Lithuania-Kaliningrad Transit Row: A Broader EU and NATO Perspective

By Matthew Thomas in Policy

June 30, 2022

Through much of the end of June, Lithuania has been embroiled in a row with Russia over the implementation of EU sanctions on certain kinds of goods in transit between Russia and its Kaliningrad exclave. Russia has claimed that Lithuania’s actions are a “violation of everything,” and has promised a response that is “not diplomatic.” In turn, Lithuania has argued that it is simply putting into practice the EU sanctions regime agreed upon as early as March, and that contrary to Russian claims, its actions will not halt all transit between Russia and Kaliningrad; rather, it will only stop the flow of sanctioned goods.

Major Russian Invasion of Ukraine Imminent

By Matthew Thomas in Security

January 21, 2022

Russia will invade Ukraine. It is no longer a matter of if, but when. Some pundits have been quick to point out that Russia already invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has been an occupier since then. This is true, but short of inventing some other barbarically cumbersome turn of phrase or vague milquetoast nonsense that fails to capture the urgency of the situation, an invasion is perhaps the best word available to describe what is on the horizon.

Ukraine in the Balance. Again.

By Matthew Thomas in Security

April 30, 2021

Once again, Ukraine faces the threat of Russian aggression. Surrounded on nearly all sides, it faces a potential crisis of existence, as Moscow sees an opportunity to take on yet more ambitious objectives against its hapless neighbor. Unfortunately for Ukraine, nothing guarantees its security, and it is grossly, obscenely outmatched by its adversary. What exactly Russia intends to do remains a mystery, but one thing is clear: Russia plans to attack Ukraine.

U.S. Perspectives on Nord Stream 2

By Matthew Thomas in Policy

April 3, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has claimed that Nord Stream 2, the controversial Russo-German pipeline project, is a “bad deal for Europe” and has stated his administration’s opposition to the project. At face value, that would appear to be a rare continuity with the previous administration, but a deeper dive into the various perspectives in Washington reveals a much more complicated position. Despite spoken commitments to the bipartisan sanctions regime instituted by the Trump administration, it appears that the Biden administration is ready to wash its hands of the issue and move on.

As Belarus Descends into Turmoil, the West Should Bolster its Readiness

By Matthew Thomas in Policy

September 30, 2020

Belarus seldom registers in the international press during normal times, but while years like 2020 are not so unprecedented, this certainly is not a normal year. Since President Aleksandr Lukashenko was declared the winner of the fraudulent presidential elections on August 9, the country has spiraled into civil unrest and authoritarian repression, and the headlines keep coming like a stampede. While no one was surprised by the announced outcome of the election, most analysts would not have predicted that Belarus would be launched headlong into a persistent crisis.

Trust, but Deter: How to Ensure Security Despite Russian Treaty Violations

By Matthew Thomas in Security

August 27, 2020

In August, Latvia marked the 100th anniversary of the Latvian-Soviet Peace Treaty, otherwise known as the Treaty of Rīga, which ended Latvia’s War for Independence and marked the beginning of the interwar period for the new Latvian Republic. The treaty established Latvia’s sovereignty and Soviet Russia recognized Latvia’s independence as “inviolable” for all time. But the Soviet Union did not honor this treaty, nor its treaties with Estonia and Lithuania. Between these treaties and other, more modern treaties such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, we can see that Russia only abides by the treaties it signs for as long as it is convenient, then breaks them when it seems it can get away with doing so.

The Future of Belarus?

By Andreis Purim in Policy

August 12, 2020

The Belarusian elections occurred last Sunday, August 9th, and pitted incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko against political outsider Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. For what was supposed to be another easy campaign in Lukashenko’s winning streak, the protests leading up, and following the elections have sparked internal turmoil in Belarus. The Belarusian government now faces its biggest crisis in 26 years, as protests and police violence sweep the capital and the opposition increases their demands.

Military Exercises in Kaliningrad Highlight Maritime Threats

By Matthew Thomas in Security

May 26, 2020

For eight or nine days beginning on April 20th, around the same time that NATO and Estonian forces were holding the Spring Storm Exercises, Russia held exercises of its own in the Kaliningrad Oblast’. Though not as grandiose in scale as a May 3rd article in Izvestia would suggest, the exercises do demonstrate that Russia is working to practice its maritime capabilities. The main events of the exercises centered around what may have been two amphibious landing drills and also featured anti-aircraft and anti-submarine drills, simulated naval missile attacks, simulated aerial attacks on naval vessels, and mine-laying and mine-clearing exercises.