Anders Aslund

  • Zelenskyy Shines in Toronto, but His Plans Need Right People and Right Priorities

    On July 2-4, the government of Canada hosted the third Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto. The previous two were held in London and Copenhagen. The first day was devoted to ministerial events, while the second and third days were hosted by Ukraine House, a non-governmental organization supported by several foundations. These conferences are designed to offer support for Ukraine and its reforms, showcasing the country’s achievements while indicating priority reforms.

    This was a massive international manifestation in support of Ukraine with the participation of some forty countries. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were the hosts to some 500 guests. The foremost guest was newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and half a dozen Ukrainian ministers participated. About ten foreign ministers attended, notably from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Hungary.

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  • Putin Finally Tells Russians the Truth (Sort Of)

    In his annual television marathon “Direct Line with Vladimir Putin” on June 20, the Russian president did something unusual. To my knowledge, this is the first time he specified the impact of Western sanctions on Russia, which he usually presents as having a positive effect on the Russian economy because of import substitution.


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  • How Kolomoisky Does Business in the United States

    On May 21, the nationalized Ukrainian PrivatBank filed a remarkable civil case against its prior owners Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov in the state court of Delaware. The three co-defendants are US citizens in Miami and nineteen anonymous companies.


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  • Where Should Zelenskiy Start?

    After Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s landslide victory, Ukraine is in a regime change situation, whether we call it so or not. The previous administration carried out great economic reforms, but the country’s law enforcement and judicial system remain predatory. What Ukraine needs most of all is rule of law.

    Zelenskiy has a tremendous popular mandate, 73 percent of the vote, but this is an anti-mandate against the old dysfunctional system, which has rendered Ukraine the poorest country in Europe. Ukrainians want Zelenskiy to break up this system and build something better.


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  • Putin’s Ability to Stash Money in US Banks and Real Estate is a ‘Strategic Danger,’ Warns US Sen. Whitehouse

    In his new book, Atlantic Council’s Anders Åslund says the United States Should Demand Transparency

    The ability for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his oligarch allies to hide money in banks and real estate in the United States is “a real strategic danger,” US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) warned on May 7.

    The senator lamented the fact that the United States is “now number two in terms of the nations that support secret financing and funding and allow for the hiding of assets behind shell corporations. We should not be on that list at all, much less number two.”


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  • The Illusions of Putin’s Russia

    Vladimir Putin’s regime is much easier to understand than it might first appear. In October 1939, Winston Churchill famously stated that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” That was a long time ago. Today, the key is crony capitalism. Putin is about two things—power and wealth.


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  • What Is Wrong with the Ukrainian Economy?

    Construction is booming in Kyiv, Ukraine, but not the rest of the economy. A major reason is that Ukrainians with some extra savings do not put their money into banks but buy additional apartments instead. Others keep their savings in cash. On average, Ukrainian MPs keep $700,000 at home. Those who have a lot of wealth transfer it to offshore havens, where the money is safe.

    Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe. According to the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine overtook Moldova as the poorest country in Europe as measured in GDP per capita in 2018 at $2,963, 8 percent less than in Moldova. These numbers can be boosted in many ways. Probably half of the Ukrainian economy goes unreported in

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  • Zelenskiy Wins: What’s Next for Ukraine?

    Following his landslide election as president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy must now turn his attention to following through on much-needed economic and anti-corruption reforms, all while continuing to confront Russia in Ukraine’s east and the illegal occupation of Crimea.

    The results of the April 21 contest, which saw Zelenskiy beat incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, with nearly three-quarters of the vote was “clearly a vote for change,” according to Atlantic Council Eurasia Center Director John Herbst, who is a former US ambassador to Ukraine. Zelenskiy cannot be content with the margin of his victory, Herbst added, as “Poroshenko’s 2014 first round victory was also unprecedented and he was very popular at the time he won” before experiencing a decline in popularity.


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  • Here’s How to Tackle Money Laundering

    Europe has been hit by one money-laundering scandal after another. The latest allegation is that the big and well-respected Swedish bank Swedbank has “handled €135 billion from high-risk clients.” This allegation follows the revelation that the Copenhagen-based Danske Bank carried out €230 billion in dubious transactions. Many more scandals involving more banks are likely to emerge. European Union authorities had better get ahead of the train to safeguard the European banking system.


    The main source of these revelations of money laundering are the Panama Papers — documents  leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that were made public in April 2016. The documents showed how Mossack Fonseca helped its clients to launder money. A number of investigative journalists, the investment banker Bill Browder, and the US Treasury keep digging, and they find ever more. As it is being

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  • The Real Russian Candidate in Ukraine’s Presidential Race

    On March 22, nine days before the Ukrainian presidential election, Ukraine’s pro-Russian presidential candidate Yuriy Boyko went to Moscow to meet Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev without prior announcement.

    It’s strange for a presidential candidate to visit a leader of a country with which it is at war, but that was only the beginning of this extraordinary meeting, much of which was broadcast on Russian state television. Everything was wrong with it.


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