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Maria Tsvetkova (Reuters) — From his hospital bed in the Ukrainian capital, Russian fighter Alexander Alexandrov feels abandoned by his country, its leaders, and even the local Russian consul. Alexandrov, 28, says he's a Russian soldier who was captured in eastern Ukraine after being sent there on active duty with Russian special forces to help separatists fighting Kiev.
He said he was serving on a three-year contract. "I never tore it up, I wrote no resignation request," he said. "I was carrying out my orders."
Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the face of widespread evidence to the contrary, has repeatedly said there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine — only volunteers who have gone to help the separatists of their own accord.
George Perkovich and Toby Dalton (The Washington Quarterly) — Indian decision makers face a strategic conundrum: how to deter and/ or respond to future terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
The dilemmas are manifold: punitive action may assuage the desire of an angry public for revenge, but too heavy a response may motivate actors in Pakistan to escalate attacks in India; while a weak riposte is unlikely to convince Pakistan's civilian and military leaders to alter their long-standing embrace of conflict against India by proxy.
Both the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Manmohan Singh governments faced this conundrum in January 2002 and November 2008, respectively, following the attacks by Pakistan-based militants in Delhi and Mumbai. Both chose to exercise restraint rather than strike back.
Michael Shurkin (The Rand Corporation) — French Army operations in Mali (Operation Serval) in 2013 provide a model for designing and operating an expeditionary force, one that has a number of attributes and competencies that United States Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno has indicated to be requirements for the Army.
The model therefore provides a living example that illustrates what meeting those requirements entails, as well as the associated risks.
As France's War in Mali: Lessons for an Expeditionary Army details, the French in Serval demonstrated that they are adept at quickly fielding small yet highly capable forces tailored for specific needs and objectives and reiteratively task organizing as the situation evolves.
Trevor Aaronson (Foreign Policy) — On an otherwise ordinary night in May 2011, Robert Childs realized his friend, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, might be on the verge of becoming a terrorist.
The two men, who attended a Seattle mosque together, ate fried chicken at Abdul-Latif’s small apartment with his wife and young son. Afterward, Abdul-Latif walked Childs to the dimly lit parking lot outside his building, where his guest’s orange 1979 Chevy Suburban was sitting. There, he posed a startling question: Could Childs help him get some guns?
Abdul-Latif said he wanted to carry out an attack inspired by the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people. But unlike Hasan, who acted alone, he was looking for associates. “I already have a guy that wants to do it, if you want to come in with it,” Childs recalls Abdul-Latif saying.
Seth G. Jones (The Christian Science Monitor) — Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim looked like any ubiquitous insurgent commander in southern Afghanistan. He had a sunbaked complexion, serried black beard, charcoal eyes, and the usual accessory – an AK-47 slung over his shoulder.
But there was something distinctive about him, which alarmed American officials. He had recently defected from the Taliban and joined Islamic State (known as both IS and ISIS), creating concern that the militant extremist group was expanding its footprint in South Asia.
So on Feb. 9, a US aircraft locked onto the vehicle he was traveling in near the village of Sadat in Helmand Province. It fired a missile, killing Mr. Khadim and five of his companions.