Russia drills for nuclear war, a view from a former Finnish diplomat, yes, it is 19th-century behavior, and more.


Interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov


Situation Reports

Russia has been carrying out a military drill for nuclear war, saying it was long scheduled.

Russia’s armed forces depend on the Ukrainian military industry.

Russian lawmakers are toying with the idea of levying extremism charges against bloggers who “incite xenophobic attitudes” when writing about the Crimea.

Estonia and Russia earlier this year signed a boundary treaty. Estonia gave up a strip of land on the southern part of the border. The Estonian parliament must yet ratify the treaty.



A view from a former Finnish diplomat, now journalist and professor.

A divided Ukraine – Europe’s most dangerous idea

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for his recent actions is that NATO has added countries that once were under Russia’s control in violation of promises that were made to Mikhail Gorbachev in return for his approving the unification of Germany in the early 1990s. There seem to be a number of views on that. I haven’t been able to find them all, but here is one that says that no such commitments were made. Here’s another version. Here’s another. The bottom line seems to be that no legally-binding agreements were made to that effect, but the Russians may feel that understandings have been breached. But this article brings up a point that I think is important: the interests of the countries that were freed from the Soviet Union’s control were considered. The world is not the US’s and Russia’s to dispose of. So objections were raised to talks on Ukraine between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. It is up to the people of Ukraine to determine their future.

Why Russians long for the Soviet Union

Why do Russians support intervention in Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: The rebuilding of ‘Soviet’ Russia. A long article but relatively short summary of how Putin and Russia got to where they are today.

Much has been made of videos purporting to show that demonstrators were responsible for the sniper fire on the Maidan on February 20. A leaked phone call between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and EU Foreign Policy head Catherine Ashton is said to support that. Over the weekend, The Daily Beast published photos that are said to show Russian-trained snipers in the courtyard of Ukraine’s state security service headquarters. A video has also been posted showing the group. Tempting as it often is, I have not retweeted any videos or photographs purporting to prove who the Maidan snipers were or supporting reports of Russian military movements. It is too easy to label a photo from one place as coming from another or to modify photos and videos in various ways. I’m not willing to find any of this definitive. I am waiting for the results of a fair investigation.

Ukraine crisis: World will never be the same again. From a former Kremlin and government advisor.

Fareed Zakaria comes up with the numbers to support John Kerry’s observation that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is a nineteenth-century action. A more detailed look at the numbers here.

Unfortunately, this review is behind a paywall, but it is highly relevant to today’s situation and the history of Russia. As is the opera it reveiws, “Prince Igor,” about a Kievan prince who wants to control those pesky Polovtsians to the south and meets disaster.

Crimean Promises

I listed the promises Vladimir Putin made to Crimea in his annexation speech, but I’ve seen more promises since then and thought perhaps I should document them. Here’s today’s:


“The government will take steps to make Crimean holidays more affordable and more attractive,” wrote [Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev on his Facebook page. “I am certain that many people will again discover the clean sea, unique nature and hospitality of Crimeans.”




Photo: Ukrainians sing the national anthem while waving national flags during an antiwar protest on the historic Potemkin Steps, considered a formal entrance into the city of Odessa from the sea. (Sergei Poliakov / Associated Press / March 9, 2014)



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