ukraine

As the European Union considers further sanctions on Russia for its role in the standoff in Ukraine, Russia is broadly unpopular in many countries around the globe and increasingly disliked in Europe and the United States. President Vladimir Putin’s leadership also continues to inspire little confidence worldwide, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The former Cold War power’s negative global image contradicts Russians’ expectations that Putin’s actions in Ukraine would improve their country’s international reputation.

The Ukrainian flag is once again proudly flying above the former separatist bastion of Sloviansk. One by one, the towns and villages of Donbas are being recaptured. But even as Ukraine gains the edge in its military conflict with Russia, the information battle continues to be one of David against Goliath. Whether it’s through the state media giant Russia Today, soft power campaigns or diplomatic backchannels, the Kremlin has implemented what some commentators have dubbed “the biggest information special operation” to date. 

In an effort to highlight “cultural diplomacy” with the embattled nation, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine invited jazz musicians Christian Howes and Douglas Droste to perform in Lviv. The Lviv Philharmonic Hall in Ukraine played host for workshops, rehearsals and performances infusing American jazz with classical music featuring violinist Howes and conducted by Droste.

If you’re a Russian citizen these days, it is easier than ever to support the insurgency in eastern Ukraine, now nearly three months old.  With the click of a mouse, you can transfer money through Sberbank – Russia’s largest bank, which is government controlled – to grassroots organizations supplying separatist rebels with weapons and personnel.

Who would have thought that it is the hard power driven Vladimir Putin who would demonstrate to the world the use of the whole spectrum of power tools in the 21st century. He learned from his past mistakes, picked up our debate on soft/smart power, and, by the time he decided to invade Ukraine, he knew exactly how to wield the whole set of his tools.

While Russia pulls its troops back from the Ukrainian border, a second instrument of Russian power remains firmly in place: a network of Kremlin-funded media outlets that is bringing news of the Ukraine crisis to millions of people worldwide. RT, a state-owned multilingual television network that’s Russia’s answer to CNN(TWX) and Al-Jazeera, made headlines earlier this year when one of its American anchors announced her resignation on the air, saying she did not want to work for a network that “whitewashes the actions” of President Vladimir Putin.

President Obama urged the world Wednesday to help Ukraine as it faces economic challenges, Russian threats and separatist violence in the eastern and southern regions. "We're confident that Ukraine can, in fact, be a thriving, vital democracy that has strong relationships with Europe and has strong relationships with Russia," Obama said after his first face-to-face meeting with Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko.

The president will land in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday morning where he will help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the solidarity movement. He then heads to Brussels for a G7 summit on Wednesday. He’ll dine privately with French President François Hollande in Paris on Thursday and commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on Friday — all while Russian President Vladimir Putin is nearby.

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