Poroshenko's Party Leads; Yatsenyuk Improves Chance of Remaining Prime Minister

On Sunday, Ukrainians will elect their first parliament since the Maidan revolution and the Russian invasions of Crimea and Donbas. Kyiv-based political analyst Brian Mefford, now a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, analyzes Ukrainian politics and elections on his website’s blog. Mefford’s analysis will feature on New Atlanticist and the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert newsletter, beginning with his reading this week of the prospects for Sunday’s vote and Ukraine’s next government.

Mefford’s key observations this week are these:

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Kyiv Says It Fires 39 Officials as Voters Show Frustration Over Continued Corruption

Eight months after Ukrainians forced the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, they will elect a parliament amid rising public anger over the persistence of government corruption under the still-new regime of President Petro Poroshenko. Public discussion about how many new leaders are the same as the old crowd has fueled the wave of attacks in recent weeks in which groups of men have accosted politicians on the street, accused them of graft, and heaved them into street-side trash dumpsters.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s office said it decided yesterday to dismiss thirty-nine officials, including “heads of central executive bodies” and “deputy ministers” after initial investigations of corruption allegations. That statement, on the Cabinet of Ministries website, also laid out a fourteen-month schedule for anti-corruption investigations of thousands of officials, starting with the top ranks.

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Buoyed by Successes in Europe’s East, Russia's Leader Turns His Gaze to Serbia and Its Neighbors

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine aims to deny that nation a European future, partly by closing the door permanently to membership in NATO or the European Union. Putin’s aims, however, are not limited to extending a Russian sphere of influence over neighbors with Russian-speaking populations. Southeast Europe also figures in Putin’s plans to upend the post-Cold War order in Europe.

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Former NATO Commander Says Every US Strategic Interest Is Tied to Russia-Ukraine Crisis

America’s five most broadly dangerous 21st-century challenges are disparate, says former presidential candidate and retired senior general Wesley Clark. They stretch from an aggressive China and frail cyber-security to climatic disruptions, unstable financial systems, and terrorism rooted in the Islamic world.

All of these problems, Clark says, will become tougher to address if the United States fails to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s war. That is because President Vladimir Putin is seeking not only to destroy or maim Ukraine’s independence from Moscow. His assault on Ukraine also is a shock-and-awe demonstration for all of Eastern Europe (and others) that NATO’s security umbrella is meaningless in a region that Russia defines as its strategic backyard.

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19 Tatars Abducted or Disappeared Since Moscow's Takeover of Crimea

At least nineteen ethnic Tatars have been abducted or have disappeared in Russian-ruled Crimea, four of them in the past ten days, Tatar and human rights activists say. Russian authorities up to the office of President Vladimir Putin have promised to investigate the disappearances, which began in the first week of Russia's invasion of the peninsula. But they have made no arrests and reported no progress in finding the missing men.

Many of the vanished men were active in Tatar community organizations that have protested Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. In some cases, witnesses or video cameras have glimpsed the moment of their disappearance—unidentified men surrounding them on the street or bundling them into a van, family members and human rights groups have said. In two of the cases—one of them hours ago—bodies of the men have been found in remote locations.

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Analysis: Putin Unlikely to Scrap the Ceasefire Before October 26 Vote

While Russia’s President Vladimir Putin still has unmet ambitions in Ukraine, he is likely to avoid launching any new military offensive there before Ukraine’s October 26 parliamentary election, writes Timothy Ash, an economist who directs emerging markets strategy at Standard Bank in London.

Putin still wants to ensure that Ukraine will stay away from NATO, from the European Union, and from the nationalist democratic politics that emerged in Kyiv’s Maidan movement last winter. But he will wait to see the election’s outcome, in the hope that voters might choose a new government more inclined to offer concessions to Putin’s demands, Ash writes in a broad broad analysis of the Ukraine crisis for investors.

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Canadian Analyst Says US Should Signal Moscow To Avoid Any Assault in South

Amid the relative lull in the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukrainian military specialists say Russia may soon re-invade Ukraine to seize a critical overland supply route to Crimea. But some analysts and officials in the West are less worried. In the end, says military analyst Ihor Kozak, we have to guess. Still, the dangers in any new Russian invasion are so great that the US government should take four steps quickly to forestall it, according to Kozak.

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Continued Attacks Show Kremlin May Be Preparing Drive Toward Crimea, Analysts Say

Distracted US and European policymakers may feel grateful that this month’s truce has slowed the Russia-Ukraine war. The Obama administration is seized with the Syria-Iraq crisis and Congress has gone home to campaign for the November 4 election. Europe faces an internal battle this week as its newly Euro-skeptic parliament grills nominees for the next European Commission.

But the relative calm in Ukraine may be short-lived, according to Ukrainian analysts who say that approach of winter is sharpening Russia’s strategic interest in launching a new invasion—this time to establish a badly needed overland corridor to supply food, fuel and even water to its newly annexed territory of Crimea. Russia’s combine of regular and proxy forces is poised for such an assault along the 225 miles (375 kilometers) of Ukraine’s southern coast.

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Early Voter Surveys Reflect Anti-Russian, Pro-Independence Mood

Ukrainians will elect a new parliament in exactly thirty days, completing the electoral portion of the political revolution triggered by last winter’s Maidan movement. As the campaign began in recent weeks, two Ukrainian polling organizations conducted surveys that yielded similar numbers on the early mindset of Ukraine’s electorate. The table below averages the results of these two polls to show that President Petro Poroshenko’s political alliance, which includes the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) of Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, held an overwhelming lead of 41 percent in the surveys, which were conducted from August 23 to September 10.

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Kyiv Feels Little Supported by the West, Hopes to Survive an Unequal Ceasefire With Russia

A junction of war
and politics dominates public life in Ukraine as autumn settles firmly in Kyiv. An unequal cease-fire this month in southeast Ukraine will let Moscow maintain there a core of the invasion force it sent in last month. This has Ukraine’s political elite, feeling too-little-supported by the West, searching in disparate directions for a way to avoid the country’s further dismemberment.

But a deep distraction to that problem is domestic politics, specifically the sharpening campaign for parliamentary elections to be held in just thirty days. The obligatory patriotic rhetoric of national unity is not preventing politicians from seeking votes by working to marginalize even their like-minded rivals.

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