Can High-Level Diplomacy Turn the Tide of the Ukraine War?

World politics in the first half of June is set to be enlivened not only by elections in such major powers as India, Mexico and South Africa, but also by a heavy concentration of international summits, conferences and visits.

Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila, Philippines. Zelensky arrived in Manila following his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: Jam Sta Rosa – Pool/Getty Images

Agendas are rich and diverse, as many global issues demand collective action, but one 27-months old calamity continues to demand priority attention – the Ukraine War.

The high-intensity trench battles remain effectively deadlocked, but the political context of this long war keeps evolving, and the joint efforts of key world leaders as well as initiatives of smaller states may make a difference in deciding its outcome.Read More

Russia Attempts New Anti-Peace Offensive

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued reassurances of his readiness to negotiate an end to his war against Ukraine many times over the past 27 months, which Kyiv has duly rejected as attempts to pressure it to capitulate (see EDM, January 29, February 6, 26, April 15).

Meeting in the Russian cabinet in the Kremlin in May, 2024. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Anadolu via Getty Images

A maneuver executed last week may, however, signify a change in Russia’s war strategy. Instead of yet another statement, the Kremlin orchestrated a series of “leaks” that were originally collected by the Reuters news agency.Read More

The Importance of Recognition – Even in Occupation

Norway, Spain, and Ireland recognized a Palestinian state that does not yet exist. This is why it still matters.

The Ramallah Municipality Building with flags of Spain, Ireland and Norway following their formal recognition of the State of Palestine, on May 24, 2024. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu via Getty Images

On Wednesday May 22. Norway, Spain and Ireland declared that they would recognize Palestine as a state on May 28. The recognition has now become official. During a 22 May press conference, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide noted that the recognition was intended to advance the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians “in the midst of war, with tens of thousands killed an injured.”Read More

“Long War” Drives Putin’s Cadre Reshuffling

Russia’s political elite are facing a challenging test as they bear the burdens of the economic strain and societal stresses of Moscow’s war against Ukraine. This upper echelon had grown accustomed to a stable bureaucratic environment and the sweet rewards of rampant corruption.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, nevertheless, demands continuing service from many of his loyal lieutenants.

Russia’s Defence Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Savelyev and Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk (R-L) are seen during a meeting between Russia’s President Putin and new Cabinet, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 15, 2024. Photo: Kremlin Press Office via Getty Images

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Week of Ceremonies Marks Wobbly Start for Putin’s New Presidential Term

The Christian Orthodox Easter service in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral on May 5 began a week of pompous performances for Russian President Vladimir Putin (Vedomosti, May 5).

Cathedral of the Saviour, Moscow. Photo: Hans Nelemann / Getty Images

It continued with his inauguration ceremony on May 7, followed by a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Council (EEC) the next day and the Victory Day parade on Red Square on May 9.

The intention was to start the new presidential term, which was secured in a crudely manipulated election, with a patriotic bang.Read More

Pandemic Aftermath: Reflecting on the Value and Compensation of Essential Workers

After the first confirmation of a COVID case in Norway in late February 2020, the Norwegian government found itself in a difficult situation where the prevention of the virus was urgent, while the functioning of public institutions was necessary.

Stock photo from July 2020, by Tempura / Getty Images

Therefore, the Norwegian government categorized certain workers as especially important or critical to society (samfunnsviktige or samfunnskritiske, in English often referred to as ‘essential workers’) and asked them to continue working as normal, while others – in contrast – were asked to shelter at home and avoid public spaces as much as possible.Read More

War of Attrition Perturbs Putin’s Elites

Last week was full of shocks for Moscow. The United States finally approved $61 billion of aid to Ukraine, the European Parliament passed a resolution rejecting the legitimacy of Russia’s March presidential elections, and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested in Moscow on accusations of bribery.

Timur Ivanov in court. Photo: Courts of General Jurisdiction of the City of Moscow via Telegram

The last event was the most astounding, as there have been practically no significant corruption cases in Russia since the war in Ukraine began (The Moscow Times, April 25).

Ivanov has been a prominent figure in Moscow’s high society and has ties to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, and Sergei Kiriyenko, the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration (The Moscow Times, April 25). Ivanov was detained immediately after a session of the Defense Ministry Collegium, standing for his first court hearing in full uniform (Kommersant, April 24).Read More

Chasing a Mirage Amid a Famine

The recurring refrain that there is a route to a two-state solution diverts attention from what is truly urgent: ending the famine and securing a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, queue to receive food distributed by aid organizations in March 2024. Photo: Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images

It is difficult to believe, but after more than 200 days of war, there is still no ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

According to the United Nations, approximately 1,500 Israelis and over 34,000 Palestinians have been killed. The Gaza Strip lies in ruins and starvation is widespread.Read More

The Black Sea Region Endures Beyond the Theater of War

Many strategic surprises have come from the combat operations on the Black Sea theatre in the last 25 months, and they keep coming as the long Russo-Ukrainian war continues to evolve, while the prospect of peace is barely visible through its fog.

Commercial maritime traffic in the Black Sea continues and even expands. Photo: Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the domain of politics, one surprise is that the Black Sea region has not been completely transfigured into the theater of war, but endured, even if its key institution – the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) – barely functions in a few working groups and the Parliamentary Assembly.Read More

Multi-Prong Peace Offensive Pushes Putin Into Corner

Against all strategic rationale, Russian troops keep pushing Ukrainian defenses beyond Avdiivka and Bakhmut, paying a heavy price in casualties for every inch gained. The primary reason for these self-destructive attacks is to maintain the initiative necessary to prove Russia’s upper hand in the “long war.”

Putin finds it necessary to declare readiness to end the war, a point he mentioned last week at a meeting with Belarusian President and Putin ally Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Here are the two in St Petersburg in January. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

This illusion of control gives Russian President Vladimir Putin the confidence to claim that all his original goals for the “special military operation” — amounting to the dismantling of Ukraine and innervation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — will be achieved.

Simultaneously, he finds it necessary to declare readiness to end the war, a point he mentioned last week at a meeting with Belarusian President and Putin ally Alyaksandr Lukashenka (Kommersant, April 12). Increased international calls for peace talks have painted the Kremlin leader into a corner as Moscow seems unable to provide effective solutions for quelling domestic strife and achieving victory in Ukraine.Read More