But before any such cooperation becomes a reality, it is important to think seriously about whether it is merited. And once we examine Russia's actual record concerning terrorism, the basis for such cooperation evaporates.
Unfortunately, my projections were right. Fighting has flared up again. Over the last three weeks, Ukrainian field commanders, humanitarian volunteers, and local journalists told me that the Russia-backed fighters have been engaging in provocative shootings from mortars, heavy machine guns, automatic weapons, and snipers, and that these have become a regular occurrence along the entire frontline. On several occasions, the separatists have even brazenly launched full-fledged frontal assaults on Ukrainian positions. Saboteurs have crossed into territory controlled by Ukrainian forces to place anti-personnel mines. Reconnaissance groups and drones have become regular features, collecting tactical information. The Kremlin continues to provide large quantities of weapons, ammunition, equipment, and supplies to the separatists, while Russian military specialists are training the so-called rebels and mercenaries, thus transforming these rag-tag formations into a regular fighting force. Consequently, Ukrainian casualties are mounting and their frequency is rising.
Kyiv: Incumbent Vitaly Klitchko defeated Boryslav Bereza 64 to 32 percent. Bereza, an independent MP known for his reportedly white supremacist views, narrowly defeated Samopomich's candidate to make the runoff. While there was never any doubt that Klitchko would ultimately triumph, the real loser is the city of Kyiv for propelling Bereza into the runoff and giving him a surprising 32 percent. The Kremlin propaganda machine just received an early Christmas gift from the residents of Kyiv.
This was a sudden change of policy. Until that moment, the Kremlin had insisted on being paid on time and in full. The reason for the change is that the Kremlin had been outwitted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has had an old practice of not "lending into arrears," that is, not lending to a country that has not serviced its debt to sovereigns.
If Ukraine had not paid on December 20, that would have been the case. However, this practice is not written into the IMF articles of agreement and is only a policy decided by the IMF Executive Board, which can change it at any time with a simple majority. The IMF was about to change the policy before December 20 with the support of its Western majority. Then the IMF could have continued lending to Ukraine, while Russia would have been isolated.
New research demonstrates why the conflict has not spread beyond Donetsk and LuhanskIn April 2014, angry mobs and armed men stormed administrative buildings and police stations in eastern Ukraine, waving Russian flags and proclaiming the establishment of "Peoples' Republics" in Donetsk and Luhansk. At the time, some observers predicted that the "pro-Russian" uprising would spread to other parts of southeast Ukraine, throughout the vast territory Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to as historical "Novorossiya."
Contrary to these forecasts, the rebellion remained surprisingly contained. No region outside Donetsk or Luhansk experienced large-scale armed conflict or fell under rebel control. Not only were separatists unable to realize the project of a greater "Novorossiya" stretching from Kharkiv to Odesa, they failed to consolidate their grip even within the borders of the Donbas. Not more than sixty-three percent of municipalities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts were under rebel control at any time during the first year of the conflict, and less than a quarter of these territories showed resistance to government forces during Kyiv's attempt to liberate them.
What explains local variation in rebellion? Why is rebel violence more intense in some areas than in others? Why have some towns in eastern Ukraine remained under government control while others fell to the separatists?
Gas imports from Russia to the European Union almost doubled over the last ten years. The EU wasn't really concerned about this dependence until after the Russia-Ukraine gas wars in 2006 and 2009, when the stream of gas to Europe stopped abruptly in the winter. Concern intensified when Russia annexed Crimea in 2013, and the EU subsequently established the European Energy Union to develop a single energy security policy. Its strategic framework declared an intent to diversify energy sources by looking for new suppliers and avenues to import energy.
In attempting to answer this question, I've used the governance-related categories in Freedom House's Nations in Transit study, which tracks the reform record of post-Communist countries in Europe and Eurasia, and supplemented them with a few of my own. (Full disclosure: I've been involved in the Nations in Transit project since its inception in the mid-1990s.)
Freedom House assigns scores between 1 and 7 (with 1 being the best and 7 the worst) to seven institutional categories: electoral process, civil society, independent media, national democratic governance, local democratic governance, judicial framework and independence, and corruption. As these categories focus primarily on politics, I've added seven more to round out the picture: international relations, security, armed forces and police, education, culture and identity, economic well-being, and economic stability and reform. (Unlike Freedom House, which assigns scores to Ukraine together with its Russian-occupied territories, I will assign scores only to "free" Ukraine.)
The race for Odesa mayor was a proxy war between Oblast Governor Mikheil Saakashvili and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who has deep business interests in the city. Saakashvili initially campaigned for Borovik, while Kolomoyskyi backed Trukhanov.
In January 2015, Ukraine's Ministry of the Interior began recruiting the first of approximately 2,200 new patrol officers in Kyiv. The first battalions were inaugurated on July 4. The rigorous selection process included a ten-week training program accompanied by a battery of exams. In an effort to ensure moral rectitude in the new force, the officers are paid almost $400 a month, roughly three times more than new recruits previously made.
The glistening new patrol police can also be seen cruising the streets of Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Odesa. By the end of the year, there should be at least 10,000 new officers.