Lawmakers Vote to End Their Immunity from Prosecution
Members of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, overwhelmingly passed a bill to end their own legal immunity from prosecution, one of the main laws that for years helped Ukraine to the top of Europe’s corruption charts. Article 80 of Ukraine’s constitution protects all Rada members from prosecution for any crimes, and “opinion surveys consistently show that 90 percent of Ukrainians favor cancellation” of the law, writes the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford.
If Russia Permits, the Minsk Accord Could Be a Start for Stabilizing Donbas
The ceasefire agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine on in Minsk on 12 February offers what German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls “a glimmer of hope, no more no less” for constricting, and eventually ending, the war in southeast Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Whether that hope is sustainable will now be determined by the agreement’s implementation—and most heavily on Russia’s real desire. The accord contains some timing and sequencing problems that don’t augur well—but also elements that could comprehensively resolve the crisis.
‘Minsk II’ Accord Will Let Moscow Keep Pumping Arms, Fighters into Ukraine's Donbas
With thousands of Ukrainian troops nearly surrounded in Donbas by the freshly armed, Kremlin-directed rebel militias, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko accepted the Minsk II agreement February 12. The new accord is clearly less advantageous to Kyiv than was the Minsk I agreement, which Moscow has openly flouted since its signing last September. This diplomatic victory for Moscow reflects Russia’s advances on the battlefield, which have weakened Ukraine’s position steadily since September, but especially in the last few weeks.
Europe Signals New Negotiation With Kremlin Will Not Include New Pressures on Kyiv
The Obama-Merkel summit was critical for maintaining Transatlantic unity in the face of Moscow’s escalating aggression in Ukraine. While skeptical of the Kremlin’s intentions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would like to try another round of diplomacy to stop the fighting. That is why she accompanied French President Francois Holland to Moscow last week and why she has pushed for another negotiating round in Minsk this week. President Obama demonstrated support for the chancellor’s efforts yesterday when he noted his preference for a diplomatic ending to the crisis.
Kyiv Lacks Money for the Aggressive Reforms That Ukrainians and the West Seek
The uncertainty around how much—and how soon—Ukraine might get help from international lenders is contributing to two real economic dangers facing the country: a default on its debts and a radical slashing of the budget. Ukraine’s friends—the United States and European governments—need to do a better job, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of finding resources for loans to avoid these pitfalls.
France & Germany Seek to Halt the Fighting, May Use Specter of a Better-Armed Ukraine to Press Putin
The Obama administration has announced no decision on whether to help Ukraine use US-made weapons to defend against Russian-sponsored attacks. But France and Germany are probing to see whether that threat might help push Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt his intensified war in southeastern Ukraine.
Foreign Minister and Europeanist Nataliya Gherman May Become Next Leader
Moldova’s political parties are deadlocked on forming a government, and the parliament has until next week (February 12) to either confirm Prime Minister Iurie Leanca in his post or find an alternative. But Leanca is sure of having only 42 of the 51 votes he needs to keep his job, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Brian Mefford notes, and the country’s next leader could be Foreign Minister Nataliya Gherman, who has been serving as Leanca’s deputy since 2013.
'We Face a Critical Juncture' in Halting Russian Aggression in Eastern Europe, Group Says
Eight former senior US officials—diplomats, ranking Pentagon and State Department office-holders, military commanders and US appointees to NATO—today urged the Obama administration and its NATO allies to strengthen support for Ukraine by urgently providing military aid, including defensive weapons, for its defense against Russia’s invasion.
Troops from Russia’s Pacific Far East Region Are Prominent in a War 4,200 Miles to the West
The Russian island of Sakhalin, in the Pacific Ocean just north of Japan, is fully a continent away from the war raging in southeastern Ukraine. But Konstantin Gorelov, a 22-year-old, active-duty Russian naval infantry commando, made the 4,200-mile trip as a “vacation” to join other members of his force in the intensive battle this month over the international airport in Donetsk.
Gorelov’s account, in an interview with a Sakhalin-based website, CitySakh.ru, confirms reports by Ukraine, NATO, and news media that active-duty Russian troops were key in the seizure of the airport from Ukrainian forces. In the Donbas war, “there are a lot of Russian military, they are not very visible, but they are working quietly and effectively,” Gorelov says. He gives few details about how he took leave from his marine unit in the Pacific to join the battle, saying simply that he was recruited by a fellow marine to go “help out the guys.” (See the full text of the interview below.)
Ukrainian Officer-Pilot Reaches 45 Days on Hunger Strike Against Her Abduction and Politicized Trial
Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian army officer and pilot who was captured in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spirited to prison in Moscow, may die in captivity there on the hunger strike she has pursued for 45 days, her lawyer wrote yesterday. As attorney Mark Feygin urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a letter to release Savchenko, her supporters mounted a global campaign of rallies and Twitter messages, and the European parliament members voted a resolution in her defense.