FPI Resources on the Russian Military Build-up around Ukraine

August 17, 2016

This month, Russia has dramatically increased its military presence in Crimea and along its border with Ukraine. On August 10, Vladimir Putin denounced Kyiv for an alleged campaign of infiltration and sabotage. The Kremlin may simply want to arouse the nationalism of Russian voters ahead of parliamentary elections next month, or it may have a more sinister purpose in mind. No matter what, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing war of aggression in eastern Ukraine mean that the United States and Europe cannot afford to dismiss the Kremlin’s provocative behavior.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine, and believes the following resources will be helpful for policymakers, lawmakers, and the general public seeking to understand the latest developments there.

While the World is Distracted, Putin Escalates his War in Ukraine – Editorial – Washington Post – August 11, 2016

“President Vladimir Putin of Russia is again playing with fire. This time, it may be a summer bluff, or it may be a pretext to escalation of war with Ukraine. Either way, it reflects Mr. Putin’s determination to deceive and subvert whenever it suits his goals, at home and abroad, taking advantage of a distracted United States and Europe.”

Military Escalation by Russia in Crimea Against Ukraine – Franklin Holcomb and Kathleen Weinberger – Institute for the Study of War – August 11, 2016

“Preparations for conventional conflict between Russia and Ukraine are accelerating and the likelihood of open war is increasing rapidly. Russia has prepositioned military forces along all of its common borders with Ukraine: to the north in Bryansk district, to the east near Rostov, to the south in Crimea, and to the west in separatist-controlled Moldovan territory.”

Putin’s August Surprise – Editorial – Wall Street Journal – August 11, 2016

“An assault by Russia-backed forces into eastern Ukraine would lay bare the failure of Western diplomacy that mostly restrains Ukrainian self-defense. Mr. Putin started a war in Georgia in the waning days of the George W. Bush Administration eight years ago, and he may want to stir more trouble while Barack Obama is heading out the door. The next U.S. President needs to revisit Mr. Obama’s refusal to sell Kiev the lethal weapons it needs to defend itself against the Kremlin’s aggression.”

What Exactly Is Going On In Ukraine? – Hannah Thoburn – Hudson Institute – August 11, 2016

“[Putin] seemed eager to use the Crimean events—whatever they were—to kill the Minsk negotiations, which were designed to bring an end to the conflict in the east of Ukraine, saying that any further meetings of the Normandy Group (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) ‘in these situations’ would be ‘senseless.’”

Keeping an International Eye on Ukraine – Ambassador Daniel Baer – Wall Street Journal – August 16, 2016

“Combined Russian-separatist forces have consistently used obstruction, threats and violence to stop the OSCE monitors from seeing what they don’t want them to see. Between April and July, OSCE patrols were blocked more than 120 times, overwhelmingly by combined Russian-separatist forces. The separatists have also held monitors at gunpoint, and have shot at patrols and organized mobs to burn their vehicles. … These are the actions of someone with something to hide.”

Is Putin Preparing a New Attack on Ukraine? – Anders Aslund – Atlantic Council – August 10, 2016

“In February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a move that was greatly popular in Russia. Its war in Syria has been an unmitigated success. For the last two years, Russia’s economy has been in recession, giving Putin all the more reason to mobilize his compatriots around a small war.”

Putin’s Latest Crimean Gambit – Adrian Karatnycky – POLITICO EU – August 11, 2016

“Putin’s political party, United Russia, faces elections in September amid increasing discontent in both Crimea and Russia over a deteriorating economy, which has seen the ruble lose half its value against the dollar. Opposition parties might be hopelessly divided, but public unhappiness over the economy could nonetheless erode support for the ruling party. Claims that Russian forces are under attack can be used to rally Russians around the president’s political team.”

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