NATO specialist discusses military state of Ukraine, Russia, Eastern Europe

By Indra Ekmanis

This piece is a sum­mary of Glen Grant’s April 22 talk. Grant will be speak­ing April 23, 7–9 p.m. in Sav­ery Hall, 264, on the mil­i­tary secu­rity of the Baltic States and Poland. This event is free and open to the public.

[Crimea] is a mess now,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Glen Grant in a talk Tues­day on the cur­rent mil­i­tary devel­op­ments in Ukraine. Grant, retired from the British Armed Forces, is a vis­it­ing lec­turer at Riga Busi­ness School, and has a var­ied back­ground as a diplo­mat, defense attaché, NATO branch chief and sports trainer. Grant said his exten­sive and diverse cur­ricu­lum vitae has given him a unique per­spec­tive on the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine, which he dis­cussed at length in his hour-long lecture.

Accord­ing to Grant, the annex­a­tion of Crimea has firmly placed the ter­ri­tory in Russia’s hands – only if Rus­sia itself col­lapses does Grant envi­sion the penin­sula return­ing to Ukraine. On the ground, the sit­u­a­tion in Crimea is wors­en­ing; shops are empty, busi­nesses are fold­ing and imports from Rus­sia are too expen­sive for the local population.

Con­tinue read­ing

VIDEO | Ukraine and Russia: Regional and Global Implications

On Thurs­day, April 10, 2014, the Elli­son Cen­ter pro­duced a panel dis­cus­sion on Ukraine and Rus­sia in light of events in Crimea and East­ern Ukraine.

In case you missed the event, or if you want to refer back to some of the points, the indi­vid­ual pan­elists’ dis­cus­sions are below.


Reshaping the sea: Ukraine’s dismal future in Black Sea Basin

By Wlodz­imierz Kaczynski

Fig. 1. Up-to-date configuration of the border lines between EEZ of adjacent coastal states to the Black Sea. |

Fig. 1. Up-to-date con­fig­u­ra­tion of the bor­der lines between EEZ of adja­cent coastal states to the Black Sea. |

Fig. 2. Likely shape of the 200-mile EEZ after annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. |

Fig. 2. Likely shape of the 200-mile EEZ after annex­a­tion of Crimea by the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion. |

The con­se­quences of Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea extend beyond con­cerns of land sov­er­eignty and far into the waters of the Black Sea basin. Rus­sia has started to re-shape its ter­ri­to­r­ial sea and the 200-mile Exclu­sive Eco­nomic Zone (EEZ) in the north­ern Black Sea, putting Ukraine in an even more vul­ner­a­ble state eco­nom­i­cally, mil­i­tar­ily and politically.

Accord­ing to the United Nations Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), “the coastal state has the exclu­sive right to explore, exploit, pro­tect and man­age the liv­ing and non-living resources, the sea bot­tom and the water col­umn as well as to build and use arti­fi­cial islands, instal­la­tions and other con­struc­tions”[1]. These pro­vi­sions will cer­tainly be used by Rus­sia to estab­lish new rules of the game in the Black Sea uses once coastal waters and con­ti­nen­tal shelf are par­ti­tioned around the Crimea Peninsula.

If Crimea had a straight coastal line, the deter­mi­na­tion of the sea bor­der lines would not be com­pli­cated. Because it is a penin­sula with a very com­plex coastal shape and  is adja­cent to a closed sea area (the Azov Sea), the prob­lem is more com­plex. Reshap­ing the national ter­ri­to­r­ial sea juris­dic­tion could have dra­matic out­comes[2]. Con­tinue read­ing

Ethnicity does not determine political allegiance: Breaking through the stereotypes about Ukraine

By Laada Bilaniuk

Signs in Lviv, reading: "Ambivalence is a crime" and "Let's build a new Ukraine together." Photo | Jennifer Carroll

Signs in Lviv, read­ing: “Ambiva­lence is a crime” and “Let’s build a new Ukraine together.” Photo | Jen­nifer Carroll

Rus­sians don’t sur­ren­der.” These were the words of Ukrain­ian Navy Cap­tain Maxim Emelia­nenko, in response to the demands for sur­ren­der made by Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Alexan­der Vitko. Vitko then asked Emelia­nenko if he is Russ­ian. Emelia­nenko con­firmed that he is, even though his last name sounds typ­i­cally Ukrain­ian. He added that many of his crewmem­bers are also eth­nic Rus­sians. Emelia­nenko explained that he has sworn alle­giance to the peo­ple of Ukraine, and he has no inten­tion of break­ing his oath. Report­edly the Russ­ian vice-admiral told his own crew to take this as an exam­ple and “learn — that is how one should serve with honor and con­science.” Con­tinue read­ing

Video | Global Gypsy: Balkan Romani music, representation & appropriation

Dr. Carol Sil­ver­man (pro­fes­sor of anthro­pol­ogy and folk­lore, Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon) pre­sented the 2014 Elli­son Cen­ter Tread­gold Talk cov­er­ing the cul­ture and stereo­types of the largest eth­nic minor­ity pop­u­la­tion in Europe, the Roma. Watch a video sum­mary of her talk below.

Corruption: “Catastrophic Criminality”

Series on Sochi

This arti­cle is part of the Elli­son Cen­ter blog Series on Sochi. Click here to read more as we cover the 2014 Win­ter Olympic Games in Russia! 


By Sarah McPhee

For weeks we have seen the viral image of the tan­dem toi­lets, incom­plete con­struc­tion and shoddy work­man­ship in Sochi. “There is no point host­ing a pres­tige event, at a cost of $50 bil­lion, if the stan­dard of hotels and ease of travel around the coun­try isn’t in step,” said David Scowsill, pres­i­dent of the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil. This is a shame, because there is so much that has been impres­sive and beau­ti­ful about the Sochi Games, it highly dis­ap­point­ing that Rus­sia could not pull the event off with panache. Unfor­tu­nately, the Games were des­tined to be plagued with prob­lems because of the cat­a­strophic crim­i­nal­ity that hob­bles the Russ­ian sys­tem. Con­tinue read­ing

From the streets of Kyiv: “We Are Definitely Going Somewhere”

By Jen­nifer J. Car­roll
This post was writ­ten at 11 a.m. Feb. 20, 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Read Jennifer’s pre­vi­ous report on Euro­Maidan here.

A woman straddles the barricade, watching as the flames break through a window in the Trade Union building. This building has been burning for more than 24 hours. No one is available to put it out.

A woman strad­dles the bar­ri­cade, watch­ing as the flames break through a win­dow in the Trade Union build­ing. This build­ing has been burn­ing for more than 24 hours. No one is avail­able to put it out.

I got up early Tues­day morn­ing. A march on par­lia­ment had been planned to demand a return to the 2004 con­sti­tu­tion — the con­sti­tu­tion replaced six years later by a new one of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s design, one that gave him sweep­ing exec­u­tive pow­ers. I over­slept, as I am prone to do. I hus­tled out of my apart­ment, cam­era in my bag, phone in my pocket, one shoe untied, half-eaten pas­try hang­ing from my mouth, hop­ing to make it down­town by 8 a.m.

When I arrived at Maidan Neza­lezh­nosti (Inde­pen­dence Square), columns of peo­ple had already begun walk­ing up Insti­tutka Street toward the par­lia­ment build­ing. Large vans with loud­speak­ers and music took the lead. Thou­sands — eas­ily thou­sands — fol­lowed behind them with flags and ban­ners. Some in the crowd were orga­nized self-defense brigades, para­mil­i­tary units of stoic indi­vid­u­als (mostly, but not entirely, men) who had vol­un­teered to serve as a first line of defense for the peo­ple in Maidan. They dec­o­rated their jack­ets with match­ing rib­bons and paper stick­ers. They all car­ried the same home­made shields. They walked through the crowd beside priests and politi­cians, beside women who car­ried icons and wore shirts declar­ing that they were moth­ers. There were stu­dents, lawyers, doc­tors, jour­nal­ists, chil­dren. The crowd passed sev­eral police block­ades on neigh­bor­ing streets, but man­aged to reach Mari­in­sky Park, where the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment build­ing is located. Con­tinue read­ing

Securing Sochi: Security Theatre and Realities

Series on Sochi

This arti­cle is part of the Elli­son Cen­ter blog Series on Sochi. Click here to read more as we cover the 2014 Win­ter Olympic Games in Russia! 


By Sarah McPhee

Police patrol the Olympic Park during the London 2012 Games. Flickr | The Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Police patrol the Olympic Park dur­ing the Lon­don 2012 Games. Flickr | The Depart­ment for Cul­ture, Media and Sport

It’s like hold­ing the Olympic Games in Kabul!”

This descrip­tion of Sochi by Russ­ian pol­icy ana­lyst Arkady Ostro­vsky only seems like irre­spon­si­ble hyper­bole. Accord­ing to Cau­casian Knot and, between 2010 and the present day, more peo­ple died because of vio­lence in the Cau­ca­sus region than coali­tion forces in Afghanistan. In the fall, there was a reported buildup of Russ­ian inte­rior spe­cial forces, for­ti­fied with tanks, armored vehi­cles, and Mi-8 heli­copters, in prepa­ra­tion for the Sochi Olympics. Whether the FSB was track­ing the Vol­gograd attacks and failed, or the attacks took them by sur­prise, anti-terror oper­a­tions occurred in the region just prior to the games. Female mil­i­tant leader and ter­ror sus­pect Eldar Mag­a­tov was killed in Dages­tan as a result, about a week before the games began. Con­tinue read­ing