Peter Dickinson

  • 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

    ...

    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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?


    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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:


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


    Read More
  • From the Azov Sea to Washington DC: How Russophobia Became Russia’s Leading Export

    Vladimir Putin had a simple explanation for the wave of international condemnation that engulfed Moscow in the wake of Russia’s November 25 Black Sea attack on the Ukrainian Navy. According to the Kremlin leader, it was all Ukraine’s doing. “Kyiv is actively stirring up anti-Russian sentiment,” he lamented. “That’s all they have—and it works.”

    This is far from the first time Moscow officials have sought to explain away serious accusations by attributing them to conveniently vague notions of anti-Russian bias. Indeed, the formerly moribund nineteenth century concept of Russophobia has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance since 2014, becoming the Kremlin’s excuse of choice whenever faced by a new round of allegations. Whether the crime in question is the invasion of Ukraine, an attempted coup in the Balkans, chemical weapons attacks in rural England, or electoral interference across Europe and the United States, the Kremlin has clearly decided the best form of defense is to...

    Read More
  • Q&A: Russia Attacks Ukraine Again. How Should Ukraine, NATO, and the West Respond?

    On November 25, Russia fired on the Ukrainian Navy in the Black Sea, injuring at least two Ukrainian sailors. Many experts have warned that Russia is opening a new front in its forgotten war in Ukraine on the Black and Azov Seas, illegally boarding commercial Ukrainian vessels and increasing its military presence to about 120 patrol boats and ships. The Russian MFA twitter feed is full of insinuations about a Ukrainian provocation. 

    We asked Atlantic Council experts and friends the following: How should Ukraine respond? How should NATO and the West react to this latest round of Russian aggression? What would it take to force the Kremlin to stop its menacing actions in Ukraine and around the world?

    Read More