April 18, 2014
by James Robbins

The four-power deal regarding Ukraine concluded Thursday in Geneva gave hope to some for a de-escalation of the crisis and resolution of the outstanding issues. However, the deal did nothing to change the facts on the ground or to alter Moscow’s strategy to force Ukraine either to acquiesce to losing its eastern regions or face Russian military intervention masked as humanitarian assistance.
Putin Moving Toward Checkmate in Eastern Ukraine
Pro-Russian separatists guard a seized government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 18, 2014. The rebels maintained control of government buildings they have seized a day after Kiev struck a deal with Russia and the West aimed at easing the crisis in Ukraine. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)
Middle East Peace Talks Die Quietly as Larger Issues Loom
April 10, 2014
Despite frantic last-minute gambits by the United States, efforts to resuscitate the corpse of a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are effectively over. Both parties have admitted as much and have taken actions that confirm its demise, including Wednesday’s order by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit contacts with Palestinian negotiators.

Putin Insulates Russia With Plan for Financial Self-Sufficiency
April 10, 2014
While media reports focus on Vladimir Putin’s next military move in Ukraine, the Russian president is deftly making economic changes to cushion the blow of international sanctions. He is also slowly pulling Russia away from the international financial system to promote greater economic self-sufficiency. Putin’s supporters, now estimated to represent about 80 percent of Russia’s population, do not worry about sanctions as long as Russian flags are flying in Ukraine.
Ripples From Ukraine Reach All the Way to Outer Space
April 10, 2014
Tit-for-tat diplomatic travel sanctions following Russia’s seizure of Crimea are playing out in unexpected corners of the Russo-American relationship, even in space. NASA this month instructed its employees to suspend direct communication with the Russians except for the operation of the International Space Station.
As Erdogan Gains Power, Turkey Loses Credibility in the West
April 9, 2014
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party has won what he and many commentators are hailing as a major victory in recent municipal elections. Yet Erdogan’s reputation as a reformer — more democratic than Islamist — and his plan to regain the regional influence of the Ottoman Empire lie in ruins, as do Turkey’s pretensions of joining the European Union.
Ukraine Sees ‘Economic Aggression’ in Russian Gas Hike
April 9, 2014
The interim Ukrainian government’s decision to reject enormous price increases for natural gas shipments from Russia’s state-owned Gazprom (London: OGZD) threatens to drive the dispute to new heights. If the Kremlin follows through on its threat to shut down its pipelines to Ukraine for refusing to pay the outrageous 81 percent increase, the European Union’s ability to respond will likely be limited because the bloc depends on Russian oil and gas.
Give Putin Credit for Rebuilding Russian Military, and Morale
April 9, 2014
The Russian military’s swift and bloodless conquest of Crimea demonstrates the major strides it has made under President Vladimir Putin in the past decade. Improvements extend to both strategic nuclear and conventional forces, a measure of Russia’s long-term commitment to the modernization of its military.
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