Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Finland and Sweden face Zapad 2017

As Russia's Zapad 2017 military exercise across the Baltic Sea approaches, Finland and Sweden feel vulnerable in a new way. Former U.S. ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji comments in the Wall Street Journal:
The current relationship between the U.S. and Russia is eerily evocative of the Cold War, complete with aggressive aircraft interceptions, harassment at sea, and diplomatic expulsions. But there are significant, consequential differences between America’s relationship with the Soviet Union and with the Russian Federation.
Today’s situation is more perilous, made so by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sense of grievance and revenge. Alliances have shifted too. The nations of the Warsaw Pact dissolved that treaty and most then joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. What remains of the nonaligned bloc is more nostalgic whimsy than an influential group of nations.
More here.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Russia and its Conflict with Islam

At Hoover Institution, an excerpt from Robert Service''s upcoming Hoover Press book Russia and its Islamic World:
It is widely assumed that Russian foreign and domestic policies operate quite independently of each other. This is not the way to make sense of Russia and its Islamic world. Not the least of the reasons is that the manner in which the Kremlin treats its Muslim citizens is inextricably linked to the manner in which it deals with the neighboring Muslim states of the former Soviet Union. Thus, when Putin is affirming his benign intentions toward Muslims in those states, the question arises about how he is dealing with discontent in the Muslim-inhabited territories of the Russian Federation itself. Nothing gives greater cause for concern than the scorched-earth offensive in Chechnya that he ordered in 1999 when still only Yeltsin’s prime minister.
Read the rest here.