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2013 Commentary and Blog Posts

  • Pro-European integration protesters wave flags during a rally in Independence square in Kiev December 22, 2013

    Preserving Ukraine's European Choice

    Dec 24, 2013

    The United States and the EU have a strong stake in keeping open a European option for Ukraine. A reorientation of Ukrainian policy back toward Russia would shift the strategic balance in Europe and have a negative impact on the prospects for democratic change on Europe's eastern periphery.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised news conference in Moscow

    Putin's Pardons

    Dec 23, 2013

    Few, if any, think that the amnesties just announced are a sea change in Russian domestic policy. Some speculate that they are an effort to dampen criticism of Russian human rights abuses, especially the anti-gay law, as Russia gears up for the Sochi Olympics this February.

  • Ukrainian pro-EU demonstrators wave EU and Ukraine flags at a barricade in Independence Square in Kiev, December 18, 2013

    Ukraine's Murky Future

    Dec 18, 2013

    While some see Ukraine choosing between European-style democracy and economic, political, and cultural backwardness in Russia's shadow, the fact is that Ukraine faces a difficult and murky path in any direction. The country is in dire financial straits, needing billions in loans to avoid bankruptcy.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the United Nations Headquarters after the P5+1 member nations concluded a nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013.

    A First Step in Geneva

    Nov 25, 2013

    The Geneva agreement is only a first step toward a comprehensive deal but it is an important achievement. Iran's ability to move toward a nuclear weapons breakout capability has been halted in return for limited sanctions relief.

  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare homemade bombs in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine September 30, 2013

    Syria As We Know It Is Gone

    Oct 15, 2013

    Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama before the first working session of the G20 Summit on September 5, 2013

    The Road on from Damascus: What the Syria Deal Means for the U.S. and Russia

    Sep 23, 2013

    The deal the United States and Russia struck to get rid of Syria's chemical weaponry is neither a sign of a sea change in relations nor a victory for one party over the other, writes Olga Oliker. It is, however, something of a testament to diplomacy on both sides.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    Examining the Diplomatic Option in Syria

    Sep 12, 2013

    The United States' options in Syria are all miserable, but the Russian proposal appears to be the least miserable of the lot, says Bruce Bennett.

  • A collection newspapers with pictures and publications of Edward Snowden

    The Snowden Affair: Questions and Answers with Olga Oliker

    Aug 7, 2013

    There is an element of hypocrisy in Russian officials and pundits lauding Snowden as a human rights hero for his actions, says Olga Oliker, when Russia itself has a terrible record on free political speech.

  • Vladimir Putin at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009

    America's Russia Policy Makes Sense

    Jul 22, 2013

    Are U.S. officials deluded about the prospects for cooperation with a country that is fundamentally determined to undermine its goals? No, writes Olga Oliker. In fact, they are pursuing a rational approach towards a state that shares U.S. interests in some key areas, even as it fundamentally disagrees in others.

  • 'Remnants of an Army' by Elizabeth Butler portraying William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad as the only survivor of a 16,500 strong evacuation from Kabul in January 1842.

    Book Review: 'Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839–42' by William Dalrymple

    Jun 21, 2013

    While Dalrymple's account of the British retreat is masterful, his effort to generate lessons for today is at times simplistic, writes Seth Jones. Massive social and political changes in Afghanistan make it thorny to pull many lessons from the first Anglo-Afghan war.