Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down yesterday near the Russia-Ukraine border. But like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished in March, what happened to MH17 is shrouded in mystery.
It's relatively rare that commercial aircraft are targeted with weapons built primarily to attack military aircraft, but there are a range of potential threats from such weapons. Given that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was reportedly at 33,000 feet when contact was lost, it seems impossible that the attack could have occurred using a shoulder-fired missile.
Because the United States has relied so heavily on force, we tend to equate it with power. Some results can only be achieved through force, but coercion can be an effective substitute. A superpower, by definition, has many options to have its way without always needing to send troops into battle—a smart superpower will use those options.
If the attention to the challenge posed by Russia dwindles as the immediate crisis in Ukraine fades out of the headlines, the problem will only get worse and more costly. A $1 billion investment will not solve the problem itself, but it's an important step in the right direction.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer to avoid further military action, but movement of Russian troops into eastern Ukraine is still possible if Putin is unable to extend his influence and prevent the country from aligning with the European Union.
While the renewed interest in crisis response forces by the military services is welcome in these times of uncertainty, forces that are permanently assigned to a geographic combatant command and based in a region continue to offer distinct benefits. RAND research has shown that an overseas presence enhances contingency responsiveness in most cases.
Russia possesses the world's most Arctic shoreline, water, and operating resources. But the United States is also an Arctic nation, even if much of the American public tends to under-appreciate this special status.
RAND foreign policy experts Charles Ries, Olga Oliker and Christopher Chivvis hosted a news media conference call to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and Russia, and the challenges facing NATO countries during the crisis. Media relations officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.
The argument for splitting Ukraine has little to do with either real divisions in the country or popular preferences. Until the Russian invasion of Crimea, the issue of separatism was simply absent from public debate.
Russia's annexation of Crimea is proving costly. If Putin thought seizing Crimea would make the rest of Eastern Europe deferential to Moscow, the opposite is occurring, as anti-Russian/pro-NATO sentiment surges throughout the region.
What are the implications of the continuing standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine? Olga Oliker will discuss the latest unfolding events in the region and how cooperation on other global and regional issues could be affected.
What Russia seeks from its adventure is status, importance and free reign in its neighborhood, for a start. If sanctions and other responses are short-lived, Moscow will feel victorious, and possibly emboldened to future aggression.
The Russian military intervention caught many foreign policy analysts by surprise. Articles explaining why Russia wouldn't intervene ran in Foreign Affairs, Time, and the New York Times; and even the intelligence community was caught off guard. Events have proven them wrong.
Russia's increasingly brazen violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity threatens to undermine the widely accepted principle that international borders are not subject to further revision, a principle that has contributed to a global decline in interstate war in recent decades.
Western concern over the crisis in Ukraine intensified with Russian military advances into Crimea. With Russian President Putin defending the incursion and Secretary of State Kerry on the ground in Kiev, RAND experts say a diplomatic solution is the only viable option.