Archive for Russia

Bojcun: Peering through the fog of war

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 29, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

in “Peering Through the Fog of War,” Observer Ukraine’s Marco Bojcun provides another solid analysis of the current situation of unannounced war between Russia and Ukraine.

An excerpt:

“If on the one side we heard the apologists of the Kremlin insisting all this is just a Ukrainian civil war without Russian state intervention, from the other side we have had yet another kind of illusory and hopeful thinking: that the Ukrainian government can win the war in the east militarily, that with just a little more firepower the separatists can be defeated. And Russia would have to accept that fact and back off. The illusion in this line of thinking is twofold: first, that for Russia the goals of the war are limited to the subordination of Ukraine; and second, that the outcome of this war will be decided by the balance of brute force on the front.”

The entire article is worth reading.

“Bike Show” agitprop

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

An Olympics-scale performance staged on August 9 in the Crimean military port of Sevastopol depicted the official Russian version of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution — complete with huge dancing human swastikas, lynchings, burnings, firings of Kalashnikovs, and symbols depicting the US (dollar signs, eagles, the Eye of Providence), the Right Sector, and the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”

Ostensibly organized by Russian biker club “Night Wolves” (Ночные волки) but clearly with a massive budget, the performance was broadcast nationally on the Rossiya-2 (Russia 2) state television network. Rather like Cirque du Soleil staging some Al-Qaedaesque millenarian nightmare, and bringing to mind Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a disturbing example of what happens when cultural institutions are harnessed in the name of wartime propaganda.

Mat Babiak, editor of the Euromaidan Press web site, provides a detailed analysis (with numerous still photos) here. The original show in its entirety can be viewed on Rossiya-2. The web site for the “Triumphant Bike Show,” which began in Moscow and ended in Sevastopol, is here. For some images of the bikers themselves, see Google’s image database.

While the comments on the Euromaidan site reflect the shock, dismay, and befuddlement of Ukrainian viewers, those on the Russian Twitter feed express the delight of many Russian “patriotic” viewers.

Remnick from Moscow: on Putinism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 13, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

In his “Letter from Moscow: Watching the Eclipse,” Long-time New Yorker editor David Remnick provides a detailed and informative examination of Putinism and US foreign policy responses to it, with a focus on recent US ambassador Michael McFaul. The article is worth reading in full.

For more on Putinism’s growing role among global conservatives, see John Schindler‘s recent piece “Putinism and the Anti-WEIRD Coalition.”

Geopolitics: The Ukraine conflict in the multipolar world order

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 30, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

Here are some recent pieces, from a variety of political perspectives, helpful for understanding the geopolitical implications of the Russia-Ukraine (and effectively Russia-U.S.) conflict.

Most of these focus on the recent Russia-China gas deal, and together they underscore the importance of the Russia-China relationship in the unfolding multi-polar geopolitics of the post-2008 world economy.

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Smith: “Truths & counter-truths”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

In “Truths and Counter-Truths: The Front of Information and Misinformation,” Fourth International (Trotskyist) activist Murray Smith provides a detailed analysis of the Ukraine-Russia conflict from a left-wing perspective.

Smith is a Scottish socialist who has been active in leftist politics in various European countries since the 1960s. Since 2009 he has lived in Luxemburg, where is a leader of the party “The Left” (déi Lénk), its leadership representative in the Party of the European Left, and associated with the European United Left-Nordic Green Left.

The article is thoroughly referenced and includes a very good summary of the Russian misinformation campaign. I highly recommend it. It can be read here.

Stephen Cohen rides again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 11, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

I am blogging less here these days, and I expect that will continue through the summer (unless some radical change occurs in Ukraine and its relations with Russia).

One thing I shouldn’t let go without mention, however, is Stephen Cohen’s recent article in The Nation, “The Silence of American Hawks About Kiev’s Atrocities.” I’m one of the many Ukraine-watchers who disagree with Cohen’s analyses of Ukraine, who find them overfocused on geopolitics, oversympathetic to Putin and his nationalist/neo-imperialist regime, and almost completely lacking in on-the-ground knowledge of Ukraine itself.

The letters responding to Cohen’s article are worth reading; they can be found here. My own — third from the bottom on that page — is harsher than is my typical style, but as a long-time reader of The Nation, I can’t help feeling betrayed by it on this issue. I’m generally in agreement with the Brookings Institution’s Steven Pifer’s more detailed response.

Other Ukraine scholars tend to be less generous with Cohen (see, for instance, Alexander Motyl’s “Contradictions Define Kremlin Apologists“). But he is influential on the left and his defenses of Putin’s Russia deserve a hearing (however misguided they may be). My disagreement is less with Cohen’s right to speak his mind than it is with The Nation‘s unwillingness to look more deeply into the issues he writes about. Since Cohen is married to the magazine’s editor-in-chief, that may not be surprising; but readers should still press for better from the leading newsweekly on the U.S. left.

Gusev: Russian activists facing danger

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 26, 2014 by Adrian J Ivakhiv

Alexei Gusev is a professor of history at Moscow State University and chair of the Praxis Research and Educational Center in Moscow. The following is a letter he sent to Richard Greeman, who asked that I post it online.

Dear Richard,

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