"Hold me Back!!!!!" The Second Biden-Putin Skype Summit

Friday, December 31, 2021

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin had their second "Skype Summit" of the month yesterday. I found this rather interesting. The two had, after all, just conferred on Dec. 7 and are representatives of the two administrations (but not Biden and Putin themselves) due to meet in Geneva on January 10. 

So, why the second Skype meeting? 

What Would Happen if Russia Invaded Ukraine?

Sunday, December 26, 2021

In my last few posts I've written about Russian-Ukrainian relations, discussed the role of water and other resources within this relationship, and explored the reasons for why some in Russia might want to invade Ukraine.  

But what might happen if Russia actually did launch a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine?

Why Would Russia Invade Ukraine?

Friday, December 24, 2021

In a post yesterday, I discussed water-related issues between Russia and Ukraine. I did this as a means of exploring what, if any, concrete benefits an invasion of Ukraine might bring to Russia. The point I was making was that, rather than just looking to "nationalism," "Russian pride," or any other vague explanation for why something like this might happen, it makes more sense to look at tangible issues.  

Sevastopol, Ukraine, in the Summer of 2006
In the case of the Crimea                in 2014, there definitely were concrete issues at stake. The first was the fact that Russia's Black Sea fleet is based in Sevastopol (in the Crimea), and Moscow did not want the fleet's future to be held hostage by Kyiv. Something else that I brought up, in the context of the Crimea, was the presence of natural gas and hydrocarbon resources in the area--another tangible, concrete reason why the Crimea proved to be an attractive acquisition for the Kremlin in 2014. 

But what about the rest of Ukraine? What benefit to Russia would an invasion bring? Or is Vladimir Putin simply rattling Ukraine's cage as a means of extracting concessions from the US and NATO?

Crimea River: Water and Russian-Ukrainian Relations

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

There's been a lot of talk lately about the likelihood of Russia invading Ukraine, an issue that I discussed here last week. One point that I emphasized last week was that there are real differences between the respective value of the Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the value of eastern Ukraine, where the Russian government has been intervening ever since 2014. 

In particular, I noted that, whereas there were real concrete benefits for Russia in invading and annexing the Crimea, the case for doing something similar in the rest of the Ukraine seems somewhat murkier. So what, exactly, would be the benefit to Russia if that country actually were to invade Ukraine? 

Rattling Kyiv's Cage

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The big story lately in Eurasia has been that relating to Russia's alleged designs on Ukraine. Following Joe Biden's Skype chat with Vladimir Putin earlier this month, the chatter hasn't ceased. Whether or not Russia will invade Ukraine remains a burning question