Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts

13 March 2018

Behold Vladimir V. Potemkin

Antony J. Blinken

If Xi Jinping is the world’s most powerful man, conventional wisdom puts Vladimir Putin a close second. He’s made his own bare-chested virility synonymous with a resurgent Russia. Mr. Putin seems to be playing on every chessboard, from what Russia calls its “near abroad” to the Middle East, from Europe to America. When it comes to sowing doubt about democracy and fueling dissension among Americans, Mr. Putin is eating our lunch. And Russia retains the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, with new weapons in the works that Mr. Putin saw fit to brag about during last week’s state of the nation speech — even if his rhetoric far outpaced their technical reality.

Ukraine’s hybrid war

By Wesley Clark and Jack Keane
Source Link

Four years ago this week, Moscow launched its hybrid war against Ukraine and seized Crimea. Six weeks later, it began its not-so covert military operation in Donbas. One of the great, if unheralded stories of this war has been the largely successful effort of Ukraine to defend itself against this hybrid war in the east. Ukraine has been on the front lines of a new generation of warfare where Russia blurs the lines between peace and war. Moscow’s aggression began with the seizure and then annexation of Crimea in February and March, and then the not so-covert war in Donbas in April.

7 March 2018

4 Years After the Revolution, Ukraine Still Battles Corruption and Russian Aggression

Nolan Peterson 

Ukraine’s capital city was, at that time, reeling from months of street protests and a revolution in which nearly 130 people died. The city’s central square, the Maidan, was left a charred ruin, still brimming with protester encampments and ad hoc defensive barricades. Months earlier, in November 2013, protesters first took to the Maidan to oppose a last-minute decision by Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych to ditch a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.

2 March 2018

Ukraine four years after the Maidan

Steven Pifer

In late February 2014, following three months of demonstrations on Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), then-President Victor Yanukovych fled the Ukrainian capital on a tortuous path that ultimately took him to Russia. On February 22, 2014, Ukraine’s parliament appointed an acting president and acting prime minister, who promptly announced their intention to press reforms and bring Ukraine closer to Europe.

Four years later, Ukraine finds itself in a low-intensity but still very real war with Russia. Russia seized Crimea and has prosecuted a conflict in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. While President Petro Poroshenko and his governments have implemented serious reforms, the pace has slowed markedly. Many are particularly frustrated that more has not been done on the anti-corruption front.

28 February 2018

Ukraine Cuts Dependence on Russian Nuclear Fuel, Moves Away From Coal

By: Oleg Varfolomeyev

Westinghouse will extend nuclear fuel deliveries to seven of Ukraine’s fifteen nuclear power units to 2021–2025, in line with a contract signed between this firm and Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company Energoatom. Deliveries to Ukraine under the new deal are to begin immediately after the current contract expires in 2020. Moreover, fuel components for local nuclear power plants (NPP) will be produced not only in the United States, but also in Ukraine, with assembly to be made at a Westinghouse facility in Sweden. Energoatom President Yury Nedashkovsky said his company is the world’s only operator of the Soviet-designed VVER-1000 reactors to have fully diversified its sources of fuel supply (, January 29).

How to Solve the Ukraine Crisis: Peacekeepers?

Dave Majumdar

The Ukraine crisis continues to be the main source of tension in the NATO-Russia relationship according to the alliance’s top official. The alliance hopes to reduce tensions by working with Russia to implement the Minsk agreements and potentially deploy UN peacekeepers in the war-torn Donbas region.

“During the meeting today [with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov] we addressed Ukraine and I underlined the importance of the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the Munich Security Conference onFeb. 17. “I also said that the situation in Ukraine is the main reason for the deterioration of the relationship between NATO and Russia and also the main reason why NATO has adopted its defensive posture in the eastern part of the Alliance.”

20 February 2018

Taking the Temperature of the Ukraine Conflict

As highlighted in the 2018 Annual Forecast, progress toward a deal to deploy U.N. peacekeepers to intervene in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is distinctly possible. Recent signs of compromise over other aspects of that conflict, such as prisoner exchanges, indicate that the forecast is on track.

The idea of deploying U.N. peacekeepers to Eastern Ukraine was broached several months ago amid growing intensity in diplomacy surrounding the conflict between Russian-backed separatists and pro-government forces there. This weekend's Munich Security Conference will offer a chance for more talks over the issue, but given the differences of opinion over the size, scope and mission of any U.N. force, there's no guarantee that an agreement will be struck. But some signs of compromise over the peacekeepers issue — and the opportunity offered by the security gathering that will attract representatives from key powers — make real movement on the issue a possibility.

16 February 2018

Ukraine’s Grey-Zone Conflict: What Lies Ahead?

by David Carment

On Jan. 18, 2018, Ukraine’s parliament voted in favour of a controversial full draft of a new law on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.1 The law has gained a lot of attention, despite the fact there is no final document yet, because it identifies Russia as an aggressor and occupying state. The new law is important for a few other reasons. First, its primary purpose is to stymie Russia’s geopolitical aspirations by having Ukraine retake the disputed territories by force. Second, it makes no mention of the Minsk agreements, the acceptance of which was a provision for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Nor does it recognize the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) as legitimate parties to the conflict. Indeed, there is no reference to the peace agreement brokered by France and Germany in 2015, which obliged Kiev to develop legislation regarding autonomy and amnesty for its minorities. Instead, the trade and transport blockade between Ukraine and the Donbass will be strengthened. And last, the law dramatically realigns Ukraine’s military forces by granting extra powers to the Ukrainian president, commander of the country’s united forces.

14 February 2018

Why Ukraine should become a Balkan country

Ukrainian politicians, diplomats, journalists and intellectuals should start paying more attention to how the countries of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) are currently preparing for their entry into the European Union. Kyiv can accelerate its own European integration by entering a number of SEE cooperation formats specifically designed to prepare the Western Balkan states for their future EU membership. 

13 February 2018

Ukraine is already on a second iteration of combat-ready war robots

By: Kelsey Atherton 

Robot soldiers from cinematic nightmares are glistening silver automatons, with rictus skulls or towering automaton bodies. Robot soldiers in real life? Not so much. They look very much like the rough assemblage of improvised weaponry that they are: a camera and a gun on a wheeled or tracked body. And rather than the exclusive domain of just a few wealthy states, these improvised robots are put together by irregular and low-budget forces, and fighting on active fronts.

Like in Ukraine.

Robots have seen action in Ukraine since at least 2016. Here’s a description of one such use in May 2017, from the Minsk Monitor:

8 February 2018

An Atmosphere of Growing Political and Societal Instability in Ukraine

By Susan Stewart

For some time now, both Ukrainians and foreign observers have been inquiring whether the time is right for a ‘Third Maidan’. The protests that took place on 17 October 2017 and in subsequent weeks were not the beginning of anything larger. Rather, they were initiated primarily by political actors and did not have the potential for mass mobilization. However, these protests convey important messages about the political and societal situation in the country. Against the backdrop of developments in recent years, they are a sign that the situation could heat up dangerously in the coming months.

7 February 2018

Why Ukraine should become a Balkan country

Günther Fehlinger

Ukrainian politicians, diplomats, journalists and intellectuals should start paying more attention to how the countries of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) are currently preparing for their entry into the European Union. Kyiv can accelerate its own European integration by entering a number of SEE cooperation formats specifically designed to prepare the Western Balkan states for their future EU membership. 

26 January 2018

Ukraine faces a heightened risk of instability in 2018

by James Celer 

Current high levels of corruption and periodic rounds of unrest, linked to poor governance and diminishing support for the local authorities, highlight Ukraine’s persistent structural issues. The ongoing conflict in the east will also continue to generate political tensions that may hinder Kiev’s reform efforts. While Ukraine may not be hitting the front pages, its geopolitical position certainly makes it a country to watch in 2018. This year may prove to be a bellwether moment for the country, as it steers towards presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled in 2019.

19 January 2018

A Year in Review: Ukraine Faced Mixed Fortunes, Missed Opportunities in 2017

By: Oleg Varfolomeyev

Ukraine missed some chances to improve the domestic situation last year, with the fight against corruption not as efficient as Western creditors expected and the economy growing at only a sluggish pace. Among the country’s achievements in 2017 were the long-awaited ratification of the association and free trade agreement plus a visa-free travel bonus from the European Union, and Naftogaz Ukrainy’s victory over Russian Gazprom in an international arbitration court. Nonetheless, there is still no light in the end of the tunnel as far as the conflict with Russia-backed militants in Donbas is concerned, and Ukraine deepened the split by stepping up the economic blockade of the area. The governing coalition led by President Petro Poroshenko proved stable, but it will face challenges ahead of both presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2019.

15 January 2018

Russian military was behind ‘NotPetya’ cyberattack in Ukraine, CIA concludes

Ellen Nakashima

The CIA has attributed to Russian military hackers a cyberattack that crippled computers in Ukraine last year, an effort to disrupt that country’s financial system amid its ongoing war with separatists loyal to the Kremlin. The June 2017 attack, delivered through a mock ransomware virus dubbed NotPetya, wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport.The GRU military spy agency created NotPetya, the CIA concluded with “high confidence” in November, according to classified reports cited by U.S. intelligence officials.

11 January 2018

Ukraine on the brink of kleptocracy

On January 3rd former Georgian President Michael Saakashvili’s plea for asylum in Ukraine was turned down, removing a key obstacle to deport him to Georgia. If deported, he will likely be show-trialled without a fair chance of defence. Since Saakashvili broke his alliance with President Poroshenko, the Ukrainian authorities have been working overtime to get rid of their new political opponent. The Soviet-style harassment campaign started with stripping him of his Ukrainian citizenship (a decision judged illegal by most independent experts), denying him entry into Ukraine, and arbitrary arrests of his aides. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko tried to bring about his own political show trial of Saakashvili, which he had to abandon on November 13th, formally due to weak evidence, but in effect due to pressure from the EU and the US.

7 January 2018

Where The Uranium Comes From

by Dyfed Loesche

According to the German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources BGR, Kazakhstan is the biggest producer of the radioactive metal. The central Asian country produced around 24,600 metric tons of the substance in 2016. This is a share of close to 40 percent of the worldwide production. Australia comes in at third place with 6,300 metric tons. However, in terms of total resources Australia has the most. Around 1.1 million tons are slumbering in its earths, of which not all can currently be excavated at reasonable costs. Around the world there are known resources of some 3.5 million tons, so there is no foreseeable shortage.

6 January 2018

Ukraine: Will the Centre Hold?

What’s the issue?

While the war in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas rumbles on, the regions of Polissya and Zakarpattya in the country’s west are corroded by systemic state corruption. Resentment toward Kyiv in these peripheral regions is pushing many into the shadow economies and exacerbating state fragility.

Why does it matter?

Widespread corruption in Ukraine’s western regions demonstrates that state fragility is not limited to areas controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists. This is undermining Kyiv’s capacity to withstand Russian aggression and restore its sovereignty over Donbas, meaning Moscow’s withdrawal from eastern Ukraine will not necessarily lead to national cohesion.

1 January 2018



Minsk is shorthand for a diplomatic process established in 2014 and early 2015. The formal deadline for completing Minsk was December 2015, a deadline that long since passed without its first phase — a ceasefire — going into effect. The next two phases — decentralization and a political process for the Donbas — have never progressed beyond the hypothetical. As of this winter, the line of contact between the Ukrainian and the Russian-backed forces remains bloody and volatile. At this stage, declaring Minsk dead might be an acceptance of a self-evident reality. Consigning Minsk to history might allow everyone to move forward along a different track.

27 December 2017

Donbass Blues, The Forgotten Conflict In Eastern Ukraine

KRASNOHORIVKA — The sound of canon fire has become more distant of late in Krasnohorivka. But the war continues to haunt Lioudmila Sidonnka. The young mother's stories are those of soldiers running in all directions, of smoking tanks, never-ending detonations, nights spent in her building's basement, houses on fire.

Little wonder that so many residents in this hamlet, on the Ukrainian side of the frontline, have left. After three years of conflict, only about 100 people — a third of the ghost village's pre-war population — remain. Lioudmila and her family are among the holdouts. Her 14-year-old son, Vadim, shows us shell fragments that he's collected. He also shows us around his school, the only connection he still has to real life. Life before the war.