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NATO Publics Blame Russia for Ukrainian Crisis, but Reluctant to Provide Military Aid

June 15, 2015 Comments off

NATO Publics Blame Russia for Ukrainian Crisis, but Reluctant to Provide Military Aid
Source: Pew Research Center

Publics of key member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) blame Russia for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Many also see Russia as a military threat to other neighboring states. But few support sending arms to Ukraine. Moreover, at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if attacked by Russia.

A median of 39% among NATO publics say Russia is the main culprit in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The pro-Russian separatists in Luhans’k and Donets’k (18%) are a distant second. Half say Russia is a major military threat to other neighboring nations. In response to the crisis, 70% among allied countries say Western countries should send economic aid to Ukraine. A majority (57%) also supports Ukraine becoming a member of NATO.

The Ukrainian Crisis and European Security: Implications for the United States and U.S. Army

April 13, 2015 Comments off

The Ukrainian Crisis and European Security: Implications for the United States and U.S. Army
Source: RAND Corporation

Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex Crimea and attempt to destabilize eastern Ukraine have sparked widespread concern among Western policymakers that Russia has embarked on a confrontational national security policy that could have far-reaching implications for Russia’s relations with the United States and for European stability. The annexation of Crimea challenges two basic assumptions underlying U.S. policy toward Europe in the post–Cold War era: (1) that Europe is essentially stable and secure, thereby freeing the United States to focus greater attention on other areas, particularly Asia and the Middle East, and (2) that Russia had become more of a partner than an adversary. The annexation of Crimea and attempt to destabilize eastern Ukraine suggests that both these assumptions need to be revisited because Russia can hardly be viewed as a partner. The requirement that NATO may now have to build a much more robust deterrence and defense posture in Eastern Europe would require the Army and the Air Force to revisit their planning assumptions that have minimized U.S. military commitments to the region since the end of the Cold War.

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes

April 1, 2015 Comments off

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes
Source: Law Library of Congress

Recently, people all over the world remembered how the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 70 years ago on January 27, 1945. Our readers might be interested to learn about the legal basis for the Soviet authorities’ involvement in the collection of evidence, investigation of crimes committed in the camp, and the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of these and other crimes. While the most notorious Nazi war criminals were tried in Nuremberg, and those accused of murdering people in Auschwitz were prosecuted later in separate trials in Poland and Germany, the collection of evidence and prosecution of war crimes had started well before the Soviets liberated Auschwitz.

The Russian economy: Will Russia ever catch up?

March 31, 2015 Comments off

The Russian economy: Will Russia ever catch up?
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Over the past 25 years, Russia has undergone dramatic economic changes, with the difficult reforms and catastrophic economic collapse of the 1990s, the boom years of the new century, the global economic crisis and the current downturn. Despite all these developments, many of the structural economic challenges faced by Russia remain unchanged since Soviet times. Bountiful natural resources have helped to fuel growth, but at the cost of an unhealthy dependency, as the current situation so clearly illustrates. This problem is acknowledged by the Russian government, which under Dmitri Medvedev’s presidency in particular, declared its intentions to diversify and modernise the economy. However, the continued flow of gas and oil money has removed the incentive to undertake serious economic reforms, and these have faltered as a result. Many of Russia’s structural problems are inherited from Soviet and even Tsarist times. Large swathes of the economy remain under state control, and there are numerous barriers to both domestic and international competition. Businesses struggle with red tape and ubiquitous corruption. Despite Medvedev’s stated objective of developing an ‘intelligent economy’, and the country’s traditional strengths in research, development, innovation and education, Russia continues to underperform in these areas. Over the past few years, the Russian government has simplified bureaucratic procedures, launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, privatised state-owned companies, overhauled the education system and invested in innovation. However, such initiatives have brought measurable improvements in only a few areas. Aggravated by these structural issues, falling oil prices and economic sanctions have led to a rapid deterioration in the economic situation. The rouble has lost half its value, inflation has shot up, formerly sound public finances look increasingly shaky, and the economy is forecast to tip into recession in 2015. How quickly Russia recovers from its current difficulties will depend on whether or not oil prices pick up and sanctions are eased. Regardless of these, however, structural problems are likely to continue hampering the process of economic modernisation for the foreseeable future.

Open Data in the G8

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Open Data in the G8
Source: Center for Data Innovation

In 2013, the leaders of the G8 signed an agreement committing to advance open data in their respective countries. This report assesses the current state of open data efforts in these countries and finds substantial variation in their progress. Moving forward, countries have many opportunities to enhance their open data capabilities, such as by increasing international collaboration, better educating policymakers about the benefits of open data, and working closely with civil society on open data initiatives.

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”
Source: Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military may be weaker than you think. All but one branch of America’s military and nuclear forces are currently operating at “marginal” strength levels. The exception is the Air Force, which is rated as “strong” in the “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” released today by The Heritage Foundation.

A first-of-its-kind report, the Index provides an in-depth analysis of global threats to vital U.S. interests and our armed forces’ ability to prevail against them. It concludes that, overall, U.S. armed forces are not capable of prevailing when fighting two regional conflicts at once, a longstanding strategic objective. It notes that, while terrorism still presents a serious threat, Russia and China pose the greatest danger to U.S. national security.

Fact Sheet — New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms

January 9, 2015 Comments off

New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms
Source: U.S. Department of State

Data in this Fact Sheet comes from the biannual exchange of data required by the Treaty. It contains data declared current as of September 1, 2014. Data will be updated each six month period after entry into force of the Treaty.

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