Link Roundups

Weekly Links

By Taylor Marvin

Liu Songnian, "Four Generals of Song," 13th century. Via Wikimedia.

Liu Songnian, “Four Generals of Song,” 13th century. Via Wikimedia.

Against the background of a weekend “vote” for independence in eastern Ukraine and calls for annexation by Russia, Jay Ulfelder draws the interesting distinction between two broad takes on Russia’s actions in Ukraine. “Realists” see Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilization in eastern Ukraine as opportunistic and security-minded, but “Russianists” view it as a more general expression of Russian martial nationalism.

It’s worth remembering that the now-disputed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk together have a population greater than Finland or Denmark, a far cry from older breakaway Russian client Abkhazia’s 250,000 people.

Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings are up — likely due to the general upswing in patriotism that “many countries would experience in the aftermath of a quick and efficient annexation of an attractive, beach-lined piece of territory” — but what happens when they eventually fall?

The International Crisis Group has a new report on aspirations towards independent governance among Syria’s Kurds, but reminds that Kurdish nominal autonomy is more due to Kurdish forces’ tacit cooperation with the Assad regime, not the ability to actually guarantee their independence.

Adewale Maja-Pearce comments on the role of north-south tensions and corruption in Nigerian instability. Via Matthew Hill, late last week Laura Seay looked at US military assistance to Nigeria; see Ben Watson and Kedar Pavgi as well.

The French Defense Minister recently highlighted Ivory Coast’s role as a base for French military operations, with an eye towards a decision”to reorganise our military presence in the entire region with the primary aim to better facilitate the fight against terrorism.” On Twitter Andrew Lebovich comments “it sounds like France has formalized what was implicit for several years, the right to hit targets across the Sahel.”

Perhaps relatedly, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross examines the long-term detrimental impact of the 2011 intervention in Libya on broader regional security.

What would Sisi’s presidency look like in Egypt?

Charting 30 years of massacres in Colombia.

A man who converted Islam to marry faces the threat of violence from the Buddhist majority in Myanmar’s far western Rakhine State, where many fear mass killing targeting a Muslim minority may be imminent against a background of systematic dehumanization.


  • How about seeing the events in Ukraine as what they patently are? US subversion and destabilization. It’s the same playbook over and over since the days of United Fruit. Note this doesn’t make Putin a sweetheart, either. But why is NATO running an op like this and people still want to blame Russia?

  • I used to check the comments to see what Jorge was saying. Sure I tended to disagree with it, but he was definitely more interesting than pro-Russian comments that just so happen to appear now and make statements pretty easily disproved by generally reliable press.

    • Yes. I was trying to highlight that the area of contention in eastern Ukraine is, in terms of population, far more in line with medium-sized European countries than the breakaway republics from the frozen conflicts era.

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