Donald Thieme

About Donald Thieme

Donald Thieme teaches at the Naval War College. He is an Olmsted Scholar and Foreign Area Officer for Eastern Europe, and has spent more than 14 years either deployed or stationed overseas. His views are his own and not those of the Naval War College, U.S. Department of the Navy or the U.S. Defense Department.


Recent Posts By the Author


Analysis: Russian Military Activities from South China Sea to Sevastopol

Analysis: Russian Military Activities from South China Sea to Sevastopol

Russian troops participating in the Kavkaz-2016 exercise.

Russian troops participating in the Kavkaz-2016 exercise

Russia is simultaneously conducting operations along the eastern Ukraine border, participating in large bilateral naval exercises with China in the South China Sea and conducting large-scale amphibious exercises in the Black Sea around the Crimean peninsula. The Russian Navy has subs operating in the Baltic Sea off Latvia, continues to professionalize its force, and is attempting to sustain a large upgrade in force capabilities matched with no-notice military inspections in most military districts. At the same time, it continues operations in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean, demonstrating resolve and constancy there. Read More

Opinion: Sunset for NATO?

Opinion: Sunset for NATO?

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President Barack Obama spent a night on the borders of Russia in Estonia, a country with a sizeable Russian minority, and from whence you truly can see Russia. In remarks a few hours ago, President Obama spoke not only to Estonia and NATO – but to the watchers just across the border in Russia when he said “”In this alliance, there are no old members or new members, no junior partners or senior partners — there are just allies, pure and simple. We will defend the territorial integrity of every single ally.”

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Navigating Ukraine’s Civil War

Navigating Ukraine’s Civil War

Pro-Russian separatists at a check point in Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russian separatists at a check point in Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine.

As summer rolls on, Russian-built anti-aircraft missiles continue to down aircraft over eastern Ukraine. While a great deal of ink has been spilled over exactly what kind of missiles are deployed, and who is giving the launch authorizations and actually launching them, one fact is salient: This is an escalation, intentional or not, that elevates the simmering Ukrainian civil war beyond Donetsk. Read More

Opinion: Will Germany and Russia Decide Ukraine's Fate?

Opinion: Will Germany and Russia Decide Ukraine’s Fate?

Donbass residents vote in the referendum on the status of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. RIA/Novosti Photo

Donbass residents vote in the referendum on the status of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. RIA/Novosti Photo

The referenda held Sunday in Ukrainian regions Donetsk and Luhansk have been denounced by many—but deserve cold, rational consideration. This is the prequel to the upcoming 25 May elections, conducted in a state of civil unrest—near civil war—in eastern Ukraine. Read More

Are the Baltics the Next Crimea?

Are the Baltics the Next Crimea?

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In Tartu Estonia, there is a building on the main square, constructed on an uncertain foundation that leans precipitously. The locals call it the “Leaning House” or the “Pisa Building.” Ironically, it leans to the west, appearing something like a hunting hound straining at the leash to be loosed to run after its quarry. In this case, though, complex histories, and Russia, are the leash.

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Policy Options for Ukraine Standoff

Policy Options for Ukraine Standoff

An anti-Putin protester. Reuters Photo

An anti-Putin protester. Reuters Photo

This is the second of two articles on the current crisis in Ukraine and on possible policy options for the international community. The first was on history of conflict in the region

The Ukraine’s current turmoil and the standoff in the Crimea make for a complex strategic issue in Russia’s near-abroad, where Russia holds many of the cards to advantage.

But the leaders of Western Europe, Ukraine, and the United States are not bereft of policy options either. Read More

A Brief History of Conflict in Ukraine

A Brief History of Conflict in Ukraine

Russian troops in the Crimea region of Ukraine. Reuters Photo

Russian troops in the Crimea region of Ukraine. Reuters Photo

This is the first of two articles on the current crisis in Ukraine and on the history of conflict in the region. The second will outline possible policy options for the international community.

The events of the last three weeks have catapulted Ukraine to the forefront of the U.S. policy agenda, sparking an intense crisis of confidence between the United States and Russia—the worst since 1979. Read More