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

5 December 2019

The Shoals of Ukraine

By Serhii Plokhy and M. E. Sarotte 

At first, it might seem surprising that Ukraine, a country on the fringes of Europe, is suddenly at the turbulent center of American politics and foreign policy. With an impeachment inquiry in Washington adding further detail to the story of the Trump administration’s efforts to tie U.S. security assistance for the country to Ukrainian cooperation in investigating President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponents, Trump’s presidency itself hangs in the balance. And the repercussions go even further, raising questions about the legitimacy and sustainability of U.S. power itself.

In fact, that Ukraine is at the center of this storm should not be surprising at all. Over the past quarter century, nearly all major efforts at establishing a durable post–Cold War order on the Eurasian continent have foundered on the shoals of Ukraine. For it is in Ukraine that the disconnect between triumphalist end-of-history delusions and the ongoing realities of great-power competition can be seen in its starkest form.

29 November 2019

A new era of cyber warfare: Russia’s Sandworm shows “we are all Ukraine” on the internet

By Cynthia Brumfield
Source Link

In-depth research on Russia's Sandworm hacking group shows broad capabilities and scope to disrupt anything from critical infrastructure to political campaigns in any part of the world.

Speakers at this year’s CyberwarCon conference dissected a new era of cyber warfare, as nation-state actors turn to a host of new advanced persistent threat (APT) strategies, tools and tactics to attack adversaries and spy on domestic dissidents and rivals. The highest profile example of this new era of nation-state digital warfare is a Russian military intelligence group called Sandworm, a mysterious hacking initiative about which little has been known until recently. The group has nevertheless launched some of the most destructive cyberattacks in history.[ Learn what you need to know about defending critical infrastructure . | Get the latest from CSO by signing up for our newsletters. ]

Wired journalist Andy Greenberg has just released a high-profile book about the group, which he said at the conference is an account of the first full-blown cyberwar led by these Russian attackers. He kicked off the event with a deep dive into Sandworm, providing an overview of the mostly human experiences of the group’s malicious efforts.

25 November 2019

How to End the War in Ukraine

By Steven Pifer

For more than five years, Russian forces and their proxies have waged a bloody war against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives, driven almost two million people from their homes, and caused immense material damage. France and Germany have together sought to broker peace but failed to produce a durable cease-fire—let alone a political settlement.

On December 9, French President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit with his Ukrainian, Russian, and German counterparts aimed at bringing the conflict to an end. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears committed to making peace, while Moscow appears committed to sustaining the war. Whether the summit will yield any progress toward closing that gap remains in doubt.

If European efforts continue to falter, the United States should take a more active role in the peacemaking process, working with European countries to make Russia’s military engagement in Ukraine more costly and a settlement more attractive. Moreover, Washington should set forth its own peace plan—one that builds on previous diplomatic efforts but includes a UN-authorized peacekeeping mission and an interim international administration in Donbas.

24 November 2019

America Hasn’t Always Supported Ukraine Like This

BY URI FRIEDMAN

For a policy that’s purportedly a pillar of the decades-old international order, military aid to Ukraine is pretty new.

When Adam Schiff asked Bill Taylor, the first witness in the House’s public impeachment hearings, to explain to Americans why U.S. security assistance to Ukraine matters for their own security, America’s top diplomat in Kyiv went big. Really big.

“It affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in and our grandchildren,” Taylor declared. “Ukraine is on the front line” of a struggle to prevent Russia from trampling on the post–World War II order, which “actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years.”

We’ve heard this sentiment repeatedly during the inquiry, but is it true? The problem with the argument is that it is a simplistic portrayal of the support that the United States provides Ukraine, fueled in part by the logic of the impeachment inquiry: Democrats must prove that the president’s actions were so harmful to the republic that they warrant the extreme constitutional recourse of removing him from office. That encourages them to play up the connection between Donald Trump’s pressure tactics on Ukraine and the fallout for the nation’s security.

23 November 2019

How to End the War in Ukraine

By Steven Pifer 

For more than five years, Russian forces and their proxies have waged a bloody war against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives, driven almost two million people from their homes, and caused immense material damage. France and Germany have together sought to broker peace but failed to produce a durable cease-fire—let alone a political settlement.

On December 9, French President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit with his Ukrainian, Russian, and German counterparts aimed at bringing the conflict to an end. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears committed to making peace, while Moscow appears committed to sustaining the war. Whether the summit will yield any progress toward closing that gap remains in doubt.

19 November 2019

Ukraine Doesn’t Need Aid. It Needs Land Reform.

by Andriy Radchenko

Ukraine remains one of six nations in the world where selling land is forbidden. It shares this dubious distinction with North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Tajikistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its partners have provided billions of dollars of financial aid to Ukraine. But Ukraine doesn’t need more money from the United States. It’s a wealthy country. What Ukraine needs is America’s assistance in unleashing its own natural wealth, much of which is currently locked up in the country’s land.

Ukraine remains one of six nations in the world where selling land is forbidden. It shares this dubious distinction with North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Tajikistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As newly inaugurated President Volodymyr Zelensky identifies priorities for his administration, the United States has an opportunity to support reforming Ukraine’s land ownership system. In addition to being valuable to Ukraine, doing so would be consistent with the Trump administration’s foreign assistance and development philosophy—rather than providing direct financial aid, the administration seeks to support U.S. partners in unshackling their own economies, making them both more self-sufficient and more prosperous.

The Ukraine-Russia War: Five Cutting Edge Books


When, on 21 November 2013, former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych decided to postpone an EU Association Agreement, few would have predicted that this would lead to a prolonged inter-communal conflict in Europe’s borderland. What started as a peaceful demonstration of support for Ukraine’s pro-European course by thousands of people in Maidan Square in Kiev has developed into a vicious confrontation dividing families, communities and the Ukrainian nation. Since the events of 2013, E-International Relations has published five books covering the crisis from a wide range of angles and viewpoints, with contributions from almost 40 leading scholars. Each book is free to read and can be downloaded by clicking on the cover image below.

What Is an Oligarch?

BY JOEL SAMUELS

And why it matters for Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

With the impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump under way, several American diplomats and ambassadors have testified about the influence of oligarchs on the Trump administration.

I am a scholar of international law who has been working in the Soviet and post-Soviet space since the early 1990s. As the impeachment hearings in Washington take center stage and talk turns to the politics of Ukraine, I believe it’s important to understand what oligarchs are and what power they wield.

Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle coined the term oligarchy as he contemplated the forms of state governance.

Like aristocracy, oligarchy meant rule by the few, as contrasted with democracy, which is rule by the people. From Aristotle’s time until the early 1990s, the concept of an oligarchy – and oligarchs – largely remained the stuff of academic writing. 

What the Impeachment Inquiry Means for the U.S. Relationship With Ukraine

Casey Michel

The quickly unfolding impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump has already ensnared many other people, while raising more and more questions. From the extent of Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals to the culpability of prominent officials in and outside his administration in that scheme, the public hearings that started this week have set the stage for an impeachment vote that could be among the most pivotal political moments in recent American history.

One of the questions swirling around this scandal is what the revelations about Trump will mean for future U.S. policy toward Ukraine. That is, can the Ukrainian government continue to rely on Washington as a reliable partner in its efforts to dislodge Russian-backed separatists from eastern Ukraine, while steering a course toward the European Union and fulfilling the promise of the country’s successful, pro-democracy revolution five years ago?

The fallout from the impeachment inquiry so far has already been swift. Just in the past month, reporting has revealed—and testimony has corroborated—that the White House placed a surprise, and apparently illegal, hold on congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine, totaling nearly $400 million. When Kyiv discovered the hold in early August, Ukrainian officials were, as The Wall Street Journal reported, “stunned,” leading them on a “panicked search for answers,” as Christopher Miller, a journalist based in Kyiv, added. At the time, the State Department, the National Security Council and the Pentagon were all “unanimous” in their support for providing the aid to Ukraine.

17 November 2019

Dressed to Kill: Arming Ukraine Could Put It on a Path Towards War

by Kyle Ropp

Even after Russian military forces withdrawal, deep-seated resentments will linger in Donbas. The lethal aid policy’s greatest flaw is that it completely fails to address these resentments, and in doing so, artificially simplifies the conflict to a proxy war with Russia.

Yet the aid policy has a number of fundamental shortcomings: its effectiveness at the tactical level is limited; it will likely encourage, not deter, Russia’s engagement in the conflict; and it fails to address the root causes of the Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively—Donbas) rebellions.

For these reasons, weapons aid should cease. Instead, the U.S. policy in Ukraine should focus on facilitating the negotiation process.

Limited Tactical Utility—With Risks

Two years on and weapons aid has failed to challenge the status quo in Donbas. The war has held in a stalemate along the four-hundred-kilometer “line of contact,” with intermittent skirmishes but no signs of a breakthrough since aid flows began.

12 November 2019

Ukraine Needs More Than Lethal Aid From the United States

By Sophie Pinkham

In a 2015 episode of the Ukrainian television program Servant of the People, president-elect Vasyl Holoborodko practices for his inaugural meeting with Angela Merkel. Holoborodko is played by the comic actor Volodymyr Zelensky, who won Ukraine’s real-life presidential election in a landslide last May.

“Shake her hand gently,” Holoborodko’s adviser chides him. “She should dominate. The handshake decides how much aid Germany’s central bank will give us.” Ukraine’s dependence on German and EU goodwill is a given, as is the Ukrainian president’s duty to submit. Such is the lot of one of Europe’s poorest countries.

The real-life Zelensky’s deferential posture now features in an international scandal. In August, a whistleblower reported that President Trump threatened to withhold nearly $400 million in promised military aid until the Ukrainian president delivered dirt on Joe Biden’s supposed corrupt activities in Ukraine. Trump responded by releasing a rough, partial transcript of his call with Zelensky, who was recorded making laughably servile remarks such as, “You are absolutely right. Not only 100 percent, but actually 1000 percent.” He agreed with Trump’s assertion that Merkel had failed to help Ukraine; in fact, Ukraine has received an estimated $16.4 billion in grants and loans from the EU and from European financial institutions over the last five years, and Germany and France are still striving to help bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions, which were seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.

4 November 2019

Ukrainian Officer Details Russian Electronic Warfare Tactics Including Radio "Virus"

BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK

AUkranian military officer has offered new insights into the scale and scope of Russian electronic and cyber warfare capabilities, including details on GPS jamming and spoofing tactics, and how they have evolved since a conflict erupted between the two countries more than five years ago. He also said that Russia's capacity to launch some types of attacks may be waning to a degree thanks to American and other international sanctions that have made it difficult for the Kremlin to source key components for these systems.

Ukrainian Colonel Ivan Pavlenko offered this information during a presentation at the 56th Annual Association of Old Crows International Symposium and Convention in Washington, D.C., as well as on the sidelines of that event, on Oct. 29, 2019. Pavlenko is presently the Deputy Chief of Combat Support Units of the Joint Forces Headquarters of the Joint Staff Armed Forces of Ukraine, but between 2009 and 2017 he had served as the Chief of the Electronic Protection Section in the Electronic Warfare Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

9 October 2019

Far From the Front Lines, Javelin Missiles Go Unused in Ukraine

BY AMY MACKINNON, LARA SELIGMAN
Source Link

During a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week, U.S. President Donald Trump took a shot at his predecessor, claiming that Barack Obama had supplied “pillows and sheets” to Ukraine while his own administration had delivered “anti-tank busters” to help Kyiv in its fight against Russia and its proxies in eastern Ukraine.

Trump was referring to FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, which played a central role in the infamous July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky that is at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry. After Zelensky suggested he wanted to buy more Javelins, Trump asked him for a “favor” and then later urged him to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and his business dealings in the Eastern European country. 

But while there is evidence that the Javelin sale has been a powerful gesture of support for Kyiv, the missiles’ military application has been far more limited. Under the conditions of the foreign military sale, the Trump administration stipulates that the Javelins must be stored in western Ukraine—hundreds of miles from the battlefield. 

1 October 2019

How Much Damage Will Trump’s Scandal Do to Zelensky in Ukraine?

Candace Rondeaux 

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Ukraine’s president. The content of Volodymyr Zelensky’s now-infamous July 25th call with U.S. President Donald Trump will doubtless be picked over ad nauseum as the impeachment inquiry against Trump gets underway in Congress. Nor is history likely to forget how the release of a partial, reconstructed transcript of a single phone call between Trump and Zelensky triggered a constitutional crisis in the world’s most powerful country.

Zelensky’s obsequious tone, his cloying requests to Trump for Javelin anti-tank missiles and his disparaging remarks about Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, have severely damaged Zelensky’s political credibility at a time when he needs it most. The comedian who was elected president in April will likely have to work overtime to convince Ukrainians, as well as allies in Europe and Washington, that he is in thrall to no one and is prepared to defend what is arguably the most fragile democracy on the European continent.

How Much Damage Will Trump’s Scandal Do to Zelensky in Ukraine?

Candace Rondeaux

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Ukraine’s president. The content of Volodymyr Zelensky’s now-infamous July 25th call with U.S. President Donald Trump will doubtless be picked over ad nauseum as the impeachment inquiry against Trump gets underway in Congress. Nor is history likely to forget how the release of a partial, reconstructed transcript of a single phone call between Trump and Zelensky triggered a constitutional crisis in the world’s most powerful country.

Zelensky’s obsequious tone, his cloying requests to Trump for Javelin anti-tank missiles and his disparaging remarks about Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, have severely damaged Zelensky’s political credibility at a time when he needs it most. The comedian who was elected president in April will likely have to work overtime to convince Ukrainians, as well as allies in Europe and Washington, that he is in thrall to no one and is prepared to defend what is arguably the most fragile democracy on the European continent.

30 September 2019

What We Know and Don’t About the Trump-Ukraine Affair

By Michael Crowley, Kenneth P. Vogel and Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday amid mounting furor over President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., apparently the subject of a classified whistle-blower complaint the administration refused for weeks to show to Congress before dropping objections.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, said he planned on Wednesday to release the transcript of a phone call he had in July with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Mr. Trump insisted it would show that he said nothing inappropriate, but scrutiny about his conduct toward Ukraine has spread beyond the single conversation.

Here are some of the basic facts behind the controversy.
What did Mr. Trump do?

20 September 2019

Russia and Ukraine Seek a Contentious New Gas Transit Deal


Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have a shared interest in avoiding economic losses by reaching a new deal on gas transit before the current agreement expires. But significant obstacles — including geopolitical competition and the impact of new energy infrastructure in the region — could lead to a delay or impasse in negotiations. If the parties cannot reach an agreement before the current agreement expires Dec. 31, Russian gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine could well experience interruptions.

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter.

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the European Union are set to meet Sept. 19 in Brussels to begin negotiations over a new agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine. The current agreement, reached in 2009 only after tough negotiations resulting in a temporary cutoff of gas flows to Europe, expires Dec. 31. European and Ukrainian elections delayed the start of the upcoming talks, limiting the amount of time for a new deal to be struck before the old one lapses. Even without the time pressure, these negotiations would have been difficult, meaning talks could hit an impasse, and if they do, natural gas cutoffs could possibly result.

14 September 2019

Fresh Approaches Enable Russia-Ukraine Prisoner Swap


For the Kremlin, key conditions for the prisoner exchange were President Zelensky’s reference to joint work by two states and two presidents, recognition that there were advantages to the swap for both sides, and the exclusion of the exchange from the victory/defeat paradigm.

After weeks of rumors that a prisoner swap between Moscow and Kiev was in the cards, the two sides finally exchanged thirty-five prisoners each on September 7. They included high-profile prisoners such as the film director Oleg Sentsov and Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a journalist for Russian state media, as well as the twenty-four Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia in the Kerch Strait last year. The capture of the sailors had prompted the United States, EU, and Canada to introduce new sanctions against Russia and cancel meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Argentina, while a high-profile campaign had been waged for the release of Sentsov ever since he was sentenced to twenty years in jail in Russia on terrorism charges back in 2015.

Just as the 2016 pardoning and exchange of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot jailed in Russia for allegedly causing the deaths of two Russian journalists in Ukraine, meant the end of the active phase of war in Ukraine, this latest landmark prisoner exchange is designed to show that both sides are ready to put an end to the current limbo that is neither war nor peace, and move toward something that could truly be described as peace.

7 September 2019

Heading for (another) Ukraine-Russia gas figh

Steven Pifer

Gazprom, a large Russian parastatal, now transits a significant amount of gas to European destinations via Ukrainian pipelines. The volume totaled 87 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2018, one-third of Russian gas exports to Europe.

However, the contract that governs this gas transit expires at the end of 2019. Kyiv wants to replace the current agreement with another long-term contract, preferably for 10 years. Moscow, on the other hand, wants just one year.

Russia hopes to bring Nord Stream 2 — which runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea — online in 2020. (The U.S. government has raised the possibility of sanctions against companies involved with Nord Stream 2, but the pipeline is already 75% complete.) Moscow also hopes that Turk Stream — two pipelines running under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey — will reach full capacity next year. Nord Stream 2 will have a capacity of 55 bcm of gas per year. Turk Stream consists of two pipelines, each with an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm. The Turks plan to use half of the gas domestically and export the rest to southeastern Europe. If Gazprom can move an additional 70.75 BCM of gas to Europe via Nord Stream 2 and the Turk Stream pipelines after 2020, its need for the Ukrainian pipelines will drastically decline.

27 August 2019

Can Zelensky, Riding High, Negotiate an End to the War in Eastern Ukraine?

Candace Rondeaux 

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is on a roll. In April, he trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko at the polls. Last month, Zelensky’s Servant of the People party won a majority mandate in a snap parliamentary election, so it can press ahead with much-needed reforms. But a bigger challenge looms: finding a path to negotiate an end to the war in eastern Ukraine. 

Zelensky’s winning streak could be tested when he meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in September. He is seeking more leverage over Russia in an attempt to resolve the conflict that has raged in eastern Ukraine since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. But to do so, Zelensky will need to square a circle over the question of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership bid. ...