Ukraine 2019

  • Putin’s Dream Scenario for Ukraine

    Ukraine’s problem is not that it hasn’t changed enough. It’s that it’s changed too much too fast, thereby raising popular expectations, undermining long-existing patterns of behavior, creating uncertainty, and thereby increasing the popularity of populists who argue that a return to the good old days is imperative.


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  • Ukraine’s Euromaidan Democrats Have No Shot at the Presidency, but What About Parliament?

    Ukraine’s anti-oligarchic forces have finally started the process of forming a broad pro-reform coalition in advance of the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. On January 11, a congress of various reformist groups announced its support for the presidential candidacy of former Minister of Defense Anatoliy Hrytsenko. While the meeting was largely an event of Hrytsenko’s Civic Position party, it included a number of small parties and civil movements which backed Hrytsenko as well. In addition, a number of prominent MPs from the well-known “Euro-Optimists” inter-factional group in parliament, including Svitlana Zalishchuk, Serhiy Leshchenko, and Mustafa Nayem, joined the congress.

    Nayem called for a broader coalition of pro-reform politicians to work together, urging Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi and the lead singer of the popular band “Okean Elzy” Sviatoslav Vakarchuk to back Hrytsenko. Nayem also touched upon the crucial question of the entire enterprise: Will the new

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  • How Will Ukraine’s Next President View the World? A Look at the Top 5 Candidates

    Ukraine’s presidential election season is in full-swing. After the holiday recess, the campaign is getting even more dynamic with about forty candidates who have already declared. While the ratings fluctuate almost daily, the top five remain steady, so it’s time to dig in and start evaluating their various views. Below we’ve analyzed their foreign policy platforms. 


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  • Why a Comedian’s Bid for Ukraine’s Presidency Is No Laughing Matter

    Most experts have reacted negatively to the announcement that Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy will stand in the presidential election in spring 2019. Indeed, Zelenskiy’s candidacy is problematic for at least three reasons. Still, for all the skepticism, Zelenskiy’s participation in the race may also have a bright side.


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  • Ukraine’s 2019 Elections May Be Completely Unpredictable but Five Things Are Certain

    2019 is election year in Ukraine. Ukrainians will select a new president this spring and a new parliament in the fall. Even though the outcome of the presidential race is unpredictable, there are five things about this political cycle that are not.


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  • Even Out of Government, Former Finance Minister Danyliuk Has Big Plans for Ukraine

    It was June 5 and Ukraine’s ebullient and energetic finance minister was under tremendous strain. The Economist had just reported that forty-three-year-old Oleksandr Danyliuk was about to be sacked after speaking out too many times about corruption at the highest levels. He’d made too many enemies, including the president and prime minister.  

    But Danyliuk is an optimist who brims with good humor even when he’s under fire. Speaking with him in his office in Kyiv, I asked if he was worried. “I’m going to stay,” he said decisively.  

    I asked jokingly, “What’s your theme song? ‘I Will Survive’?”

    Too negative, he said. Without skipping a beat, he suggested with a laugh, “We Are the Champions.”

    The next day, Danyliuk was indeed fired. But that light-hearted exchange captures the ex-minister well. He wants Ukraine to

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  • How Ukraine’s Next President Can Turn the Country Around

    On March 31, Ukraine will hold the first round of its presidential election. This is a tremendous opportunity to restart Ukraine’s reforms. The election debate needs to focus on the most important issue, namely the enforcement of property rights.

    Five years after the Revolution of Dignity and Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s situation remains precarious. The rule of law has not been established. Scandalously, a Kyiv court just reinstated the former chairman of the State Fiscal Service in spite of major accusations of defrauding the state of $70 million, illustrating the persistent dysfunction of the judicial system. Similarly, the reform of the prosecution has failed, and the security services remain untouched.

    The successful reforms have largely been economic. Inflation and the exchange rate have stabilized.

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  • How Putin Lost Ukraine for Good

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will go down in history as having “lost Ukraine” for good. Putin has experienced two “geopolitical tragedies” with the disintegration of the USSR in 1991 and disintegration of the Russian world in 2018.


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  • Ukraine’s Top Comedian Is Running for President. And No, This Isn’t a Bad Joke

    On New Year’s Eve, Ukraine’s top comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced that he will run for president.  

    The timing of the announcement was curious: Zelenskiy’s short spot aired before President Petro Poroshenko’s annual address on the second most popular TV channel “1+1,” which belongs to Ihor Kolomoisky. The order caused many to speculate that the Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoisky is backing the forty-year-old comedian.


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  • How to Speak about Ukraine’s Future and Tymoshenko in the West

    My recent article “What Would a Tymoshenko Presidency Mean?” caused indignation among numerous experts and journalists in Ukraine and indigestion among some in Washington. Obviously, there are a number of problems with Yulia Tymoshenko and her presidential bid, such as her leftish populist slogans and the financial sources behind her expensive campaign. Yet, the fact remains that the real choice in Ukraine’s 2019 presidential elections will likely be between incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and Tymoshenko, not a young reformer and a representative of the Kuchma-period elite.

    Given these realities, I argued that the West should start establishing a constructive relationship with Tymoshenko as the most likely future leader.


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