Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

CRS — NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe (July 31, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 have caused observers and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Members of Congress, to reassess the role of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in upholding European security. The security concerns of NATO’s Central and Eastern European member states and non-NATO member states such as Moldova and Ukraine are of particular concern.

NATO has strongly condemned Russian actions in Ukraine and has taken steps aimed both at reassuring allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe and at deterring further Russian aggression. These include demonstrations of support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity; actions to demonstrate NATO’s commitment to defending Central and Eastern European allies; and measures aimed at rebuking Russia. NATO members have said they will continue to conduct previously planned military exercises in Ukraine and elsewhere in the region.

The United States has been a key driver of the NATO response and has taken additional military measures intended to reassure its allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe. These include the deployment of U.S. fighter jets and 600 paratroopers to Poland and the Baltic states, and U.S. naval vessels to the Black and Baltic Seas. In June, the Obama Administration requested congressional approval for $925 million in the Department of Defense’s FY2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget to fund a proposed European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). Among other things, the ERI would enable augmented U.S. troop rotations and military infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe. The United States has supplied the Ukrainian government with some nonlethal military assistance, but has thus far ruled out providing lethal military aid.

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Possible Missile Attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Possible Missile Attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a Boeing 777 bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in eastern Ukraine.

MH17’s position was shown on live aircraft tracking websites using the airliner’s automated dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) signal. Its final reported position was near the Russia-Ukraine border at an altitude of 33,000 feet.

Initial reports from the crash scene indicated that the resulting debris field covered a large area. This is characteristic when an aircraft breaks up at high altitude (as opposed to diving into the ground or incidents on landing or takeoff, where the debris field is tightly confined around the point of impact). Inflight breakup can occur for a number of reasons, including metal fatigue (as in the case of two DeHavilland Comet jetliners in the 1950s); onboard explosions, whether caused by bombs or accidental combustion (such as TWA flight 800 in 1996); or external events like a missile attack (as was the case with Korean Air Lines 007 in 1983 and Iran Air 655 in 1988).

Because spontaneous inflight breakup of an airliner is a rare event, the crash’s proximity to an active conflict zone where military aircraft had recently been shot down led to speculation that MH17’s breakup may have been the result of a surface-to-air missile. This was reinforced when, almost immediately, pictures appeared in social media purporting to show Russian-built Buk anti-aircraft missile launchers near the crash site.

U.S. – Russia Economic Relations – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – Russia Economic Relations – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

U.S. sanctions on Russian individuals and entities have been a key part of the U.S. policy response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine and Russia’s alleged ongoing efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine (see CRS Insight IN10048, U.S. Sanctions on Russia in Response to Events in Ukraine, coordinated by Dianne E. Rennack). Following the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine on July 17 that killed 298 passengers and crew, some policymakers and experts have called for additional sanctions on Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated there is an “enormous amount of evidence” that Russia was involved in supplying the separatists in Ukraine with the weapons used to shoot down the plane and training the separatists on how to use the weapons.

In the policy debates over U.S. sanctions on Russia, two key questions, among many others, include:
+ How much economic leverage does the United States have over Russia?
+ How would U.S. sanctions on Russia impact U.S. economic interests?

Examining the U.S.-Russia economic relationship can provide insight into these questions.

Russia Sanctions: Options – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Russia Sanctions: Options – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Centers)

On March 16, 2014, President Barack Obama declared that the “actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine—including the recent deployment of Russian Federation military forces in the Crimea region of Ukraine—undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, and thereby constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The President ordered the Treasury Department to block access to assets under U.S. jurisdiction of, and prohibit transactions with, seven Russians considered to be President Putin’s close advisors. Treasury, in consultation with the State Department, has continued to add to this list of specially designated nationals; today 64 Russian individuals and entities are identified under the sanctions regime triggered by events in Ukraine.

On March 20, 2014, the President expanded the sanctions’ reach, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to identify individuals and entities in Russia’s “financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materials” sectors.

On July 16, 2014, the United States initiated unilateral restrictions targeting powerful interests in Russia’s financial, energy, and military technology sectors—including Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), Novatek, and Rosneft. Treasury also blocked assets of four senior Russian government officials in an effort to “tighten the noose,” as one policy observer put it.

Congress supported the President’s initial steps by enacting the Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-95; April 3, 2014). The act requires the President to block assets and deny visas to those destabilizing Ukraine (§8), and encourages him to take similar actions against those responsible for “acts of significant corruption” in Russia (§9).

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

Leveraging Private Capital and Political Action in the Fight Against Corruption

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Leveraging Private Capital and Political Action in the Fight Against Corruption
Source: Brookings Institution

The collapse of a corruption-ridden government in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey’s attempts to curb social media drives to expose alleged bribery, and ongoing public sector reform initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe all serve to highlight the salience of the World Forum on Governance (WFG) in today’s geopolitical landscape. In April 2014, anti-corruption experts from around the globe convened for the third WFG in Prague to share experiences and exchange best practices for leveraging private capital and political action in the fight against corruption. Delegates represented a diverse blend of investors, scholars, government officials, civil society actors, private sector representatives, and members of traditional and new media.

The 2014 WFG built upon the Ten Principles established in the Prague Declaration on Governance and Anti-Corruption, revisited policy areas detailed in the 2012 Conference Report, and developed new initiatives to advance integrity in the public and private sectors.

Breakout sessions explored a broad scope of governance issues within three streams—public policy, capital, and media and civil society—and reviewed action items from previous convenings…

Global Economic Outlook Q2 2014

May 20, 2014 Comments off

Global Economic Outlook Q2 2014
Source: Deloitte

The second quarter edition of the Global Economic Outlook offers timely insights from Deloitte Research economists about the Eurozone, China, the United States, Japan, India, Russia, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. In addition, this issue’s special topic considers the revival in international trade and the resurgence of bilateralism.


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