Over the next two days, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet with an array of European leaders, including his Ukrainian counterpart, in the most intense period of diplomacy between the Kremlin and Western capitals in months. 

October 10, 2014

Public-facing social media tools give leaders from small countries the ability to magnify their power and influence, according to Alec Ross, who served as senior advisor for innovation to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A delegation of five Ukrainian doctors in Great Falls studying U.S. health care this week spoke before an audience Monday morning of about 30 at Great Falls College-Montana State University. The delegates are participating in the Open World Leadership Program, a U.S. Department of State-funded program that allows cultural exchange between young leaders in former Soviet countries and politicians and ordinary people in the United States.

According to the Kremlin, Putin has had 35 phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel so far this year - more than three times the number of calls he has had with President Barack Obama, and six times the number of phone conversations he’s had with UK PM David Cameron. Both Putin’s close neighbours, Nazarbayev and Lukashenko, had more phone time with the Russian president than Cameron. 

The EU’s sanctions on Russia are not having their desired effect. At least in the short term, they even appear to be reinforcing Russia’s position. The EU policy approach to the Ukraine situation needs to factor in the mainstream Russian media narrative. Doing so suggests that the EU should be using more soft power.

Soft power – using diplomacy, co-operation and the powers of attraction rather than coercion – has become a more potent force in international relations over recent decades. During the Ukrainian crisis, Germany, with its conciliatory, sanctions-focused approach, has been a leading exponent of the approach. Yet faced with what looks increasingly like the use of "hard power" by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil, its limits are being tested.

In 2006, executives from the public relations firm Ketchum flew to Moscow to secure an account that has since been worth tens of millions of dollars. President Vladimir Putin of Russia had hired Ketchum to provide advice on public relations before the nation hosted the Group of 8 meeting in St. Petersburg. At the time, Mr. Putin "cared a great deal about what other leaders, especially presidents, thought about him," said Michael A. McFaul, a former United States ambassador to Russia who now teaches at Stanford.

Lorries from a Russian convoy carrying aid to eastern Ukraine have reached a border post controlled by separatists. But they seem unlikely to cross into Ukraine immediately as the Red Cross said it had still not received security guarantees for the convoy to continue. Earlier Ukraine's military said that separatists had shot down a government fighter jet near the rebel-held city of Luhansk in the east of the country.