Nevertheless, there is little sign of Moscow seeking a face-saving exit. On the contrary, the Kremlin recently signaled its refusal to back down by announcing its decision to recognize passports issued by its separatist proxies. Why is the Russian leader so ready to accept the spiraling costs of his disastrous Ukraine policy?
Nearly 100,000 people went to the streets in more than ninety cities, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad. Sunday’s protests were the largest anti-government protests since the demonstrations for fair elections in 2011-2012. They touched not only big cities, but took place in smaller places like Saratov and Tyumen that were previously “sleepy” and apolitical.
A huge number of young people, including schoolchildren, participated, and this was the most striking difference between Sunday’s protests and the 2011-2012 ones.
One of the main players in this conflict is well-known in Ukraine: Paul Manafort. He is a man who ran Viktor Yanukovych’s election campaigns in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2012; a man who employed cynical techniques for exploiting the divide between Ukrainian and Russian speakers in order to help Yanukovych make his mark on the political map; a man against whom twenty-two entries of payments totaling $12.7 million have been recorded in the “black ledger” of the Party of Regions; and a man whose ties to dirty money of the members of the Party of Regions even made Russian President Vladimir Putin take notice.
Russia’s future depends on the price of oil and gas. This sector provides 52 percent of Russia’s federal budget and 70 percent of its exports. These prices make or break Russia, as is the case with other petro-states where economic development is nonexistent. Put bluntly, as Senator John McCain has said, “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”
The technological capacity of the economy is huge and promising with the country’s strong scientific and engineering traditions. The production of these goods and services are already fueling the middle class. Here’s ten reasons why Ukraine’s economy deserves a second look.
But the most serious and unsettling of these multiplying manifestations of dysfunctional policymaking have occurred with regard to European security.
But the program may be in jeopardy. Funded since its inception by USAID as part of a larger Rada initiative run by the East Europe Foundation (EEF), the internship program may lose its support next year if the Rada doesn’t include it in the budget. If EEF and the Interns’ League, the NGO that directly administers it, cannot find replacement funding, the program may not continue.
That would be unfortunate.
“The Rada intern program is one of the most important [programs] to prepare young people for serving the nation,” said MP Hanna Hopko, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We need more of these young professionals to transform the country further,” said MP Svitlana Zalishchuk.
The challenge for both leaders now is to get over the icy rhetorical storm and get down to business. There are major issues on the US-German agenda waiting to be addressed, most of them less divisive than immigration and borders. These include the massive German trade surplus; the imbalance in NATO burden-sharing; how to handle Russia and Ukraine; and multiple Middle Eastern meltdowns. Each of these issues is complex and yet ultimately fixable.
“For the previous two decades we were not brave enough,” Valeria Gontareva, 52, said in a March 8 interview. “The real transition from post-USSR to [a] modern competitive economy did not happen when Ukraine gained its independence.” Instead, Ukraine continued to build on the old Soviet edifice. “The longer you wait, the harder it is to construct the proper basics,” she said.
Gontareva has been hard at work constructing the basics since June 2014.
With Nasirov’s arrest, Ukraine’s new anticorruption institutions are finally showing progress in breaking the impunity of top officials. But every successful step forward intensifies the threats to these institutions and reveals just how much still needs to be done.