For a lengthy, but comprehensive assessment of Putin's motivation for his actions against Ukraine, see: http://tinyurl.com/nd7lq5b
Russian Discussion Club
Based on the club’s discussion at out last meeting on Aug 25, a consensus was reached that we do not need to meet weekly and perhaps once a month would be adequate.
The OLLI Calendar lists the following meetings: Sep 15 at noon in TA-1, then at 9:30 on Sep 26, Oct 10, and Oct 24 in the Tallwood Annex. Those dates and times were negotiated to avoid conflicts with other OLLI activities, so I’ve decided to stick with that schedule.
If events warrant, I will call for an additional meeting when I can arrange a time and place with the staff and post the announcement on this blog.
Since our last meeting on Aug 25, NATO claims that Russian troops in large numbers have entered Ukraine headed toward Mariupol, the Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov. Some analysts fear that this represents a third front aimed at shifting Ukrainian forces from the siege of Donetsk and Lugansk or even a direct thrust at opening a land corridor to Crimea.
Moscow admits that some Russian troops have taken leave from the Army and have volunteered to join the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic to fight against the fascist hordes controlled by the illegal Kiev junta. Although they allegedly do not represent the Russian Ministry of Defense, it seems odd to me that they were allowed to bring their tanks and self-propelled artillery with them. The US Army has much stricter rules on the use of “service weapons.”
Stratfor has published an interesting analysis of the predicament Putin faces. One option for him to avoid being ousted as president is to escalate the crisis in Ukraine by invading it. See “Can Putin Survive,” republished with permission of Stratfor, at http://tinyurl.com/l9onlua
Given the events in Ukraine and the continuing interest among the participants in the Club, we will meet again on Monday July 28 at noon.
Looks as if we will have a few things to talk about when we next meet on Monday 21 July at noon.
Here's a list of events since we last met:
6 Jul: Ukrainian forces retook Artemivsk and Druzhkivka. Several thousand attend pro-Russia rallied in Donetsk while Kiev announced blockade of both Donetsk and Luhansk.
12-14 July: Moscow claimed Ukraine fired artillery into Russia; Ukraine claimed AN-26 shot down by fighter jet or SAM. Neither was confirmed
14 Jul: US Dept of State issued Fact Sheet on Russian Intervention accusing Moscow of arming rebels. See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/07/229270.htm
16 Jul: US unilaterally increased sanctions against Russia, targeting two banks (Gazprombank and VEB), and two energy firms (Novatek and Rosneft). Move bars access to US debt markets for loans over 90 days. EU blocked loans for new projects in RU, but not for existing contracts.
17 July: Malaysian Airline shot down over eastern Ukraine with almost 300 aboard. Each side blames the other, but initial reports indicate it was hit by a medium-range SAM probably the SA-11 or SA-17, not usually found in local Ukrainian gun stores.
In consultation with the staff, we have settled on the following dates and times for the Club to meet. The schedule is tentative because it is subject to change depending on world events, my schedule and member interest.
Mondays 12:00-1:00 in TA-1 on July 7, 21, and 28; August 25, September 15
Fridays 9:30-10:30 in the Annex on Sept 26, Oct 10, 24.
I find it rather hypocritical of Putin to castigate Poroshenko for using troops to pacify a rebellious province. Why is the Donbas different from Chechnya?
I have organized a discussion club to meet weekly (at least initially) in order to discuss developments related to Russia in the news this summer. Participants would be expected to have read their favorite newspaper, e.g., the Washington Post, NY Times, Washington Times, or WSJ. I would provide a list of other sources and specific articles. Anyone deciding to come to the club would glance through whichever sources they wanted. I would not prepare mini-lectures or PowerPoint slides as I did for the Russia Study Group, but will simply moderate the discussion.
As a club, attendance would vary every week and so will specific topics of discussion since that will depend on who shows up, what they have read, and what Putin has been up to the previous week.
Our first meeting will be held in TA-1 from 12:00 to 1:00 on Monday, May 19, with subsequent meetings starting June 2 at noon since May 26 is a holiday. If you are interested in participating, please let me know by email at this address or simply show up.
Suggested Sources of Information on Current Events in Russia/Ukraine:
General: http://news.google.com, click on Vladimir Putin
Council on Foreign Relations (NY): http://www.cfr.org/region/ukraine/ri311
Jamestown Foundation (DC): http://www.jamestown.org/programs/edm/
View from Moscow’s Kremlin: https://olli.gmu.edu/russia-discussion-club-2/; http://english.pravda.ru
http://www.themoscowtimes.com (Dissident views - only available online in English)
View from Kyiv: kyivpost.com
View from London: http://www.bbc.com/news/world/europe
View from Berlin: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/
View from Riga: http://www.baltictimes.com/newspaper/