Monday, January 30, 2023

Foreign Affairs publishes Kennan's letter to Strobe Talbot on NATO expansion.  The pdf is here

As I am sure you are aware, a side effect of the NATO decision on the extension of its boundaries to the east has been to impose a good deal of instability onto the positions of the various countries which, in contrast to Poland, Hungary, and Czechi, have not yet been invited to become members of NATO. Their governments have been brought to realize that they must now choose between Joining NATO at the cost of the sacrifice of good relations with their Russian neighbor, or accepting what they view as being left helpless, and without western support, in contending with the pressures and attacks on their independence from the east which, as they are assured from a number of western quarters, are to be expected.  

Nowhere, and for very good reason, does th s choice appear more portentous and pregnant with fateful consequences than in the case of Ukraine

A "nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center": Poland is leading Europe’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine   [from Ragozin, with my footnotes]

Polish leadership is helping to fill a geopolitical vacuum created by the declining influence of Europe’s traditionally dominant foreign policy forces. Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, greatly reducing the UK’s ability to shape Europe’s response to the Russian threat. Meanwhile, throughout his reign, Putin has demonstrated an ability to co-opt French and German politicians and businessmen with trade deals, pipelines, and other incentives. It is no coincidence that the Russian dictator handpicked Germany and France in 2014 to participate in the Normandy Format talks to end the war sparked by Russia in eastern Ukraine. This approach resulted in the failed Minsk Agreements* and set the stage for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Poland is now attempting to warn the wider world about the danger posed by Putin’s Russia. “This is not just a regional conflict. Russia’s war against Ukraine is a potential source of global conflagration. This war will affect our countries as well as yours, if it hasn’t already,” Polish President Andrzej Duda** told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022.

Polish leadership of the European response to Putin’s invasion is forging unprecedented bonds between the Polish and Ukrainian people. These two nations have had their share of fights and historical disagreements in the past. However, they now find themselves united by the existential threat coming from today’s Russia. Ukrainian opinion polls regularly identify Poland as the country’s closest partner.

While the Kremlin cynically cloaks its genocidal invasion of Ukraine in the language of Slavic brotherhood, it is Ukraine’s fellow Slavic neighbors in Poland who have demonstrated truly brotherly support. This will shape the future geopolitical landscape of the region. Once Russia is defeated, Ukraine will likely deepen its partnership with Poland to form a powerful bloc within European politics. Together, the two nations will have an authoritative voice in the wider democratic world. Europe’s geopolitical center of gravity is shifting eastward, and Poland is leading the way.  

* Reuters Dec 9, 2022.

In an interview published in Germany's Zeit magazine on Wednesday, former German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the Minsk agreements had been an attempt to "give Ukraine time" to build up its defences.

Speaking on Friday at a news conference in Kyrgyzstan, Putin said he was "disappointed" by Merkel's comments.

 ** Politico EU July 10, 2020

The take-no-quarter Polish presidential election campaign ended this week with backers of incumbent Andrzej Duda insinuating that his rival would sell out the country to Jewish interests.

Ryan Cooper learns about Ukrainian economic policy.  

The same author, Luke Cooper, in an LSE report in December: Assessing economic risks to the Ukrainian war effort

Ischencko linking to Tooze in late October.

Peter Korotaev in July and Jikhareva and Surber in September, all writing in Hamas.

CNBC, Dec 28th:  Zelenskyy, BlackRock CEO Fink agree to coordinate Ukraine investment

  • BlackRock Financial Markets Advisory and the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy signed a memorandum of understanding in November.
  • Zelenskyy and Fink agreed Wednesday to “focus in the near term on coordinating the efforts of all potential investors and participants in the reconstruction of our country, channelling investment into the most relevant and impactful sectors of the Ukrainian economy.”

WSJ Jan. 29th: Some Western Backers of Ukraine Worry That Time Might Be on Russia’s Side 

Behind the decision to sharply step up Western military aid to Ukraine lies a worry in some Western capitals that time might be on Russia’s side. 

That concern suggests the window for Ukraine isn’t indefinite and it needs powerful Western weapons—main battle tanks, other armored vehicles and more air-defense systems—soon to reinforce the momentum it achieved in offensive successes around Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson last year.

Ishchenko in the NLR in the end of the year, linking to a few of the pieces above. But his blanket criticism of identity politics is—for lack of a better word—Eurocentric. 

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