Category Archives: Russia

45% of Russians Believe Shadowy Group Controls Humanity

The Moscow Times reports:

‘”The world is run by some sort of overarching entity that pulls the strings in governments around the globe” is a statement nearly half of Russians would agree with, a state-run pollster revealed Wednesday.

The Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that 45 percent of Russians believe in the existence of an omnipotent force that lords over state governments, controlling the affairs of humanity. Only one-third of the population expressly rejects this hypothesis, while another 23 percent of Russians remain undecided, according to the survey.

The research center also revealed that individuals with higher levels of education and enviable salaries were more likely to embrace such theories than their less-educated, lower-earning counterparts.’


Editor’s Note: Perhaps it’s important to understand this poll in the context of the kind of environment that Russians have lived in for so many years, with a virtually unaccountable central authority ruling over the population throughout much of its history. From the Tsarist days, through the Soviet Union, to today under Vladimir Putin, Russians have lived under a state that has greatly feared foreign entities of some kind. A similar situation could be said about the United States as well, whose population also has its own fascination with conspiracies. The U.S. government, like its Russian counterpart, also likes to hype the threat from outsiders, mainly to the benefit of its military power. You only have to turn on CNN or Fox to hear about the latest great threat against America, the same goes for much of Russian state TV. There are some links below about conspiracy theories below, it’s up to you what you make of them. 

Mikhail Khodorkovsky breaks political silence, saying he would lead Russia

AFP reports:

‘The former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail after challenging the Kremlin, says he would be ready to lead Russia if called upon. Khodorkovsky’s statement, at the launch of an online movement called Open Russia, appears to break his promise to steer clear of politics, which he made after being pardoned by president Vladimir Putin in December.

“I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally,” he was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper. “But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favour of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task.”’


Russian billionaire Yevtushenkov denies being freed from house arrest

AFP reports:

Sistema chairman of the board Vladimir Yevtushenkov (RIA Novosti/Anton Denisov)‘The probe against Russia’s 15th richest man, with a fortune of $9 billion (7 billion euros), according to Forbes magazine, centres on a deal in which Sistema bought oil company Bashneft. Sistema is a vast holding with major interests in the country’s biggest mobile telephone company MTS and a range of other assets.

Yevtushenkov was placed under house arrest late Tuesday, issued with a monitoring bracelet, barred from using the Internet, and confined to his country mansion outside Moscow. Yevtushenkov’s case swiftly won comparisons with the prosecution of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade behind bars after being stripped of his Yukos oil company.’


Kremlin to consider plans which could remove Russia from global Internet ‘in an emergency’

Kashmira Gander reports for The Independent:

‘Russia may remove itself from the global Internet to protect itself against perceived threats from the West, a Kremlin spokesman suggested on Friday. The Kremlin dismissed accusations it aims to isolate the Russian Internet, and insists it is merely concerned with protecting its national security – particularly as relations with the West have reached their lowest since the Cold War.

However, the country has recently passed several laws targeting Internet use, which include making popular bloggers register as media outlets, and forcing websites to store the personal data of Russian users… The moves come as Russia attempts to reduce its use of American technology, fearing that its communications are vulnerable to US spying. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin called the web a “CIA special project”.’


Feted across the West but now Nadya Tolokonnikova wants to concentrate on reform in Russia

Amelia Gentleman recently interviewed Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova for The Guardian which contains some interesting insights into the West’s early attempts to attach themselves to the group:

Nadya Tolokonnikova‘It is an oddly abstract volume [Comradely Greetings, a book of correspondence between Nadya and radical philosopher Slavoj Žižek], constrained at times by the presence of a censor, stripped of detail about prison life, and concerned with serious theoretical analysis of Tolokonnikova’s protest work. The two discuss how peculiar it was that Pussy Riot found such instant support in the west, given that Pussy Rioters have voiced concerns about global capitalism alongside their criticism of Putin. “All hearts were beating for you as long as you were perceived as just another version of the liberal democratic protest against the authoritarian state. The moment it became clear that you rejected global capitalism, reporting on Pussy Riot became much more ambiguous,” Žižek writes.

Tolokonnikova does not want to talk much about the letters; she wrote them 18 months ago, and says she has largely forgotten what was in them, but she says she is grateful for the support she has received from the west, from Madonna to Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t really matter if their reasons for opposing Putin differ, she says. “I feel very positive about how Madonna helps us, and people like her,” says Tolokonnikova, who was recently criticised by other members of the Pussy Riot collective for appearing on stage with Madonna (their appearance was “highly contradictory to the principles of Pussy Riot”, since “we only stage illegal performances in unexpected places”). “Our position is that when Katy Perry sends us good wishes, that’s great. Maybe she doesn’t know anything about human rights, or maybe she does – there’s no reason to think that inside a nice-looking girl is an idiot,” she adds.

Tolokonnikova met Clinton for barely a second, but had they had a proper chance to talk, she would have set out her belief that the US has to take some responsibility for Putin’s behaviour internationally, and that it needs to rein in “its aggressive foreign policy”. “It’s bad in itself. But it’s also bad for us in Russia, because every time Putin makes an intervention in foreign affairs, he points to US behaviour over the past decade,” she says.’


60 Years Ago, Moscow Tested a Nuclear Weapon on Its Own Citizens

Paul Goble reports for The Interpreter:

ingress_image‘Yesterday [Sept 14th] was the 60th anniversary of a horrific tragedy in which the Soviet government tested a nuclear weapon on its own people at a military base in Orenburg Oblast, a tragedy which continues because the Russian government has not been willing to face up to what happen or provide effective help to the victims.

Instead, the Bellona organization says, this horrific event “continues not only in the fates of the witnesses still living but in the fate of their children and grandchildren. Over these 60 years, a very great deal has changed, but what has not changed is the impermissible attitude of the state towards its own citizens.”

On September 14, 1954, the Soviet authorities exploded a nuclear device of between 10 and 40 kilotons, approximately twice the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, in an area where some 45,000 to 60,000 Soviet citizens were living in order to test the effectiveness of the weapon, the environmental activist group says.’


Roman Abramovich’s binge at the Bridge really is no laughing matter

Matthew Syed writes for The Times:

Roman Abramovich ‘As the second goal went in for Chelsea on Saturday, the cameras wheeled around to Roman Abramovich, who was clapping and grinning. It is a picture we have seen a hundred times over the years and the response of the commentator was equally familiar. “That will make the owner happy,” he said. There is nothing wrong with this. Nothing wrong with an owner taking pleasure in his team’s success. Nothing wrong with a TV camera picking up on the moment. Indeed, this is the stuff of football. How many times have you heard it before: “Abramovich will be celebrating tonight!”; “That’s put a smile on Roman’s face!”; “Even the owner is dancing a jig!”

It is not what is said that troubles me, however; it is what is not said. You see, I am not sure I have heard a commentator offer a word about where the money that has funded the 11-year binge at Stamford Bridge came from. I have rarely heard pundits, who are happy to talk ad nauseum about Chelsea’s transfer dealings, relate that Abramovich’s billions were gained in an episode described as “the largest single heist in corporate history”. This is not just an elephant in the room; it is a festering pile of manure.’


Dutch report finds MH17 likely shot down by ‘high-speed objects’

DW reported earlier this week:

‘Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was likely hit “by a large number of high-energy objects,” air crash investigators said on Tuesday. Furthermore, the distribution of the wreckage over a large area indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air, according to the report published on the website of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV).

The Malaysia Airlines flight went down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17 while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 were killed, including 193 Dutch citizens.

The West has accused Moscow-backed separatist fighters of shooting down the airliner with a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile. The Russian government has blamed the Ukrainian military.

The OVV report does not assign blame for the incident.’


The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, speaking to Ukrainian and other business leaders at the National Press Club in Washington on Dec. 13, 2013, at a meeting sponsored by Chevron.‘A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn’t advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington’s current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn’t connect to genuine security concerns.

So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What’s driving the madness?’


Russian FM: US wants to cut economic ties between EU and Russia to aid TTIP negotiations

Editor’s Note: For more on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as its counterpart the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are plenty of links here. But if you only read one article on these trade deals and what they mean geopolitically, I would highly recommend this one.

The Peninsula reports:

‘”The US is trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to break economic ties between the EU and Russia and force Europe to buy US gas at much higher prices,” Lavrov said in a ministry statement of his interview with Russia’s Centre TV.

Washington wanted to use the five-month conflict in Ukraine “to economically tear Europe from Russia and bargain for itself the most favourable conditions in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the creation of a transatlantic trade and investment partnership”.

Lavrov accused Washington of trying to “impose on Europe deliveries of US liquefied natural gas at prices that can not be competitive compared with Russian gas prices”. Russia supplies about a third of the EU’s gas.’


Time to End the Bloody Ukraine Conflict: Interview Katrina Vanden Heuvel

Editor’s Note: Katrina Vanden Heuvel has been editor of The Nation since 1995, she also partly owns the magazine. Her latest article for the Washington Post is linked below the interview. She is also married to Professor Stephen Cohen, whose articles and interviews have been regularly posted here during the Ukraine crisis as it has unfolded.

Ukraine PM Claims ‘State of War’ With Russia

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk today declared that in spite of the ceasefire with rebels in the east, the country remains “in a state of war” with neighboring Russia.

Yatsenyuk pushed NATO to immediately admit Ukraine as a member and join the war on Russia, claiming the nation is a “threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe.”’


The Geopolitics of World War III

Polish president warns of rebirth of 1930s nationalism in Berlin speech

Reuters reports:

‘Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski has compared Russia’s incursions into Ukraine with 1930s-style nationalism in a speech in Berlin commemorating the beginning of World War Two, in which he urged the West to stand up to Moscow.

“We are witnessing the rebirth of nationalist ideology which violates human rights and international law under the cover of humanitarian slogans about protecting minorities,” Komorowski told the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

“We recognize this all too well from the 1930s,” said the president, using a speech to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the war following the Nazis’ invasion of Poland to criticize Russia’s actions in Ukraine.’


Ukrainian President offers more autonomy if rebels end war

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The eastern Ukrainian ceasefire continues to hold, nearly a week in, and President Petro Poroshenko is now promising to make good on proposals for increased autonomy for the eastern region if the rebels agree to an end to the rebellion.

The rebels appear divided on whether or not to trust this offer, and some are still pushing to secede outright. Though dubbed “secessionist” rebels, many only wanted increased autonomy in the first place, and it is unlikely that enough will continue to push for secession to keep the war going.’


US and Europe at odds over NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia

Christoph Hasselbach reports for DW:

‘NATO is only obliged to collectively defend its own member states against attack from outside. Many European politicians must currently be secretly relieved by the existence of the principle. If Ukraine were a member of NATO, the annexation of Crimea in March would have plunged the Western alliance into an immediate military confrontation with Russia.

Yet only a few years ago, there was serious discussion about inviting Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance. At the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, the United States, under President George W. Bush, campaigned vehemently in favor. However, several European states – including Germany – had misgivings, because even then they were concerned about the possibility of serious tensions with Russia.

Today, Berlin is more convinced of this than ever.’


Half of Europeans want to tackle international issues without US meddling

Sara Miller Llana reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘A survey released today shows that Europeans approve of Obama’s international policies more than his own public: 64 percent compared to 43 percent.

But even in Europe, support is waning. And at the same time, Europeans are seeking a more independent path for themselves, which could have implications for US-European cooperation on everything from IS to Russian assertiveness to China’s rise.’


Russian FM Lavrov: West may use ISIS as pretext to bomb Syrian govt forces

RT reports:

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov adresses to his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop (not pictured) during their meeting in Moscow, September 9, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)‘If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

There are reasons to suspect that air strikes on Syrian territory may target not only areas controlled by Islamic State militants, but the government troops may also be attacked on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad’s army,” Lavrov said Tuesday.’


Islamic State militants vow to ‘de-throne’ Putin over Syria support

AFP reported last week:

‘Islamic State militants have issued a threat to President Vladimir Putin, vowing to oust him and “liberate” the volatile North Caucasus over his support of the Syrian regime. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia demanded that access to the address, which was posted on YouTube on Tuesday and features what jihadists say is a Russian-supplied fighter jet, be blocked.

“This is a message to you, oh Vladimir Putin, these are the jets that you have sent to Bashar, we will send them to you, God willing, remember that,” said one fighter in Arabic, according to Russian-language captions provided in the video. “And we will liberate Chechnya and the entire Caucasus, God willing,” said the militant. “The Islamic State is and will be and it is expanding God willing. Your throne has already teetered, it is under threat and will fall when we come to you because Allah is truly on our side,” said the fighter. “We are already on our way God willing.”‘


Mikhail Gorbachev: West should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO

RT reports:

‘[Ex-Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev writes that in his view the Ukrainian conflict can only be settled through dialogue, both inside the country and at an international level. He points out that leading nations were largely to blame for the current dire situation, as from the very beginning they were testing Ukraine’s integrity. EU countries, and first of all Germany and France, have already understood this and are taking steps to de-escalate the crisis, which is a good thing, the ex-president says.

Gorbachev also emphasized that good relations with Russia must become a priority in Ukraine’s foreign policy and this should also be understood and accepted by Western nations. Leaders of these nations should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO because these attempts would result in nothing but strife between Ukraine and Russia.’


Hagel Vows Increased Military Aid to Georgia

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel today promised more US military aid to Georgia, during a visit to the Caucasus republic, insisting the aid was part of a response to Russia’s “long-term challenge” to the US.

Georgia has been keen to cash in on the ongoing eastern Ukrainian war, which the US is blaming Russia for, and trying to present it as somehow related to the brief 2008 Russo-Georgian War.’


Mearsheimer Pins Blame for Ukraine Crisis on US, But…

John Walsh writes for Antiwar:

“Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin” is the splendid title of John Mearsheimer’s article in the recent issue of Foreign Affairs. Like Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the title alone, along with the prestige of the author in the firmament of the elite, make the book a potent weapon in the struggle to curb the U.S. Empire – before it permanently curbs us. Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and co-author with Stephen Walt, Professor and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, of the widely cited The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. If you wish to convince someone of the foul role played by NATO in Ukraine, this article is a superb primer.


Fearmongering: Why Independence Could Put Scotland In Danger Of Russian Invasion

Editor’s Note: Of all the fearmongering coming from the ‘no’ campaign, this has to be my favourite piece. THE RUSSIAN’S ARE COMING! Desperate.

James Cook writes for Business Insider:

HMS Astute sailing to Faslane Naval Base in Scotland‘If Scotland votes “Yes” on independence, it will begin a long process of creating its own naval defence force, a process that could leave its coastline at risk. The Royal United Services Institute, a British military think tank, said last week that Scottish independence would trigger a national debate over the U.K.’s nuclear weapons if the submarines carrying the Trident missile system were relocated to the south coast of Britain, away from the fleet’s current base in Scotland. The relocation could add £3.5 billion to the cost of maintaining the U.K.’s armed forces.

But there are larger concerns over the future of Scotland’s naval defenses. While Scottish independence would indeed spark a debate on Britain’s nuclear future, as well as kickstarting a costly process to relocate the submarine fleet, some experts caution that Scottish independence could leave it vulnerable to naval threats.

Put simply, the Russians sail their submarines into Scottish waters on a regular basis. Russian vessels approach Scottish waters about once or twice a year, close enough to require the Royal Navy to perform counter-maneuvers.

And Russia has a recent history of military adventurism, in the Ukraine. Although there is absolutely no reason for Russia to invade Scotland, the departure of Trident from Northern waters could — in theory — let the Russians do whatever they like up there.’


NATO Plans ‘Joint Military Exercises’ in War-Torn Ukraine

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Previously planned annual NATO military exercises inside Ukraine were understandably delayed by a massive civil war breaking out in eastern Ukraine. NATO, apparently seeing it as a chance to stick it to Russia, is now saying they plan to hold the exercises later this month, even though the war is still going on [Ed: a ceasefire has now been enacted, whether it holds is another matter entirely].

Fortunately, the 10-day exercises will be taking place in western Ukraine, far from the actual warzone, and close to the border with Poland. 1,300 NATO troops, including 200 US combat troops,will be taking part.’


Former US Ambassador to Moscow: To Resolve Ukraine Crisis, Address Internal Divisions & Russian Fears of NATO

‘Ukraine has retracted an earlier claim to have reached a ceasefire with Russia. The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initially said he agreed with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on steps toward a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. But the Kremlin then denied a ceasefire agreement, saying it is in no position to make a deal because it is not a party to the fighting. Ukraine has accused Russia of direct involvement in the violence amidst a recent escalation. The confusion comes as President Obama visits the former Soviet republic of Estonia ahead of a major NATO summit in Wales. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest outlined NATO’s plans to expand its presence in eastern Europe. Ukraine and NATO have accused Russia of sending armored columns of troops into Ukraine, but Russia has denied its troops are involved in fighting on the ground. We are joined by Jack Matlock, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.’ (Democracy Now!)

Ukraine Ceasefire Takes Hold, but an Expanding NATO Raises Threat of Nuclear War: Interview with Stephen Cohen

‘The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels are reportedly set to sign a ceasefire today aimed at ending over six months of fighting that has killed at least 2,600 people and displaced over a million. The deal is expected this morning in the Belarusian capital of Minsk as President Obama and European leaders meet in Wales for a major NATO summit. The ceasefire comes at a time when the Ukrainian military has suffered a number of defeats at the hands of the Russian-backed rebels. In the hours leading up to the reported ceasefire, pro-Russian rebels launched another offensive to take the port city of Mariupol, which stands about halfway between Russia and the Crimea region. The Ukrainian government and NATO have accused Russia of sending forces into Ukraine, a claim Moscow denies. The new developments in Ukraine come as NATO has announced plans to create a new rapid reaction force in response to the Ukraine crisis. We are joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, and the author of numerous books on Russia and the Soviet Union.’ (Democracy Now!)

Gazprom Football Empire: The creation of a global image campaign

Manuel Veth wrote for Futbolgrad in Januuary:

In 2008 Zenit Saint Petersburg became only the second Russian club to win a major European trophy when they beat Glasgow Rangers in Manchester to win the UEFA Cup – a triumph that propelled Zenit on to the international stage. However, such success would not have been possible without the financial backing of Gazprom, who had chosen football as the centrepiece of its global image campaign.

The final in Manchester was the peak of a process, which began in 1999 when Gazprom became the official sponsor of Zenit. Gazprom’s sponsorship deal was signed shortly after Zenit had lifted the Russian Cup, beating Lokomotiv Moscow 3-1 thanks largely to two goals from Alexander Panov, known as the “Kolpino rocket”. At the time of the takeover, Gazprom’s chairman Petr Radionov stated in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiia “that in difficult economic times it is important that people have an outlet”. In a somewhat philosophical tone, Radionov was referring to the fact that Russia was recovering from the 1998 economic crisis with Saint Petersburg hit especially hard by the default of Russia’s banking sector.’


Russia will host World Cup, insists FIFA President Sepp Blatter

Keir Radnedge reports for World Soccer:

Russia President Vladimir PutinOne certain fact about the Ukraine crisis is that, in four years time, nothing will be as it is now. Hence FIFA president Sepp Blatter has underlined a need for stability and clear thinking in insisting that Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup finals is not up for question.

A European Union discussion document has raised the prospect of adding culture and sport to boycott tools in the dispute over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the military action in eastern Ukraine. Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and several German and United States politicians have also demanded a World Cup bocyott or removal. All appear ignorant of the fact that the finals are almost four years away and that European qualifying does not start for another two years.’


NATO to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

Nato is to create a 4,000-strong “spearhead” high-readiness force that can be deployed rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, according to Nato officials. Leaders from the 28 Nato countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance’s summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda on Friday.

The Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the force, drawn on rotational basis from Nato allies, could be in action at “very, very short notice”. Rasmussen described it as a mixture of regular troops and special forces that could “travel light but strike hard”. It would be supported by air and naval forces as needed.’


John J. Mearsheimer: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

John J. Mearsheimer provides a realist perspective of the situation in Ukraine in the latest issue of the Council on Foreign Relations’ bi-monthly magazine, Foreign Affairs:

‘According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.

But this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant — and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.’