Melinda Haring

  • Russia Funds and Manages Conflict in Ukraine, Leaks Show

    Hacked emails show that the Kremlin directs and funds the ostensibly independent republics in eastern Ukraine and runs military operations there. In late 2016, Ukrainian hacker groups released emails purportedly taken from the office of Kremlin official Vladislav Surkov, who oversees Ukraine policy for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Surkov leaks confirm what many have long suspected: the Kremlin has orchestrated and funded the supposedly independent governments in the Donbas, and seeks to disrupt internal Ukrainian politics, making the task of rebuilding modern Ukraine impossible. Russia has consistently denied accusations from Kyiv and the West that it is providing the separatists with troops, weapons, and other material support or meddling in Ukrainian affairs. The emails from Surkov’s office betray the official Kremlin line, revealing the extent of Russian involvement in the seizure of Ukrainian territory, the creation of puppet “people’s republics,” and the funding to...
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  • Secretary Tillerson, Here’s Why Taxpayers Should Care about Ukraine

    At the Group of Seven meeting in Lucca, Italy, on April 11, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked the other foreign ministers, “Why should US taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?”

    US Senator Rob Portman and several other panelists answered that question at an April 5 conference on Ukraine in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Atlantic Council and the Razumkov Centre.

    “I believe that corruption and weak institutions fuel the spread of Russian influence both in Ukraine and throughout the world,” Portman said. “Thus, political and economic reforms [in Ukraine] are national security priorities.”

    Ukraine’s former Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko agreed....

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  • US Lawmakers Remain Firm on Russia Sanctions

    US sanctions on Russia, imposed in response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, must not only be maintained, “they should be tightened,” according to Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH).

    As recently as March 20, Russia has performed military drills practicing “offensive and defensive operations,” in Crimea, Chabot said, adding: “The fact that Russia has successfully claimed another country’s sovereign territory as its own and then carries out unprecedented offensive military drills there [is] absolutely unacceptable.”

    Chabot suggested that “in the last number of years America’s traditional leadership role around the world has often times been lacking.” He went on to describe a “power vacuum around various parts of the globe” that Russian President “Vladimir Putin and other bad actors have taken advantage of.” He called Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 an “egregious example of that power vacuum.”

    The West cannot afford to stand idly by, said...

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  • Reject Populists’ Slogans and Work Hard to Make Things Better, Gontareva Urges

    The governor of the National Bank of Ukraine may be diminutive, but she speaks powerfully.

    “For the previous two decades we were not brave enough,” Valeria Gontareva, 52, said in a March 8 interview. “The real transition from post-USSR to [a] modern competitive economy did not happen when Ukraine gained its independence.” Instead, Ukraine continued to build on the old Soviet edifice. “The longer you wait, the harder it is to construct the proper basics,” she said.

    Gontareva has been hard at work constructing the basics since June 2014.

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  • Ukraine Is Sliding Back, Sergii Leshchenko Warns

    Anticorruption reform in Ukraine appeared far more promising just a year ago, said Sergii Leshchenko in a March 1 telephone interview from Kyiv. “We are sliding back,” he said definitively.

    The thirty-six-year old member of parliament, a former deputy editor at Ukrayinska Pravda and one of President Petro Poroshenko’s most outspoken critics, wants the West to wake up to Ukraine’s rollback in the fight against corruption.

    Leshchenko has a point: the IMF was decidedly unimpressed in its November 2016 review of Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts.

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  • A Reality Check for Russian Propaganda

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America launch a Russian-language news network

    The flurries of disinformation and fake news obfuscating the current state of affairs in Russia, and the Kremlin’s activity worldwide, have not created a post-truth world, but one in which some find truth increasingly difficult to promote.

    “I think we’ve given up on truth way too easily,” said Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America. Countering the notion that facts are no longer valuable, she said: “to assume the rest of the world doesn’t understand true things and can’t sort out truth and fact… I don’t think that makes it a post-truth world, I just think it makes it more difficult to get the truth out there.”

    “In a global information warzone where fake news and false narratives are the weapon of choice… honest and accurate reporting [is] the best defense against falsehoods,” said John Lansing, director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors....

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  • American-Born Doctor Takes on Ukraine’s Health Care System

    Ulana Suprun is a woman on a mission. The 53-year-old radiologist from New York who was appointed Ukraine’s Acting Minister of Health in July is determined to shake up Ukraine’s sclerotic health care system.

    “The changes that we are making in Ukraine’s health care sector are breaking the old rules and establishing new standards,” Suprun said in a written statement on January 23.

    Her early moves have been noticed: on January 18, five members of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on health attempted to oust Suprun and failed. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman and civil society organizations urged parliament to stick with Suprun and stop blocking health care reforms.

    "I feel support from the prime minister and the entire cabinet," as well as many MPs, civil society, and many young doctors, she said. 

    Suprun has two other advantages: she’s not starting from scratch, and she’s not new to Ukraine.

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  • The Future of Ukraine’s Economy

    “What we need most of all is the end of hostilities,” said Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in eastern Ukraine, at an event about Ukraine. “Without international assistance from the EU, from the United States, from Japan...I don’t think that one can see a fast recovery—and a fast recovery is definitely necessary to have the people believe in the future.”

    “The priority is the people,” agreed Oleksandr Petryk, alternate executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

    Sajdik and Petryk joined other experts at the Atlantic Council for a December 14 conference examining the future of Ukraine’s economy; the event included two panels and a keynote speech.

    Moderated by Irina Paliashvili, senior counsel at the RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, the first panel focused on the Donbas and included Sajdik; Petryk; Vitaly Butenko, commercial...

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  • Q&A: What Does a Friend of Putin at Foggy Bottom Mean for Ukraine?

    President-elect Donald Trump has picked ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state. In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally bestowed Russia’s Order of Friendship on Tillerson. As CEO of ExxonMobil, he’s argued for sanctions relief on Russia. By October 2016, some reports estimate that Exxon has lost $1 billion because of White House sanctions. We asked Atlantic Council experts and UkraineAlert contributors the following question: What does a friend of Putin at Foggy Bottom mean for Ukraine and Russia?
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  • There's More to DC Fashion than Gray Suits and More to Ukraine than War

    Vogue cannot get enough of Ukraine’s new designers and eye-catching traditional designs. Since the Euromaidan, the magazine has covered the country’s hot fashion scene half a dozen times.

    On November 30, seven of Ukraine’s designers were on display at a fashion show in Washington, DC, “to celebrate Ukraine’s creative culture,” said Alexa Chopivsky, executive director of the American Center for a European Ukraine and one of the organizers.

    War, internally displaced persons, and the never-ending Minsk process dominate international coverage of Ukraine—when it is covered at all—but that’s not the full picture.

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