What’s behind the bombings in Ukraine?
People try to help a woman injured by one of the blasts in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk on Friday.
April 27th, 2012
12:27 PM ET

What’s behind the bombings in Ukraine?

By Matthew Rojansky – Special to CNN

Details are scarce, but we know for now that two dozen or more people have been injured in multiple bombing attacks in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk. The first bomb struck mid-day at a crowded trolleybus stop in the city center, and three more explosions are believed to have occurred in central locations soon afterward. Throughout the afternoon and evening, local residents and security services have been seen rounding up trashcans from public places, for fear they might be used to conceal another bomb.

How can these shocking acts be explained? More information will surely become available as an official investigation gets underway, but for now, there are several very troubling possibilities, each of which at least bears careful consideration by the Ukrainian authorities and the public. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Europe • Terrorism
Russia and geopolitics on the campaign trail
President Obama’s candid conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was caught on an open mic.
March 28th, 2012
09:25 AM ET

Russia and geopolitics on the campaign trail

Editor's Note: Matthew Rojansky is the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

By Matthew Rojansky – Special to CNN

President Obama has not had much luck with microphones.  The President’s unscripted exchange with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday in Seoul became the latest “whisper heard round the world.”

Unbeknownst to either leader, microphones caught Obama’s assurance that he would have more “flexibility” after the November presidential election to resolve tough issues like ballistic missile defense, and likewise broadcast Medvedev’s promise to “transmit this information to Vladimir.”

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney seized this opportunity to lambast Obama for showing any flexibility in relations with Putin’s Russia, which he labeled America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

Aside from confirming the view that Medvedev is little more than Putin’s go-between, this episode has served as a timely reminder that the wider world still matters for the remaining seven months of the U.S. presidential campaign season.  FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: 2012 Election • President Obama • Russia
The method to Putin’s Syria madness
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, 2nd left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2nd right, and their wives in Moscow in 2005.
March 23rd, 2012
10:50 AM ET

The method to Putin’s Syria madness

Editor's Note: Matthew Rojansky is the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

By Matthew Rojansky - Special to CNN

To much of the world, Russia’s intransigence in the face of intense international pressure to halt the violence in Syria seems like sheer madness. Russia has prevented countless efforts to impose a ceasefire, blunted calls by Syria’s Arab neighbors to end the crackdown, and negated Bashar al-Assad’s own incentives to do anything but hold onto power by whatever means necessary.

Yet, as seen from Moscow, there is a method to this madness. For anyone who still believes the conflict should be resolved with the backing of the U.N. Security Council, Russia cannot just be written off as an irrational actor. In fact, senseless as Moscow’s position might appear, there are real Russian interests at stake over Syria, and if we make an effort to understand them, it may be possible to find a solution that satisfies Vladimir Putin and saves Syrian lives.

So, what does Russia really want with Syria?

FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Russia • Syria
March 4th, 2012
09:47 PM ET

Putin beats the spread

Editor's Note: Matthew Rojansky is the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

By Matthew Rojansky - Special to CNN

Waiting for the returns from Sunday’s Russian presidential elections was a bit like watching a lopsided football game at a Las Vegas sports bar - everyone knew who was favored to win, but what really mattered was the spread.

On the gridiron of Russian presidential politics, Vladimir Putin was the heavy favorite and he did not disappoint.  Despite months of anti-regime protests and a relatively transparent voting process, Putin appears to have won well above 60% of the vote, with a respectable turnout of just over 56%.  This means that Putin will not only return to the Kremlin in May, but will claim a mandate to govern based on the will of the Russian people.  As in sports betting, this outcome promises a big payoff for some, and a long, cold winter for others.

So who were the winners and losers after Sunday’s blowout? FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Elections • Russia