FROM Anders Aslund
The Temperature Rises in Europe's Latest Hot Spot Russian troops are poised on the Eastern Ukrainian border as the US and Russia trade charges of manufacturing political crises in that troubled country. Pro-Russian demonstrators are holding government buildings in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, and a crackdown by the interim government could be the pretext for an invasion. Vladimir Putin has been scornful of economic sanctions imposed by the US and Europe after Russia annexed Crimea. How has such tension developed over Ukraine's industrial heartland? If Russia resorts to military action, what could the US do then? How dangerous is the situation?
The World Waits for Crimeans to Go to the Polls Today, the White House and all of Washington are embracing Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — chosen by revolutionaries who overturned an elected government. But Vladimir Putin insists Ukraine's new leaders are not legitimate and he's encouraging the Crimean region to break away with a vote this coming Sunday. Arguments about self-determination and national sovereignty are being used by each side in its own interest. Can Putin be isolated by the US and Europe? Is it too late for him to turn back? With the looming deadline of Sunday's vote, is some compromise possible?
Ukraine: the Man in the Middle Geographically, Ukraine is midway between the liberal democracies of the European Union and the authoritarian oligarchies of the former Soviet Union. It's also in-between economically and politically and, in recent weeks, tensions have led to increasingly violent protests. Over the weekend elected President Victor Yanukovich made strategic concessions , but they weren't good enough for angry demonstrators, who are calling on him to step down. In Kiev and other cities around the country, they've occupied government buildings, and police seem unable to enforce new laws designed to crackdown on dissenters. How long can it last? Is there a risk of civil war? What are the stakes for Russia's Vladimir Putin? What about the US and the consequences for the global economy?
Trump's Russia ties intensify with Comey firing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicted the Trump White House today, insisting the Bureau had not lost faith in former Director James Comey. He promised to notify the committee of any interference into investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Vladimir Putin's Russia. What do we know about those contacts… and how they relate to Trump's business interests and those of his family?
Is the United States losing its moral authority in the world? American support for human rights has often been criticized as more about words than it is about action. President Trump is creating more skeptics than ever. What are the consequences for America's role in the world?
Concern deepens amid Trump's controversies President Trump delivered today's commencement speech to the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. As he praised the accomplishments of the graduates, he listed some of his own… and made reference to reports that he leaked intelligence to the Russians and tried to shut down an FBI Investigation into his associates.
Russian probe gets jolt from Yates and Clapper Senate hearing Intelligence officials have long since concluded that Russia interfered in last year's US election. After yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, what more do we know about the threat to future elections and how it's being handled by the Trump Administration?