Showing Archived Posts

With Russia, Fight Fire With Fire

Posted March 14th, 2014 at 7:31 pm (UTC+0)

Vladimir Putin is right. The West has interfered massively in Ukraine. Let me explain. Last year, about 15 percent of Russian adults traveled outside the former Soviet Union. By contrast, about one third of Ukrainians between ages of 20 and 50 have traveled to Western Europe – to work. That is the difference between peeling off […]

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Russia’s Occupation of Crimea: Blueprint for Eastern Ukraine?

Posted March 4th, 2014 at 8:14 am (UTC+0)

After the Sochi Winter Olympics, Vladimir Putin has won a gold in the Occupation Olympics. They are being held in Crimea, just across the Black Sea from Sochi. Putin managed to seize Crimea without firing a shot. Not bad for taking over a population of 2 million people living on a peninsula slightly larger than […]

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Will Russia’s Putin Try To Split Crimea from Ukraine?

Posted February 22nd, 2014 at 6:38 pm (UTC+0)

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has fled the nation’s capital, taking refuge in Crimea, a region where politicians increasingly call for annexation by Russia. Separately, two leading Russian politicians met with hundreds of politicians from Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. At the meeting, one speaker called for “self-defense units” to block revolutionaries from Kyiv if they try to […]

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Potemkin Olympics or Palm Tree Olympics?

Posted February 12th, 2014 at 7:48 pm (UTC+0)

In Sochi today, the most carefully watched page is not the Olympic medals count. It is the weather forecast. Down here on the Black Sea coast, daytime highs are nudging 20C. People are peeling off jackets and putting on sunglasses. One can only wonder why Russia chose to host the Winter Olympics in a city […]

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The Olympics of Control — 2014 or 1984?

Posted February 7th, 2014 at 9:39 pm (UTC+0)

Sochi may be sunny and the skies bright blue, but I feel as if the Olympics are in 1984. I walked into the Olympic Village train station and was confronted by the longest row of x-ray machines I have seen in my life. There were more x-ray machines and more gray uniformed security guards at […]

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Don’t Underestimate Ukraine!

Posted January 29th, 2014 at 7:45 pm (UTC+0)

the late 1940s, the mortality rate for Soviet troops fighting Ukrainian insurgents in Western Ukraine was higher than the mortality rate for Soviet troops fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This little known fact, long suppressed by Soviet censors, helps to explain why, after two months of harsh winter weather, Ukrainians are still manning barricades […]

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Can Ukraine’s Two Nations Stay Under One Roof?

Posted December 14th, 2013 at 8:03 pm (UTC+0)

KYIV — To understand what is happening in Kyiv today, remember that Ukraine has a larger landmass in Europe than France, the largest nation of the European Union. From East to West, Ukraine is longer than Italy, from the Alps to the heel of the boot. In Northern Italy, people look to Switzerland and Germany. […]

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From Ukraine to Georgia to Russia, the Internet Breaks the Information Rules of the Old USSR

Posted December 5th, 2013 at 9:35 pm (UTC+0)

KYIV — In August of last year, Mikhail Saakashivili was cruising to what looked like an easy election victory. Today, he travels Europe, cut loose from Georgian politics after one decade as President. What made the difference? Just before last year’s parliamentary elections, video clips circulated like wildfire on the Internet showing Georgian prison guards […]

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Russia’s Putin Uses Political Karate To Keep Ukraine from Moving West

Posted November 25th, 2013 at 8:11 pm (UTC+0)

German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck once observed that the Russian cavalry are “slow to saddle up, but ride fast.” In the case of Ukraine this week, the Kremlin’s cavalry cut off Ukraine’s move to the West last week, dealing the European Union its biggest defeat – and first geographical reversal — since the end of […]

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Latinas Rule! Africans, Asians and Europeans Pushed Aside in Moscow’s Miss Universe Contest

Posted November 12th, 2013 at 9:05 am (UTC+0)

OK, I did not interview Miss Venezuela. I did not think the Miss Universe jury in Moscow would really fall for the latest plastic product of Venezuela’s beauty queen assembly lines. Last week, at a press availability for the Misses, I could not fail to miss Miss Venezuela, Maria Gabriela Isler. Her blinding white teeth […]

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James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.



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