Ukraine managed to squander the gains of its street revolution in 2004, and as the country approaches the second presidential and parliamentary elections after the 2014 Euromaidan that ousted pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovych, it’s seeming possible that the country will face a similar outcome.
The 2019 presidential election doesn’t look promising. Ukrainians are sick of their leaders—sick enough to consider electing inexperienced rock star Slava Vakarchuk or comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Incumbent president Petro Poroshenko is tanking in the polls, but it’s still quite possible he could be reelected for a second term, despite the fact that Ukrainians traditionally don’t like incumbents; voters have only given one president a second term since 1991. The other real possibility for the presidency is wily and everlasting politician Yulia Tymoshenko. Neither outcome would be good for the country’s long-term health or for US national interests.
Subsequently, hopes are high for reformers. There are at least six political parties or movements vying for that vote, which makes up 15 percent of the electorate, but no leader to unify them. In Kyiv, three names are being discussed to lead the Maidan opposition movement.
The launch of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) replaced the four-year Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) and marks Ukraine’s shift to a more active defense. President Petro Poroshenko thinks that the new combat operation should more effectively coordinate the defense and security agencies and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the long run. The move also demonstrates that Poroshenko’s administration hasn’t abandoned the Donbas and is serious about winning it back.
Covering a much larger area from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to the Azov seashore, the JFO is a set of military and legal measures to counter Russian aggression.
For years, corruption and the absence of justice, together with Russian military aggression, have held back the country.
After four years of struggle and numerous pieces of legislation, there has been little progress.
Ukraine started out with a good idea: reformers wanted to create a new Supreme Court from scratch and vet the remaining judges through a comprehensive procedure, checking their competence and integrity. The process failed in its implementation however.
The sudden change was due to an online initiative launched by Kyiv residents who responded to evidence of price-gouging tactics by inviting football fans into their homes.
When Ukrainian fighters come back from the unfinished war in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, they must learn how to live in a different reality. Many discover their way and find new passions. They live their lives. They become successful businessmen, artists, actors, or scientists.
On March 15, President Petro Poroshenko picked Yakiv Smolii, a banking veteran with over three decades experience, to lead Ukraine’s Central Bank, after Valeria Gontareva resigned in May 2017. Smolii had served as the acting NBU governor for nine months.
Smolii’s formal endorsement from the president and Rada signals that the Central Bank is committed to reforms.
Since 2016, Russian hacking, influence, money laundering, and collusion in US elections has been the subject of headlines and Congressional or legal probes against dozens of individuals, including President Donald Trump and his team, as well as social media companies. “So what if they’re Russians, said Putin in an interview. “They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”
In 2018, a Russian military intelligence officer, convicted of being a double agent for Britain, was poisoned with a rare nerve agent in London, and with his daughter, years after relocating there. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, claimed that Russia did not possess the nerve agent, but the United States, United Kingdom, and NATO did. Russian TV news suggested that Skripal's daughter has been abducted and hidden and the British had destroyed evidence and ignored international norms.
These are examples of the Kremlin’s disinformation playbook when it comes to crisis management abroad. But they are also saturation bombing their citizens and others beyond their borders, with ongoing false narratives designed to undermine elections, governments, and societies. Putin’s info-war has now metastasized and afflicts all media and politics.
The May 9 Victory Day holiday that commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany was celebrated throughout the Soviet and post-Soviet space. Before the Russian invasion, May 9 was the most popular holiday in Donbas and Crimea, and was a popular holiday in the rest of the country. In 2010, 58 percent of Ukrainians recognized it as their favorite celebration. This dropped to 37 percent in 2017, after Crimea and part of Donbas were invaded, and fell to 31 percent this year, according to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.
Ukraine and Georgia didn’t get their MAP status in Bucharest, and were left with an open-ended—and some might say useless—promise of eventual membership.
And while the president and parliament disappoint and foot drag on implementing major revolutionary reforms, real change at the Kyiv City Council, the biggest local government in Ukraine, is underway.
Spearheading the effort is entrepreneur Sergiy Gusovsky, who heads the 22-member Samopomich faction at city hall, among 120 deputies in total. They have gained approval for several notable anti-corruption measures which should be a template for other cities in Ukraine.