UkraineAlert

Here’s Why the West Should Stop Pushing Decentralization Now 

In the coming days the Ukrainian parliament is expected to debate a draft law that would amend Ukraine's Constitution on decentralization to expand local governments' powers.

The West has enthusiastically encouraged Ukraine to embrace decentralization, provide special status for the Donbas, and hold local elections in the areas under de-facto Russian occupation. Many Western politicians consider these steps a path toward de-escalation and implementation of the Minsk II ceasefire agreement.

Read More

Here's a suggestion that will strike you as either painfully obvious or unnecessarily cumbersome. If you really want to understand contemporary Ukraine and Ukrainians, you need to know Ukrainian. If you accept that point, then discard all the writings by linguistically challenged analysts incapable of delving deeper into the Ukrainian psyche—and then go see two plays in Kyiv and visit two villages south of Kyiv.

Read More

Russian authorities have forced Crimean Tatars to become Russian citizens and curtailed their freedoms of speech, language, education, and residence—as well as their right to a fair trial. That's according to an independent group of Turkish scholars sent to Crimea to investigate human rights violations after Russia annexed the peninsula on March 18, 2014.

Read More

The Electric Yerevan protest officially ended July 7, two weeks after it began as a reaction to the Armenian government's 16.7 percent increase in electricity prices. But the social movement behind it will likely continue influencing Armenia until the country makes serious political reforms.

Thousands marched on Yerevan's Baghramyan Avenue—a main artery fronting the presidential palace—insisting they weren't seeking to overthrow the regime but rather to get the government to reverse its price increase. This was not a new Maidan supporting the European Union and opposing corruption. Instead, the 20,000 citizens protesting at its peak took to the streets to express their distrust with traditional political authority.

Read More

For one year, Russia has pursued a long, costly war of aggression against Ukraine. Its objective is obvious: to destabilize Ukraine so that the new democratic regime fails. Therefore, the West should adjust its goals accordingly to offer Ukraine financial support.

The Kremlin has presented one false objective after the other for this aggression. On February 27, 2014, "little green men"—that is, Russian special forces in Russian uniforms but without insignia—occupied the Crimean regional parliament. The next day, they took over the peninsula's two international airports. Within two weeks, these troops had skillfully occupied all of Crimea.

Read More

Leading up to the seventieth anniversary of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany on May 9, seemingly every Russian media outlet buzzed about the unveiling of the country's new premier tank, the Armata T-14. Outfitted with an advanced remote-controlled armed turret, a new 125-mm 2A82-1M smoothbore cannon, the new tank was rumored to come with a specially developed 152-mm gun—the most powerful cannon ever to be mounted on a battle tank. Images of the new tank led some to write that the Russian military-industrial complex had finally "leapfrogged into the next generation of design."

While the tank was impressive—when it worked—it pales in comparison to Russia's other main weapon: its own history. Throughout the Ukraine conflict, Russia has weaponized its own history to suit its purposes. These range from absurd announcements, such as the recent proclamation by the Russian prosecutor general's office that it began investigating the legality of the 1991 independence of the three Baltic republics to its reliance on historically dubious ideologies like Novorossiya to justify the Donbas insurgency.

Read More

The war in eastern Ukraine is a Kremlin-manufactured conflict. The arrival of "little green men" in Crimea in February 2014 transformed the conflict from a domestic altercation between citizens and their government to an international crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly acknowledged in a government-sponsored documentary that he carefully planned and orchestrated the military takeover of the Crimean peninsula. No such admissions have been made about the war in the Donbas. From the outbreak of fighting in the east, the official Kremlin narrative has framed the Ukrainian crisis as a civil war between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists. In reality, for the first six months of the conflict, from March to August 2014, the Ukrainian civil war was a myth concocted by Russian state-sponsored media, reiterated by Russian officials, and then picked up by Western media outlets eager for objectivity and balance. But with the continued influx of Russian weapons, soldiers, and Russian recruitment and training of local Ukrainian forces, that myth is swiftly becoming a reality.

Read More

After US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Sochi on May 12, a barrage of articles urged Western leaders to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with an off-ramp for his various Ukrainian adventures. Even more disheartening than the volume was the growing diversity of reasons for giving Putin a pass. At least three arguments were made.

Read More

Amid multiple signs of an impending battle in Ukraine, NATO and Ukraine have stepped up their response. But so has Russia. Ukrainian officials claim to have 60,000 troops in the field against an estimated 54,000 Russian forces in the Donbas. A large-scale conventional theater in the Donbas is a real danger this summer. But Moscow is not merely focused on Ukraine. Russia has made numerous nuclear threats, buzzed US and NATO ships in the Black Sea, moved Iskander missiles to Crimea and Kaliningrad, built up a formidable anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) force along the Russian border, conducted major Arctic exercises, and continued its probes against northern European and US targets.

Read More

Listen to the proclamations of Ukraine's political leaders and you might think the country is in the midst of rapid change. On June 4, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared that "reforms are the key word...The countdown of the period of reforms has started."

There is much talk of reform, but the reality is less impressive. No one doubts that the country's institutions desperately need restructuring. Even before Russian forces annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas, the country stood on the brink of bankruptcy. After a painful currency devaluation, it is now the poorest in Europe. It is also the most corrupt. The parliament is controlled by oligarchs, and the police are as crooked as the mafia.

Read More