• US and EU Need to Take on Crimea Sanction Sneaks

    Despite a comprehensive sanctions regime established by Western governments barring foreign investment in Crimea, many foreign companies nonetheless maintain operations there. Recent reports reveal that a number of companies such as Visa, MasterCard, Volkswagen, Auchan, Metro Cash & Carry, DHL, and Adidas are still willing to continue business as usual despite the reputational risk.

    The companies’ sanctions-busting behavior is driven by their commercial interests: they are reluctant to lose a significant share of the Russian market. According to Sergey Aksyonov, Crimea’s self-proclaimed prime minister, nearly 3,000 foreign firms are currently operating in Crimea. Aksenov has encouraged foreign companies to invest in Crimea, as there are ways companies can circumvent sanctions and conceal their identities.

    In fact, there are several recurring techniques that Western companies use to avoid sanctions.

    Read More
  • Nimmo Quoted in The Verge on Russian Trolls

    Read More

    Editor’s note: This short story describes a hypothetical future war in northern Europe between Russian and NATO forces using advanced technology.
    Read More
  • How Pro-Russian Forces Will Take Revenge on Ukraine

    On September 12, the leaders of two key pro-Russian parties made important public statements that should not be overlooked. Sergei Lyovochkin, deputy head of the Opposition Bloc and a former leader in President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration, and Vadym Rabinovich of the For Life political party, both spoke about the “active consolidation” of the two political parties prior to the upcoming presidential election. Both parties are pushing for a normal relationship with the Kremlin.

    According to recent polls, Yulia Tymoshenko could expect almost 13 percent among decided voters if the election was held now, while her closest opponent, President Petro Poroshenko, is polling at 8.4 percent. In the meantime, Rabinovich and Yuriy Boyko of the Opposition Bloc are polling at 4.3 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. Their possible agreement on a single candidate could put their politician in the second round. (No candidate is expected to win outright in the first round in March 2019.)

    There are three wings in the negotiation process currently occurring in the pro-Russian camp.

    Read More
  • Will Ukraine’s Presidential Candidates Ever Get Real?

    This year’s Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference, known as the Ukrainian Davos, did not disappoint. Held in Kyiv on September 13-15, the meeting featured the obligatory celebrities and A-list dazzle. Bono turned up in purple-tinted glasses. Host Victor Pinchuk unveiled a silver spaceship-like creation by Japanese artist Marico Mori urging everyone to focus on the future. The American punk band Gogol Bordello was electric.

    But the real drama took place on the second day, when BBC HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur took to the stage to interview three leading presidential candidates, one at a time. He interviewed frontrunner and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, former defense minister and leading reform candidate Anatoily Gritsenko, and rock star Slava Vakarchuk, who may or may not be running.

    Read More
  • O'Toole Quoted in Newsweek on CAATSA

    Read More
  • Iran’s Alliance With Russia in Syria: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Partnership?

    Russia’s alliance with Iran to buttress embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is approaching a critical phase, as pro-government forces consider how to retake Idlib province, the last major stronghold of Syrian rebels. While this alliance has successfully shifted the balance of power in favor of the Syrian government, it will likely not lead to a long-term strategic partnership between Iran and Russia, as their strategic goals in Syria and the region at large are quite divergent.

    Iranians historically have been wary of their giant neighbor to the north. In the nineteenth century, the Persian Empire was forced to sign a series of humiliating treaties relinquishing claims over territories in the South Caucasus to Tsarist Russia. Even today, Iranians are concerned that after sacrificing millions of dollars and thousands of lives in Syria, Russia will throw Iran under the bus for its own benefit. Recently, an Iranian lawmaker, Behrooz Bonyadi warned of “Syrian-Russian rapprochement at Iran’s expense.”

    Read More
  • Nimmo Quoted in USA Today on Russian Trolls

    Read More
  • The Geopolitical Divorce of the Century: Why Putin Cannot Afford to Let Ukraine Go

    Next month, Europe’s leading budget airline will begin regular flights from Ukraine to a host of EU destinations. This is the latest milestone in a Ukrainian aviation boom that is seeing additional routes announced on a weekly basis and record passenger numbers at airports across the country. Each new flight serves to broaden Ukrainian horizons and anchor the country more firmly within the wider international community. Meanwhile, there has not been a single direct flight between Ukraine and Russia since October 2015.

    The changes in Ukraine’s air travel industry are just one of the many ways in which the country has turned away from Russia and gone global since the climax of the Euromaidan Revolution in early 2014 and the start of Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war. Since then, Russia’s share of Ukrainian exports has tumbled from 24 percent to around 9 percent, while Russian imports to Ukraine have halved. As economic ties between Kyiv and Moscow loosen, Ukrainian businesses have begun to discover life after Russia.

    Read More
  • Deep Dive: How Ukraine’s Presidential Candidates Plan to Win

    Ukraine’s presidential campaign season has unofficially begun. Almost half a year before the presidential race in March 2019, candidates have already settled on basic strategies.

    Let's analyze their messages—how they separate themselves from their competitors and try to create an attractive image, what ideas "sell," how they struggle with criticism, negativity, compromise, and ultimately, how they plan to win the elections.

    Read More