Eastern Europe

  • Why Poroshenko Doesn’t Deserve a Second Term

    Ukraine needs a change.

    The latest scandal, involving allegations of massive profiteering from the war against Russia by well-connected Ukrainians, proves the need for a new leader in the upcoming presidential election.

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  • Q&A: Will Scandal Sink Poroshenko’s Second Term Chances?

    On February 25, investigative journalistsaccused President Petro Poroshenko’s close associates of getting rich by smuggling spare parts for military equipment from Russia. The Bihus.Info report claims that the son of Oleh Hladkovskiy, deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, was the mastermind behind a scheme to buy spare parts from Russia in 2015. The year before, Russia annexed Crimea and occupies part of the Donbas. Bihus.Info alleges that Ukraine bought the goods from private companies linked to Hladkovskiy at inflated prices and that Ukroboronprom, the state company that oversees everything, knew the origin of the parts.             

    Bihus.Info says that it received the information from anonymous sources. It was published weeks before Ukraine’s presidential election on March 31. 

    Before the scandal broke, most polls put Poroshenko in second place. Support for the army has been one of Poroshenko’s main campaign themes, and he recently said that he wouldn’t allow anyone to steal from the army.

    We asked the Atlantic Council’s Ukraine experts and friends the following questions: How serious are the allegations? How will they impact the presidential race? Is it game over for Poroshenko? Should we be concerned about where the information came from?

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  • Which Ukrainians Will Lose Most if Zelenskiy Becomes President?

    It goes without saying that all Ukrainians will be losers if and when a dreadfully inexperienced and politically ignorant comedian takes charge of Ukraine’s ship of state. As the economy goes into a tailspin, corruption flourishes, and Russian President Vladimir Putin bares his teeth, all Ukrainians will be far worse off than they are today.

    But who will be even worse off than the average?

    Ironically, it will be Zelenskiy’s supporters among young people and the southeast. And all thanks to Putin.

    Prediction is always a risky business, but we can safely predict that Putin will view Zelenskiy’s election as a golden opportunity to clean up the mess he got Russia into in the occupied Donbas.

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  • Ukraine’s Athletes Shine Through National Gloom

    Five years after the Euromaidan, most analysis of Ukraine is grim. It tends to focus on the patchy reforms that have been put in place, the country’s endemic corruption, the ongoing war in its east, and the current unpredictable presidential election campaign. Hardly any of the coverage is positive.

    But that’s not the full picture. Writers and analysts have missed something important: the country has emerged as a leader in sports, uplifting the spirits of Ukrainians in the process. Ukrainian athletes have given their compatriots a renewed sense of pride and optimism during this difficult period.

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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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  • The Audacity of Ulana Suprun

    There was a distinct sense of the theatrical inside and outside Kyiv’s Administrative Court #2 earlier this month as it decided the fate of Dr. Ulana Suprun, Ukraine’s acting minister of health.

    Leaving the proceedings, one was left with at least two seemingly absurd questions: what was this showdown all about and why was an “administrative court” deciding the fate of a politically appointed cabinet minister?

    All societies where corrupt ethical practices hold sway tend to produce narratives which suggest both an overt and hidden meaning, and which, almost always, cause confusion as to the meaning of the narrative that people have witnessed.

    However, from the beginning there was never any doubt that this was a political showdown instigated by MP Ihor Mosiychuk, seen throughout the country as he was filmed accepting bribes, and three political parties, Opposition Bloc, Fatherland, and the Radical Party, to personally discredit the minister and her efforts at “transformative reform” of the country’s medical system.

    What became immediately evident was that this clash was never really about the questions of her citizenship, or her status as “acting minister,” or even about who was running the ministry or had signing authority while she traveled on business.

    How did we get here?

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  • Is the Ukrainian Army Worthy of Greater Investment?

    Last year Washington finally gave Kyiv the javelin missiles it had been begging for. But the javelins are mostly symbolic and won’t change much on the frontlines. For more than six months, Washingtonhas been talking about giving Ukraine additional arms to improve its air and naval defenses. These arms are more likely after Russian ships attacked Ukrainian ones in November 2018. Some experts have put togetherlists of equipment that the United States could easily give or transfer.

    But before we get ahead of ourselves, Congress may wonder if the Ukrainian army is any good and whether the funds will go to waste. Is the Ukrainian army worthy of greater investment? 

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  • Ukraine’s Leading Presidential Candidates (Minus Poroshenko) Promise to Fight Corruption

    In Ukraine, demand for a genuine fight against corruption is still extremely high. According to recentsurveys, voters name corruption as one of the three biggest problems in Ukraine. Nine out of ten Ukrainians consider grand political corruption the greatest threat to the country, while 80 percent are convinced that the main reason for corruption is a lack of accountability. A majority of Ukrainians say that the president bears the largest responsibility for the fight.

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  • Why Zelenskiy Is the Only Decent Choice for Ukraine

    Ukraine’s presidential elections present a difficult choice for those who want to see the country of 44 million finish what it started in 2014. Sadly all reliable opinion polls indicate that experienced reform candidates have no chance of winning. Former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko currently stands at around 8 percent and Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi at 4 percent. It is highly unlikely that either will significantly increase their appeal in the coming six weeks.

    Two candidates with long experience in Ukraine’s politics have a chance of making it through the first round: President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, they have poor reform credentials.

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  • Geers Quoted in Politico on How Ukraine Became a Test Bed for Cyberweaponry

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