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

22 August 2019

Deterring Hybrid Threats: The Need for a More Rational Debate

By Michael Rühle 

Michael Rühle writes that following Russia’s use of hybrid warfare in Ukraine, it wouldn’t take long before the Western strategic community would examine how to best deter hybrid threats. After all, deterrence was the central paradigm of Western security throughout the Cold War. However, Rühle contends that this examination is being held back by the West’s own debate on hybrid warfare, which is characterized by alarmism, fuzzy terminology and sweeping generalizations. In response, he here outlines five key factors hindering this debate and their implications for hybrid threats deterrence policy.

Since Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine in 2014, the Western strategic community has been trying to come to grips with the concept of hybridity.1 Some observers were quick to point out that the idea of combining military and non-military tools was far from new, and they warned against exaggerating hybrid warfare.2 However, Russia’s apparently seamless and effective blending of political, diplomatic, economic, electronic and military tools in order to annex Crimea and support separatists in the Donbas seemed to herald a new era of hybrid warfare: a revisionist power was using both old and new means to undermine and, eventually, tear down a post-Cold War order it considered unfair and unfavourable.

17 August 2019

Breathing Life Into Eastern Ukraine

By Melinda Haring

The Russians took and held Kramatorsk, a small city in eastern Ukraine, for about three months in 2014. Since then, the only battles this town has seen have taken place in the kitchen. Or several kitchens, to be exact. Last year, on the anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence Day, government officials sparred for the titles of “Best Plov,” “Best Borscht,” and “Best Goulash.” This year there will be no Independence Day competition, since the organizer of the borscht battle was recently sacked.

Yevgen Vilinsky was the first deputy governor of the Donetsk Regional State Administration. The Ukrainian province, or oblast, he helped govern directly borders the breakaway region currently under Moscow’s control. The Donetsk area has been hard hit by war and division, and its citizens are not of one mind about their future. Vilinsky and his team had made significant progress helping the oblast rebound from the war. But when Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, assumed office, he promptly began replacing everyone associated with the previous administration—including Vilinsky, who was fired on July 4.

14 August 2019

Ukraine’s Petroleum-Sector Challenges: Raising Domestic Output and Cutting Corruption

By: Rauf Mammadov

Volodymyr Zelenskyy inherited formidable challenges when he was elected Ukraine’s sixth president this spring, including a Kremlin-backed war with “separatists” in the east, deep-rooted corruption, and an ongoing natural gas dispute with Russia. Ukraine is now responding to the gas discord by trying to negotiate an extension of a long-term contract with Russia, filling its storage tanks in case Russia cuts gas shipments to it this winter, and trying to increase domestic production.

The contract under which Russia exports natural gas to Ukraine and on to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines expires on January 1, 2020. Russia’s Gazprom had hoped to complete its Nord Stream Two pipeline by then so it could transit gas to Europe without going through Ukraine. This gas transit pipeline would double the annual capacity of the already-existing 55-billion-cubic-meter (bcm) Nord Stream One, which directly links Russia and Germany via the Baltic seafloor. But Denmark has yet to approve the Nord Stream Two project in part of its waters, making the pipeline unlikely to be completed until mid-2020—a key reason why Russia asked for the contract extension talks with Ukraine.

13 August 2019

Ukraine-Russian Relations and the Future of Ukraine

by Matthew Petti 

The unexpected election of the former comedian and businessman Volodymyr Zelensky in April 2019 to the presidency upended Ukrainian politics. Will Zelensky now grow into a serious political leader? To discuss Ukraine’s future, the Center for the National Interest hosted a Thursday luncheon talk titled “The Future of Ukraine and Ukraine-Russia Relations,” by John Herbst, director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The Center’s own board member Richard Burt, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, moderated. Herbst, who has a long record of diplomatic service and has previously served as ambassador to Uzbekistan, is a fluent Russian speaker and a major authority on Russian and Ukrainian politics.

9 August 2019

The Conflict in and around Ukraine



This week’s featured graphic concerns the conflict in and around Ukraine, highlighting the territory and border checkpoints not under the control of the Ukrainian government. For an insight into the complexity Ukraine peace process, read Anna Hess Sargsyan’s recent contribution to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here.

28 July 2019

A NEW EASTERN FRONT: WHAT THE U.S. ARMY MUST LEARN FROM THE WAR IN UKRAINE

COL. LIAM COLLINS

The situation in eastern Ukraine might best be described as “World War I with technology.” Venturing to the front line today, you would quickly learn the two greatest threats facing Ukrainian soldiers are snipers and Russian artillery. Unlike in 1915, however, soldiers on 2018’s “Eastern Front” receive text messages on their phones telling them their cause is hopeless and they must regularly attempt to avoid being spotted from an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The fighting in Ukraine during the past 2½ years provides great insight into the types of threats facing the U.S. Army today and sheds light on what a war with a near-peer enemy—or an enemy sponsored by a near-peer—would look like.

Over the past few decades, the landscape of potential threats the U.S. must navigate has diversified greatly. During the Cold War, the major threat, the Russians, was simple to conceptualize and the battle plan was well-known. Junior leaders needed to know their part.

25 July 2019

A People-Centered Approach to Conflict Resolution in Ukraine

By Cecilia Malmstrom

It’s rare to hear firsthand accounts of daily life amid the conflict in Donbass. But we do have a few. The photographer Paula Bronstein captured the broken bodies and tormented souls of elderly people. The documentary filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmont shot the war through the eyes of a 10-year-old orphan boy living in a small village with “The Distant Barking of Dogs.” My colleague Ioulia Shukan, a French sociologist, keeps a blog on ordinary citizens affected by the war in Eastern Ukraine. She recounted the everyday life of three female villagers in the grey zone, their fear of shells and their cohabitation with soldiers. She also told the story of a young family that left the little Ukrainian town of Marinka — where there is still no heating and no drinking water — for the separatist-held city of Donetsk to escape immediate danger and precarious conditions. These Ukrainians’ stories highlight not only the human cost of the ongoing war, but also the perils of the Ukrainian government — and its Western partners — ignoring that cost.

23 July 2019

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped. 

A People-Centered Approach to Conflict Resolution in Ukraine

By Cecilia Malmstrom

It’s rare to hear firsthand accounts of daily life amid the conflict in Donbass. But we do have a few. The photographer Paula Bronstein captured the broken bodies and tormented souls of elderly people. The documentary filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmont shot the war through the eyes of a 10-year-old orphan boy living in a small village with “The Distant Barking of Dogs.” My colleague Ioulia Shukan, a French sociologist, keeps a blog on ordinary citizens affected by the war in Eastern Ukraine. She recounted the everyday life of three female villagers in the grey zone, their fear of shells and their cohabitation with soldiers. She also told the story of a young family that left the little Ukrainian town of Marinka — where there is still no heating and no drinking water — for the separatist-held city of Donetsk to escape immediate danger and precarious conditions. These Ukrainians’ stories highlight not only the human cost of the ongoing war, but also the perils of the Ukrainian government — and its Western partners — ignoring that cost.

15 June 2019

NATO’s Ukraine Challenge

By Steven Pifer

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Brussels on June 4 and 5, where he met with the leadership of the European Union and NATO. He reaffirmed Kyiv’s goal of integrating into both institutions—goals enshrined earlier this year as strategic objectives in Ukraine’s constitution.

At their April meeting to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary, NATO foreign ministers noted their commitment to the alliance’s “open door” policy for countries that aspire to membership. Russian aggression over the past five years has only solidified domestic support within Ukraine for membership, though the path to achieving that objective faces serious obstacles.

Growing Support for NATO in Ukraine

When NATO leaders in July 1997 invited Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to join the alliance, they also stated the “open door” policy. That reaffirmed Article 10 of the Washington Treaty that established NATO, which reads in part: “The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.”

7 May 2019

Going Toe-to-Toe With Ukraine’s Separatist Hackers

BY ELIAS GROLL

The hacker realized that he was being watched.

The spy software he was attempting to run against the Ukrainian government had infected the wrong machine, and now an analyst working for an American security company was picking apart the program—known as RatVermin—trying to understand how it worked.

The hacker, likely working on behalf of the Luhansk People’s Republic, a breakaway region of Eastern Ukraine, first tried to run a ransomware program dubbed Hidden Tear to scramble the contents of the computer it had mistakenly infected. The program would have made the computer useless to the analyst and flashed a sardonic message: “Files have been encrypted with hidden tear. Send me some bitcoins or kebab. And I also hate night clubs, desserts, being drunk.”

But the analyst blocked the program from executing, and then, for a few hours on March 20, 2018, the two engaged in the digital equivalent of hand-to-hand combat.

2 May 2019

Ukraine’s Failed Attempt to Stop Russian Interference Is Trampling Digital Rights

Samuel Woodhams 

Ukraine’s hybrid conflict with Russia over the past five years has not just unfolded in annexed Crimea and the regions of eastern Ukraine where Russia continues to back separatist groups. It has also been felt in Kiev and across the rest of the county, as Russian interference continues to destabilize Ukrainian politics. 

In an effort to defend against Russian disinformation and propaganda, Ukraine’s government has responded with measures that have led to a substantial erosion of digital freedoms for journalists, activists and the wider Ukrainian public. A country once heralded as one of the most progressive in Eastern Europe for digital rights, Ukraine is now actively restricting them.

Much of this is the legacy of President Petro Poroshenko. Will the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday lead to a reversal? 

28 April 2019

Ukraine Elected a New President. So What?

By Ekaterina Zolotova

Petro Poroshenko was hardly a threat to the country’s oligarchs, and there’s little reason to think his replacement will be much different.

Ukraine held its second round of presidential elections on Sunday, and the results are in: The country will be led by a comedian. Volodymyr Zelenskiy earned 73 percent of the vote; incumbent Petro Poroshenko just 24 percent.

Poroshenko has already conceded, but it’s difficult to say how much he will be missed. For all the promise of the Orange Revolution and the Maidan protests that eventually led to Poroshenko’s ascension, Ukraine never really began to live, as Poroshenko put it, “in a new way.” Poroshenko himself is a member of the oligarchic class that has long dominated Ukraine, and though his administration was a material threat to many of his contemporaries, it was hardly a threat to the system itself.

The House Poroshenko Built

20 April 2019

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr 

In this article, Niklas Masuhr writes that NATO is prioritizing conventional military capabilities to deter Russian encroachment on the Alliance. Further, Western planners and strategists view the war in Ukraine as a key benchmark that defines future capability requirements. As a result, various adaptive processes are underway within national armed forces.

This article was originally published in the CSS Analyses in Security Series by the Center for Security Studies on 3 April 2019. The article is also available in German and French.

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped. 

19 April 2019

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr 

In this article, Niklas Masuhr writes that NATO is prioritizing conventional military capabilities to deter Russian encroachment on the Alliance. Further, Western planners and strategists view the war in Ukraine as a key benchmark that defines future capability requirements. As a result, various adaptive processes are underway within national armed forces.

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped. 

13 April 2019

The WTO Strikes Again


Late last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued what the media is calling a “historic” ruling on the applicability of Article XXI, which allows nations to take trade limiting actions in the name of national security. The decision will inevitably be appealed and thus will get caught up in the dispute over the Appellate Body, but it’s worth making some comments now since, even though the case is not about the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the decision has implications for them since they are also being litigated at the WTO, and the complainants are using many of the same arguments.

The case that was decided last week concerned Ukraine’s objections to Russia’s actions in blocking the shipment of goods between Ukraine and Kazakhstan or the Kyrgyz Republic that transited Russia—actions Russia defended on the grounds of national security. In making its defense, Russia argued that Article XXI is self-defining; that is, that each country has the right to define its own national security any way it wants, and the WTO has no right to second-guess such decisions. That is the same position the United States has taken on its steel and aluminum tariffs, and, in fact, the United States supported the Russian position in its case through a brief it filed with the WTO, even though the United States has not supported Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. (The European Union, which has also not supported Russia in the Ukraine conflict, took Ukraine’s side in the WTO debate.)

21 March 2019

y Waiting for a Reality Check in Crimea, Five Years on

By Sim Tack

Russia has solidified its control over Crimea, but the contestation of that control by Ukraine and the West continues to loom large in their respective relations with Moscow. Military action or more sanctions are unlikely to convince Russia to relinquish control over Crimea. The disconnect between pragmatically achievable objectives and symbolic resistance to Crimea's annexation has created a standoff that is now perpetuating itself. In international relations, extended crises or disputes eventually behoove affected parties to accept realities, albeit at a cost to those involved. 

It's been half a decade since events radically changed Ukraine. Beyond demonstrations in Kiev, where President Viktor Yanukovich fell from power as a result of the euromaidan movement, the pro-Europe protests led to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Five years on, the status of Crimea continues to be a source of great contention, as Kiev rejects the Crimean Peninsula's accession to Russia, which exercises de facto — and, as far as Moscow is concerned, de jure — control over it. Even outside Ukraine, the events that occurred in Crimea in 2014 continue to cloud political and military relations between Russia and the West, and several of the sanctions against Russia center directly on the Crimea question.

20 March 2019

Is the Risk of Ethnic Conflict Growing in Ukraine?

By Elise Giuliano

The Ukrainian presidential election is only weeks away, and its outcome is highly uncertain. President Petro Poroshenko is lagging in the pollsbehind Volodymyr Zelensky, a television actor whose only political experience consists of playing the president of Ukraine in a sitcom. The country will head to the polls while still at war in its eastern region of Donbas, where in 2014, local separatists forcibly seized government buildings and declared people’s republics in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Since then, the conflict has taken on elements of both a civil war and an interstate conflict, with Russia arming separatist combatants and sponsoring the breakaway regions. Violence is muted but steady: the number of deaths recently reached 13,000, one-quarter of them civilian.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine’s leading presidential candidates are all running on platforms resisting Russia. The choice is logical given popular anger over President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and continued interference in Donbas. But Poroshenko differs from other candidates in that he couches his anti-Russian message in a national identity incorporating elements of Ukrainian ethnicity. Whereas his campaign slogan in 2014 was “A New Way of Living,” his current slogan is “Army! Language! Faith!”

7 March 2019

Are The Russians Coming?: Russia’s Military Buildup Near Ukraine – Analysis

By Felix K. Chang*

(FPRI) — Long before the Kerch Strait incident in October 2018, Russia had already begun to strengthen the forces in its Southern Military District, which spans from near Volgograd to Russia’s border with Georgia and Azerbaijan. Naturally, that has caused concern in Kiev, since the district also abuts the restive eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas and is responsible for Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. One of Ukraine’s biggest worries has been Russia’s reactivation of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division in late 2016. Posted only 50 km from the border between Russia and Ukraine, it is equipped with an unusually large number of tanks. Its force structure includes two tank regiments, rather than the standard one; and each of its two motorized rifle regiments has an attached tank battalion.[1] Russian media refers to the division as the “steel monster.”

27 February 2019

FIVE YEARS (IS/IS NOT)* A LONG TIME IN UKRAINIAN POLITICS (*DELETE AS APPLICABLE)

Ian Bond

It is five years since Ukraine’s then president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country for Russia. Since then, some commentators say a lot has changed, while others say not much. But however confused the picture, Ukraine still merits attention.

On March 31st, Ukraine will hold its second presidential election since 2014’s so-called ‘Revolution of Dignity’. None of the leading candidates is scandal-free: the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, formerly a successful businessman, turned up in the Panama Papers in 2016, allegedly transferring funds out of Ukraine illicitly. Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who made a fortune in the murky gas business in the 1990s, has long been suspected of corrupt ties to another former prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko (imprisoned in the US in 2006 for money laundering). And Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian whose best known character is a school teacher who becomes president of Ukraine, seems to be backed by Ihor Kolomoiskiy, accused by a business rival in 2015 of ordering contract killings in Ukraine.