Weekend reading

Due to the conference I am attending this weekend in Toronto, I am unable to write a proper post, so instead here are links to some interesting Russia-related articles and reports:

  1. An article from the Globe and Mail by Mark MacKinnon, entitled ‘Is Ukraine More United Now’, which was published on Friday (unfortunately only available to subscribers).  I found this section particularly interesting:

 When I arrived in Kiev in December 2013, to cover some of the early protests against Mr. Yanukovich, I called up an old contact whom I had first met while reporting on the Orange Revolution nine years before. That first pro-Western uprising foundered against Ukraine’s old divisions, allowing Mr. Yanukovich to regain power in 2010. What, I asked, was different about this time? Wouldn’t the circle just repeat itself. “This time,” she told me, “we don’t care if Donbass and Crimea are with us.”

That final quotation, it seems to me, summarizes perfectly the reason why there is a war in Ukraine.

  1. A statement by Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. According to Bradshaw, “the threat from Russia, together with the risk it brings of a miscalculation resulting in a slide into strategic conflict, however unlikely we see that as being right now, represents an obvious existential threat to our whole being.” Sadly, this kind of crazy hyperbole is now so mainstream that nobody bats an eyelid when people in senior positions say it.
  2. Two reports published this month by a neo-conservative British think tank, the Henry Jackson Society: one on the subject of censorship in the Russian media, to which I will return later this week, and one on the alleged danger of Russian ‘soft power’.
  3. And finally, also from Britain, a report by the House of Lords entitled The EU and Russia: Before and Beyond the Crisis in Ukraine. I will try to return to this report as well in the future. There are some things in it with which I disagree, but this statement from the introduction deserves to be repeated:

Multiple witnesses have pointed out to us that Russia’s policies are based on long-standing threat perceptions, historical grievances and issues surrounding Russia’s identity. Such perceptions are shared by many of the Russian people and parts of the Russian elite as well. It is important that these perceptions should be better understood in the West.

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