On Russia, Ukraine, sanctions and war

Just a quick heads-up. There is now a report on my talk in parliament in London on ‘The Military Dimension of Russia’s Policy toward Ukraine: Should the West Be Worried?‘ under the auspices of the Henry Jackson Society here and also a full transcript of my opening remarks. Although the US government and NATO commander seems still to be suggesting Russian military action is imminent, my view is that the danger of that is receding; I hope I will be proved right. The next day, I spoke at the European Council on Foreign Relations about the political impact on Russia of sanctions, and you can hear a podcast of my comments here. I still suspect that future historians may conclude that when Putin took Crimea he lost not only Ukraine but, ultimately, the Kremlin.

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  1. SFPalladin

     /  April 4, 2014

    Dr. Galeotti:

    I enjoyed reading your remarks. If Russia does invade Eastern Ukraine, how likely is it that their would be protracted partisan resistance in the countryside? I’m mindful of the fact that the Ukrainian nationalists were able to resist the Soviets well into the 1950’s.


    Best regards.

    Greg Smith San Francisco

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  April 6, 2014

      It’s certainly possible, as Dick Krickus has suggested here, but at the same time this is not Chechnya or Afghanistan. I think we’d see passive resistance and some terrorist-style partisan operations, but nothing on a massive scale. Fortunately, I think the likelihood of any such invasion is receding.

  2. Of course the probability of Putin advancing diminishes every day, but only as Nato coalesces, & East Europe prepares for war. Hitler too may have doomed his leadership, viewed erroneously as in any way democratic. Similarly, Putin has done the same… UNLESS he attacks. Then, he is following the strategy of Napoleon – when necessary to prop up one popularity, and hold on power, attack. If you lose, attack again, quickly! The only plausible defense is to prepare a strong offense. I’d never want to use it!

  3. I thought your point about the Cold War vs Great Game was well made. I find it so interesting that any sort of confrontation with Russia today is always thought of in reference to the Cold War, while anything happening in the Middle East or Asia is ‘the new Great Game’. It seems people often forget that the very basis of the Great Game was the suspicion and competition between Britain and Russia: Asia just happened to be the board on which the game was played. Another interesting angle to this whole affair is that during the Great Game, Britain was often hyper-sensitive to Russian foreign policy which in turn drove so many of the decisions being made in London and Delhi…rightly or wrongly.

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  April 7, 2014

      Thanks – and, browsing your blog, I see this is a parallel you’ve also raised, albeit in a different direction.

      • Yes, it was one of those classic moments writing about foreign affairs – just after I write about needing to be friends with Russia they invade Crimea and the international mood shifts completely.

      • I still think that Putin has returned to the bunker mentality of East Berlin and his decisions are based there and not on today?

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