It’s unlikely that Zelensky seriously believed that his sharp rhetoric with Merkel and Biden would lead to the West accepting Ukraine into NATO or canceling Nord Stream 2. But his behavior strikes a chord with the public at home.
The Kremlin continues to view the breakaway republics as a buffer zone and Trojan horse inside a recalcitrant Ukraine, but allowing their inhabitants to take part in Russian domestic politics will help to score key propaganda points.
In the last two years, President Zelensky has managed to strengthen his personal power considerably. His battle against the influence of Ukraine’s oligarchs, therefore, may not be as hopeless as it might first seem.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics are moving on from the wild days of economic piracy to more orderly exploitation schemes. The prospects of reintegrating the region under the Minsk accords are growing more illusory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sees his growing popularity as proof that he chose the right course when he gave up trying to please all the disparate groups that voted for him in 2019. He is likely to continue his anti-Russian rhetoric and sanctions against domestic enemies.
Biden’s call to Putin confirmed that unchecked escalation is not part of the new U.S. administration’s plans. Tough rhetoric, preemptive escalation, and the announcement of new sanctions were necessary for Biden to start the inevitable conversation with Russia.
Join us for a conversation featuring Vicki Birchfield, Erik Brattberg, Philip Breedlove, and Suzanne DiMaggio in conversation with Suzanne Kelly, with special remarks by Sam Nunn on on the path forward for the transatlantic alliance.
There is no consensus in NATO in favor of Ukraine’s membership. What the most determined Western countries can do is provide intelligence and military support to Ukraine, including weaponry and capability building.
Adebahr is a nonresident fellow at Carnegie Europe. His research focuses on foreign and security policy, in particular regarding Iran and the Persian Gulf, on European and transatlantic affairs, and on citizens’ engagement.
Rose Gottemoeller is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program. She also serves as the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Ulrich Kühn is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the head of the arms control and emerging technologies program at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.
Lehne is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, where his research focuses on the post–Lisbon Treaty development of the European Union’s foreign policy, with a specific focus on relations between the EU and member states.
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