UkraineAlert

A day after US President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States announced that it will ship long-range counter-battery radars to Ukraine. Obama authorized $20 million to provide the country with radars, bringing US security assistance to Ukraine up to $265 million. Obama's message is clear: the United States will not sacrifice Ukraine in exchange for Russian cooperation against Islamic State in Syria.

The announcement also shows that the United States views the current ceasefire in eastern Ukraine—in place since September 1—as an opportunity to help Ukraine upgrade its deterrent military capability. While Ukraine's request for 1,240 Javelin anti-tank missiles has gone unmet, Washington's willingness to move forward with radars sends a clear signal that the US may consider sending lethal weapons should the Minsk II process fail.

Read More

If the Ukrainian government does not follow through with an ambitious reform agenda, public support will wane while dissatisfaction will increase, threatening political stability and the country's future. "There is no time for slow evolutionary changes. Radical and revolutionary reforms are the only way to success," warns a new report issued September 28.

Read More

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the predominantly Russian-speaking regions of eastern and southern Ukraine that remain under Kyiv's control. Support for those he calls "compatriots" has been at the core of Putin's stated rationale for intervention in Ukraine. Polls show, however, that a clear majority of these compatriots reject Putin's self-proclaimed right to intervene on their behalf.

Although often frustrated with the Kyiv government, these Ukrainians—despite their affinity for Russian language and culture—do not seek to join the Russian Federation or subordinate themselves to the Kremlin's dictates. Russia's aggression has spurred the opposite of what it intended: it has increased the identification of residents in the east and south with the Ukrainian state.

Read More

For fifteen years, Gleb Pavlovsky worked as an adviser to Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, and the one-term Dmitry Medvedev. He was one of the chief architects behind the "power vertical" concept— the need for a strong leader in order to create stability. Freedom and democracy were supposed to "come later." Unfortunately for Pavlovsky, the exact opposite happened. After writing several articles on why Medvedev should run against then-Prime Minister Putin in the 2012 presidential election, he got fired. Today he says he is happy he was kicked out in time before the regime descended further into authoritarianism —and instead offers an interesting insight in how the Russian regime operates.

After Putin seized Crimea, many Westerners saw him as a brilliant strategist. Pavlovsky disagrees; instead he claims the Kremlin doesn't really have a strategy. The regime jumps from crisis to crisis in a constant state of improvisation. Putin is not the key; it's the system itself. A crisis is necessary for the regime to be able to present itself as a savior.

Read More

In many respects, Ukraine is unrecognizable from the place it was a mere two years ago. Civic engagement has clearly increased, as seen by the remarkable mobilization of volunteers, flourishing of local civic groups, and generous donations for a variety of causes. A sense of vitality and energy pervades the country—unlike a few years ago, when the prevailing mood was one of dour resignation tinged with seething rage. The level of discontent with former President Viktor Yanukovych and his abuse of power—demonstrating a flagrant disdain for Ukraine's citizens and disregard for its national interests—finally boiled over in November 2013.

The Maidan protests united Ukraine's citizens to an unprecedented degree. This sense of unity reached well beyond Kyiv, resonating in the country's more remote regions. Russia's annexation of Crimea and incursion into the Donbas helped galvanize society with a sense of common purpose. Coupled with strong public support for deep and fundamental reforms, the Ukrainian government enjoys an unparalleled mandate to move the country out of its decades-long rut.

Read More

An odd thing happened on President Barack Obama's way to New York for meetings at the UN with world leaders. He forgot to schedule a session with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Of course, New York City is flooded with world leaders at this time of year, and Obama does not have time to meet with all of them.

But the buzz this week is the arrival at the UN of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not deigned to attend the UN General Assembly opening in recent years. Putin's presence is particularly interesting because of his recent decision to intervene massively in Syria, on top of his ongoing aggression in Ukraine's east.

Read More

Ever since Moscow's "little green men" appeared in Crimea, the West has been anxious to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin an "off-ramp" from his aggression in Ukraine. US, French, German, and European Union diplomats have made numerous efforts to find a face-saving way for Putin to back off.

For the longest time, however, it seemed that Putin saw no need for an exit. After all, he took Crimea without paying any real price, and the sanctions imposed on Russia for "annexing" Crimea were small. Furthermore, his hybrid war has yet to achieve its minimal objective: to either remove the pro-Western government in Kyiv or compel it to reverse Western-oriented domestic and foreign policies.

Read More

In chess, a player is in "zugzwang" when no move will rescue his situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Ukraine in "zugzwang" and, as things now stand, the country is unable to move forward militarily, economically or diplomatically.

Without relief, Europe may end up with another deluge of asylum seekers, this time from Ukraine. Already, Russia's occupation of 9 percent of Ukraine has displaced 1.4 million internally and continuing military incursions will result in the dislocation of millions more.

Read More

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

Camp America, located at a charmingly rustic resort in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains, welcomed twenty young Ukrainians for a week in August. For most of them, Camp America—a 24/7 English-language environment where all activities are conducted in English—was their first experience with native English speakers.

"I like to tell our students that there are three international languages: English, music, and sport," Alexa Chopivsky wrote in a September 2 interview. "No matter what your future plans or goals, in today's globalized world, you have to speak English."

Read More