New Atlanticist

The Ukrainian government's well-executed showdown in March 2015 to rein in the country's wealthiest oligarch is the first of many battles with the oligarchs that lie ahead. In the battle with the oligarchs, President Petro Poroshenko—the owner of Roshen Confectionery Corporation and an oligarch himself—is uniquely positioned to fight. The President and his reform-minded Parliament will need all the help they can get when they face their likely next opponents: Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitro Firtash.

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Ukraine will remain at the heart of the conflict between the US and Russia beyond the 2016 presidential election. In the polls, Americans are united on Ukraine; the majority of respondents support increased sanctions on the Kremlin. All of the major presidential candidates, save Senator Rand Paul, take a tough approach with Moscow and support arming Ukraine.

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Twenty-five years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of a long process of European reunification, Europe has arrived at a historic inflection point. The European Union faces multiple external threats, including a resurgent Russia, growing global economic competition, and geopolitical upheaval.

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China’s proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will have a constructive and complementary relationship with both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and is not intended to “overthrow” either institution, Zhu Guangyao, China’s Vice Minister of Finance, said April 17 at the Atlantic Council.

Instead, the AIIB will focus on economic development—particularly investing in Asia’s enormous infrastructure needs—and will be based on the rule of law, he said.

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US position on investment bank risks isolating it from its partners

The Obama administration’s mishandling of the emergence of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has meant that the United States now finds itself sitting outside the Chinese-led organization that includes many of Washington’s most significant regional and global partners and promises to be a key driver of regional development.

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Ukraine Can Learn from Baltic States’ Experience with Reforms, says Lithuania’s Ex-Prime Minister

As it struggles to fix its economy, Ukraine would do well to study the reforms successfully implemented by three fellow former Soviet republics in the Baltics, Andrius Kubilius, Lithuania’s former Prime Minister said April 16 at the Atlantic Council.

“I was Prime Minister twice, on both occasions during a quite difficult economic crisis in Lithuania,” said Kubilius who led his country from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. “Perhaps I have some knowledge what to do during a crisis, but not so much on what to do when life is beautiful.”

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Dip in oil prices, European Central Bank’s bond-buying program seen as boon

The European economy is slowly recovering from a double-dip recession aided in part by falling oil prices and a $1.2 trillion bond-buying program by the European Central Bank (ECB), a senior European Commission official said April 16.

“We are seeing the European economy gradually recovering; we are seeing the recovery is actually strengthening; and we believe we have the right policy mix with boosting investments, renewed forms of structural reforms, and fiscally responsible policies,” Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s Vice President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said at a meeting hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program.

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When Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine captured a fighter pilot loyal to Kyiv in June 2014, they got more than they bargained for. Nearly a year later, Nadiya Savchenko is on trial in Russia, and at the center of an international imbroglio. “This isn’t an ordinary case,” Russian attorney Mark Feygin said at the Atlantic Council on April 14, about his client. “It should be understood as a political affair, not a legal one.”

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Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It, the new book by Anders Åslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, presents so compelling an argument that—even before publication on April 17—it has already persuaded the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western nations to adopt a $40 billion economic stabilization program for Ukraine. This is because policy makers at the IMF and in key capitals take Åslund seriously. Long the preeminent expert on Ukraine’s financial shenanigans and economic dysfunction, Åslund has also been a constant advocate of truly radical reform, offering trenchant critiques of half-hearted efforts in 2014 by Kyiv, the IMF and bilateral donors. 

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Terrorist group’s plans to expand to South Asia seen hamstrung by its depleted finances

A sharp drop in world oil prices and the presence of other terrorist groups will make it hard for the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to establish a foothold in South Asia, said Omar Hamid, head of Asia Pacific Country Risk at IHS, a global analytics firm.

ISIS and al-Qaeda face problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India because there are “already very strong, established local entities there,” Hamid said at an April 13 event hosted by the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “They are not walking into an empty canvas, and there is a limited pie in terms of recruits and funding.”

“Almost certainly, if they do chose to focus on South Asia they will come up against the local actors who will not have any sort of fraternal instinct for them,” Hamid said in a discussion moderated by Shuja Nawaz, Distinguished Fellow at the South Asia Center.

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