MADRID -- The struggle for influence in Ukraine is a game that Putin cannot afford to lose. He gained the upper hand early in the crisis with the annexation of Crimea. Now, in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, he is shrewdly forcing a divided and risk-averse West to choose between war and accommodation.
The killing of Nemtsov successfully eliminates the most worrisome gnats buzzing Putin in recent years.
I am angry with you because you traded in freedom for a little bit of comfort; you ignored all the warning signs or, even worse, knew what was happening but decided not to get involved.
This week, The WorldPost conference on "The Future of Work" took place at Lancaster House in London. Discussion around the theme "prepare to be disrupted" ranged from how the emergent sharing economy, along with 3D desktop manufacturing, would take work back into the home to worries that automation could eliminate as much as 47 percent of current jobs in the United States.
Israel and Russia may not share much in common (indeed, since its founding Israel has welcomed waves of Soviet/Russian Jews desperate to leave that country), and trying to isolate Iran is not the same thing as invading another nation, but both draw a certain kind of moral legitimacy from the memory of World War II.
This may be one of the most transparent public killings of our time, and yet evidence is hard to come by. Nemtsov was shot four times in the back. Even when there is a smoking gun, there is no smoking gun. In the absence of facts, the speculation about possible culprits says far less about reality than it does about the speculators' worldviews.
Putin came to power, not in a vacuum, but into a specific context of economic, political and cultural conditions that Boris Nemtsov helped shape, both for better and for worse.
Far from falling back into line and yielding to terror, tens of thousands of Russian men and women, in the manner of the French who so recently proclaimed "Je suis Charlie," came out to shout "I am Boris" into the ears of Vladimir Putin, who has never faced an adversary as vibrantly alive as this newly dead man.
Though nothing is finally settled, Europe this week breathed a sigh of relief. Greece's Syriza-led government backed down in its confrontation with its EU partners over austerity policies and, after bloody skirmishes in the early days of a new cease-fire agreement, the combatants in Ukraine backed off. Not everyone was happy in Greece, though. Manolis Glezos, a 92-year-old WWII Greek resistance hero and prominent member of Syriza, writes that "I apologize to the Greek people for collaborating in this illusion" that the new government would break free of the crushing bailout constraints. Greek journalist Thanos Dimadis argues that standing up to Germany on Greek terms was itself a victory despite compromises. Writing from Kyiv, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko hopes that "Minsk 2.0" will bring peace, but worries that there is no enforcement mechanism.
Only a negotiated settlement, no matter how unsatisfying, offers the possibility of a stable resolution of the ongoing conflict. Indeed, the alternative may be the collapse of the Ukrainian state and long-term confrontation between the West and Russia, at great cost to all sides.
Now is not the time for the U.S. and Europe to give up on Russia. Now is the time for the West to do everything in its power to help Russia realize its vast potential.
The anniversary of the Maidan massacre (February 18-21 2014) invites 'on the other side of the hill' thinking to form a picture of how Ukraine looks from President Putin's pedestal. The West seems oblivious that Russia has suffered a strategic defeat disguised by tactical victories. But have a look.
KYIV -- What happens in Ukraine -- not the financial standoff with Greece -- will be the ultimate test of whether European and transatlantic unity endure. The fault lines extending from Ukraine are undermining the fundamental values that have underpinned Europe's postwar peace and prosperity. Failure to defend those values in Ukraine will cause them to unravel far beyond our borders.
Near the end of the Cold War 30 years ago, Régis Debray, the French philosopher and pal of Che Guevara, predicted that the Third World was "bidding its farewell to arms" as the geopolitical conflicts associated with the famous Russian-made Kalashnikov rifle were fading into history. He thought the quest for God, particularly in relation to Islam, would fill the ideological void, and computers would provide a way out of underdevelopment. Debray was both more right and wrong than he knew. As he did not foresee, YouTube and Twitter would become effective propaganda tools for crusading Islamist jihadis and Kalashnikovs would come back in a big way not only as a weapon of choice for theCharlie Hebdo murderers in Paris and the Islamic State in Syria -- but for the separatists in Ukraine as well. History reminds us often enough that what we bid farewell to can return with a vengeance. In a moving tribute to the Christian men beheaded by ISIS in Libya this week, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones shines a light on their lives through a visit with the families of their Coptic community in Al Aour, Egypt. See her interviews on CNNand MSNBC. (continued)
UN-mandated Peacekeepers have several negative implications for the Ukraine government, as well as the positive of securing at least a temporary halt to the fighting. On the negative side, the conflict becomes frozen in place with Ukraine effectively divided and potentially partitioned.
Whether this ceasefire or some future one proves durable, Ukraine must eventually make some very difficult decisions concerning its future. Above all, it must figure out a way of exiting the steel trap that has clamped down on its nether regions. The Crimean peninsula has already been sliced off. Should Ukraine sever another one of its own limbs in order to survive?