The recent build-up of Russian troops on the border to Ukraine is making waves in the political debate. Predominant views in the West share the assumption that Russia has offensive intentions and aims at revising the established status quo. This blog post argues that Moscow’s motives are not as straightforward as usually assumed in the West. In fact, Russia’s military behavior and its crisis diplomacy suggests that Moscow is more interested in sending a signal than in preparing for war.
The beginning of conflict in Eastern Ukraine is nearing its sixth anniversary. The concerted effort of Russian, French, German and Ukrainian leaders to settle this issue diplomatically has yielded few tangible results so far. The recent meeting in Paris of four leaders gives ground for cautious optimism. What have the parties agreed upon? What problems remain and what has changed since the last round of Normandy negotiations?
“What’s it like, radiation? Maybe they show it in the movies? Have you seen it? Is it white, or what? Some people say it has no color and no smell, and other people say that it’s black. Like earth. But if it’s colorless, then it’s like God. God is everywhere, but you can’t see Him.” Like so many others affected by the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the interviewee in Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl, struggled to grasp how something too small to be perceived by our senses could have such an enormous effect on human affairs.