"How Putin chipped his teeth": Stories from the front in Ukraine

Of course, life at the front consists of a lot more than successful recaptures and deadly defeats making the news. Some soldiers told me - on the basis of anonymity - their experiences in short stories and anecdotes. These recollections are not glorious or heroic. They are stories about the actual circumstances of men and [...]

How walls are still seen as a solution in 'Fortress Europe'

Today marks exactly 23 years since the Berlin Wall fell. For Europe, it seemed the impetus to blur borders and bet on unity and free mobilisation. Divisions caused by physical walls seemed to be a thing of the past. Today, however, walls are on the rise again Between Poland and [...]

Approaching winter opens Europe's gas labyrinth

As winter approaches, European countries are increasingly concerned about where their energy should come from. While Hungary, Serbia and Turkey are negotiating to open Russia's gas tap, other countries are instead relying on their neighbours' reserves. Last week, available [...]

Sham referendums and reservists - Putin's convulsive attempt at reversal

Kharkiv after a missile strike, 2022 (Flickr) Referenda have been announced in the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson to join the Russian Federation in the near future. The annexation referendums not only disregard the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, but at the same time are mainly intended to further mobilise [...]

Retrospective Interview Russia expert Gijs Kessler

On Monday 23 May, we spoke with Russia expert Gijs Kessler, affiliated with the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. A specialist in the social and economic history of the Soviet Union and Russia, Kessler lived in Moscow between 2002 and 2016. He recently published his book "Russia: country that wants to be different".

Next Monday, 23 May: Interview with Russia expert Gijs Kessler

This Monday, 23 May, FMS director Arjen Berkvens will hold an interview with leading Russia expert Gijs Kessler, affiliated to the International Institute of Social History. Very recently, Kessler published his latest work; "Russia - country that wants to be different". Kessler is a specialist on the social and economic history of the Soviet Union and Russia, and lived in Moscow between 2002 and 2016.

Will sanctions deter Putin?

The world is watching Putin tensely as he announces Russian recognition of the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. An orchestrated security meeting in Moscow and rancorous speech by the Russian president usher in a new low point between Russia, Ukraine and the West. Will Western sanctions be enough to deter Putin from further violations of Ukrainian sovereignty? - This article follows in English -

A response to Russia

In response to the Stoffer/Verhoeven motion asking the cabinet for a Russia strategy, Minister Blok sent a letter to the House of Representatives in December. The letter more or less confirms the strategy the cabinet already adopted towards Russia in 2015, and in principle sees no reason to deviate strongly from it. The emphasis is on "pressure and dialogue" used in combination to force Russia to "respect the international rule of law and the European security order. The strategy seems mainly focused on timely and adequate responses to actions taken by the Kremlin. But it would be good to look beyond that, and look for a more proactive long-term vision.

Cyber attacks from Russia: no sign of cyber war (yet)

Defence minister Ank Bijleveld stated on 14 October that the Netherlands is engaged in a cyberwar with Russia. It has been in the news regularly since 2015: cyber attacks from Russia in several Western countries. The term war seems exaggerated - after all, no physical damage has been done yet - but the attacks are becoming increasingly brazen. How did it come about, how does it work, and how do we deal with it? On these and other questions, cyber and intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov and Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat spoke at the Rode Hoed in Amsterdam.