James J. Coyle

  • Q&A: What’s Behind Moldova’s Massive Protests?

    Protesters are taking to the streets of Moldova’s capital of Chisinau again.

    On June 3, Andrei Nastase was elected mayor of Chisinau with 52.5% of the vote. Nastase, a pro-European prosecutor and anti-corruption activist, defeated Socialist Ion Ceban who favors closer ties to Moscow. On June 19, a Chisinau court struck down the election results, and the Moldovan Appeals Court upheld the decision on June 22. The case now rests with the Supreme Court of Justice.

    Nastase claims that the decision to cancel the results is politically motivated. He was one of the organizers behind Moldova’s large protests in 2015 after $1 billion vanished from the banking system.

    Why is an ostensibly pro-Western government in Moldova allowing a court to invalidate these election results? Are the court decisions politically...

    Read More
  • Coyle in The Hill: Support for Russia Sanctions Crumbling in the West


    Read More
  • Ukraine May Be Getting Its Own Church, but Not as Fast as Poroshenko Thinks

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on April 17 that Ukraine might have an independent, unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church as early as July 28—the anniversary of Kyivan Rus’ adoption of Christianity. He made this prediction after the Ukrainian parliament voted to support the president’s efforts to convince Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephalous status to the combined Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC)-Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

    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...

    Read More
  • Coyle in The Hill: 'Business as usual' With Russia Defeats Sanctions


    Read More
  • Turkish Stream: Still Only a Dream

    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on June 30that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had agreed to restore bilateral ties between their two countries. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev followed the announcement with his own statement that economic sanctions against Turkey would be removed “on a gradual basis.”

    Meanwhile, plans to build a natural gas pipeline—known as Turkish Stream—under the Black Sea to bypass Ukraine remain on hold.  Russia halted negotiations on Turkish Stream after Turkey shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border on November 24, 2015.  The originally planned 1,100-kilometer pipeline would consist of four lines designed to transport sixty-three billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas annually. Sixteen bcm was destined for the Turkish domestic...

    Read More
  • Europe’s Forgotten War: Fighting in the Donbas Has Never Stopped

    Despite the existence of a ceasefire agreement, fighting in eastern Ukraine continues and is increasing. On July 5, three Ukrainian servicemen were killed and thirteen were wounded. The uptick in fighting began this past January, when Ukrainian officials reported up to seventy-one attacks a day and the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission noted the return of both Grad multiple-launch rocket systems and 152 mm artillery to the battlefield. Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that every third enemy attack came from a heavy weapon or mortar banned by the ceasefire agreement.

    Most of the renewed fighting took place around the government-controlled town of Avdiivka. Located about ten miles from the rebel stronghold of...

    Read More
  • Thanks to Russia, Ukrainians Swell Ranks of Kyiv Patriarchate

    Russia’s continued meddling in Ukraine is driving Ukrainian citizens out of the Russian Orthodox Church. Instead, they are swelling the ranks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate.

    Traditionally, Ukraine has been home to the vast majority of Russian Orthodox Church members. In 1990, of the almost twelve thousand Orthodox communities throughout the Soviet Union, more than six thousand were in Ukraine; only three thousand were in Russia itself. When Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, a number of communities broke with the mother church to form the Kyiv Patriarchate. The remaining churches renamed themselves the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.

    Through a series of agreements, as well as official favoritism by former President Viktor Yanukovych’s government, the vast majority of communities remained loyal to Moscow. There are...

    Read More
  • Russia Looking for an Exit?

    As Russia increases its support for beleaguered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rebels in eastern Ukraine have observed a ceasefire since September 1. The second Minsk ceasefire agreement, signed in February, had been repeatedly violated. But things have changed. Some separatist leaders have left the area, returning to posh jobs in Moscow. Former Donetsk Prime Minister Alexander Borodai has resumed his consulting career in the Russian capital, and former Luhansk Prime Minister Marat Bashirov chairs the government relations committee at the Russian Managers Association.

    Read More
  • Russian Disinformation Alienates the West from Russian Periphery

    The Russian Army has released a photo of a Ukrainian tank decorated with a swastika, yet the original Reuters photograph shows no such emblem. Russia also released a photo of a Ukrainian soldier covered in Nazi tattoos, but that picture was actually taken in 2005, inside a Russian prison. Europe is revolted by any reminders of its Nazi past, which is why Russia plays up false...
    Read More
  • It’s Hard to Take Russian Propaganda Seriously. But We Must.

    Three Russian television stations interviewed Andrei Petkov from a hospital bed in Nikolayev, Ukraine, in April 2014. Rossia 1 described him, with a bandage on his nose, as an ordinary citizen attacked by neo-Nazis and nationalists; NTV named him a German spy for a secret European organization; and the National Independent News of Crimea identified him as a pediatric surgeon who had saved the lives of more than 200 infants before getting caught in the crossfire. Similarly,...
    Read More