Orysia Lutsevych

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Russia’s Retreat From Kherson Brings Ukraine One Step Closer to Victory

Even amid heavy shelling of their cities, the Ukrainian people are defiant. The savage destruction of the country’s electricity grid and indiscriminate violence against civilians have seemed to consolidate Western determination to support Ukraine “as long as it takes”. But many in Europe and in the United States, including a group of Democratic lawmakers who walked back their call for stepping up U.S. negotiations with the Kremlin, have begun to wonder how Russia’s war on Ukraine ends. Such conflicting signals are unfortunate because Ukraine has a very clear understanding of what victory will entail.

The battle for Ukraine has now lasted for eight years and eight months, starting with the annexation of Crimea and the establishment of Kremlin puppet regimes in Donbas and exploding, on Feb.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voting in controversial referendums in Donetsk, Ukraine on September 25, 2022, asking if the citizens want the region to become part of Russia. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

James Nixey

Like the course of the war itself, Russia’s ability to garner and maintain international support has fluctuated considerably over the past 7-8 months.

Initially, as with all of Russia’s shocking acts in the last two decades, such as other invasions, assassinations, domestic human rights abuses, there was global revulsion and this was reflected in the first United Nations (UN) resolution vote in which 141 countries came out against Russia with 35 abstentions and only five against.

But within weeks another UN vote on the slightly different issue of Russia’s continued membership of the UN Human Rights Council, the ratio was down to 93-58-24.…  Seguir leyendo »

Preparing cakes at the Volunteer.Hi kitchen in Kyiv, Ukraine. Volunteer.Hi has 100 volunteers and prepares 4,500 hot lunches daily, in addition to collecting and distributing relief kits across the city. Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano was an admirable gathering of government representatives, Western donors, the private sector, and civil society, with discussions focusing on a new Ukrainian National Recovery Plan. But ultimately it has produced little of immediate relevance to the demands of wartime, and provided no solutions to support the survival of the Ukrainian state in the short-term.

The Ukrainian government’s recovery scenario assumes the war will last until the end of 2022 – that is a big assumption as Russia shows no sign of giving up. Vladimir Putin may have changed tactics to focus on Donbas, but his overall strategic objective remains unchanged – to ensure Ukraine capitulates and is crippled militarily, socially, and economically.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Victory won’t be easy, but Ukrainians increasingly believe they can achieve it.’ A serviceman patrolling near anti-tank constructions in Kyiv. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

For more than two months, Vladimir Putin has been violently trying to erase the modern Ukrainian state from the map of Europe. This means Ukraine needs to win. In fact, victory is imperative if the continent wants to stand the chance of being able to live in peace and work collectively to meet global challenges.

It is clear that Putin has failed to compel Kyiv to capitulate. Russia’s plans to annihilate Ukraine and annex more of its territory have cemented Ukraine’s will to fight and win this war. So we need to ask: what does victory actually look like?

For Ukraine’s government, it means first that the Russian army is defeated on the battlefields of Donbas and is pushed back to where it was stationed before 24 February 2022.…  Seguir leyendo »

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky after their bilateral meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels on December 16, 2021. Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images.

As he tries to assert an even bigger ambition on the European continent, Vladimir Putin appears to be losing patience with Ukraine. The proxy-war in Donbas has inflicted much suffering on its citizens but has not subverted Kyiv’s determination to pursue the Euro-Atlantic integration and reforms which destroy the Soviet legacy Putin cherishes so much.

Ukraine is progressing along the bumpy road of aligning its political and economic system to countries in the European Union (EU), while also successfully building a decentralized nation of strong communities at home. Its economy now survives without Russian energy, and most exports go to China and the EU instead of Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Volodymyr Zelensky at an event marking Defenders and Defendresses of Ukraine Day at the Wall of Remembrance in Kiev. Photo by UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Halfway through his presidential term, the popularity of Volodymyr Zelenskyy has substantially declined as, having won 70 per cent of the vote when elected he now only commands 25 per cent support at the ballot box. But despite such dwindling numbers, he remains the most popular Ukrainian politician with support across Ukraine and a strong chance of re-election.

The main reasons behind such a decline in popularity are his unrealistic election promises mixed with voters’ equally unrealistic expectations, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. But in addition, deeply entrenched mistrust in central government has long been a key feature of Ukrainian political culture.…  Seguir leyendo »

Catwalk show at the Ukrainian Fashion Week 2021 in the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Art and Culture Museum Complex, Kyiv. Photo by Pavlo_Bagmut/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images.

Britain’s high-quality education, vibrant research institutions and diverse eco-system of culture are often cited as pillars of its ‘soft power’ appeal, and to ensure these institutions weather the storm of Brexit is essential to the success of any ‘Global Britain’ strategy.

Such relationships establish trust, promote UK values, and pave the way for further political and diplomatic engagement by providing templates for education, cultural policy, and community development which others can follow, strengthening social cohesion and resilience.

The example of Ukraine demonstrates the UK’s soft power delivers. According to a survey conducted by IPSOS Mori in 2020, the UK government and its institutions rank first in terms of trust among young people in Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

In over a year since President Zelenskyy embarked on his diplomatic effort to ‘end war with Russia’, there have been some steps forward in releasing prisoners of war and a short-lived ceasefire period. But few have any illusions peace is likely in the near future.

Vladimir Putin’s statement in June that ex-Soviet republics had left the USSR 'with gifts from the Russian people’ - meaning they had gained supposedly 'Russian' lands - shows he has no intention of changing Russia’s policy of revisionism and disruption.

And Russia’s recent engagement in Belarus, which could see Minsk losing sovereignty as the result of any bargain Lukashenka may have struck with Putin to stay in power, further endangers Ukraine’s northern border.…  Seguir leyendo »

Girls wearing face masks at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich during a memorial ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images.

Ukrainians are accustomed to crisis. As COVID-19 spread, forest fires were raging in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, turning Kyiv into the most polluted city in the world. The fighting in Donbas continued, claiming the lives of more Ukrainian soldiers, bringing the total to more than 4,000 — and, on top of that, President Zelenskyy overhauled his government. So Ukraine is fighting three battles at the same time — war with Russia, the struggle against its own ineffective system, and now COVID-19.

Every crisis is a reality check — the coronavirus provoked and exposed the strategic vulnerabilities and deep-rooted features of Ukraine’s system of governance.…  Seguir leyendo »

The first page of the unclassified memorandum of US President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from 25 July. Photo: Getty Images.

Among the issues exposed by US President Donald Trump’s interactions with the Ukrainian president is that of weak rule of law, a key problem of modern governance. This latest scandal has shown how the judiciary is still vulnerable to being exploited for personal political gain, financial enrichment and geopolitical support.

Since independence, Ukraine has suffered from weak rule of law, high-level corruption and selective justice. A major Chatham House report concluded that despite ‘greater success in restricting the opportunities for corruption, reforms of the law enforcement agencies are proceeding slowly because of the deep underlying culture of corruption in the judicial system.’…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump speaks at the UN on 24 September. Photo: Getty Images.

In the wake of a whistleblower’s report that alleged Donald Trump linked military aid to Ukraine to the latter’s willingness to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential elections, and his son, Hunter, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated a formal impeachment inquiry. Chatham House experts explore the impact of this latest turn of events.

Questions abound for Congress and for foreign allies

Lindsay Newman

For more than a year, Democrats worked to investigate President Donald Trump’s potential involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Now, in the span of a week, they appear to have decided that the subject of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi and alleged subsequent efforts by the Trump administration to prevent the release of a related whistleblower report constitute clear, impeachable offences.…  Seguir leyendo »

People exit the Central Election Commission in Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images.

1. President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s party scored the first ever parliamentary majority in the history of independent Ukraine.

The main surprise of the snap parliamentary elections was that the president’s party, Servant of the People, won a majority. With 254 MPs out of 450, Zelenskyi can form a new government without a coalition partner. For the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, one political party will have full control over the cabinet of ministers, the office of the president and parliament.

This became possible because Ukrainians were tired of hearing unfulfilled reform promises and were disappointed with the old elite.…  Seguir leyendo »

A record 73% of voters cast ballots for a complete political novice in Volodymyr Zelenskyi for president of Ukraine. He rallied voters against the old system and harnessed anti-elitist sentiment and disillusionment from the unfulfilled promises of the protests of 2014.

Over 60% of the total Ukrainian population voted because they believed their choice could have real impact; 30 per cent of Zelenskyi’s supporters were youth under 30. Despite Russian claims that the southeast of Ukraine was disenfranchised and had no choice, the turnout in the Kyiv-controlled Donetsk oblast increased almost by 40% compared to the 2014 election. Similarly, many more Ukrainians voted in Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Following the 2004 Orange Revolution, an effort to establish a public broadcaster was hijacked by allies of the then-president Victor Yushchenko. Photo by Getty Images.

Ukrainian business moguls still own seven of the country’s eight major TV stations. But, three years after mass protests gripped the nation, demanding political and social reform, the old system continues to resist change – including to its media.

There are signs of progress. Two years ago, a new law passed requiring Ukraine’s only state-owned National TV and Radio Broadcasting Company (NTU) to become an independent, public broadcaster. The NTU was restructured with the appointment of an independent board of trustees representing parliament, civil society and media professionals, and public investment amounting to 0.2 per cent of the state budget. Yet, even with the NTU’s single-digit percentage share of the media market, the change has been viewed as a threat to the interests of the country’s political and business elites.…  Seguir leyendo »