Russia, Ukraine and the West may finally be groping for a way to dial down the violence in Ukraine’s eastern tip that has claimed more than 10,000 Ukrainian lives and generated some 1.5 million displaced persons in the past 46 months.1 If it succeeds, the modus vivendi will be messy, brought about by a convergence of Russian failure to reclaim Catherine the Great’s ‘Novorossiya’ from Ukraine, Moscow’s budget squeeze from economic stagnation and Western sanctions, the implausibility of any Ukrainian military reconquest of insurgent-held territory in the east and the restabilisation of the old Ukrainian oligarchy.
The wary public bargaining so far hints that any longer-term truce in Russia’s undeclared war on Ukraine would probably allow muddle-through evolution in the country in the long term, but leave Crimea annexed to Russia. And it would leave Ukraine’s vibrant civil society bitterly disappointed after its two aborted ‘Euromaidan’ democratic breakthroughs – and accelerate its brain drain of depoliticised digital programmers to better-paid jobs in the European Union.
Talk of a deal was triggered in mid-September 2017, when Russian President Vladimir Putin revived the idea of sending United Nations peacekeepers into Ukraine’s contested Don River basin (Donbas). Ukrainians tended to regard the offer as a trap to freeze and regularise Russian control of separatist areas, while granting these areas the kind of superautonomy within Ukraine that would give them veto power over national policy.2 But Alexander Vershbow, former American ambassador to Russia and former deputy secretary-general of NATO, quickly set out the West’s counter-demand that any peacekeeping deal ‘would ultimately need to extend across all the occupied [Ukrainian] territory’, instead of just along today’s de facto Ukrainian–Russian border.3
The story so far
To understand today’s diplomatic signalling, it is necessary first to review three surprising developments in the years since Putin attacked Russia’s younger-brother East Slav Ukrainians in February 2014. That was when Russian naval infantry suddenly seized control of Ukraine’s provincial Crimean parliament.4
Firstly, Ukraine quietly built up a do-it-yourself army from the tiny core of only 6,000 combat-ready troops it then had. In Europe, Ukraine is now second only to Russia in terms of the manpower, if not the firepower, of its armed forces.5
Secondly, more than three years of simmering war have not cowed the Ukrainians back into deference to elder-brother East Slavs in Moscow. On the contrary, the Ukrainians have Putin to thank for giving them a common enemy and uniting them, for the first time, under a distinctive, West-oriented national identity of their own.
The shift is most dramatic in eastern Ukraine. Russian speakers there disliked the far-off Kiev government passively, but never rallied to the cause of armed revolt as Putin expected. Yet they suffered disproportionately from the carnage, and many blamed Russian militants for their plight. Surveys by the Ukrainian Democratic Initiatives Foundation show that Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians would in fact have voted in pre-war 2011 for independence by a 53% majority over a large 47% opposed. Under the bloodshed this turned, by 2016, into a massive 71.5% pro-independence poll over only 28.5% against.6
Even more telling, perhaps, is the fact that ‘Ukraine is coming out from under the cultural influence of Russia’ and thus is ‘becoming independent not only in a political and government sense but in a cultural one as well’, as Radio Liberty journalist Elena Matusova observes.7 ‘That’s why I always say we should erect a statue to Putin!’, said Oleg Ryabchuk, a leading intellectual activist in both of the two pro-democracy, pro-EU campouts on Kiev’s Independence Square (‘Maidan’) that transformed Ukrainian politics in the Orange Revolution of 2004 and Revolution of Dignity of 2014.8
Thirdly, these two astonishing developments have combined to wrest escalation dominance away from Moscow (albeit without gaining it for Ukraine).9 Russia’s Donbas operations come at a $1 billion annual cost, and raise the risk of perpetuating Western financial sanctions, while shrinking the benefits of Moscow’s continued military control of the rubble along the 255-mile battlefront in eastern Ukraine.10
This makes all the difference between 2014 and 2017. Back in 2014, when Putin abruptly ripped up the 39-year-old Helsinki pact outlawing any change of European borders by force, the stunned Ukrainians had no army that could defend either Crimea or the municipal offices in eastern Ukraine that were being seized by ‘little green men’, as the Ukrainians dubbed the Russian special forces in unmarked uniforms that fanned out in both areas.11 Kiev had to depend instead on private militias recruited and funded by the likes of billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy, who was duly appointed governor of Dnipropetrovsk province with a mandate to stave off any deeper Russian incursion.
In 2014, the equally stunned United States and NATO quickly declared that they would not intervene militarily in a country that was not a NATO ally. The West worried about getting sucked into tit-for-tat escalation that could even risk stumbling into nuclear war through miscalculation, absent the understood Cold War nuclear constraints. Russia enjoyed conspicuous ‘dominance’ at any stage of military escalation, as Putin boasted, both from proximity and motivation.12 He could trump any Western delivery of weapons to Ukraine over long, vulnerable logistical routes by simply shuttling more powerful weapons over the border to pro-Russian separatists or sending in regular Russian forces – or even going nuclear, as his scarcely veiled threats made clear.13
Moreover, on motivation – or will, as Putin tended to phrase it – he had manifestly bigger stakes in Ukraine than did the West, and was ready to accept a higher Russian sacrifice. At that point he was embracing a populist Russian nationalism as his post-communist ideology, and was far more passionate about not ‘losing’ Ukraine than the West was about defending it to restore the taboo on grabbing a neighbour’s territory in Europe. Despite the country’s vote for independence when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, Putin still saw Ukraine as a Russian patrimony. As he put it to then-US president George W. Bush in 2008: ‘You have to understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.’14
Ukraine diverted lucrative arms exports
The United States held back from giving Ukraine the drones, secure communications and portable anti-tank Javelins that Kiev pleaded for. Putin’s domestic approval rating soared as he awarded medals to Russian soldiers for their service in annexing Crimea (even though this acknowledgement disproved his own prior denial that the little green men had any connection to Moscow).
As it turned out, though, there were some people who cared about Ukraine even more passionately than Putin did – the Ukrainians themselves. Their infant army – with no night-vision goggles, modern tanks or artillery, and depending on family and friends for socks, uniforms and even improvised bullet-resistant vests – learned by doing. From mid-April to mid-August it pushed back the border of the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics that sprang up overnight in the east with Russian funding, arms and leadership.15 Thereafter, it thwarted Russian-fostered probes to expand separatist territory to all of ‘Novorossiya’, the eastern 40% of Ukraine that Putin publicly claimed for Moscow.
The Ukrainians could never have repelled a full-scale invasion by the Russian military behemoth, of course. What they signalled, though, was that if the Russians captured Kiev in the two weeks that Putin bragged was all it would take, they would face unpleasant guerrilla resistance for years thereafter, in a repeat of western Ukrainian resistance to Soviet takeover after the Second World War.16
In parallel to building up its military manpower, Ukraine diverted lucrative arms exports to re-equip its own forces. In the old days it had been the smithy for heavy weapons for the whole Soviet Union. It now retrofitted its venerable T-72 tanks with modern explosive-defence skirts and salvaged other armour for combat in the Donbas. By 2016 it would rejoin the international market to become the world’s eleventh-largest arms exporter, with modest sales of $528m, and aim at future annual sales in double-digit billions.17 By August of this year it even started producing its own version of the US Javelin anti-tank missile that Washington was refusing to send to Ukraine.18
The most gruesome example of cross-border escalation occurred on 17 July 2014. On that date, a Russian Buk missile that had been trundled overland into Ukraine shot down, apparently by mistake, a Malaysian civilian airliner with 298 passengers and then quickly retreated to its Russian base in Kursk with one empty missile pod.19 (Russian spokesmen denied any responsibility.) A week later, Russian forces fired artillery across the border into Ukraine, according to the US State Department (but not according to more denials by Russian spokesmen).20
Yet by mid-August, Ukraine’s ragtag army, with private militias spearheading the fighting, reduced the local criminal militias and ragtag army of the separatists to two besieged pockets. That crossed Putin’s red line. He responded by upgrading his ‘hybrid’ war to a conventional one, dispatching to the Donbas not just more demobilised soldiers turned instant mercenaries, but some 4,000 regular Russian troops, including elite paratroopers from Pskov.21 Within days they restored half of the territory the insurgents had originally taken.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-French president François Hollande, even with no Western boots on the ground to give them clout, managed to broker the first Minsk ceasefire between the belligerents in September 2014. The ceasefire lasted only two months – but it got Moscow to sign on to some responsibility, however vague, for the behaviour of its separatist protégés in the Donbas, an important reference for future negotiations. As the shooting resumed in winter, the Russian forces exhausted the outgunned Ukrainian ‘cyborgs’ (as they were dubbed by fellow countrymen, impressed by their stamina) and pushed the de facto Russian border farther west by slivers of up to ten miles in depth.
By February 2015, Germany and France had to rescue the Ukrainian forces with a second Minsk ceasefire. Static low-level skirmishing, all too often with heavy weapons banned in the truce buffer zone, has marked the contested border in the three years since. Lawrence Freedman labelled the stalemate ‘the art of exhaustion’, a situation ultimately favouring underdog Ukraine.22
In this interim period, it was noteworthy that a number of the more militant and brutal local separatists were assassinated. The tradecraft pointed toward Moscow, and the killed warlords were quickly replaced by more senior Russian military and Federal Security Service (FSB) officers.23
Some of the most prominent Russian nationalists, such as Igor ‘Strelkov’ Girkin, who had led the capture of police and other local headquarters in the Donbas, were called back to Russia. There, apparently under the protection of unidentified Kremlin officials, they accused the Russian leadership of deserting them and sabotaging the Novorossiya project.24 In retrospect, this might well be seen as the point at which Putin sensed that he no longer possessed the advantage of escalation dominance – but he camouflaged this discovery with continued bellicose rhetoric.
In autumn 2015, Putin shifted his nationalist focus away from the conquest of Ukrainian territory to intervene in the Syrian war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This permutation risked Russian military overstretch, but it did regain a seat for Moscow at the top table of international actors in the Middle East.25
This thumbnail sketch by no means suggests that Putin is giving up on getting the West (and the Ukrainians) to admit that Ukraine belongs to Moscow’s exclusive sphere of interest. He still seems to expect that over time Ukrainian corruption and political infighting, President Donald Trump’s unforced error in fracturing the Western alliance, and ‘Ukraine fatigue’ as leaders change in Western capitals will eventually let Moscow reassert its dominant political and economic influence over a nominally independent Ukraine. What this review does suggest, however, is that Putin may have gained some inkling of the high costs to be paid if he escalates to any further land grab in Ukraine now, and is therefore playing a long game of outlasting the West.
‘Putin got just the opposite of what he wanted’, contends Maidan veteran Ryabchuk. He not only united the Ukrainian elites and grass roots against Russia and for Ukraine’s membership in the EU: ‘Because of his annexation of Crimea he got NATO right on his borders’ in tripwire Alliance manoeuvres in the Baltic states that paralleled Russia’s giant Zapad exercises in September. Then ‘he tried to help Trump, and because of the backlash he now has zero chance to provoke something’ in Ukraine.26
Indeed, the record leaves Putin with little to show for his almost four years of spoiler activism in Ukraine as he starts what should be his victory lap on the way to re-election as Russia’s president next March. He will certainly win the vote, but his ‘managed democracy’ and still high – but passive – public approval will confer little popular legitimacy on him.27 His original social contract that gave Russians stability and a higher standard of living after President Boris Yeltsin’s chaos did not survive the financial crisis of 2008, the fall in oil prices in 2014 and the Western sanctions after Putin’s annexation of Crimea that continue to block the Western investment and industrial modernisation that Russia urgently needs. Unlike the Chinese Communists, he has failed to give his countrymen the breakthrough to middle-class wealth. His war in the Donbas left Moscow with little but expensive debris when his bid failed to make Kiev pay for rebuilding its infrastructure while still leaving it under Russian control.
Putin’s swing to ultranationalist appeals initially pushed his approval ratings up, but after a few years the novelty wore off, and today they no longer serve to mobilise public opinion for further crusades and no longer act as a screen to hide the deteriorating health, education and access to consumer goods in Russia’s villages and small towns.28
Regional centrifugal nudges on issues ranging from fees for long-haul truckers, to resistance by minorities to Putin’s downgrading of their ethnic languages, to radicalisation in the Caucasus by battle-hardened jihadi returnees from Syria and Iraq, all point to a nascent regionalism and indifference to what the Moscow vertical wants.29 So too does the success of the much-harassed Alexei Navalny, the would-be opposition presidential candidate, in reaching beyond his Moscow and St Petersburg audience by building a network of chapters around the country to spread his anti-corruption and anti-Putin gospel.30
By contrast, Ukraine could be said to be emerging from its armed conflict with Russia rather well – depending, of course, on which Ukrainians you ask. The population as a whole wins, especially because of the visa-free travel to EU countries that just went into effect. But the big winners are the oligarchs. Thanks to the Euromaidan protests, they got rid of president Victor Yanukovych, whose sin in their eyes was not that he followed Kremlin orders, but that he blatantly overreached his fair personal share in embezzlement by salting away an estimated $12bn for his family rather than divvying up the cornucopia with other millionaires.31 He fled to a villa outside Moscow after his Berkut special police gunned down peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators on the Maidan plaza in February 2014 and his own clientelist political party deserted him.
In his wake, European diplomats on the ground in Ukraine report, the ‘frenemy’ oligarchs seem by now to have settled on a more equitable sharing of remuneration since the last public feud between President Petro Poroshenko and now ex-Dnipropetrovsk governor Kolomoyskiy played out in 2015–16 – and to have also quietly resumed old connections with Russian counterparts.32 Donbas strongman Rinat Akhmetov, who before the Revolution of Dignity was regarded as the tycoon with the closest links to Moscow, lost three-quarters of his wealth in war damage in his fief, but is still the country’s richest man at $3.4bn, according to Forbes. And millionaire Poroshenko has served the oligarchs’ reconsolidation well in stonewalling both Western international donors and young Euromaidan reformers by keeping Yanukovych-era judges and prosecutors in office, thus deflecting any big anti-corruption court trials.33
To the Euromaidan watchdogs who have remained active even after the purge or resignation of reformist technocrats from cabinet posts in April 2016, of course, the scene looks far less rosy. They did have some genuine achievements. The lucrative oil and gas sector has been made less vulnerable to plunder. The whole economic system is vastly more transparent than before the two Maidan revolutions. Legislation has been passed requiring open bidding for government contracts and declarations of personal wealth by senior officials. But laws can be evaded. And the activists are frustrated by the failure to bring Yanukovych or any big embezzler from his era to trial – or to convict and jail even one of the Berkut Maidan sharpshooters. The natural alliance between corruption detectives from Ukraine’s extraordinary civil society and Western donors who might bring financial conditionality to bear on the government has failed to change Ukraine’s culture of graft or break the cosy intermingling of business and politics.34
There was a point during the Orange Revolution when the kleptocrats became sufficiently scared about their own futures to start drawing up a collective pact, according to a person familiar with the discussions, to pay lump sums as retrospective taxes, go legitimate and get out of politics in return for not being prosecuted for bygone corruption. That deal fell through at the last minute, however, and today’s oligarchs no longer seek salvation by imitating in their own way the nineteenth-century philanthropy of America’s robber barons. Their mood is so upbeat, in fact, that some outside observers even worry that the volunteer militias the oligarchs spawned might now turn from saving Ukraine to threatening it, by reverting to their origins as warlord enforcers.35
* * *
The confluence of Ukrainian tycoons’ restored hubris and Vladimir Putin’s concerns about mounting losses hardly portends some grand offer to pull Russia’s generals, troops and heavy weapons out of the Donbas in return for Western lifting of sanctions and provision of artificial-intelligence and shale-gas technology to legitimise the latest instalment of the Putin presidency.36 It does hint, however, that a mutual interest could be developing in a more modest crisis management that could restart diplomatic movement, lower civilian casualties in the Donbas and perhaps, in the best case, suggests former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, even turn Putin’s concept of ‘limited peacekeeping operations’ along a frozen battle line into a larger UN operation ‘covering the entire area’ that could someday prepare for UN-sponsored free and fair elections there.37
A transition to stability might start, in the blunt words of one European diplomat, by pointing out to Putin his own interest in stopping the flow of increasingly lethal weapons from Donbas criminal bosses to accomplices in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia. The better way would be for Putin to install moderate separatist leaders in the Donbas and purge ‘these criminals who tyrannize the population and thrive off war. Putin cannot forever just foment destruction if he wants to remain a player in the region.’38
‘My conclusion is that Europe, Canada and the United States now have the opportunity to foster a political solution to this war’, commented former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen in an op-ed after visiting the Donbas in October. ‘Nobody is naive about Mr. Putin’s intentions, but a commitment of effort now could uncover a path to end Europe’s deadliest conflict.’39
1 ‘Ukraine IDP Figures Analysis’, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, figures as of August 2015, http://www.internal-displacement.org/europe-the-caucasus-and-central-asia/ukraine/figures-analysis.
2 Vitaly Portnikov, ‘Putin’s Perfect Trap for Ukraine’, Euromaidan Press, 23 September 2017, http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/09/23/putins-perfect-trap-for-ukraine/. See also James Sherr, ‘Donbas Peacekeepers Proposal a Classic Putin Gambit’, Chatham House, 16 October 2017, https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/donbas-peacekeepers-proposalclassic-putin-gambit; and Hromadske Radio, ‘“Russia is the Aggressor”: Ukraine Creates New Legal Framework with Donbas Reintegration Laws’, 13 October 2017, https://hromadskeradio.org/en/programs/ukraine-calling/russia-is-the-aggressor-ukraine-creates-new-legal-framework-with-donbas-reintegration-laws.
3 Elina Beketova, ‘Alexander Vershbow: The Key Is Not to Cut Any Deals Behind the Backs of Ukraine’, 112 Ukraine, 22 September 2017, http://112.international/ukraine-top-news/alexander-vershbow-the-key-is-not-to-cut-any-deals-behind-the-backs-of-ukraine-20957.html.
4 ‘Russian Soldiers of 45th Special Division Storming the Supreme Council Crimea’, video, Youtube, 18 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3lKpZcqhls.
5 Andrzej Wilk, ‘The Best Army Ukraine Has Ever Had: Changes in Ukraine’s Armed Forces Since the Russian Aggression’, Osrodek Studiow Wschodnich, 7 July 2017, https://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/osw-studies/2017-07-07/best-army-ukraine-has-ever-had-changes-ukraines-armed-forces.
6 ‘Transformation of Public Opinion Under the Conditions of Russian Aggression/By Region’, Stilos, 2017, http://dif.org.ua/uploads/pdf/150467475158f5c921352af7.35764833.pdf.
7 Paul Goble, ‘Ukrainians Turning Away from Russia Not Only Politically but Culturally, Experts Say’, Window on Eurasia, 11 August 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/08/ukrainians-turning-away-from-russia-not.html.
8 Interview with the author, Berlin, 13 September 2017.
9 Lawrence Freedman, ‘Ukraine and the Art of Limited War’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 6, December 2014–January 2015, pp. 7–38.
10 Mykhailo Pashkov, ‘The Price of Russia’s “Might”’, Razumkov Centre, 15 June 2017, http://razumkov.org.ua/en/component/k2/the-price-of-russia-s-might.
11 Michael Kofman et al., Lessons from Russia’s Operations in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017), https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1400/RR1498/RAND_RR1498.pdf.
12 Lawrence Freedman, ‘Ukraine and the Art of Crisis Management’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 3, June–July 2014, pp. 7–42.
13 See Paul Goble, ‘Putin Believes He Can Win a War with NATO, Piontkovsky Says’, Window on Eurasia, 9 August 2014, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2014/08/window-on-eurasia-putin-believes-he-can.html; and Elisabeth Braw, ‘Behind Putin’s Nuclear Threats’, Politico, 18 August 2015, https://www.politico.eu/article/nato-putin-russia-nuclear-weapons-ukraine-war/.
14 Angela Stent, ‘Putin’s Ukrainian Endgame and Why the West May Have a Hard Time Stopping Him’, CNN, 4 March 2014, http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/03/opinion/stent-putin-ukraine-russia-endgame/index.html.
15 Franklin Holcomb, ‘The Kremlin’s Irregular Army: Ukrainian Separatist Order of Battle’, Russia and Ukraine Security Report, no. 3, September 2017, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/ISW%20Separatist%20ORBAT%20Holcomb%202017_Final.pdf.
16 Ian Traynor, ‘Putin Claims Russian Forces “Could Conquer Ukraine Capital in Two Weeks”’, Guardian, 2 September 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/02/putin-russian-forces-could-conquer-ukraine-capital-kiev-fortnight.
17 Vladyslav Shvets, ‘Ukrainian Arms Exports in 2016’, Unian Information Agency, 11 August 2017, https://www.unian.info/economics/2077946-ukrainian-arms-exports-in-2016.html.
18 Illia Ponomarenko, ‘Ukraine’s Army Gets Domestic Version of US Javelin Anti-Tank Weapon’, Kyiv Post, 30 August 2017, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/ukraines-army-gets-domestic-version-us-javelin-anti-tank-weapon.html.
19 See Alex Luhn, ‘Three Pro-Russia Rebel Leaders at the Centre of Suspicions Over Downed MH17’, Guardian, 20 July 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/three-pro-russia-rebel-leaders-suspects-over-downed-mh17; Holcomb, ‘The Kremlin’s Irregular Army’; and ‘MH17 – The Open Source Investigation, Three Years Later’, Bellingcat, 17 July 2017, https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/07/17/mh17-open-source-investigation-three-years-later/.
20 Brian Bennett, ‘U.S. Says Russia Firing Artillery into Ukraine’, Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2014, http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-russia-ukraine-20140724-story.html.
21 See Maksymilian Czuperski et al., Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine (Washington DC: Atlantic Council, 2015), http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Hiding_in_Plain_Sight/HPS_English.pdf; and Iggy Ostanin, ‘Revealed: Around 40 Russian Troops from Pskov Died in the Ukraine, Reinforcement Sent In’, Bellingcat, 27 August 2014, https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2014/08/27/revealed-around-40-russian-troops-from-pskov-died-in-the-ukraine-reinforcement-sent-in/.
22 Lawrence Freedman, ‘Ukraine and the Art of Exhaustion’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 5, October–November 2015, pp. 77–106.
23 Jack Losh, ‘Is Russia Killing Off Eastern Ukraine’s Warlords?’, Foreign Policy, 25 October 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/10/25/who-is-killing-eastern-ukraines-warlords-motorola-russia-putin/.
24 Donald N. Jensen, ‘Moscow in the Donbas: Command, Control, Crime and the Minsk Peace Process’, Nato Defense College research report, 24 March 2017, http://www.ndc.nato.int/download/downloads.php?icode=514.
25 See Vladimir Frolov, ‘Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling’, Moscow Times, 29 September 2017, https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/two-years-on-the-stakes-of-russias-war-in-syria-are-piling-59112; Pavel K. Baev, ‘Russia Tries to Conclude Its Syrian Venture’, Eurasia Daily Monitor, vol. 14, no. 121, 2 October 2017, https://jamestown.org/program/russia-tries-to-conclude-its-syrian-venture/; and Paul Goble, ‘Growing Russian Attention to Moscow’s Mercenaries in Syria Entails Real Dangers for Regime’, Window on Eurasia, 28 October 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/10/expanding-russian-attention-to-moscows.html.
26 Interview with author, Berlin, 13 September 2017. See also Cynthia Hooper, ‘Why Are Russian Media Outlets Hyping the Mueller Investigation?’, The Conversation, 16 October 2017, http://theconversation.com/why-are-russian-media-outlets-hyping-the-mueller-investigation-84965.
27 Mark Galeotti, ‘Kremlin’s Puzzle: How to Frame Putin’s Re-election?’, RaamopRusland, 2 October 2017, https://www.raamoprusland.nl/dossiers/kremlin/720-kremlin-s-puzzle-how-to-frame-putin-s-re-election; and Anna Nemtsova, ‘Moscow’s Plan to Beat Sanctions? “Russia First!”’, Daily Beast, 14 October 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/moscows-plan-to-beat-sanctions-russia-first.
28 Paul Goble, ‘More than 20 Russian Regions Now at Third World Levels Economically’, Window on Eurasia, 11 August 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/08/more-than-20-russian-regions-now-at.html.
29 See Paul Goble, ‘Russia’s Long-Haul Truckers Say They Are Being “Destroyed” by Authorities’, Window on Eurasia, 29 September 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/09/russias-long-haul-truckers-say-they-are.html; Paul Goble, ‘Language Fight in Tatarstan Set to Ignite Political Explosion Across Russia’, Eurasia Daily Monitor, vol. 14, no. 114, 19 September 2017, https://jamestown.org/program/language-fight-in-tatarstan-set-to-ignite-political-explosion-across-russia/; and Paul Goble, ‘Political Islam Has Been Reborn in Russia, Ostalsky Says’, Window on Eurasia, 7 September 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/09/political-islam-has-been-reborn-in.html.
30 Paul Goble, ‘Russian Opposition Gaining Support in Regions Moscow Has Neglected, German Paper Says’, Window on Eurasia, 29 August 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/08/russian-opposition-gaining-support-in.html.
31 Anders Aslund, ‘Reviving Ukraine’s Economy’, Project Syndicate, 24 February 2014, https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/anders--slund-identifies-the-three-main-economic-problems-that-the-new-government-will-have-to-address.
32 Oliver Carroll, ‘Star Wars in Ukraine: Poroshenko vs Kolomoisky’, Politico, 21 December 2015, http://www.politico.eu/article/star-wars-in-ukraine-poroshenko-vs-kolomoisky/.
33 See Olena Makarenko, ‘Commission Recommends Tainted Judges to Ukraine’s New Supreme Court, Ignoring Disapproval of Society’, Euromaidan Press, 30 September 2017, http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/09/30/commission-recommends-tainted-judges-to-ukraines-new-supreme-court-ignoring-disapproval-of-society/#arvlbdata; and ‘3 Pillars to Obstruction of Legal Reform in Ukraine’, Kiev Post Legal Quarterly, 29 September 2017.
34 Andrew Wilson, ‘Survival of the Richest: How Oligarchs Block Reform in Ukraine’, European Council on Foreign Affairs, 14 April 2016, http://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/survival_of_the_richest_how_oligarchs_block_reform_in_ukraine6091.
35 See Kimberly Marten and Olga Oliker, ‘Ukraine’s Volunteer Militias May Have Saved the Country, But Now They Threaten It’, War on the Rocks, 14 September 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/09/ukraines-volunteer-militias-may-have-saved-the-country-but-now-they-threaten-it/; and Sergiy Kudelia, ‘Extrajudicial Violence in Donbas and Its Consequences for Ukraine’, PONARS Policy Memo, no. 486, October 2017, http://www.ponarseurasia.org/memo/extrajudicial-violence-donbas-and-its-consequences-ukraine.
36 See Paul Goble, ‘Higher Military Spending, Lower Oil Prices Led to Collapse of USSR and Can Do the Same to Russia, Finance Minister Says’, Window on Eurasia, 10 October 2017, http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.de/2017/10/higher-military-spending-lower-oil.html; and John Thornhill, ‘Brains, Not Oil, Should Fuel Russia’s Economy’, Financial Times, 2 October 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/de9530d0-a510-11e7-b797-b61809486fe2?mhq5j=e5.
37 Carl Bildt, ‘Is Peace in Donbas Possible?’, European Council on Foreign Relations, 12 October 2017, http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_is_peace_in_donbas_possible.
38 Interview with author, Berlin, 14 October 2017. See also Paul Goble, ‘Weapons from Donbas Rush Back to Russia Sparking a Rise in Violent Crime’, Euromaidan Press, 3 August 2016, http://euromaidanpress.com/2016/08/03/weapons-from-donbas-rush-back-to-russia-sparking-a-rise-in-violent-crime/.
39 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, ‘Peace in Ukraine Requires a “Carrot and Stick” Approach’, Globe and Mail, 16 October 2017, https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/peace-in-ukraine-requires-a-carrot-and-stick-approach/article36594970/.