Peter Dickinson

  • Q&A: Comedian’s Party Wins Big Again in Ukraine. Why and What’s Next?

    On July 21, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party took 43 percent of the vote in snap parliamentary elections and looks set to have a majority in parliament. 

    We asked Atlantic Council experts and UkraineAlert contributors and colleagues the following questions: What surprised you about the results of the Rada elections? Are they a step forward for Ukraine? What will you be watching for next?


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  • Rise of the Zelennials: Ukraine’s Parliamentary Elections Signal Generational Shift

    Ukrainians are set to vote out the vast majority of current MPs on July 21 in parliamentary elections that will mark a generational shift in the country’s political landscape and hand unprecedented power to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The election is a continuation of the ballot box revolution that began earlier this year when almost three-quarters of Ukrainian voters backed forty-one-year-old political novice Zelenskyy for the presidency over his experienced but tainted rival. The message is unmistakable: after almost three decades of chronic corruption and repeated false starts, voters want fundamental change and are willing to gamble with the country’s future in order to get it.

    Polls predict Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party will secure around 45 percent of votes. Much like Zelenskyy himself, most of the future MPs poised to represent his party in the Rada are unknown, with the list of candidates containing a mix

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  • Nazi-Soviet Pact Anniversary Can Help Zelenskiy Heal Ukraine’s Totalitarian Trauma

    Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy waded into the bloodstained waters of the country’s memory wars during WWII memorial events in early May, posting a picture of himself alongside a Soviet veteran and a former member of Ukraine’s Insurgent Army with the message: “The key to peace today is unity among all Ukrainians.” This was something of a departure for Zelenskiy, who largely steered clear of sensitive historical issues during his presidential campaign while promising to move beyond the conflicting interpretations of the past that have plagued Ukrainian society since the Soviet collapse.

    Zelenskiy’s recent WWII photo-op indicates that as the new head of state, he recognizes he will no longer be able to afford himself the luxury of remaining above the fray. Instead, he must now take a lead in Ukraine’s memory wars while choosing his battles carefully, seeking positions that can make sense of the troubled past while

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  • Ukraine’s Most Urgent Need

    Ukrainians have considerable experience of the hope that comes with new beginnings and the disillusionment that often follows. The country has lived through repeated false dawns over the past three decades, only for the same old bad habits to come creeping out of the shadows and reassert their debilitating grip on the nation. The arrival of independence in 1991 was the first watershed moment, but this seeming historic break with the past was actually a deeply flawed compromise that failed to dislodge the vast state apparatus inherited from the Soviet era. Unsurprisingly, the rebranding of career communists as Ukrainian democrats did little to improve living standards or move the country in the right direction.


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  • Is Zelenskiy Really the Kremlin’s Best Hope in Ukraine?

    In the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election, the leading pro-Russian candidate secured 11 percent of the vote. Compare this to 2010 when pro-Kremlin candidate Viktor Yanukovych received 49 percent. This dramatic decline reflects the scale of the damage done to Russian interests in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war. Russian aggression has alienated millions of Ukrainian voters while disenfranchising many more, leading to an unprecedented collapse of Kremlin influence in a country that has been at the heart of Russia’s imperial identity for centuries. Could the remarkable rise of comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy help to reverse this Russian retreat?


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  • Whoever Wins Ukraine’s Presidential Race, Russia Has Already Lost

    It’s election season on Kremlin TV, but the presidential campaign receiving wall-to-wall coverage from Russia’s federal channels is taking place across the border in Ukraine. This is hardly surprising. Moscow’s obsession with all things Ukrainian is well-documented and reflects the centrality of information operations to Vladimir Putin’s five-year hybrid war against Ukraine. What’s interesting about this coverage is the absence of a preferred pro-Russian candidate. Instead, the Kremlin is focused on discrediting the electoral process itself. While the spectacle of a dictatorship accusing its neighbor of democratic shortcomings may at first glance seem absurd, this strategy makes perfect sense. With no chance of achieving a favorable result, Russia is simply getting its excuses in early.


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  • The Eurovision Guide to Modern Ukrainian History

    Anyone who feels that Eurovision has become too politicized need look no further than Ukraine for confirmation. Nobody takes the song contest quite as seriously as the Ukrainians, who treat it as an extension of foreign policy complete with furious nationwide debates and heavy-handed government interventions. The latest scandal, which has seen the winner of the national competition deselected following outcry over her decision to continue performing in Russia despite the state of undeclared war between the two countries, is entirely in keeping with the exaggerated political importance attached to Ukraine’s annual participation. Indeed, for students of modern Ukrainian history, the country’s yearly Eurovision soap opera serves an entertaining guide to Ukraine’s broader post-Soviet progress.


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  • Ukraine’s Slow but Steady Strangulation Is Taking Place in Plain Sight

    Russia’s war against Ukraine is about to enter its sixth year, but many remain in denial over the true nature of the conflict. There is still widespread international reluctance to acknowledge the global significance of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, leading to a preference for the kind of euphemistic language that blurs the lines between victim and aggressor. This ostrich-like approach to the realities of the new Russian imperialism was on display during German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s recent visit to Kyiv, where he called on “all sides to contribute to de-escalation.”

    Maas was apparently untroubled by the absurdity of urging Ukraine to de-escalate its own invasion and dismemberment. Indeed, it says much about the current climate that one of Europe’s top diplomats felt comfortable coming to the capital of a country fighting for its life and delivering a lecture on the need for moderation.


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  • Best of the Best: Top 10 Articles of 2018

    As the year ends, I am invariably swamped with requests for our top 10 list. Without further ado, here are the best performing articles UkraineAlert published in 2018:


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  • Dickinson in Foreign Affairs: Can the West Prevent the Slow Strangulation of Ukraine?


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