EU freezes misappropriated Ukrainian state funds!!

OSCE to send military personnel to Ukraine


© photocredit

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Turkish side’s initiative.

Russia Mulls Seizing Foreign Assets Over Sanctions Threat

Latest news, statements and opinions follow!!


As agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council of 3 March, the Council today adopted EU sanctions focussed on the freezing and recovery of misappropriated Ukrainian state funds. Today’s decision targets 18 persons identified as responsible for such misappropriation whose assets within the European Union will be frozen. The sanctions also contain provisions facilitating the recovery of the frozen funds, once certain conditions are met.
The legal acts, including the list of persons subject to sanctions, will be published in tomorrow’s EU Official Journal. The measures will initially apply for twelve months, starting tomorrow.
Today’s decision was adopted by written procedure.

EU restrictive measures

Sanctions are one of the EU’s tools to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP): peace, democracy and the respect for the rule of law, human rights and international law. They are always part of a comprehensive policy approach involving political dialogue and complementary efforts.
EU sanctions are not punitive, but designed to bring about a change in policy or activity by the target country, entities or individuals. Measures are therefore always targeted at such policies or activities, the means to conduct them and those responsible for them. At the same time, the EU makes every effort to minimise adverse consequences for the civilian population or for legitimate activities. The EU implements all sanctions imposed by the UN. In addition, the EU may reinforce UN sanctions by applying stricter and additional measures. Finally, where the EU deems it necessary, it may decide to impose autonomous sanctions.

Adoption and entry into force

The Council imposes EU restrictive measures through a CFSP Council decision adopted at unanimity. While this decision contains all measures imposed, additional legislation may be needed to give full legal effect to the sanctions.
Certain sanctions, such as arms embargoes and travel bans, are implemented directly by member states. Such measures only require a decision by the Council. This decision is directly binding on EU member states.
Economic measures, for instance asset freezes and export bans, fall under the competence of the Union and therefore require separate implementing legislation in the form of a Council regulation, which is directly binding on EU citizens and businesses. The regulation, adopted on the basis of a joint proposal from the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission, contains the details on the precise scope of the measures decided upon by the Council and their implementation. The regulation usually enters into force on the day following its publication in the EU Official Journal.

Frequent measures

– Arms embargo

An arms embargo normally covers sale, supply, transport of the goods included in the EU common military list (see the latest common military list). Related technical and financial assistance is normally also included in the ban.
In addition, the export of equipment used for internal repression may be prohibited, i.e. police equipment not covered by the EU common military list. Some examples: vehicles equipped with water canons, vehicles for the transport of prisoners, barbed wire and anti-riot helmets and shields.
The Council might also ban the export of dual use goods to targeted countries, i.e. those that can be used for both civil and military purposes, as set out on the EU list of dual use goods (see annex I of regulation 428/2009).

– Asset freeze

An asset freeze concerns funds and economic resources owned or controlled by targeted individuals or entities. It means that funds, such as cash, cheques, bank deposits, stocks, shares etc., may not be accessed, moved or sold. All other tangible or intangible assets, including real estate, cannot be sold or rented, either.
An asset freeze also includes a ban on providing resources to the targeted entities and persons. This means that EU citizens and companies must not make payments or supply goods and other assets to them. In effect, business transactions with designated companies and persons cannot legally be carried out.
In certain cases, national competent authorities can permit derogations from the asset freeze under specific exemptions, for instance to cover basic needs (such as foodstuffs, rent, medicines or taxes) or reasonable legal fees.

– Visa or travel ban

Persons targeted by a travel ban will be denied entry to the EU at the external borders. If visas are required for entering the EU, they will not be granted to persons subject to such restrictions on admissions.
EU sanctions never oblige a member state to refuse entry to its own nationals. If an EU citizen is subject to a travel ban, his home country must, subject to national legal provisions, admit that person.
In addition, member states may grant exemptions to travel bans when they host an international intergovernmental organisation, a UN conference or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Where do EU sanctions apply?

By their very nature, sanctions are designed to have political effects in third countries. Nevertheless, EU restrictive measures only apply within the jurisdiction of the EU, that is:
§ within EU territory, including its airspace;
§ to EU nationals, whether or not they are in the EU;
§ to companies and organisations incorporated under the law of a member state, whether or not they are in the EU. This also includes branches of EU companies in third countries;
§ to any business done in whole or in part within the European Union;
§ on board of aircrafts or vessels under the jurisdiction of a member state.
The EU does not adopt legislation with extra-territorial application in breach of international law. EU candidate countries are systematically invited to align themselves with EU restrictive measures.

Legal remedies

The Council notifies persons and entities targeted by an asset freeze or travel ban of the measures taken against them. At the same time, it brings the available legal remedies to their attention: They can ask the Council to reconsider its decision, by providing observations on the listing. They can also challenge the measures before the General Court of the EU.


Meeting of EU Heads of State or Government on Ukraine Thursday 6 March in Brussels

Following events in Ukraine, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has decided to convene an extraordinary meeting of EU Heads of State or Government this Thursday 6 March 2014 to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the EU’s reaction.
At the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 March, the European Union strongly condemned the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces and called on Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing.
The EU also called for a peaceful solution to this crisis and full respect of international law. It remains ready to engage in constructive dialogue with all parties to this end.
In response to events, the EU and those member states who are participants of G8 have decided for the time being to suspend their participation in activities associated with the preparations for the G8 Summit in Sochi in June.
On 5 March, the Commission proposed a series of measures, notably economic and Financial support, as the European Union’s contribution to an international effort to support Ukraine. At least € 11 billion could be available over the next years from the EU budget and EU-based international
financial institutions. This is to stabilise the economic and financial situation, assist with the transition and encourage political and economic reform.
In addition, the Council has decided to introduce EU sanctions targeting the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds. Asset freezes will apply for 18 persons responsible in this regard as of 6 March.
For full details of the EU positions on Ukraine, see Council conclusions.
For full details about EU aid to Ukraine, see press release and memo.


NATO-Russia Council

The situation in Ukraine presents serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.
And Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its own international commitments.
So NATO decided today to take a number of immediate steps.
We have suspended the planning for our first NATO-Russia joint mission. The maritime escort for the U.S. ship Cape Ray, which will neutralise Syria’s chemical weapons. Let me stress, this will not affect the destruction of chemical weapons, but Russia will not be involved in the escort of the US vessel.
We have also decided that no staff-level civilian or military meetings with Russia will take place for now.
We have put the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation under review. NATO Foreign Ministers will take decisions on this in early April.
These steps send a clear message: Russia’s actions have consequences.
At the same time, we do want to keep the door open for political dialogue. So we are ready to maintain meetings of ambassadors in the NATO-Russia Council, as we have done today.
I have just chaired a frank and important meeting of the NATO-Russia Council to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The NATO-Russia Council is a forum for discussions on all issues. Where we agree, and where we disagree.
As Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council, it is my duty to uphold the principles on which our relationship is founded.
Those fundamental principles are now at stake. Our joint pledge to observe in good faith our obligations under international law. And our commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other, or any other state.
So I asked the Russian Ambassador to convey NATO’s firm message to Moscow.
At the same time we have decided to intensify our partnership with Ukraine, and strengthen our cooperation to support democratic reforms.
We will step up our engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership.
We will strengthen our efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, including with more joint training and exercises.
And we will do more to include Ukraine in our multinational projects to develop capabilities.
This will complement the international efforts to support the people of Ukraine as they shape their future. And tomorrow, I will meet the Prime Minister of Ukraine to make clear NATO’s support. Audio.Video.


NATO, EU Ambassadors hold joint informal talks on Ukraine

The North Atlantic Council (NAC) held a joint informal meeting with counterparts from the European Union’s Political and Security Committee (PSC) at ambassadorial level on Wednesday (5 March 2014) to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow co-chaired the meeting which was held at the EU Council’s Justus Lipsius building. The NATO and EU ambassadors discussed the latest developments in Ukraine and assessed their security implications.
The discussions showed the convergence of views in both organisations in upholding Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, the need for a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia as well as de-escalating steps in view of a peaceful solution to the crisis in full respect of international law as laid down in bi-and multilateral commitments. Ambassadors had an exchange of views on the various dimensions of the crisis in Ukraine and the options for the response of the international community.
NATO and the EU cooperate on issues of common interest and work side by side in crisis-management, capability development and political consultations.
Separately, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen held talks with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council which focused on the crisis in Ukraine and preparations for NATO’s Summit in Wales.


OSCE to send military personnel to Ukraine

VIENNA, 5 March 2014 – Eighteen OSCE participating States decided to send 35 unarmed military personnel to Ukraine in response to its request.
The matter was discussed at a joint meeting of the Permanent Council and the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) in Vienna on 4 March 2014.
The visit is taking place under Chapter III of the Vienna Document 2011, which allows for voluntary hosting of visits to dispel concerns about unusual military activities. Ukraine has requested all OSCE participating States to send military representatives from 5 to 12 March 2014, starting in Odessa. This is the first time this mechanism has been activated.
As of now, eighteen OSCE participating States have responded positively to the request sending up to two representatives each. Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. One representative from the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre will also be participating. The military visit participants are on their way to Ukraine now.
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said: “It is my hope that this military visit will help to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine. By providing an objective assessment of the facts on the ground, the OSCE will be better placed to foster a political solution to the current crisis through dialogue.”
“Confidence-building and transparency are key elements of the OSCE approach to security, which seeks to foster openness and dialogue as the best way to resolve conflicts in our region,” he added.
The Vienna Document 2011 is one of the main confidence-building measures developed by the OSCE. Under this document, all participating States are required to share information on their military forces, equipment and defence planning. The Document also provides for inspections and evaluation visits that can be conducted on the territory of any participating State that has armed forces. Chapter III of the Vienna Document 2011


(18) In order to help to dispel concerns about military activities in the zone of application for CSBMs, participating States are encouraged to invite other participating States to take part in visits to areas on the territory of the host State in which there may be cause for such concerns. Such invitations will be without prejudice to any action taken under paragraphs (16) to (16.3).

(18.1) States invited to participate in such visits will include those which are understood to have concerns. At the time invitations are issued, the host State will communicate to all other participating States its intention to conduct the visit, indicating the reasons for the visit, the area to be visited, the States invited and the general arrangements to be adopted.

(18.2) Arrangements for such visits, including the number of the representatives from other participating States to be invited, will be at the discretion of the host State, which will bear the in-country costs. However, the host State should take appropriate account of the need to ensure the effectiveness of the visit, the maximum amount of openness and transparency and the safety and security of the invited representatives. It should also take account, as far as practicable, of the wishes of visiting representatives as regards the itinerary of the visit.

The host State and the States which provide visiting personnel may circulate joint or individual comments on the visit to all other participating States. For more details about the activation of the Vienna Document 2011 provisions, see pages 17-20. Source.


U.S./U.K./Ukraine Press Statement on the Budapest Memorandum Meeting

On 5 March 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting in Paris with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, and the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andriy Deshchytsia.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the urgent question of the Budapest Memorandum, the agreement signed by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1994. The United States had conveyed an invitation to the Russian Federation to the meeting. We deeply regret that the Russian Federation declined to attend.

The Budapest Memorandum sets out the obligations of signatories in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Under its terms, the three parties commit to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Memorandum also obliges the UK, US and Russia to consult in the event of a situation arising where the memorandum commitments are questioned.

Ukraine voluntarily surrendered the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for these assurances. The three Governments treat these assurances with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to as well. Russia has chosen to act unilaterally and militarily. The United Kingdom and United States will continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we commend the new Ukrainian government for not taking actions that might escalate the situation. Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity can only degrade Russia’s international standing and lead to greater political and economic consequences.

In the meeting, the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine discussed steps needed to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on Russia to engage in consultations with Ukraine as they have committed to in the Budapest memorandum.

The United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine agreed that direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, facilitated as needed by members of the international community, are crucial to resolving the current situation. They also agreed that international observers should be deployed immediately in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The three governments reaffirmed the importance of protecting the rights of all Ukrainian citizens, and believed that international observers would help address any concerns regarding irregular forces, military activity and the treatment of all Ukrainians irrespective of their ethnicity or spoken language. Source.


Remarks With British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia at Top of Tripartite Agreement Ministerial

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re glad to have our friends here from Ukraine and from Great Britain, partners in the Budapest Agreement of 1994, regrettably missing one member, but we will be meeting, hopefully this afternoon, with that additional member. So we look forward to our own discussion this morning. We appreciate you being here.

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAGUE: Well, it is absolutely right that we have met for consultations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. And that is provided for in Article 6 of the memorandum, and in such a crisis it’s absolutely right to meet. It is regrettable – exactly as you said, John – that Russia is not here with us. But we will make every diplomatic effort today to bring Russia and Ukraine into direct contact at ministerial level with the support of other nations. And this is one opportunity to do that; we will try to create other opportunities later today.

FOREIGN MINISTER DESHCHYTSIA: And I’m very glad that we have these consultations here, and that during these days we’ve had so many consultations in Ukraine – your visit, and with Secretary Hague and with Secretary Kerry two days ago, yesterday, so now we have these consultations here. It’s very decisive and important moment, and we are looking very much forward that we will be also having consultations with Russia bilaterally and multilaterally.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m just going to read two paragraphs from the Russian Federation Commission (1994 Budapest Memorandum ) “The United States of America and the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

It also says the same parties – the United States, the Russian Federation, et cetera – “In accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act” – that’s Helsinki – “to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty.” So there are very clear legal obligations that are at risk in this, and we’re going to talk about those here this morning. So thank you all very much. Source.


    Europe’s Five Deadly Sins on Ukraine

    by JAN TECHAU – The unfolding political catastrophe in Ukraine has led not only to a vivid debate about appropriate crisis management but also to deep European soul-searching about the root causes of the disaster.
    The situation is complex, and no one actor deserves all the blame. But it is now clear that the EU made almost every strategic mistake possible in its handling of the Ukraine file. Europe’s leaders should examine those mistakes carefully to avoid making them again in the future.
    Initially, the EU’s Eastern Partnership appeared to be moving in the right direction. Until late 2013, the EU had an interesting offer for Ukraine: a series of association and free-trade agreements that would grant the country access to Western money and markets.
    The EU institutions made the project a priority and created an impression of political unity around it. Even the European Neighborhood Policy’s conceptual flaws, analyzed lucidly in a recent paper by Carnegie Europe’s Stefan Lehne, did not derail the undertaking. Everyone expected the Ukrainian government to sign the EU accords at a summit in Vilnius in November 2013.
    But then everything fell apart.
    In their first mistake, Europeans completely misread their interlocutors’ motivations and interests. The EU failed to see that then president Viktor Yanukovych was not interested in developing Ukraine’s economy and modernizing its politics and society. All he was concerned about was his political survival. The EU’s tools, with their assumption that Ukraine would be willing to reform, were bound to be useless.
    Even more disastrous was the EU’s misreading of Russia.

    Full analysis.


    La guerre pour le contrôle de l’Ukraine : Pourquoi c’est une stratégie de la tension

    Par Manlio Dinucci – Pour comprendre ce qui est en train de se passer en Ukraine l’arrêt sur image d’aujourd’hui ne suffit pas, il faut regarder tout le film. La séquence de l’expansion à l’Est de l’OTAN, qui en dix ans (1999-2009) a englobé tous les pays de l’ex Pacte de Varsovie auparavant alliés de l’URSS, trois de l’ex URSS et deux de l’ex Yougoslavie ; qui a déplacé ses bases et forces militaires, y compris celles à capacité nucléaire, toujours plus adossées à la Russie, en les armant d’un « bouclier » anti-missiles (instrument non pas de défense mais d’offensive). Ceci, malgré les avertissements répétés de Moscou, ignorés ou tournés en dérision comme « stéréotypes dépassés de la guerre froide ». La véritable mise, dans cette escalade, n’est pas l’adhésion de l’Ukraine à l’Ue, mais l’annexion de l’Ukraine à l’OTAN. Cette stratégie USA/OTAN est une véritable stratégie de la tension qui, au-delà de l’Europe, vise à redimensionner la puissance qui a conservé la plus grande partie du territoire et des ressources de l’URSS, qui s’est reprise de la crise économique de l’après-guerre froide, qui a relancé sa politique extérieure (cf. le rôle joué en Syrie), qui s’est rapprochée de la Chine en créant une alliance potentielle en mesure de faire contraposition à la superpuissance étasunienne. A travers cette stratégie on pousse la Russie (comme on le fit avec l’URSS) à une course aux armements de plus en plus coûteuse, avec l’objectif de l’épuiser en en augmentant les difficultés économiques internes qui pèsent sur la majorité de la population, en la coinçant dans les cordes pour qu’elle réagisse militairement et puisse être mise au ban des « grandes démocraties » (d’où la menace de l’exclure du G8).
    La représentante étasunienne à l’ONU Samantha Power, paladin d’une « responsabilité de protéger » revenant de droit divin aux Etats-Unis, a demandé l’envoi d’observateurs Osce en Ukraine. Les mêmes qui, conduits par William Walker, auparavant dirigeant des services secrets étasuniens au Salvador, servirent en 1998-99 de couverture à la Cia au Kosovo, en fournissant à l’Uck des instructions et des téléphones satellitaires pour la guerre que l’OTAN était sur le point de déclencher. Pendant 78 jours, décollant surtout des bases italiennes, 1100 avions effectuèrent 38mille sorties, en lançant 23mille bombes et missiles. La guerre se termina avec les accords de Kumanovo, qui prévoyaient un Kosovo largement autonome, avec garnison de l’OTAN, mais toujours à l’intérieur de la souveraineté de Belgrade. Accords déchirés en 2008 avec l’indépendance autoproclamée du Kosovo, reconnue par l’OTAN et qui casse l’Union européenne même (Espagne, Grèce, Slovaquie, Roumanie et Chypre ne la reconnaissent pas). Cette OTAN qui, par la bouche de Rasmussen, accuse aujourd’hui la Russie de violer en Ukraine le droit international.



    Law of Unintended Consequences Illustrated, Part II

    by LILIA SHEVTSOVA – So far, the West has not been up to the Ukrainian challenge. I have been writing a lot about it.
    But what do Ukrainians themselves have to say on this matter? All of my Ukrainian colleagues, who come from entirely different regions and support Ukraine’s independence and its European vector, have been greatly disappointed with the policy on Ukraine adopted by Western countries—or, rather, with their choice to have no policy at all. Ukrainian journalists at the conference I attended put together a video in which they repeated in unison, “When Ukraine was dying, Europe was silent!”
    Ukrainian experts and politicians continue to raise the question that could be uncomfortable for Europeans: why the German and Polish Foreign Affairs ministers took pains to persuade and even force the Ukrainian opposition to sign an agreement with Viktor Yuanukovych that guaranteed his stay in power through 2014 and which was rejected by Maidan? The Kremlin now demands to return to this agreement and uses it as a justification for its actions in Ukraine.
    Ukrainians are watching with uneasiness the German statements, including the German support for the idea of federalization of Ukraine (supported by the Kremlin and the pro-Russian lobby in Ukraine too!), and the latest of Steinmeier’s calls to preserve G-8 as the ground for dialogue with Russia. Ukrainians remember the German role in 2008, before the Russo-Georgian war, when Chancellor Merkel blocked Ukraine and Georgia from becoming NATO candidate-members and they have certain thoughts about that.
    Now the West has to brace itself for the fact that (…)


    Law of Unintended Consequences Illustrated – Part I


    How Central is Central Asia?

    by Michal Romanowski – WARSAW—As illustrated by recent events in Ukraine, the post-Soviet space is still undergoing significant economic and political transformations. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the world welcomed 15 new sovereign states. Each of them chose a different path, some of which led to democracy and others that went astray.
    Central Asian countries are still resolving many issues of statehood. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all gained their independence in 1991. The first few years after the USSR’s breakup were marked by enthusiasm for democracy, especially in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The new electoral systems in these countries were characterized at first by a great deal of innovation. However, the political nomenclature, firmly embedded in a communist era, has failed to deliver.
    The U.S. political scientist M. Steven Fish claims that the depth of change among elites determines the efficiency of economic reforms in countries transitioning to democracy. Central Asia’s past political model could not have served as a basis for a constructive future. The ruling classes still share the Soviet mindset, leading to a centralized political system with a high level of economic and political state penetration. The controlled media are vulnerable to pressure, and the opposition movements, if they exist, are blocked and marginalized. The worst situation is probably in Turkmenistan, which is continuously among the lowest-rated countries in freedom assessments.
    The Central Asian states are all distinct, but they share certain common features. The dominant religion is Islam, ranging from 60 percent in Kazakhstan to over 90 percent in Turkmenistan. After the Soviet era, national languages were revived, four of which — apart from Tajik — belong to a Turkish language family.
    Central Asia’s republics are also struggling with a crisis of national identities. The process of rethinking their national origins started only in the early 1990s, and is defined by many factors. One of them is ethnic complexity. More than a hundred ethnic groups live in Central Asia. The number of Uzbek minorities in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan oscillates between 9 and 14 percent of the respective population; ethnic Russians, present in every country, constitute approximately one-fourth of Kazakhstan’s people.
    After the Soviet Union disappeared, the ideological vacuum in Central Asia was filled with the region’s centuries-old clan system. Nowadays, the internal politics are often dependent on informal networks. It is tribe affiliation that determines the distribution of power and wealth. For instance, the Kazakh model historically consisted of three tribal unions called Zhuzes, which are divided into the Uly (senior), the Orta (middle), and the Kishi (junior). A number of ministers in Kazakhstan hail from the same senior clan as the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Corruption, along with patronage, is also a principal component of the clan system. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan tie for 168th in Transparency International’s corruption index.
    Another similarity among Central Asian countries is the longevity of their heads of state. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have been ruled by their presidents for more than 20 years. It is very difficult for democracy to take root without power transitions.
    Despite the region’s ups and downs, Central Asia remains an important intersection of various economic and geopolitical environments. Due to its location in the heart of Eurasia, it has significant trade connectivity potential. The Modern Silk Road is a vision that, if realized, could be profitable for multiple stakeholders. When it comes to natural resources, Central Asia is polarized. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are land-locked states with limited deposits; however, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are oil- and gas-based economies, among the world’s major exporters.
    The Central Asian security architecture is also of vital importance. The main issues of concern in the region are Islamic radicals, drug flows, and illicit arms trafficking. As the ISAF/OEF troops exit from Afghanistan in 2014, the regional system — already fragile — will be exposed to even more danger. A key priority for the United States, however, is to maintain its military presence there. Currently, NATO forces operate from the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, which will be closed in July, and small contingents, mainly French and German, function in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Washington is urgently looking for a new military facility to secure its interests in Central Asia. Tajikistan, after a series of initials talks, is thought to be a potential partner to host the U.S. base.
    In Samuel Huntington’s theory, Central Asia is an area over which different civilizations could clash. The region is crucial not only for Russia and China, but also for the United States and Europe. Washington, as the biggest aid donor in Central Asia, should promote a stable and prosperous vision of the future by continuing to support civil societies, and maintaining a balanced, but strict, position toward authoritarian governments. If the West does not engage, other actors will gladly step in, as in Ukraine, and supporting democracy may be low on their policy agenda. Source.


    Ukraine and the ‘Little Cold War’

    By George Friedman – We must consider the future of Eurasia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Since 1991, the region has fragmented and decayed. The successor state to the Soviet Union, Russia, is emerging from this period with renewed self-confidence. Yet Russia is also in an untenable geopolitical position. Unless Russia exerts itself to create a sphere of influence, the Russian Federation could itself fragment.
    For most of the second half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union controlled Eurasia — from central Germany to the Pacific, as far south as the Caucasus and the Hindu Kush. When the Soviet Union collapsed, its western frontier moved east nearly 1,000 miles, from the West German border to the Russian border with Belarus. Russian power has now retreated farther east than it has been in centuries. During the Cold War it had moved farther west than ever before. In the coming decades, Russian power will settle somewhere between those two lines.
    After the Soviet Union dissolved at the end of the 20th century, foreign powers moved in to take advantage of Russia’s economy, creating an era of chaos and poverty. Most significantly, Ukraine moved into an alignment with the United States and away from Russia — this was a breaking point in Russian history.
    The Orange Revolution in Ukraine, from December 2004 to January 2005, was the moment when the post-Cold War world genuinely ended for Russia. The Russians saw the events in Ukraine as an attempt by the United States to draw Ukraine into NATO and thereby set the stage for Russian disintegration. Quite frankly, there was some truth to the Russian perception.
    If the West had succeeded in dominating Ukraine, Russia would have become indefensible. The southern border with Belarus, as well as the southwestern frontier of Russia, would have been wide open.
    After what Russia regarded as an American attempt to further damage it, Moscow reverted to a strategy of reasserting its sphere of influence in the areas of the former Soviet Union. The great retreat of Russian power ended in Ukraine. For the next generation, until roughly 2020, Russia’s primary concern will be reconstructing the Russian state and reasserting Russian power in the region.
    Interestingly, the geopolitical shift is aligning with an economic shift. Vladimir Putin sees Russia less as an industrial power than as an exporter of raw materials, the most important of which is energy (particularly natural gas). He is transforming Russia from an impoverished disaster into a poor but more productive country. Putin also is giving Russia the tool with which to intimidate Europe: the valve on a natural gas pipeline.
    But the real flash point, in all likelihood, will be on Russia’s western frontier. Belarus will align itself with Russia. Of all the countries in the former Soviet Union, Belarus has had the fewest economic and political reforms and has been the most interested in recreating some successor to the Soviet Union. Linked in some way to Russia, Belarus will bring Russian power back to the borders of the former Soviet Union.
    From the Baltics south to the Romanian border there is a region where borders have historically been uncertain and conflict frequent. In the north, there is a long, narrow plain, stretching from the Pyrenees to St. Petersburg. This is where Europe’s greatest wars were fought. This is the path that Napoleon and Hitler took to invade Russia. There are few natural barriers. Therefore, the Russians must push their border west as far as possible to create a buffer. After World War II, they drove into the center of Germany on this plain. Today, they have retreated to the east. They have to return, and move as far west as possible. That means the Baltic states and Poland are, as before, problems Russia has to solve.
    Defining the limits of Russian influence will be (…)

    Full analysis.



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