Why Putin won’t take Hitler’s way out

The last time Europe fought a major war, there was no shortage of planning. We knew what peace meant. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt issued their Atlantic Charter in August 1941, before the Allied victory was anywhere close. This was followed by more meetings and conferences, including in Tehran in 1943 and later at Yalta, in Crimea, in 1945. The fighting never stopped, but there was a lot of thinking about the future of Germany, Europe and the new world order.  This sort of thinking is less evident today with Ukraine. Maybe it’s because Russia’s war in Ukraine, as bad as it is, isn’t yet a world war. It is

Why Crimea could be key to Ukraine winning the war

Over the six months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the ambitions of President Zelensky and his compatriots have only grown. From an early readiness to engage in talks – first in Belarus and then in Istanbul – Kyiv has progressed to an insistence that Ukraine can win, and from there to a definition of victory that includes not just a return to the status quo before the war, but the restoration of Ukraine’s post-independence borders, and now also the recovery of Crimea. Zelensky himself has often seemed slower than some in his entourage to expand the mission. But he has been adding his voice to those calling for the recovery of Crimea for

How Russia’s cartoon heroine turned on Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s regime has a track record in building up public heroes whom it hopes to use, only to find the ungrateful wretches unwilling to play the roles it intends. The most recent is Natalia Poklonskaya, a woman whose trajectory from cartoon heroine to legal adviser has starkly illustrated the way Putin faces criticisms not just from remaining liberals at home, but also nationalists. Poklonskaya shot to fame amidst the Russian take-over of Crimea. A Ukrainian, she had been a senior prosecutor in Crimea, then in Kyiv, until she resigned in the wake of the ‘Euromaidan’ rising, ‘ashamed to live in the country where neo-fascists freely walk the streets.’ She

How the West can respond to Putin’s military build-up

In the last few weeks, Russia has been flaunting its military build-up in and around Ukraine, sending 20,000 extra troops, artillery convoys, and trains heaving with weaponry to Crimea. To avoid this escalating into full-scale war, a more robust and consistent response is needed from the international community, as well as new fora and strategies to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, France and Germany have assumed leading roles in mediating the conflict. They are part of the ‘Normandy Quartet’ and mediators for the Minsk Protocol. But both of these initiatives have floundered and the Franco-German failure to stand up to Russia is