade launchers brought by a supply convoy. The delivery sparked a shootout with pro-Russia separatists. (Sergei Loiko / Los Angeles Times)

Only three floors remain in the blackened skeleton of the seven-story, glass-walled airport terminal, opened with a burst of national pride two years ago for the Euro 2012 soccer championship.

Ukrainian commandos control two of them: the ground and second floors.

The pro-Russia separatists they’re fighting have infiltrated the third floor despite entrances barricaded with debris and booby traps. The separatists have also found a way into the basement, with its system of narrow passageways leading beyond the airport grounds.

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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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A Chronology of Russia from Yeltsin’s Fall Through Putin’s Rise

A Chronology of Russia from Yeltsin’s Fall Through Putin’s Rise is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Analysis

Editor’s Note: As Stratfor readies to look forward in coming days at the implications for Russia — and its leader Vladimir Putin — in the downing July 17 of a Malaysian jetliner, we also invite readers to take stock with us of past forecasts of Russia’s geopolitical evolution in the context of global events. Stratfor Chairman George Friedman will examine the likelihood of Putin’s undoing in the next issue of Geopolitical Weekly, to publish July 22. Accordingly, we look back here at 1998, when we predicted the unfolding Kosovo crisis would be the undoing of late Russian President Boris Yeltsin. We share our assessment from 2000, when we assessed how newly elected President Putin was rapidly consolidating absolute power. In 2005, Stratfor reassessed Putin’s situation after his first presidential term and laid out how his leadership would begin to reverse the tide of concessions and reassert Russia’s role in line with historical cycles — including the forging of strategic relationships with countries such as Germany. In 2008, we looked at how Russia would capitalize on American weaknesses, including the fatigue of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, we foresaw the next stage, as Russia moved to solidify its sphere of influence while still able. In this forecast, we saw the events setting the stage for today’s crisis in Ukraine. Now, we foresee more historical change. We offer this chronology of forecasts in advance of our next report on Russia’s future. 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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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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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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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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U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair

U.S. Defense Policy in the Wake of the Ukrainian Affair is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

Ever since the end of the Cold War, there has been an assumption that conventional warfare between reasonably developed nation-states had been abolished. During the 1990s, it was expected that the primary purpose of the military would be operations other than war, such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and the change of oppressive regimes. After 9/11, many began speaking of asymmetric warfare and “the long war.” Under this model, the United States would be engaged in counterterrorism activities in a broad area of the Islamic world for a very long time. Peer-to-peer conflict seemed obsolete.

There was a profoundly radical idea embedded in this line of thought. Wars between nations or dynastic powers had been a constant condition in Europe, and the rest of the world had been no less violent. Every century had had systemic wars in which the entire international system (increasingly dominated by Europe since the 16th century) had participated. In the 20th century, there were the two World Wars, in the 19th century the Napoleonic Wars, in the 18th century the Seven Years’ War, and in the 17th century the Thirty Years’ War. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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Ukraine and International Borders

From The National Interest:

The unfolding events in Ukraine threaten international peace and security in a manner that goes beyond the immediate crisis. Russia’s increasingly brazen violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity threatens to undermine the widely accepted principle that international borders are not subject to further revision, a principle that has contributed significantly to a global decline in interstate war in recent decades.

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From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine

From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

As I discussed last week, the fundamental problem that Ukraine poses for Russia, beyond a long-term geographical threat, is a crisis in internal legitimacy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent his time in power rebuilding the authority of the Russian state within Russia and the authority of Russia within the former Soviet Union. The events in Ukraine undermine the second strategy and potentially the first. If Putin cannot maintain at least Ukrainian neutrality, then the world’s perception of him as a master strategist is shattered, and the legitimacy and authority he has built for the Russian state is, at best, shaken.

Whatever the origins of the events in Ukraine, the United States is now engaged in a confrontation with Russia. The Russians believe that the United States was the prime mover behind regime change in Ukraine. At the very least, the Russians intend to reverse events in Ukraine. At most, the Russians have reached the conclusion that the United States intends to undermine Russia’s power. They will resist. The United States has the option of declining confrontation, engaging in meaningless sanctions against individuals and allowing events to take their course. Alternatively, the United States can choose to engage and confront the Russians.  Read the rest of this entry »

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