US, EU Should Re-Focus Now on What May Be a Last, Best Chance for Critical Changes, Analysts Say

Moldova’s pro-Europe parties have won a troubled election victory, taking barely enough parliament seats to renew their coalition and pursue the integration of Moldova with the European Union. That may hold open a window of opportunity—for perhaps as little as two years—to bring critical economic and governance reforms on line, analysts say. Delay will risk a deeper erosion of popular support for reforms in Moldova, and political will in Europe to support them.

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Ukraine’s Friends Plan a Donor Conference in February; Is That Soon Enough?

On Ukraine, the economists are declaring an emergency. Ukraine is bleeding cash in its war against Russian and Russian-proxy forces in the Donbas region. With its industrial heartland shattered by the war, the country’s economy is shriveling. And the warnings from economists are growing that Ukraine will need a big increase—and quickly—in international financial support, if it is to avoid an economic collapse.

“Ukraine is at risk of a financial meltdown,” economist Anders Aslund wrote last week on his blog at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Presumably it would be reminiscent of the Russian financial crash of August 1998—with default, high inflation, a frozen banking system, falling output, and panic.”

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When Hitler Invaded Poland, No One Demanded Polish Reforms Before Offering Help. Why Is It the Reverse for Ukraine?

“September 3, 1939 – British and French commentators and officials said today that it could no longer be denied that Hitler was invading Poland and that the Nazi forces represented the most serious threat to the existence of that country, but they said that Warsaw could not reasonably expect allied assistance unless it carried out massive reforms first.”

That story, of course, never happened. …  No one suggested that Poland needed reforms before defense because they recognized that if Poland did not exist, it could not reform. (The exception was those in London and Paris with links to the Communist Party who followed the Kremlin line even when Stalin was an ally of Hitler, as was then the case.)

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We can expect Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, to meet this week to vote on the country’s new government. The political parties of President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and their allies are close to completing negotiations and announcing their choices for the new Cabinet of Ministers. Critically, a delegation is in Kyiv from the International Monetary Fund, upon which Ukraine must rely for the cash to see it through multi-layered crises. The IMF has insisted upon meeting with the new cabinet before the fund’s team leaves Kyiv on November 25.

Below are many of the key appointments now under discussion, following Yatsenyuk’s presentation of his candidates on Friday, according to the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford. You can see Brian’s full list at his blog.

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Colonel Igor Girkin Presses Kremlin to Expand Its War Through Southern and Eastern Ukraine

“The Shooter” is back. Colonel Igor Girkin, the career Russian intelligence officer who disappeared three months ago from his leading role in the Russian-sponsored war against Ukraine, has burst anew into Russia’s news headlines. He has given a spate of interviews in which he presses Russia’s government to step up direct military support for the two “people’s republics” it is backing in southeastern Ukraine.

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As the US Congress Reconvenes, It and Europe Must Respond to the Kremlin’s Coming Offensive in Ukraine

Russia has moved a massive wave of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery into Ukraine’s Donbas region in recent days, accompanied by new uniformed troops without insignia, to bolster the armed forces of the Russian-sponsored Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.

This military escalation follows Moscow’s political support for pretended elections to consolidate the two mini-states, a step that Europe and the US regard as a fundamental violation of the Minsk peace process launched in August. Ominously, evidence is growing that this buildup is preparing a new offensive by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war against Ukraine—a campaign of attrition against Ukraine’s economically fragile state.

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In Stakhanov, a Cossack Rebel and Local Radio Mix Nostalgias for Russia’s Greatness and Soviet Goodness

While analysts of Russia’s assault on Ukraine debate the veiled question of President Vladimir Putin’s motives, little is hidden about how the Kremlin and its proxy forces are selling themselves to the long-demoralized people of southeastern Ukraine. As Moscow and the rebels work to solidify the two “people’s republics” in the Donbas region, their theme is a mix of nostalgias—for the theoretical equality of Soviet life and the greatness of Russia.

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Analysts: Moscow Fights Now with Mercenaries and Local Trainees, But in 20 Weeks May Again Send Its Own Troops

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in southeastern Ukraine is sliding back quickly into all-out war. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said this morning that its forces have killed 200 separatist fighters and destroyed four tanks, plus artillery in the past twenty-four hours of battle at the airport in Donetsk city. While those specific numbers were not independently confirmed, fighting has surged throughout the Donbas region and both sides have buttressed their forces in the war zone as a two-month-old attempt at a cease-fire has disintegrated.

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Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk Must Cut Short Their Recent Signs of Rivalry

As Ukraine’s new leading political parties renew their talks today, they can waste no time in forming the government that now must grapple with a financial emergency, economic crisis, and war in the east. They must avoid acrimony or drawn-out negotiations, yet some signs indicate that they may be slipping in that direction.

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Amid Horse-Trading by Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, a New Parliament Speaker Is Likely

The Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford, writes on the likely makeup of Ukraine’s post-election government. His key observations are below, and you can read his detailed analysis on his own blog.

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