Mark Collins – Central African Republic: Does the NDP Really Want Canadian Killer Peacekeepers?

One trusts the good progressives have read these parts of the UN Security Council resolution authorizing the UN force for the CAR:

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations…

29.  Authorizes MINUSCA [site here] to take all necessary means to carry out its mandate, within its capabilities and its areas of deployment [note force not supposed to be up and going until Sept. 2014, see para. 20]…

Now that’s not the “traditional” blue-beret peacekeeping, firing only in self-defence, that the party has oozed to embrace.  It’s combat when and if necessary; does the party really want to get Canada back into that game?

NDP calls for Canada to contribute UN peacekeepers to Central African Republic

The federal New Democrats want to see Canadian Forces peacekeepers on the ground in the Central African Republic to prevent genocide.

Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, urged the government to respond to a United Nations call for peacekeeping assistance, saying such missions are part of Canada’s historic role on the world stage [but see above, this one is not "traditional"]…

Dewar said the Canadian Forces are in a position to provide military expertise in logistics and training.

But he said Canada should also send soldiers that would be part of an on-the-ground peacekeeping force that is being assembled in the coming months, in part because CAR is a French-speaking country…

I cannot see the current government putting those boots in the sand.  But logistics, communications help should not be too big a deal; still we’ve done nothing for the UN in Mali so don’t expect anything for the CAR:

Why No Canadian Participation in UN Mali Force?

In any event the forces are rather severely cash-strapped these days and the CF-18 six-pack NATO deployment to Eastern Europe won’t help matters any.  Who wants to spend those scarce defence dollars in the Sahara?  Meanwhile the EU is slowly deploying its own, much smaller (1,000-strong), force to the CAR.  And see here for UN killer peacekeeping in Congo.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – The World Needs More Canada, US Oil Imports Section

An image worth a thousand…barrels?

Americans have no idea where their oil comes from, in one chart

And that’s without whenever, if ever, Keystone XL–see here and here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – The “i” in President Obama’s iPad…

…if iPad it be:

Inside The President’s Daily Briefing; DNI Moves With Care To Tablets

The conventional image of an American president managing a crisis shows him thumbing through a briefing book on a desk in the Situation Room or Oval Office. The new standard may well become that of a president with an iPad in his lap or on his desk, keenly watching a video or flipping through a series of satellite images or listening to an NSA intercept as he peers at an NGA [official site here--how many readers aware of it?] map overlaid with targets and reams of hyperspectral data or showing the movements of a terrorist over time.

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is the man formally charged with briefing the president each work day on the world’s most pressing intelligence and national security issues faced by the United States but he covers a lot of territory so, day-in day-out another person — Robert Cardillo — oversees compilation of what’s known in Washington as the PDB.

…That brings us back to the iPad or other tablets used. (If you peer closely at the photo below you will see that is Cardillo in the Oval Office with the president, finger poised over the tablet. That was the first time a tablet was used to brief the president.)

Somehow one finds it implausible to see Prime Minister Harper in such a photo, for various reasons.  And note this from 2010 (via another Mark):

NSA Chief Loves His iPad

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Spooky Ignatieff

No, not Michael’s eyebrows (one wonders who tipped off the Toronto Star to ask for the documents):

Michael Ignatieff’s uncle spied on suspected Nazis, MI5 files show

Recently released British intelligence files note that the family of former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff fed information to the British intelligence service MI5 in the 1930s and ’40s.

…Recently released British intelligence files note that the family of former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff spied on suspected Nazi sympathizers in Canada on behalf of the British security service MI5.

The Ignatieffs were “White Russians,” opposed to the Communists, and the family’s patriarch, Count Pavel Ignatieff, was once an influential member of the court of Tsar Nicholas II [some interesting stuff on that Ignatieff here]…

Grateful to the British government for offering them exile, the Ignatieffs cooperated regularly with the British intelligence service after settling in Canada in the mid-1920s, according recently released MI5 files obtained by the Star…

According to intelligence supplied by Nicholas Ignatieff, Michael’s uncle, some fellow White Russian émigrés saw Hitler as a potential “saviour” who would return their old family estates to them.

“They (pro-Nazi Russian émigrés in Canada) will do literally anything to help his cause, so ardent is their belief in the new order which they think he (Hitler) is to bring to Europe and possibly to the world,” the MI5 files state, quoting intelligence supplied by Nicholas Ignatieff.

“Meanwhile their intrigues have run forward to a big plan for turning Communist Russia into a Fascist state with a crowned head as its symbol of embodiment,” the files continue.

Nicholas Ignatieff also warned British intelligence authorities about the strongly anti-Jewish leanings of other White Russians in Canada…

Nicholas Ignatieff worked as a history instructor at Upper Canada College in Toronto between 1934 and 1939, before volunteering for active service as a lieutenant with the First Canadian Division Engineers.

He balked at becoming a full-time intelligence officer when urged to do so by Lord Tweedsmuir, Canada’s Governor General.

“This is intriguing information and it’s new to me,” Michael Ignatieff said to the Star Tuesday in an email. “I did not know he (Nicholas Ignatieff) had contact with the Governor General, Lord Tweedsmuir, or that his reports went back to MI5.”

Tweedsmuir was also known as Sir. John Buchan, a highly successful poet, historian and mystery novelist [and a dab hand at espionage, e.g. The Thirty-Nine Steps (note who wrote the intro to this reprint) and Greenmantle (a great book)]…

At that time MI5 was responsible for intelligence matters in the dominions and colonies as well as security intelligence within the UK itself, whilst Six covered foreign lands (Buchan’s books mentioned near end at link).  And fascinating to see the viceroy personally recruiting for his sovereign’s security service–did he let his Canadian government know?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins -Chicoms=Canadian Cabinet Splittism?

First one part of the threat miasma,

Dragon Spooks on Campus…

now a broader political picture (CBC-reported tittle-tattle of course trying to stir up the dumplings…still the names with the supposed harder line are interesting):

China-Canada trade ties stall over cabinet divisions
Critics [of what? Canada?] fear Canada getting cold feet over risk posed by cyber espionage

CBC News has learned a split around the cabinet table has stalled what was once a warming trade relationship with China.

The dispute has pitted some of the most powerful members of cabinet against each other on an issue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pegged as critical to the future of Canada’s prosperity.

Concerns from some cabinet ministers, including Jason Kenney and James Moore, began around the takeover of Alberta energy company Nexen by China National Offshore Oil Company [more here].

But sources tell CBC the prime minister’s concerns today focus on the threats of cyber espionage and cyber security…

The government [In 2012] was dealing with growing concern over the CNOOC takeover of Nexen.

By the end of that year, the Harper government would say yes to that deal, but place restrictions on any further takeovers by state-owned enterprises.

But concerns about China continued to rise…

Sources tell CBC that dissent reaches into cabinet room, with Jason Kenney and James Moore on one side, while John Baird and Joe Oliver would like closer trade ties with China…while the prime minister is somewhere in the middle…

Very relevant:

CSIS Director Rings Cyber Security Alarm Bell

Canadian Private Sector Cyber Security Problems
[note links at end]

Canadian Government Cyber Security Blah, Blah, Blah

Canadian Security Intelligence Service 2011-2013 Public Report Published

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Foreign Suicide Jihadis in Iraq

Further to this post,

Syria: Number of Foreign Jihadis Up Tenfold–When Omar Comes Marching Home?

at least in Iraq Westerners seem a minimal presence so far:

Foreign suicide bombers kill thousands and bring Iraq to the brink of civil war 

A wave of suicide bombings carried out by foreign volunteers entering Iraq from Syria is killing some 1,000 civilians a month, bringing the country back to the brink of civil war. Many of the bombers are likely to have entered Syria across the 500-mile border with Turkey in the expectation that they would be giving their lives to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government.

The foreign jihadists are brought to Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which in recent weeks has started to publicise on its Twitter feed the national origins of the bombers. According to a study by Bill Roggio, of the Long War Journal website [piece is here], of 26 Isis bombers in one much-fought over Iraqi province, Diyala, north-east of Baghdad, no less than 24 were foreigners whose noms de guerre indicate that the majority came from North Africa, with 10 from Tunisia, five from Saudi Arabia, two each from Libya and Egypt, and one each from Denmark, Chechnya, Iran and Tajikistan.

Isis, which is seeking to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, does not recognise the border between the two countries. The bombers carried out their missions between September 2012 and today, but there has been a sharp escalation in bombings, usually aimed at killing as many Shia as possible, over the past year, with 9,571 civilians killed in 2013 and 3,630 killed so far in 2014.

The Iraqi government has for the first time become more open about which foreign states it holds responsible for supporting foreign jihadists fighting on its territory. In an interview last month with France 24 television, the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, directly accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of being “primarily responsible for the sectarian, terrorist and security crisis in Iraq”…

More on grim and gruesome Iraq here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Dragon Spooks on Campus…

in Australia:

Chinese spies at Sydney University


China is building large covert informant networks inside Australia’s leading universities, prompting Australia to strengthen its counter-intelligence capabilities.

Chinese intelligence officials have confirmed [!?!} to Fairfax Media that they are building networks to monitor the ethnic Chinese community to protect Beijing's "core interests".

Much of the monitoring work takes place in higher education institutions, including Sydney University and Melbourne University, where more than 90,000 students from mainland China are potentially exposed to ideas and activities not readily available at home.

Fairfax has interviewed lecturers and Chinese-born students who have suffered repercussions because of comments they made in Australian classrooms which were reported through Chinese intelligence channels. "I was interrogated four times in China," said a senior lecturer at a high-ranking Australian university...

China's electronic espionage capabilities are broadly known, with high-profile examples of Chinese servers being used to penetrate Australia's largest companies, most senior politicians and even ASIO's new high-tech headquarters in Canberra, which remains unopened as a result [see: "The Dragon Byting: US Defence, Australian Intelligence"].

But China’s human intelligence and ”influence” networks have proven more difficult to identify and respond to.

At the overt level, education counsellors in Chinese diplomatic missions organise Chinese-born students into associations through which they can provide support services. In part, they are providing assistance and a sense of community that many Australian universities are failing to deliver, said John Fitzgerald, of Swinburne University.

The Chinese government-led student associations are also used to gather intelligence and promote core political objectives, according to Chinese officials, Australian officials and members of Australia’s Chinese community…

And don’t think that several other governments do not do similar things with their students abroad, including in Canada.  But see the last paragraph here for what happens when one raises Chinese intelligence activities in this country.  Also very relevant:

The Dragon’s Espionage Vacuum: Military, Commercial, Cyber…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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J.L. Granatstein – Why is Canada botching the Great War centenary?

From the Globe and Mail

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War will be marked all across the world in August. For the next 4 1/2 years, there will be memorials to the dead, celebrations of victories, lamentations at defeats, re-enactments and countless public events. Germany and France are co-operating to commemorate the terrible battle at Verdun, which bled both countries white. France is also creating joint plans with Britain. The Belgian province of Flanders, where years of war devastated the countryside and towns, has allocated €55-million for commemoration, and the remainder of Belgium, most of it occupied by the Germans for four terrible years, will spend even more.

And Canada? The government has a long list of events and commemorations, to be sure. But there is no new money behind this string of events – government departments, agencies and Crown corporations have been ordered to finance the commemoration costs out of existing budgets. This means that Heritage Canada (lead on the centenary, along with Veterans Affairs), which is already unable to spend enough on culture or television documentaries to meet demand, will have to cut back even further. It means that Veterans Affairs, which is already under fire for its cack-handed way of dealing with PTSD in serving soldiers and veterans, is coming under additional attacks for spending part of its budget on old wars when the vets of recent ones are suffering. And this means that National Defence, which has undergone savage cuts with the troops leaving Afghanistan, will need to dip deep into its operations and maintenance budget to send soldiers to ceremonies.

What’s going on here? We all know that burying the deficit remains the Conservative government’s primary target as it looks toward the next election. We know that the War of 1812 bicentennial, for which Ottawa earmarked some $28-million, was attacked as a waste of money on a forgotten conflict, not least by Canadian historians, who should have been expected to know better. And we know that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a fervent supporter of the Afghan war when he took office in early 2006, lost his enthusiasm as the casualties and costs mounted and public opinion on the conflict turned tepid, then ice-cold.

Critics have repeatedly talked about the Conservatives focusing their pitch to voters on the military and Canadians’ glorious record in the field. The reality, a litany of cutbacks and withheld funding, is much different – and shameful.

The Great War needs to be marked in Canada, and marked well. About 620,000 Canadians put on uniform and more than 60,000 died in action or in training. Another 170,000 were wounded or injured. The Canadian Corps became the strongest formation in the British Expeditionary Force, the Empire’s shock troops. Its four divisions won victory after victory, and literally smashed the German army in the battles of the Hundred Days that ended the war in November, 1918, with a de facto German surrender. At the very least, this war record must be marked and remembered.

But the Great War years also changed the homeland. Women relatives of Canadian soldiers got the vote in 1917, and thousands of women left farms and hearths to work in munitions factories that produced a quarter of the artillery shells for British and Dominion forces by 1917. Prohibition cut off alcohol sales; millions were raised in Victory Loan campaigns; income tax came into effect (as a “temporary” wartime measure); and farmers and workers began to organize politically as inflation hit everyone. Above all, conscription in 1917 split the nation, pitting farmers against city dwellers, labour against bosses, French against English. That year’s election, won by the pro-conscription Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden, was the most racist in our history.

We certainly don’t want to celebrate all of these wartime events and changes, but we need to talk about them and learn from them. We need TV documentaries on the war and its battles and on the events, positive and negative, on the home front. We need books, conferences, lectures and displays in our national and local museums. We need to remember.

This requires some modest new funding. There will be a surplus by 2015, and there will be money available – if the government wishes to use it. There will also be the money to ensure that veterans get the help they require. It’s not a zero-sum game.

We really must remember the Great War properly. It was when Canada stood proudly on the world stage for the first time, and it would be a disgrace for the government to shortchange it.

Historian J.L. Granatstein is a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

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Mark Collins – F-35: Dumb Bomb in Canadian Cabinet’s Court/Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report

1) Further to this post,

F-35: Canadian Fighter Review Ends, Danish One Starts

the minister in charge (and various “source” minions) deals with next steps in this explosive matter:

F-35 remains top military replacement option

Ottawa is considering two main options for its plans to commit $45-billion to controversial new fighter jets – and both point back to the Lockheed-Martin F35 as the clear front-runner, sources said.

The future of the single biggest military procurement in Canadian history gained more urgency on Thursday [April 17] as the government announced the file is being sent back to cabinet...

Nearly 18 months ago, Ottawa vowed to start from scratch after it received a damning audit of its plans for the sole-sourced purchase of new fighter jets, promising to scour the world market for rival jets.

Government and outside sources said the process is nearing completion, and the government is facing two main options: continue with its sole-source plans to buy a fleet of 65 F-35 Lighting IIs, orlaunch a competition that, based on technical and financial data obtained by the government, would lead to the selection of the same aircraft [emphasis added, hmmm--but see below].

A third option would entail starting over – including rewriting the government’s specs – but the process would take years and is facing resistance from the Canadian Forces…

Public Works Minister Diane Finley confirmed on Thursday that the government will soon be in a position to make a final decision, with the matter expected to go to cabinet in June [italics added, we'll see].

Sources said the options that will be presented to ministers remain in flux…

In the context of the story above, this in November 2012from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson (Air Force) is, er, interesting:

F-35 not only jet that meets stealth needs, top general says

…Rona Ambrose’s Public Works Department was put in charge of the fighter jet procurement process [National Fighter Procurement Secretariat (NFPS)].

Part of that review includes evaluating alternatives to the F-35. The military’s original statement of requirements for the purchase included some level of stealth capability, but not a particular, “necessary” element of stealth, Lawson said.

Lawson said that while other fighter jets offer an “element” of stealth capability, the F-35 is “better.”

But when asked by Liberal defence critic John McKay whether there is only one airplane that can meet the standard of stealth set out in the Canadian military’s requirements, Lawson said “no.”

All options are on the table,” Lawson told MPs[emphasis added, one would like to see quite a bit more detail about what resulted from our review]…

There is a bright side to this procurement SNAFU: if the government had placed a firm order for F-35s in 2013 as it had planned, with first deliveries in 2016, the price of early delivery planes would have been outrageous.

And for some real fun look at the F-35 IOC dates at p. 8 of this November 2010 DND PowerPoint–Canada supposed to be in 2017.  What a hoot, eh?

2) Whilst down south the public reports continue to flow (wish we had similar regular ones here, link to SAR text below):

DoD Says F-35 Costs Drop But Hill Aide Predicts Rise; PEO Slams Pratt & Whitney 

Pratt & Whitney got a public drubbing from the sharp-tongued head of the F-35fighter program, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, when the Pentagon released a new cost estimate for the military’s biggest weapons program.

“Pratt’s not meeting their commitment, it’s as simple as that,” he told reporters this afternoon [April 17] at the Joint Program Office’s headquarters here. “They told us years ago that theengine was going to come down at a certain rate in terms of price and they haven’t met it. Not good. Not good at all.”

But the three-star general’s harsh words for the jet engine maker — undoubtedly designed in part to pressure Pratt in ongoing negotiations for the next two lots of F135 engines — were his one negative note in an otherwise upbeat briefing on the F-35′s Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) for 2013. The question is whether the good news numbers actually hold up…

F-35 2013 SAR

…the dip in the life costs masks a slight increase in the estimated cost to develop, build, and field the fifth-generation fighter. They rose 1.4 percent — $4.5 billion — from $319.4 billion to $323.5 billion (in 2012 dollars). That increase is driven less by Pratt & Whitney’s problems than by rising labor costs, which are in part a result of the global economic recovery. Also, schedule delays, caused not by the program’s internal troubles but by budget cuts in both the US and foreign partners, also play a role [see here for partners]…

Bogdan admitted there are plenty of unknowns left. “We’re only about 55 percent done with the flight test program,” he told reporters today. (The Pentagon’s top procurement official once called thisconcurrency of testing and production “acquisition malpractice“). That means there are undoubtedly more problems to find and more fixes to make.

Just recently, for example, the program had to redesign the nitrogen injection system that keeps the gas tanks from exploding when the plane is struck by gunfire or lightning. The next lot of aircraft to be built, LRIP 7, will have a more powerful nitrogen system, but the ones already built and currently under construction do not, he said: “Some day, they’re going to have to come back and get that retrofitted so they can fly in lightning.”

Then there’s the Pratt & Whitney problem…

The Navy now plans to buy 33 fewer aircraft in the current Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP), the Air Force to buy four, and, if Congress does not grant the president’s request for significant spending above the current sequestered budget caps, another 16 or 17 US planes are going to go away. Meanwhile Turkey, Canada, Holland, and Italyhave all slowed or reduced their purchases of F-35s [more on production plans here and here (more hoots)]…

See 1) above.  More SAR stories hereherehere and here  Relevant:

JSF and US: “Three Reports on the F-35: One of Them Informative”

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – Sad Ukrainian Realities–and Polish Perceptions

Two useful pieces in the Washington Post:

1) Ukraine, short on military budget, starts fundraising drive

Ukraine’s new government inherited an army so bereft of modern equipment and training that when Russian troops entered Crimea and agitators stormed government offices in eastern Ukraine, the country proved helpless to protect its borders and citizens.

 The corruption that had darkened all the nation’s institutions had provoked demonstrators to stand their ground in Kiev until the old leaders fled. But the depth of the damage took the country by surprise when the Crimean Peninsula was easily lost to Russian annexation last month, revealing a military profoundly weakened by theft and neglect…

Ukraine’s position is dire. The new government found the treasury empty when it took over Feb. 27. The Ministry of Defense was so desperate for money that it went to the public for help…

When the new government took over, it found a military and security agency organized around loyalty to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych andriddled with people closely tied to Russia’s security service, the FSB [emphasis added], Andriy Parubiy, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said in a recent interview. Not only was the treasury empty, so were military fuel tanks…

The state of their military shocked Ukrainians, even though they knew none of their institutions had resisted the pervasive corruption…

How much good use could be made of “lethal aid” should the US be foolish enough to supply?

2) Talking with Poland’s foreign minister about the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s next moves

Of course, Ukraine wasted a lot of time. For 20 years the country was bled by corruption, by stealing of assets and by a populist economic policy. Twenty-five years ago, Poland and Ukraine had the same standard of living. Today we are three times richer. They also wasted the public enthusiasm after the Orange Revolution, 10 years ago. So, over time it gets harder. But I think this is the best team in Kiev we are likely to get. Prime Minister [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk is honest, competent and knows what needs to be done…

Do you think the U.S. should arm the Ukrainians?

These are difficult decisions. And the risks are enormous. These calculations have to be done by the Ukrainians themselves because they will bear the consequences of any such actions.

How can they fight the Russians if they do not have any arms?

Actually, Ukraine has an arms industry…

So they do not need to be armed by the West?

They need to get their army functioning again. I think Ukraine is paying the price of 20 years of strategic illusions of being able to be neutral and of not paying enough attention to their security sector…

Do you think Putin will next go to the Baltic states? Does he have a strategy?

I think he is honest in what he says. The [Crimea]annexation speech was his bold and, I think, genuine statement of his new foreign policy. I think he is going to be strategically bold but tactically flexible, in response to what others do. You know, where there is resistance, he will draw back.

Do you think Putin’s plan is to annex eastern Ukraine, or just to destabilize it and make the government in Kiev irrelevant?

If I were to guess, and this is what the Russian side is telling us, they would be satisfied with a federal arrangement for Ukraine. By federalism they do not mean U.S.-style federalism, they mean Bosnia-style federalism. In other words, having an overwhelming influence over a part, which can then paralyze the whole. And preventing Ukraine from reforming and becoming successful that way without having to invade…

Lots more.  Keep in mind that Poles were dominant in the lands where most Ukrainians lived for some time, see here and here–and as landowners in Austrian Galicia and Tsarist lands after Poland itself vanished with the three eighteenth century partitionsmore here.  As for perceptions, the Poles are not this:

They’re WEIRD–Why Obama et al. Don’t Get Putin

Plus some essential background that still impinges today (and note the mention of “New Russia”, a term recently employedby President Putin):

Ukraine and Ukrainians (Ruthenians) Circa 1911

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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