In recent weeks, I’ve been collecting stories of Russian dissidents who say they fell victim to exchanges of confidential information between European officials and Russian authorities. The leak of one Cyprus prosecutor’s emails in November has exposed a growing trend: in its hunt to track critics, the Kremlin is recruiting allies within Western states’ law enforcement agencies.
The communication leak on the part of Cyprus’ deputy attorney general exposes a much wider exchange of confidential EU information, some of it classified, with Russian authorities.
For many Ukrainian soldiers, the line between war and normal life is almost invisible. Both are intermixed in the Donbas, where Ukraine is fighting Russian-backed separatists.
Ukrainian war veterans participating in a writing training under the auspices of the “Voice of War” project had different experiences with locals who stayed and lived in the war zone. Here is what they told the UkraineWorld networking initiative.
“Having entered Ilovaisk, we had to search civilians at a military checkpoint,” recalls volunteer shooter and paramedic Serhii Mishchenko. “We noticed that many locals had a piece of paper with the lyrics of the Ukrainian national anthem. ‘What is this?’ we ask.”
“‘We were told that people who don’t know the Ukrainian anthem would be executed,’ responds the local.”
“‘So what? Have you memorized it?’ I ask him.”
“His answer is, ‘Yes.’”
“I put my hand on the rifle and tell him, ‘Let’s start with the second verse.’ You should have seen how pale he was. I was surprised. ‘Did you really think that we were going to shoot you? Really?’”
Since invading Ukraine in 2014, Moscow has become significantly bolder.
Some experts warn that giving Ukraine lethal defensive weapons will only enrage the Russians and escalate the war, while others, including Atlantic Council experts, have insisted that arming Ukraine is the most effective way to change the facts on the ground and force Russian President Vladimir Putin to finally negotiate.
In 2017, the US Congress approved a $47 million military-aid package that included 210 Javelin antitank missiles and thirty-seven Javelin launchers, but the State Department refuses to say how many weapons have been delivered.
UkraineAlert asked its experts the following: What difference will the arrival of the Javelins make militarily and politically in the four-year conflict between Russia and Ukraine? Is this a game-changer?
The leaking of a 271-page report compiled by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition, which describes violations of European legislation by the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, recently became a sensation. It’s not, however, because the report reveals any previously unknown facts. It’s simply that these facts confirm that Russia is using gas as a political weapon.
On April 4, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Ukraine will receive two American ‘Island’ class boats, which previously were in the service of the US Coast Guard. This offer dates back to 2014.
According to Poroshenko, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense is currently working on “internal procedures for the completion and approval of a draft contract.” The president announced that a meeting between the parties will take place in May 2018 to finalize the details.
This statement follows the March 30 airing of a “Schemes” investigation, a joint project of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershyi TV Channel.
Why is it taking so long for Ukraine's leadership to finalize the deal?
Bizhan was among Donbas veterans participating in the “Voice of War” project, which teaches writing skills so that veterans can share their experiences about the war in eastern Ukraine.
We met them and talked about their memories. Their stories are a mosaic of danger, difficulties, heroism, friendship, and work. Here are some.
During an official state visit to Istanbul, Poroshenko met with Patriarch Bartholomew on April 17. The two leaders held seven hours of closed-doors discussions before the president announced “Ukraine is as close as ever to the emergence of its own Unified Orthodox Church.” Poroshenko refused to divulge the details of the agreements he reached with the Ecumenical Patriarch. Opposition members of parliament claim that Poroshenko’s efforts are a charade designed to help the president’s party at the polls next year. While electoral politics may have influenced the exact timing of the talks in Istanbul, they represent the culmination of many years of efforts to have the Kyiv Patriarchate recognized. Two hundred sixty-eight parliamentarians voted to endorse Poroshenko’s efforts, far more than the 132 members of the president’s party.
We meet at Gursky’s stunning new 500-square meter co-working space in Kyiv’s tallest commercial building to discuss Ukraine’s unique start-up potential.
“We want to export products, not people,” Gursky says.
Ukraine has a major problem. It’s hemorrhaging its most talented workforce. Seven percent of the country’s workers are abroad, which worries economists, experts, and the government. Ukrainians can easily make four times more in neighboring Poland, where the language is similar and the physical distance is nothing.
Gursky admits that most of his Ukrainian friends and classmates live abroad, in New York, Washington, and Silicon Valley, and he too lived in Washington for a time. Yet he remains bullish on Ukraine.
The thirty-three-year old founder of the NGO SocialBoost says that there’s no other place where he could go from a street activist who organized hackathons to an adviser to the prime minister in two short years.
Even as his Ukrainian friends make their lives abroad, he asks them with a straight face, “Don’t you have FOMO [fear of missing out]?”