Amid Ukraine-Russia Crisis, New Decisions Will Define America’s ‘Force Posture’ for Years to Come
Almost a year after Russia’s invasions of Ukraine, the US government will roll out a series of decisions in the next month that will play a big role in shaping how the United States and its transatlantic allies respond in the long term. From Moscow to Kyiv to Berlin and Brussels, the United States’ allied, partners and antagonists will be watching these key signals of the Obama administration’s commitment to European security.
Kyiv's Government Is Failing to Act Against Some Volunteer Defense Units Now Acting Like Outlaws, Adrian Karatnycky Writes
As Ukraine’s new parliament and cabinet are tackling corruption and the country's fiscal crisis with the energy of an unprecedented new crop of civic activists, pro-democracy activists and skilled technocrats, a new threat is arising: outlaw-style threats and violence by armed groups that were formed last year to support the country’s self-defense against Russia’s invasion into the Donbas region.
Donbas War Will Last All Year; May Be Settled With Early Parliament Election, Mefford Writes
How predictable is Ukraine’s coming year, given its financial crisis, its untested new government and, above all, its war against Russia and its proxy forces in the southeastern region of Donbas? Not very predictable, notes the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford. But good analysis can help, and Mefford surveys the landscape of this crisis to offer eight predictions as we start 2015:
A Crisis Index by Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert
Throughout Russia’s assault this year on Ukraine, one of Europe’s most dangerous wars since the close of World War II, the Atlantic Council has analyzed the conflict for ways to sustain Europe’s stability and the right of 43 million Ukrainians to the independent, democratic future they have chosen. The Council's initiative includes UkraineAlert, our e-mail newsletter on the crisis. As 2014 closes, we’ve gathered an index of key articles from UkraineAlert (and our website) this year. They are grouped below under six headings that Council analysts say reflect ideas basic to meeting this challenge:
Still, Ukrainians Wait to See Concrete Steps to End a System of Graft
Ukraine’s new government is on track to pass a painfully austere budget by the end of the year, according to the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford. The other center of attention is the government’s establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Mefford writes in his blog this week.
Kremlin Quietly Supports Network That Sends Thousands of Russian Veterans to Donbas War
In Yekaterinburg, the main city of Russia’s Ural region, retired army officer Vladimir Yefimov organizes army veterans to fight for Russia in southeastern Ukraine, more than 1,000 miles away. While Russia’s deployment of army troops and non-official Russian “volunteer” fighters in Ukraine is not news, Yefimov describes in new detail how Russian army vets are selected, organized and paid to join the war. His account underscores that the army of Russian "volunteers" is run with at least the tacit help of the Kremlin.
Far From Kyiv and Next to Donetsk, the Elderly of Pisky Get Daily Shelling, But No Pensions
Before this year’s war in southeast Ukraine, the town of Pisky, at the edge of the city of Donetsk, was home to about 3,000 people. Many were academics who worked at the local Donetsk Institute of Agricultural Production.
Now, Pisky is a debris-strewn combat zone, its homes and office buildings empty, with roofs blown off, windows smashed, and the few remaining inhabitants hunkered in frigid basements. Recent video reports, plus social media posts by soldiers in the area depict a desperate scene as winter sets in. Ukrainian government troops, national guard fighters, and militiamen of the ultranationalist Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) defend Pisky from the Russian-armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as little as 350 meters away.
The Ukrainian Project to Keep Europe Whole and Free Needs Adequate Financing—and Quickly
Ukraine's new government has unleashed a “tiger team” of ministers committed to quick and comprehensive reforms—but as that work begins, the costs of war and recession have pushed Ukraine to the edge of default. Ukraine has begun to take steps to slash corruption, improve governance, and open up the economy, but its friends in the European Union and the United States have been much slower at assembling the $32 billion or more in loans now needed to keep Ukraine solvent through the difficult first years of its transformation. Ukraine’s allies act like they don’t realize that the reform of Ukraine’s could be undermined by an economic meltdown as easily as by Russian aggression or obstruction by corrupt local interest groups.
Pascual: As Russia Faces Economic Downturn, West Should Probe Kremlin on Chances of a Merkel-Brokered Deal
In his annual press conference this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered no clear suggestion for how he proposes to dig Russia out of its deepening economic hole. And he signaled no new direction in government’s sponsorship of the separatist war in southeastern Ukraine. On both crises, his performance left all his options open.
Putin held to his most recent rhetorical status quo on Ukraine. He averred that he finds in Ukrainian President Poroshenko a man with whom peace could be made, leaving himself room to negotiate for a deal in which he might hope to achieve at least a minimum of his immediate goals—to retain an effective veto on Ukraine’s integration with Europe and its institutions, beginning with the European Union.
As Ukraine’s new government has taken office and vows to clean up endemic corruption—publicly perceived as Europe’s worst, according to Transparency International—here are some leading indicators of its progress, as suggested by the Atlantic Council’s Kyiv-based senior fellow, Brian Mefford. You can find his full essay on this at his own blog.