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Showing posts from May 22, 2014

The Baltic Countries Respond to Russian Minorities

Pro-Russian activists fly the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as Latvia's large Russian minority gathered for Victory Day at the Soviet Victory Monument in Riga on May 9.ILMARS ZNOTINS/AFP/Getty Images


Recent tensions surrounding ethnic Russian minorities in the Baltic countries suggest that governments and local organizations are worried about possible social unrest related to the crisis in Ukraine. Ethnic and linguistic friction in the Baltics will not disappear any time soon, but these countries are likely to combine strong anti-Russian rhetoric (and a relatively minor amount of anti-Russian action) with attempts to appease the minorities as a counter to the threat from Moscow.


Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, Stratfor has noted that one of Russia's many levers in dealing with the European Union is the potential use of ethnic Russian minorities in European countries to generate social unrest and political instability. Amon…

In Afghanistan, a Fragmented Taliban Plans for the U.S. Withdrawal

Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.(WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)


Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Taliban will find it difficult to exploit the drawdown of NATO forces from Afghanistan that is currently under way. This is partly due to the fact that the Afghan government has made progress consolidating itself in recent years while the Taliban movement has suffered setbacks, especially in terms of fragmentation. The Taliban's factions disagree among themselves on whether or with whom to hold negotiations, have shown no aptitude or interest in the electoral process, and despite the Afghan security forces' limitations, have not been able to hold and control any significant territory in the country.

Because the Taliban are too weak to force negotiations, the group is planning the largest military campaign since its ouster from Kabul in 2001 to destabilize the country enough that the next Afghan government feels compelled to of…

Russia, China Agree to Natural Gas Deal

Russia's Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping pose for a photo at an agreement signing ceremony in Shanghai on May 21 with Russian President Vladimir Putin applauding in the background.ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images


Russia and China struck a long-awaited deal on natural gas May 21, according to Alexei Miller, the CEO of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom. According to the provisions of the deal, which is worth $400 billion, Russia will supply 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to China for the next 30 years, with the option to raise supplies to 60 billion cubic meters per year in the future. The agreement will enable Russia to launch plans for building the $42 billion Power of Siberia pipeline, a 4,000 kilometer-long (approximately 2,500 miles) pipeline that will tap two new source fields and run from Siberia to China.


Russia and China had been trying to negotiate a deal for more than a decade; Russia h…