Wednesday 10 Aug 2022 | 06:08 | SYDNEY
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Winter is coming: staying the course on Ukraine

Five months into Moscow’s “special military operation”, Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a grinding war of attrition. Russian forces are making progress, fighting to take full control of the Donbas, but only slowly and unevenly in the face of dogged Ukrainian

War fatigue in the West

Ukraine’s heroic fight against the Russian invasion sparked a powerful response from the democratic world, not only in the trans-Atlantic neighborhood but also from Asia-Pacific nations – Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Governments imposed sanctions, businesses halted their operations in

Thailand seeking to profit from a global food crisis

In response to worldwide supply chain issues caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – who between them previously accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat supplies – the Thai government, headed by 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, is seeking to profit from the 45 per cent increase

Is Vladimir Putin sick?

Smoke hangs low over Europe’s skies. Most rises from pulverised Ukrainian cities, ruined by Russian artillery. Some, however, emanates from the ceaseless swirl of rumours about Vladimir Putin’s health. If there is smoke, does fire necessarily follow? What is gained by speculating about the

Global food threats: a chicken and egg story

A slew of countries have announced food export bans or higher food export taxes as a result of the war in Ukraine. The initial shortages in the global wheat supply following Russia’s invasion has now trickled into other food products. Headlines for recent export curbs have focused on

War in Ukraine: Gloomy prospects

Three months after Russia’s invasion, what’s the outlook for the war in Ukraine? On the ground, the prospect is for a protracted war of attrition. Russia’s initial multidirectional attack from the north, east and south of Ukraine failed abjectly, due to operational incompetence and

Ukraine: The view from Warsaw

This week I was in Warsaw listening to experts on regional strategy and security. It was clear that Poland sees itself as Ukraine’s champion. Beyond the immediate emergency response following Russia’s invasion, Poland is acting as Ukraine’s advocate in building support both across NATO and EU

Turkey’s leverage over Russia – in Syria and beyond

Russia’s current military fiasco in Ukraine could have a serious impact on Moscow’s position in Syria. A decision by Turkey to close its airspace to Russian planes flying to the Middle Eastern country is expected to affect Russian military capabilities in war-torn Ukraine, although such a

European neutrality is dying out

Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine has had the opposite effect of his desire to divide Europe. Former neutrals – Finland, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland – are evaluating their traditional non-alignment policy. Ireland might change, too, shifting from its longstanding “

Transnistria: The next front of the Ukraine war

As Russia’s war of attrition grinds away in eastern Ukraine, Moscow seems to be opening a new front on Ukraine’s western border, in the Transnistria region of Moldova. A series of mysterious explosions in Transnistria signals that something is afoot. But Russia’s objectives remain a mystery

Putting Putin on trial to enforce a price for the powerful

Stories of children finding the bullet-ridden bodies of their parents, repeated rapes, and airstrikes have revealed the horrors of Russia’s invasion to the world. In the two months since forces rolled into Ukraine in February, satellite images have shown bodies lining the streets of Bucha, while

Even Putin is not beyond the law

Russia’s ability to launch its so-called “special military operation” to undertake “denazification” in Ukraine has not so far faced international legal sanction. On 25 February, a draft UN Security Council Resolution was debated, but failed to win support after a Russian veto. Since then,

India-Russia: A friend in need

Two factors – military materiel and energy opportunities – have been used to explain India’s muted criticisms of Russia and its equivocal support for Ukraine. Both positions, to non-Indians’ chagrin, are in India’s national interests. As India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently

Economic diplomacy: After Ukraine, the IMF ponders the future

Diminishing consensus That grandee of American economic statecraft Robert Zoellick made an uncomfortable return to public life this month by being lampooned for sitting on the Twitter board for four years but never managing to tweet. Nevertheless, the one-time Republican consiglieri has provided

Russia-Ukraine: It always comes down to food

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a food shortage – or crisis for some – in unexpected places across the world. For wheat, maize, barley and sunflower oil, Russia and Ukraine are among the biggest global producers. Russia is also the world’s top exporter of fertiliser and

In Putin’s war, everybody loses

The war in Ukraine is entering its ninth week. Looking back, in the first three weeks, Russia tried to quickly impose regime change. This failed, leading to the Russian army adopting a wasteland strategy. This aimed to destroy Ukraine economically, devastate cities and towns, and create large

Bucha: Capturing the horror

The modern history of war is punctuated by images so shocking that they alter public discourse, turn opinions, or sometimes successfully, change the trajectory of a conflict. Warsaw Ghetto Boy (1943), possibly taken by Nazi photographer Franz Konrad captured the impending reality of the fate of

Turkey plays the dance of the go-betweens in Ukraine war

Facing the media on the ground in Bucha on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reflected sombrely on the progress of talks between Ukraine and Russia. “It is very difficult to talk when you see what they have done here.” The talks – tentatively begun last week in Istanbul –

War in Ukraine: How this might end

A month since Russia invaded Ukraine, the conflict has ground to a bloody stalemate. Yet there seems little prospect, at this point, of the conflict stopping any time soon. But how might it eventually end? Complete military victory by Russia is looking increasingly unlikely, at least in terms of

Zelensky’s direct plea to America

Is it possible for the United States to be both righteous defender of Ukraine’s right to self-determination and prudent decisionmaker? The combination of an experienced president and a well-informed US Congress bode well for ongoing crisis management. But judging likely outcomes requires a

China’s women “hold up half the sky”

Advocacy for women’s rights is on the rise in China, whether the censors like it or not. And feminism is gathering more support, highlighted in recent weeks across China’s social media through debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an uncomfortable exposition of the country’s

The Gulf’s diversification dilemma

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had posed difficult questions for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and exposed the costs of pursuing a more diversified series of diplomatic, economic and military relationships. The two Gulf states are in effect experiencing the “diversification dilemma

Scenarios for the war in Ukraine

Russia’s war has stalled. There are small advances, but at high cost. Russian forces started the war with simultaneous attacks across Ukraine. They have not been able to do such advances for almost two weeks now.   The Ukrainian armed forces are taking advantage of this and inflicting

The end of Antarctic exceptionalism?

Moscow’s latest invasion of Ukraine has turned Vladimir Putin’s Russia into a pariah state, essentially overnight, and seen the country saddled with an unprecedented international sanction regime. The long-term implications of freezing cooperation and dialogue with Russia are significant –

Social media in times of war

The dominant narrative of social media during the ongoing war in Ukraine is often reduced to considerations of stopping the spread of dis/misinformation. Reducing social media’s capacity and power in this manner can not only ignore some of the other dangers of social media during crises, but also

Common enemies and instinctive friends

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Likewise, there may not be an instinctive alignment of my two adversaries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reference to “arc of autocracy” and the “instinctive” alignment between Russia and China in the address at the Lowy Institute was

Saving democracy from Russian rage

Much is being written about Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and much more will surely be said in the months and years ahead of this potentially epoch-defining event. But some of the most insightful and almost prescient analyses were made well before the conflict, such as in Larry Diamond’

Ukraine war triggers debate on Japan’s nuclear option

In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister and now head of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has suggested that Japan consider hosting US nuclear weapons facilities on Japanese soil, similar to some European nations, such as

What the Ukraine crisis means for the Indo-Pacific

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has overturned the post-1945 international system.  Attention has focused on the sea change in European attitudes to security threats, the defence spending that Russia’s aggression has produced, and the sobering challenge Russia’s invasion poses to accepted

Ukraine: The United States re-establishes its credentials

The Biden administration played a critical role in assembling the European and global coalition to punish Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, and in so doing displayed American diplomatic power at its best: leading without dominating.   The White House overcame well-

Putin and Xi: Surviving Ukraine

Polling by Russian Field at the end of February indicated that a majority of Russians (59 per cent) supported Vladimir Putin’s “special military operations” in Ukraine. Yet, the longer the war goes on in Ukraine, and the more restrictive international economic sanctions become, factors from

Reading Southeast Asia on Ukraine 

Southeast Asia doesn’t much matter to the outcome of a war far away in Europe. Yet Southeast Asian countries responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offer an insight into the region’s ability to navigate sharpening major power rivalries. So how does the region’s response stack up so far

The Ukraine crisis and Timor-Leste

In the midst of an international crisis, it is remarkable when small countries still find the courage to adhere to their democratic principles. This time the Timorese government has chosen to respect its independence history and democratic values by condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This

Squaring the circle in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin proclaimed set of objectives for his newest invasion of Ukraine appear paradoxical. Putin noted Russia’s key aims for Ukraine were a replacement of Volodymyr Zelensky’s “Nazi” government, demilitarisation, rejection of NATO membership, recognition of the separatist states in