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An Isolated Russia? Think Again!

Since March 2014, the Russian “dispatch of troops to Crimea”, and the contested referendum in Crimea followed by its incorporation into the Russian Federation, “The West”* rhetoric is that Russia is isolated, and that the U.S. and its allies will work to further isolate it (e.g. Zeke J Miller, “Obama: U.S. Working To ‘Isolate Russia’“, Time, 3 March 2014). As the war in Eastern Ukraine seems to be perceived mainly through “Crimean lenses”, this Western policy, added to rounds of sanctions, aim at seeing an increasingly isolated Russian Federation bend to a “Western” vision of what the international order should be. The soon ex-General Secretary of Nato Rasmussen’s statement on Estonian TV according to which “Russia is globally isolated due to its actions in Ukraine” is only one example of similar comments made […]

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War in Ukraine: Hope, Outrage and Fortitude – The Separatists (2)

(Update 20 January 2015 – see also the latest posts on ultra-nationalism in Ukraine – 1- victims and heroes; 2- demise or metarmophosis and 3- parties and battalions – which contribute to explain current interactions, and foresaw an increased likelihood to see the conflict re-start. What is below is still important and relevant to be able to understand the current situation as well as its possible evolution). In the framework of our analysis on Ukraine, this post is the second part of our focus on the separatists, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), now united in the confederate Union of People’s Republics. It explores the various dimensions of the very challenging situation into which the two People’s Republics are and their […]

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War and Peace in Ukraine: The Separatists (1)

The war in Eastern Ukraine has killed from 15 April to 20 June an estimated number of “423 people, including servicemen and civilians,” (UN HCHR statement, 24 June 2014), which, compared with our own estimate of 99 deaths up to May 15 shows the rising violence of the ongoing fighting. Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from the East now reach “nearly 34,600″ people,  with nearly half of the displacements – estimated to 15,200 within the Donetsk and Luhansk regions – taking place “over the last two weeks”, i.e. after 6 June 2014. Russia estimates that it now hosts 16,700 Ukrainian refugees on its territory, notably in the region of Rostov (Ria Novosti, 27 June; 14,000 on 25 June 2014, Itar-Tass). This, again, shows an intensification […]

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Conflict in Ukraine – State of Play – The Oligarchs

This post of our series on the war in Ukraine will focus on the oligarchs. We saw previously how the oligarchic system functions and its impacts on the country, notably in terms of poverty and a weak, fragile, and dependent state. Here, we shall look first at the way to classify oligarchs, if any, and at the interactions among oligarchs. We shall then present oligarchs and tycoons one by one, separating them into two sections, first the wealthiest and most influential, then the others. We shall only provide details for the most influential businessmen, notably addressing their relationship to politics and to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. We shall, however, also name the others, notably to allow for monitoring. Groups and interactions among oligarchs Following […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 155 – Narratives at War: EU-US vs Russia vs Crowdsourced?

Editorial – Narratives at war: There is a fascinating discrepancy at work between narratives found in the news. They vary according to the type of actors upon which one focuses. Actually the difference between some of them is so huge that one wonders if they describe the same world. Furthermore, if those narratives are rooted in the conflict in Ukraine they do not stop there but interact with and impact other areas and dimensions. Narrative One originates from the U.S. and Europe, with slightly varying emphases according to American or European origin. It runs somehow as follows: The conflict in Ukraine is (almost) over, thanks to legitimate democratic elections and the new Ukrainian President elect Poroshenko, who has outlined his peace plan. The next step is […]

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Conflict in Ukraine – State of Play – The Oligarchic System

This article is the second of the series on the conflict in Ukraine and starts a review of the various domestic actors. It focuses on the oligarchic system, its dynamics and challenges. On 15 May 2014, steelworkers working for oligarch Rinat Akhmetov took over the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, as reported by Andrew Kramer for the New York Times, even if the People’s Republic of Donetsk seems to have kept power (e.g. Roza Kazan, 18 May 2014), after Akhmetov released a first statement video (see original 14 May, with subtitles). Meanwhile, Kim Sengupta for The Independent, writing on the 9 May attack on Mariupol mentions that “An assortment took part in the assault, including a private army supposedly bankrolled by an oligarch – the “men in black”. […]

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Conflict in Ukraine – Setting the Stage

The crisis in Ukraine started on 21 November 2013 with the Euromaidan protests in Kiev. Six months later, it is threatening to become a full-blown civil war with severe global impacts, unless the situation is stabilized. It is thus very important to assess the short to medium term plausible futures for this conflict, including if stabilization occurs or seem to take place, […]

Actors and Factors In Future Threats Analysis (3) – The Crisis in Ukraine

This post will focus on a third analytical challenge at the core of the foresight and warning process, the fact that actors and “factors”, or rather variables, are often mixed together. Using the example of the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, the first post of the series explained how to map a strategic foresight and warning question, notably how to move from factors to variables and the second underlined the importance to define and name the actors relevant to the question as objectively as possible and suggested ways to do it. The “black box” actor As we recall from the last post, during the first steps of a mapping for the future evolution of the crisis in Ukraine, both factors or rather variables and actors would […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 148 – A strange bipolar world?

Editorial – A strange bipolar world? – As previously suggested (see the Weekly 142, 143 & 145), the crisis in Ukraine seems to be accelerating some of the profound transformations that are globally at work, as consequences spread to Asia, and as doubts are being cast about the U.S. real commitment to, interest or capabilities in the region. Yet, and interestingly, the rhetoric against Russia from “the West” is strong and quite unanimously spread across (Western) media. As other noteworthy changes happen according to their own specific domestic and regional dynamics, such as the possibility to see Israel forging new ties with Arab states, we may wonder if the return to a Cold War type of discourse is not actually participating in the acceleration of change. In other words, […]

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Actors Labelling and Factors In Future Threats Analysis (2) – The Crisis in Ukraine

This post is the second of a series that deals with the core of the foresight and warning analytical process. The first post explained the mapping process and how to move from factors to variables. Here we focus on the second challenge analysts and participants to workshops face: how to include actors relevant to the question as objectively as possible. The process we use to map an issue or a foresight and warning question seems simple enough, especially once one understands what is a variable and how to specify it, as we saw and explained in detail previously. However, when done, notably within a workshop setting, when different participants brainstorm to map as well and as quickly as possible variables […]

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