Intelligence Insights

March 25, 2014
From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine

By George Friedman <http://www.stratfor.com/about/analysts/dr-george-friedman>

As I discussed last week, the fundamental problem that Ukraine <http://www.stratfor.com/regions/former-soviet-union/ukraine>  poses for Russia <http://www.stratfor.com/regions/former-soviet-union/russia> , beyond a long-term geographical threat, is a crisis in internal legitimacy <http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/russia-examines-its-options-responding-ukraine> . Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent his time in power rebuilding the authority of the Russian state within Russia and the authority of Russia within the former Soviet Union <http://www.stratfor.com/topics/politics/russian-resurgence> . The events in Ukraine undermine the second strategy and potentially the first. If Putin cannot maintain at least Ukrainian neutrality, then the world's perception of him as a master strategist is shattered, and the legitimacy and authority he has built for the Russian state is, at best, shaken. 

March 11, 2014
Ukraine's Increasing Polarization and the Western Challenge

By Eugene Chausovsky

Just days before the Ukrainian crisis broke out <http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical-diary/ukraine-crisis-sees-its-deadliest-day-yet> , I took an overnight train to Kiev from Sevastopol in Crimea. Three mechanics in their 30s on their way to jobs in Estonia shared my compartment. All ethnic Russians born and raised in Sevastopol, they have made the trip to the Baltic states for the past eight years for seasonal work at Baltic Sea shipyards. Our ride together, accompanied by obligatory rounds of vodka, presented the opportunity for an in-depth discussion of Ukraine's political crisis. The ensuing conversation was perhaps more enlightening than talks of similar length with Ukrainian political, economic or security officials.

March 3, 2014
New Investment Platforms Raise Questions for China's Banking System

Summary
The growth of large online investment platforms has captured the attention of Chinese authorities in recent months. Non-state enterprises such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which runs the e-commerce website Taobao, and Tencent Holdings Ltd., a social media conglomerate that runs the popular WeChat online messaging program, are an emerging force in China's financial system.

March 4, 2014
Ukraine and the 'Little Cold War'

Editor's Note: In place of George Friedman's regular Geopolitical Weekly, this column is derived from two chapters of Friedman's 2009 book, The Next 100 Years. We are running this abstract of the chapters that focused on Eastern Europe and Russia because the forecast -- written in 2008 -- is prescient in its anticipation of events unfolding today in Russia, Ukraine and Crimea.

September 18, 2013
Europe: What to Expect After Germany's Elections

Summary

Much of Europe is eagerly anticipating the results of Germany's Sept. 22 parliamentary elections, but this anticipation may be somewhat misplaced. Of course, Germany's importance to Europe is well founded. It is Europe's largest economy and its main bailout creditor to struggling eurozone countries, so Germany's economic health is vital to the economic health of Europe as a whole. But the relationship goes both ways: Germany's economy relies on the free trade zone and on exports, which the rest of Europe can buy only if it can afford to do so. Thus any government in Berlin will continue to aid countries afflicted by the European crisis -- even at the risk of growing domestic opposition.