GIS Dossier: Ukraine
Four years after the Maidan revolution swept President Viktor Yanukovych from power, Ukraine remains suspended between Russia and the West. The protracted armed struggle to break free of Moscow’s orbit has helped forge a Ukrainian nation, but its politics and economy remain as dysfunctional as ever. This survey looks at reports published by GIS on Ukraine since 2012.
No solution in Donbas
A close look at how events are unfolding in the Ukraine conflict makes clear that the Minsk agreement and the Normandy format, which were supposed to help lead to a resolution, are irrelevant. Russia is digging in, while the West has few strategic options. The most likely scenario now is one where the conflict remains frozen and the Kremlin retains a de facto veto over any Ukrainian move toward the West.
Naftogaz: The keystone of reform in Ukraine
Naftogaz, the natural gas giant that is Ukraine’s largest taxpayer, is again in the news for the wrong reasons. The last two members of its independent supervisory board have resigned, indicating that vested interests have gained the upper hand over the reformist management team. What is happening at Naftogaz reflects a broader backlash in Ukraine – one that, if unchecked, could lead to a restoration of the old guard and Russian infuence.
Opinion: Crimea as a freehold
What to do with Crimea is a seemingly insoluble problem. With patriotic Russian opinion firmly set in the “Crimean consensus,” returning the territory to Ukraine is out of the question. Letting it remain as part of Russia is equally unacceptable to Ukraine and the West. Perhaps the best place to start is with Crimea’s real owners – the peninsula’s 2.34 million residents.
Surprising evolution in U.S. policy toward Ukraine
In no time, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was elevated from Donald Trump’s doghouse to the status of an honored guest at the White House. The U.S. president has discovered reasons to demonstrate to his NATO allies, and the world, his tough stand on Russia. As East-West tension mounts, the conflict over Donbas, a portion of eastern Ukraine captured by Moscow-backed secessionists, may quickly degenerate into a U.S.-Russia proxy war.
Ukraine in limbo
Well into the fourth year after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of hostilities in Donbas, Ukraine finds itself in a curious state of limbo. There is good news – the economy has bottomed out, the war in the east has frozen at low intensity, and the danger of yet another revolt in Kiev has receded. There is also bad news – rampant corruption is still strangling business, the Minsk peace process is going nowhere, and hopes for reintegrating the separatist-held areas have vanished into thin air.
Global Outlook 2017: False hope in Ukraine
The Ukrainian government and its international supporters are beaming with confidence that the country is finally turning the corner. While the economy may have bottomed out, there is still plenty of room for worry. As long as the political elites continue to put personal enrichment before transparent governance, the odds are against a rapid rebound. And without a strong economic recovery, another violent uprising could be in the cards.
Russia is turning Crimea into a forward bastion, armed with its latest missile, naval and radar technology. The consequences for the region are dire, raising the threat level for several NATO members and consolidating Moscow’s position against Ukraine and Georgia. The Black Sea is now as likely as the Baltics to become the flash point of a confrontation between Russia and the West.
Soft power is best tool to assist Ukraine
Due to geopolitical reality, Ukraine will not be able to join the European Union, but it can carve out a niche for itself between Russia and the West. The country has enough natural assets and talent to prosper in a position similar to Austria’s did during the Cold War. Western soft power can be of valuable assistance to Kiev in pursuit of this strategy.
Ukraine and NATO: a story of three summits
Dreams of NATO’s eastern expansion were dead well before Russia’s intervention in east Ukraine. But as Western military cooperation with Kiev deepens, the alliance is beginning to realize it may have got something better – extra political leverage in the east, with no strings attached.