Melinda Haring

  • Experts Urge Congress and Trump to Arm Ukraine

    A bipartisan task force made up of former US defense officials, ambassadors, and security experts renewed calls for the United States to give lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine. On June 21, the National Security Task Force of the Friends of Ukraine Network urged the United States to provide a range of weapons, intelligence, and training.

    “[T]he purpose of providing defensive weapons is to help Ukraine deter the Russians from carrying out further attacks, and to increase the pressure on Russia to negotiate seriously on implementing the Minsk agreements,” said Alexander Vershbow, a member of the task force and the former deputy secretary general of NATO. “The aim is not to encourage Ukraine to seek a military victory, which Kyiv knows isn’t possible,” he said at the launch event in Washington, DC.

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  • Q&A: What Does Archbishop Huzar’s Example Mean for Ukraine?

    Archbishop Lubomyr Huzar died on May 31 at 84. Born in Lviv on February 26, 1933, Huzar’s family fled to Austria in 1944 when Soviet forces seized Lviv. His family eventually moved to the United States, where he studied at a number of universities and then obtained his doctorate in Rome. He returned to Lviv in 1991. Huzar was the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a leading moral authority. “He united Ukrainians, becoming their spiritual father and the highest example of morality,” his successor Sviatoslav Shevchuk has written.

    UkraineAlert asked a number of religious leaders, scholars, politicians, and activists the following question:

    In the reform process, many Ukrainians emphasize the need for moral leadership from cultural, religious, and community leaders. What does Archbishop Huzar’s example mean to you, and what does his example mean for Ukrainians? How will you remember him?

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  • Ulana Suprun: Tough, Tenacious, and Transforming Ukraine’s Health Care

    For nearly a year, Dr. Ulana Suprun has been pressing for a complete revamp of Ukraine’s health care system, and she is finally close to seeing it replaced by a brand-new set of policies. She’s got a firm deadline: the current parliamentary session ends on July 14. If she can’t get the bill passed in the next six weeks, Suprun, the acting minister of Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, believes health care reform will likely be postponed until after the 2019 presidential election.

    “[Health] is the most important part of life, and it’s always the last [priority],”the slim American-born doctor said over lunch in downtown Kyiv on June 3.

    Ukraine’s sclerotic health care system hasn’t been reformed since 1991 and its problems are manifold. Stories of fraud, misdiagnosis, and poor care abound.

    Suprun has seen it herself. An acquaintance had a cough and night sweats that had been continuing for two weeks. A Ukrainian hospital had diagnosed her with lung cancer....

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  • Russia Funds and Manages Conflict in Ukraine, Leaks Show

    Hacked emails show that the Kremlin directs and funds the ostensibly independent republics in eastern Ukraine and runs military operations there. In late 2016, Ukrainian hacker groups released emails purportedly taken from the office of Kremlin official Vladislav Surkov, who oversees Ukraine policy for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Surkov leaks confirm what many have long suspected: the Kremlin has orchestrated and funded the supposedly independent governments in the Donbas, and seeks to disrupt internal Ukrainian politics, making the task of rebuilding modern Ukraine impossible. Russia has consistently denied accusations from Kyiv and the West that it is providing the separatists with troops, weapons, and other material support or meddling in Ukrainian affairs. The emails from Surkov’s office betray the official Kremlin line, revealing the extent of Russian involvement in the seizure of Ukrainian territory, the creation of puppet “people’s republics,” and the funding to...
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  • Secretary Tillerson, Here’s Why Taxpayers Should Care about Ukraine

    At the Group of Seven meeting in Lucca, Italy, on April 11, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked the other foreign ministers, “Why should US taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?”

    US Senator Rob Portman and several other panelists answered that question at an April 5 conference on Ukraine in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Atlantic Council and the Razumkov Centre.

    “I believe that corruption and weak institutions fuel the spread of Russian influence both in Ukraine and throughout the world,” Portman said. “Thus, political and economic reforms [in Ukraine] are national security priorities.”

    Ukraine’s former Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko agreed....

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  • US Lawmakers Remain Firm on Russia Sanctions

    US sanctions on Russia, imposed in response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, must not only be maintained, “they should be tightened,” according to Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH).

    As recently as March 20, Russia has performed military drills practicing “offensive and defensive operations,” in Crimea, Chabot said, adding: “The fact that Russia has successfully claimed another country’s sovereign territory as its own and then carries out unprecedented offensive military drills there [is] absolutely unacceptable.”

    Chabot suggested that “in the last number of years America’s traditional leadership role around the world has often times been lacking.” He went on to describe a “power vacuum around various parts of the globe” that Russian President “Vladimir Putin and other bad actors have taken advantage of.” He called Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 an “egregious example of that power vacuum.”

    The West cannot afford to stand idly by, said...

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  • Reject Populists’ Slogans and Work Hard to Make Things Better, Gontareva Urges

    The governor of the National Bank of Ukraine may be diminutive, but she speaks powerfully.

    “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.

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  • Ukraine Is Sliding Back, Sergii Leshchenko Warns

    Anticorruption reform in Ukraine appeared far more promising just a year ago, said Sergii Leshchenko in a March 1 telephone interview from Kyiv. “We are sliding back,” he said definitively.

    The thirty-six-year old member of parliament, a former deputy editor at Ukrayinska Pravda and one of President Petro Poroshenko’s most outspoken critics, wants the West to wake up to Ukraine’s rollback in the fight against corruption.

    Leshchenko has a point: the IMF was decidedly unimpressed in its November 2016 review of Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts.

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  • A Reality Check for Russian Propaganda

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America launch a Russian-language news network

    The flurries of disinformation and fake news obfuscating the current state of affairs in Russia, and the Kremlin’s activity worldwide, have not created a post-truth world, but one in which some find truth increasingly difficult to promote.

    “I think we’ve given up on truth way too easily,” said Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America. Countering the notion that facts are no longer valuable, she said: “to assume the rest of the world doesn’t understand true things and can’t sort out truth and fact… I don’t think that makes it a post-truth world, I just think it makes it more difficult to get the truth out there.”

    “In a global information warzone where fake news and false narratives are the weapon of choice… honest and accurate reporting [is] the best defense against falsehoods,” said John Lansing, director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors....

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  • American-Born Doctor Takes on Ukraine’s Health Care System

    Ulana Suprun is a woman on a mission. The 53-year-old radiologist from New York who was appointed Ukraine’s Acting Minister of Health in July is determined to shake up Ukraine’s sclerotic health care system.

    “The changes that we are making in Ukraine’s health care sector are breaking the old rules and establishing new standards,” Suprun said in a written statement on January 23.

    Her early moves have been noticed: on January 18, five members of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on health attempted to oust Suprun and failed. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman and civil society organizations urged parliament to stick with Suprun and stop blocking health care reforms.

    "I feel support from the prime minister and the entire cabinet," as well as many MPs, civil society, and many young doctors, she said. 

    Suprun has two other advantages: she’s not starting from scratch, and she’s not new to Ukraine.

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