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

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 DEAD! LONG LIVE MINSK?

MICHAEL KIMMAGE

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.

24 December 2017

Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine

By Josh Rogin

Correction: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly reported that the Trump administration had approved the first-ever commercial sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It stated that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had publicly supported arms sales to Ukraine; Mattis did not explicitly do so. This post has been updated. 

The Trump administration has approved the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014. The move was heavily supported by top Trump national security Cabinet officials and Congress but may complicate President Trump’s stated ambition to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

20 December 2017

Will Ukraine Be Hit by Yet Another Holiday Power-Grid Hack?

BY ALYZA SEBENIUS

The holiday season has not been a joyful time with respect to Ukraine’s power grid. Days before Christmas in 2015, remote hackers wrested control from Ukrainian grid operators, and, by digitally commandeering substations, shut off power for 225,000 customers for several hours. Then, in mid-December of last year, hackers developed a malicious code that, without any real-time human support, disrupted a Kiev transmission station and caused a substantial blackout that lasted roughly an hour in the capital—in the first fully automated grid attack ever seen.

Hackers halt plant operations in watershed cyber attack

Hackers halt plant operations in watershed cyber attack 

Hackers likely working for a nation-state recently invaded the safety system of a critical infrastructure facility in a watershed attack that halted plant operations, according to cyber investigators and the firm whose software was targeted. FireEye Inc (FEYE.O) disclosed the incident on Thursday, saying it targeted Triconex industrial safety technology from Schneider Electric SE (SCHN.PA). Schneider confirmed that the incident had occurred and that it had issued a security alert to users of Triconex, which cyber experts said is widely used in the energy industry, including at nuclear facilities, and oil and gas plants.

19 December 2017

MAKING SENSE OF UKRAINE'S UGLY FALL

By Violeta Moskalu

This fall has been an ugly one for Ukraine. Throughout September, October, November, and December, Ukrainian authorities have illegally detained, persecuted, and expelled several foreign journalists and other foreign residents, causing observers to question whether Ukrainian leaders are actively violating human rights and willfully persecuting their political opponents in an effort to maintain their grip on power. In fact, the Ukrainian authorities seem to be pursuing a policy of double standards, demanding that Russia liberate Ukrainian political hostages and journalists while simultaneously arresting dissenting activists, journalists, and political opponents.

18 December 2017

What on Earth Is Going on in Ukraine?

BY JOSH COHEN

On December 7, Ukraine’s parliament is likely to dismiss the head of Ukraine’s only independent anticorruption body, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). Established in 2015 to target high-level crimes committed by the country’s corrupt political class, NABU has demonstrated a high level of independence led by its director Artem Sytnyk. It has not hesitated to target senior officials, judges, and state enterprise managers who previously possessed de-facto immunity from prosecution.

12 December 2017

What on Earth Is Going on in Ukraine?

BY JOSH COHEN

On December 7, Ukraine’s parliament is likely to dismiss the head of Ukraine’s only independent anticorruption body, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). Established in 2015 to target high-level crimes committed by the country’s corrupt political class, NABU has demonstrated a high level of independence led by its director Artem Sytnyk. It has not hesitated to target senior officials, judges, and state enterprise managers who previously possessed de-facto immunity from prosecution.