Thursday, December 13, 2018

Russia Sees Opportunity in Europe's Crises

By Jason Zhou with the ISW Russia Team

Key Takeaway: Russia is poised to escalate its campaign in Ukraine at a time when domestic crises, partly fueled by the Kremlin, distract key U.S. allies in Europe. America’s three most important allies in NATO - France, Germany, and the United Kingdom - face ongoing political instability even as events in Eastern Europe divert the attention of NATO. These crises all have domestic roots, but nearly all of them are being fanned or influenced by the Kremlin. The crises occupy the attention of critical political leaders in NATO and have already contributed to weak responses by NATO and the EU to Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait. Russian President Vladimir Putin likely calculates that crucial NATO leaders are currently too weak and preoccupied with domestic affairs to respond meaningfully to further escalation. This calculus increases the likelihood that Putin may commit additional acts of aggression, such as the seizure of additional territory in Eastern Ukraine.


Update (December 14, 2018): The text for the fourth point in the map has been updated to reflect a significant development in Kosovo's Parliament.