Blog

View posts by country or region

Thursday will be a crucial day for Ukraine. Its parliament will attempt to adopt a package of bills needed to secure the next tranche of an IMF bail-out loan. Equally important will be a separate bill to allow the creation of a joint venture between EU and US companies to operate Ukraine’s gas transportation system.

That would strike a blow at Russia’s South Stream project. But what are its prospects? Continue reading »

By Dalibor Rohac of the Cato Institute

One can only hope that Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, which has claimed, among others, the lives of the passengers of flight MH17, will come to an early end. But is it possible that the conflict, for all the suffering and senseless destruction it has brought, could have a silver lining?

The past 20 years, during which many Ukrainians thought of their country as a bridge between the West and the East, without any obvious enemies, were years of complacency and failed economic policies, which ultimately resulted in the capture of the government by special interests. Continue reading »

By Ievgen Vorobiov of PISM

Three months of the Russia-led proxy war in Ukraine have claimed the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen and civilians. Until now, Western media have lazily ignored the complexity of the security crisis, while public opinion in the West has had more pressing concerns than an unfolding war on the edge of the European Union. EU politicians have had an easy ride in pretending to handle it.

But the downing of flight MH17 by pro-Russian militants is slowly changing perceptions in the West. It is still a war in a “faraway nation” but now with a dramatic number of foreign civilian casualties. If you had told a western European diplomat two weeks ago that EU citizens would be the next victims of Russia’s slowly-unfolding massacre in Ukraine, they would have dismissed you as paranoid and manipulative. Not any more. Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has tough decisions to make this week that will have a profound impact on his legacy and on Russia’s future. His two choices are both unpalatable for the anti-Ukrainian strategy he has pursued since last November. Then, he led Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president at the time, to turn away from Europe, supplied weaponry for Ukraine’s security forces used against protesters, occupied Crimea and launched a proxy war to break up Ukraine by detaching the so-called “New Russia” (Tsarist Russia’s name for east Ukraine). Continue reading »

By Timothy Ash of Standard Bank

Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova, has signed far-reaching free trade and association agreements with the European Union. This is a landmark agreement for Ukraine and will be transformational.

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, has indicated that his country aims for EU membership but this is a long-term goal, likely 10 to 15 years away at least. Ukraine is realistic and understands the changing politics in the EU, which goes against further enlargement as nationalism builds in EU member states. But as with Turkey, the EU accession process is more important than the end result. The process will transform Ukraine by providing a key anchor for reform. It will enable Ukraine to adapt to European core values including the rule of law, democracy and a market economy. This is what the Maydan demonstrations were all about. Continue reading »

Getting caught up in a war zone ranks among the worst-case scenarios for an oil company. This has happened to Royal Dutch Shell in eastern Ukraine, where heavy fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military forces continues.

Shell has a hydrocarbons production-sharing agreement at the 8,000 sq km Yuzivska field, which lies across Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. A map of the field shows it covers Slovyansk, the heart of the pro-Russian military uprising.

Such proximity has affected Shell’s Ukraine operations, but only up to a point, according to the company. Simon Henry, Chief Financial Officer said on Bloomberg TV in early June that the oil giant is taking “time out on the actual drilling activity on the ground”, for security reasons. Continue reading »

By Dalibor Rohac of the Cato Institute

Can the European Union help Ukrainians get their country back on track? Notwithstanding the threat the country faces from the east, the bulk of Ukraine’s problems are domestic: lack of economic growth and employment opportunities, rampant corruption, mismanagement of public funds and burdensome regulation.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the prospect of EU membership served as an impetus for radical reforms across central and eastern Europe. A credible timeline for joining the Union would certainly improve the prospects for similar reforms in Ukraine. On the other hand, given the EU’s internal problems and the current state of disarray in Ukraine, European leaders are not keen to rush into accession talks. Continue reading »

As international budget airlines begin to make headway in the Russian market, Aeroflot has launched its own version of easyJet. Passengers crammed aboard the maiden flight from Moscow to – guess where? – Crimea on Tuesday were waved off by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister. Continue reading »

With pressure from the east piling up, Kiev’s pro-western government is shifting gears to more swiftly integrate its vast but financially-troubled energy sector with the west.

Arseniy Yatseniuk, Ukraine’s prime minister, said on Wednesday his government had decided to unbundle Naftogaz, the debt-laden state gas and oil company, into separate domestic supply, transit and storage companies. Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio in Dnipropetrovsk

Reported moves by Ukraine this week to leave the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States merely underline the result of Sunday’s elections: the country is now leaning overwhelmingly towards Europe. Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

Ukraine is set to hold its sixth presidential election on Sunday with chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko riding high ahead of his two rivals: Yulia Timoshenko, a former prime minister and a political prisoner under the recently deposed regime; and Serhiy Tihipko, a defector from the regime’s ruling Party of Regions. In presidential elections held four years ago Timoshenko and Tihipko came second and third, respectively. Continue reading »

By Demetrius Floudas of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad

Amid the growing political tensions between Russia and the West, the world’s top economists and politicians are unanimous that the Russian economy will get worse and worse under new waves of sanctions.

But none of them mention that Russia is just as likely to hurt itself with its own damaging monetary policy. Continue reading »

By Ben Aris of bne

The shouting match between west and east continues but the Russian stock market is up sharply this week, as President Vladimir Putin travels to China where he is expected to sign a string of big investment deals. Continue reading »

While the government in Kiev tries in vain to pacify the pro-Russian military uprising in the eastern regions of Ukraine, new challenges are arising in the far west of the country. The 150,000-strong Hungarian minority of Transcarpathia region is demanding more rights – including greater autonomy and dual citizenship – and Budapest is supporting them against Kiev.

On Friday, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, said that ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring Ukraine should be given political autonomy. “Ukraine can be neither stable nor democratic if it does not give its minorities, including Hungarians, their due. That is, dual citizenship, collective rights and autonomy,” Orban said. Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

The controversial referendums held in Donetsk and Luhansk on Sunday will have repercussions inside and outside Ukraine. The country’s next president, to be elected on May 25 or two weeks later if it goes to a second round, has three unpalatable options. Continue reading »