Almost two years after the Euromaidan demonstrations began, most Ukrainians agree that the pace of reforms has been largely disappointing. While many former civil-society activists hold key positions in the government and parliament, corruption continues to plague the country and state institutions cannot provide basic services.

Amid the skepticism, one area where there is agreement that positive change has taken place is the new patrol police in Ukraine's major cities, including Kyiv. This bright spot comes largely thanks to an influx of former Georgian officials renown for similar achievements in their country.

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Ukrainians go to the polls on October 25 to elect mayors and city councils. These local elections matter more than one might expect. The likely passage of a constitutional amendment on decentralization by parliament later this year will give the newly elected mayors and councils more autonomy and authority than ever before.

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US President Barack Obama recently derided critics of his foreign policies as offering merely mumbo-jumbo. Yet everyone can plainly see the administration's shocking degree of across-the-board strategic incomprehension and incompetence in Europe and the Middle East. In fact, European Union diplomats publicly admit that confidence in US policies is plummeting throughout Europe. Therefore, I offer a strategy for Europe that aims to restore Western cohesion under a revitalized US and European Atlanticism that meets today's needs and responds to the linked challenges of Russia, Ukraine, immigration, the Middle East, and European economic-political stagnation. It also forthrightly asserts that absent US leadership, no adequate response to current crises will emerge.

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Though the digital era presents an opportunity to revolutionize the electoral process, it also brings with it an array of challenges for traditional democracy, discussed on an Oct. 9 Atlantic Council conference on the future role of technology in elections.

“As technology spreads to various aspects of our lives, the role it plays in elections has increasingly come under scrutiny,” said Atlantic Council Chairman Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. in opening remarks at the event “Democracy Rebooted: The Future of Technology in Elections.”

“With upcoming elections in the United States and in many countries around the world in 2016, it’s critical that we review the policies influencing elections and the technology being used to execute them,” he added.

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The Atlantic Council's Karim Mezran discusses a UN plan for a national unity government in Libya

The announcement by the United Nations’ envoy for Libya of a national unity government after months of talks is just the “first step in a long journey” for the North African nation plagued by chaos since the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, says the Atlantic Council’s Karim Mezran.

Libya today has two governments—an Islamist-backed one based in Tripoli and an internationally recognized one that was forced to flee the capital for the eastern city of Tobruk in in the summer of 2014 due to the deteriorating security situation.

Following months of dialogue aimed at bringing the two sides together, Bernardino Leon, the UN envoy, on Oct. 8 announced that delegates at these negotiations had finally agreed to his proposal to form a Government of National Accord. Leon also announced the names of the candidates who will lead this government.

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Atlantic Council’s James L. Jones, Jr. recommends a toolkit that includes economic, political, and security components

The United States must develop a three-pronged approach that includes economic, political, and security components to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “retrograde ambitions in favor of the peaceful and progressive order the transatlantic community and the world had envisioned at the opening of the 21st century,” retired Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., a former National Security Advisor, said October 8.

Putin’s “strategic objective is to reassert Russian power and prestige on his terms without regard to international principles and norms,” Jones, who is Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Russian leader is willing to use force to achieve his objectives, including disregarding state sovereignty, as was evident from the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, he added.

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Swapping stories about their experiences in an East Germany that was shut off from the West by the Berlin Wall, US Secretary of State John Kerry and German President Joachim Gauck on October 7 commemorated the arrival of a section of the barrier at the State Department in Washington.

The Atlantic Council provided this segment of the wall through an agreement with the German company Verbundnetz Gas. It will be displayed in the US Diplomacy Center, which is set to open in 2017.

Kerry described the section of the Berlin Wall as a “very tangible… and very large piece of history.”

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For a brief moment, it felt like déjà vu. As an officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, I visited several hot spots, witnessing my share of misery and destruction. Now I am in the Donbas, the war-torn region of eastern Ukraine.

Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has struggled to shed its Soviet colonial past and the remaining vestiges of Russian domination. It seeks to join Europe and the world of free nations. The Euromaidan's Revolution of Dignity transformed the country by removing a corrupt dictator and bringing to power a government committed to anchoring Ukraine firmly within the Euro-Atlantic community. Russia responded by resorting to war. It officially annexed Crimea, and then de facto invaded portions of eastern Ukraine. Eighteen months later, entire villages and cities have been destroyed, almost 8,000 lives have been lost, and another 30,000 have been wounded. More than 1.5 million internal refugees have been displaced.

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The past six months have been highly eventful for British politics. After the elections in May, which saw the re-election of the Conservatives and the disastrous defeats of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, the country encountered yet another political surprise in September with the election of the Labour party’s new leader: Jeremy Corbyn. A veteran of the backbenches and a relative outsider, Corbyn won the contest with a majority of almost 60 percent. His vision of a kinder, fairer, and more inclusive form of politics has sparked far broader interest than anyone expected, and his campaign (and subsequent election) has brought in thousands of new members. While this new buzz around the left of British politics means a shake-up domestically, it also has international implications.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is pivoting and wants to withdraw from the Donbas but keep Crimea, according to Iegor Soboliev, the head of the Ukrainian parliament's anti-corruption committee.

"He wants to give it back to us right now. He doesn't need the Donbas," he said in an interview on October 5.

"Unfortunately, he will try to keep Crimea. He announced the occupation as a big historical victory for Russia so now it's impossible to return the Crimea because many Russians would see it as a political defeat."

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