A banner reading 'No capitulation!' is unfurled above the entrance to the city hall in Kyiv as part of protests against implementation of the so-called Steinmeier Formula. Photo: Getty Images.

In 2016, the then-German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, suggested a way around the impasse in east Ukraine.

He proposed that elections in the areas held by Russian-backed insurgents – the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) – could be held under Ukrainian legislation, with Kyiv adopting a temporary law on ‘special status’, the main disagreement between Russia and Ukraine in the Minsk Agreements. This law would become permanent once the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had declared that elections correspond with OSCE standards.

The reaction in Ukraine was strongly negative. The so-called Steinmeier Formula contradicted Kyiv’s position that elections in the occupied Donbas should only go ahead in a secure environment – requiring the prior withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of the eastern border to Ukraine’s control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy visiting armed forces in the Donetsk region, October 2019. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Ser/Reuters

At a press marathon in Kyiv last week, Volodymyr Zelenskiy declared that his mission was to be the Ukrainian president who would “end the war”. That’s a tough ask for a former comedy actor who had barely got his feet under the presidential desk before being snarled up in a Donald Trump impeachment scandal that has led some Ukrainians to refer to their leader as “Monica” Zelenskiy.

Ukraine’s war is rightly Zelenskiy’s priority, having now claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014 when demands for greater territorial autonomy in Donetsk and Luhansk – collectively known as Donbass – escalated into a separatist crisis with Russia supporting the separatist rebels.…  Seguir leyendo »

En el momento de euforia que siguió inmediatamente al colapso de la Unión Soviética, pocos hubieran adivinado que Ucrania (un país industrializado con una fuerza laboral educada y vastos recursos naturales) padecería estancamiento por los próximos 28 años. En ese mismo lapso, la vecina Polonia, que en 1991 era más pobre que Ucrania, consiguió casi triplicar su PIB per cápita (medido en términos de paridad del poder adquisitivo).

La mayoría de los ucranianos saben por qué se quedaron atrás: su país es uno de los más corruptos del mundo. Pero la corrupción no sale de la nada, así que la pregunta real es cuál es su causa.…  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.’ Meanwhile, the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicator for rule of law in Ukraine has remained almost unchanged in the last 10 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A classified State Department assessment concluded in 2018 that Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko—who is at the center of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump—had allowed a vital potential witness for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Konstantin Kilimnik, to escape from Ukraine to Russia, beyond the reach of the United States, after a federal grand jury in the US charged Kilimnik with obstruction of justice.

Had Kilimnik been extradited to the United States, he had the potential to provide invaluable information to investigators that might have shed light on one of the most consequential unresolved questions that the American people deserve an answer to: whether the former chairman to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Paul Manafort, and perhaps other aides to then presidential candidate Trump, conspired with Russia to aid Russia’s covert operations to intervene in the election to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Trump.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort

The effort by President Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son had its origins in an earlier endeavor to obtain information that might provide a pretext and political cover for the president to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to previously undisclosed records.

These records indicate that attorneys representing Trump and Manafort respectively had at least nine conversations relating to this effort, beginning in the early days of the Trump administration, and lasting until as recently as May of this year. Through these deliberations carried on by his attorneys, Manafort exhorted the White House to press Ukrainian officials to investigate and discredit individuals, both in the US and in Ukraine, who he believed had published damning information about his political consulting work in the Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Figura 1. La economía sumergida de Ucrania, Rusia, Serbia, Libia y Venezuela, 2000-2017 (% del PIB)


¿Cuáles son los principales retos para el nuevo presidente de Ucrania, Volodimir Zelensky y cuál debería ser el papel de la UE en la nueva legislatura ucraniana?


El éxito o fracaso político de Volodimir Zelensky se verá determinado por su capacidad para cumplir sus promesas electorales, sobre todo dos de ellas: combatir la corrupción y la economía sumergida y encontrar una solución para el enquistado conflicto de Donbás.

El futuro político y democrático de Ucrania es ante todo una cuestión de guerra y paz. Mientras Crimea siga anexionada por Rusia y el Kremlin preste apoyo económico, militar y político a los rebeldes pro rusos en Donbás, Kiev no podrá controlar su territorio, que es la primera condición de existencia de un Estado-nación.…  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 »

Las encuestas de opinión han comenzado a indicar que los ucranianos están más optimistas respecto de su futuro que los ciudadanos de la mayoría de los otros países del mundo. Puede parecer sorprendente, en vista de la multiplicidad de desafíos que enfrenta Ucrania, pero el rumbo político actual del país lo justifica.

Durante las primeras dos décadas después del derrumbe de la Unión Soviética, Ucrania fue uno de los estados sucesores peor gobernados. Mientras Rusia al principio emprendió una liberalización económica (y siempre tuvo el beneficio de altos precios del gas y del petróleo) y los estados bálticos entraron en 2004 a la Unión Europea, Ucrania quedó rezagada.…  Seguir leyendo »

EU and Ukraine flags in Lviv town hall. Photo via Getty Images.

Since the Euromaidan revolution in the winter of 2013–14, the EU has adopted a significantly more strategic approach to reform in Ukraine, in order to address fundamental weaknesses within Ukrainian state institutions.

The EU Commission of 2014–19 launched a number of major innovations to support Ukraine, which represented a step-change in EU support for domestic reforms in a neighbouring country.

The most significant of these was the creation of the Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA), a special taskforce for delivering assistance and supporting Ukraine, which became operational during Jean-Claude Juncker presidency of the Commission. The SGUA, led by Peter Wagner since 2016, consists of 35-40 officials who have developed an in-depth knowledge of Ukraine and have experimented with new approaches in supporting reforms.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump appears determined to forgive his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine. Unfortunately, the new Ukrainian leadership’s foreign policy failures aren’t helping.

Earlier this year, Ukrainians voted in President Volodymyr Zelensky on a wave of hope and optimism. Many abroad were cautiously optimistic as well: At a time when democracy doesn’t seem to be faring well in the world, a victory for a progressive anti-establishment movement in Ukraine was refreshing. Three months after his inauguration, the domestic enthusiasm is still there. But Zelensky’s attempt to reboot Ukrainian foreign policy has been a disaster — and it is helping Putin’s global push to rehabilitate himself.…  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 »

Ni el más optimista de los guionistas hubiera imaginado para Volodímir Zelenski un guion tan afortunado. Después de haber interpretado el papel de un profesor que, por sorpresa, es elegido jefe del Estado en la serie de televisión Sluga Narodur (El siervo del pueblo), emitida asimismo por Netflix, el pasado abril el excómico fue coronado presidente de Ucrania también en la realidad. Esperando capitalizar su popularidad, este actor de 41 años disolvió un Parlamento fiel a su predecesor, Petró Poroshenko, y convocó elecciones anticipadas. Y ganó también esa apuesta.

Decepcionados por una clase dirigente juzgada corrupta e ineficaz, cansados de la prolongada crisis económica y agotados por el conflicto separatista del Este filorruso que en cinco años se ha cobrado 13.000 vidas, los electores entregaron al neófito de la política la mayoría absoluta de la Rada, el Parlamento ucranio: un poder que ningún otro presidente había tenido nunca desde la independencia de Kiev en 1991.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine speaking to the media on Sunday.CreditCreditZoya Shu/Associated Press

Voters across the country took another leap of faith on Sunday, handing yet more power to their new and untested leader. In April, the former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky went from playing an accidental president on television to unexpectedly becoming the country’s real-life president. In this weekend’s parliamentary elections, he led his party to another stunning victory.

In late May, hoping to capitalize on his popularity, Mr. Zelensky dissolved Parliament, which was still largely dominated by the camp of the previous president, Petro O. Poroshenko, and called for early elections. On Sunday, voters gave him the mandate he was asking for.

With more than 96 percent of ballots counted as of Tuesday afternoon, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

A person with passports of the Luhansk People's Republic and Ukraine enters a centre for issuing Russian passports in Luhansk. Photo: Alexander Reka\TASS via Getty Images.

The election of Volodymyr Zelenskyi as president of Ukraine has spurred hopes that an end to the war in the east of the country – pitting the Russian-backed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) against the authorities in Kyiv – is possible. A Russian-speaker from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kriviy Rih and an outsider untainted with the failures of his predecessors, Zelenskyi has, according to some, a chance to reset the bilateral relationship.

Such optimism is unfounded. The principal driver of the crisis – the refusal of Russia’s leaders to accept the sovereignty of Ukraine – is unchanged.…  Seguir leyendo »

Five years into a war in its east, Ukraine has elected an unlikely new president: professional comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy. To date, Zelenskyy has hinted at both dialogue with and new punitive measures against Ukraine’s formidable neighbour to the east, but offered little in the way of specific plans for either course of action. Some Ukrainians fear that Moscow might take advantage of this seeming hesitancy to cement its influence in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (D/LPR) – the breakaway statelets in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. In April, after Zelenskyy’s election, but before his inauguration, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree making it easier for D/LPR residents to obtain Russian citizenship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-Russian separatists patrol the street in front of Russian humanitarian trucks in Makiivka (Makeyevka) in Donetsk region, 12 December 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

After five years of war, a humanitarian crisis drags on in the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (L/DPR), the parts of eastern Ukraine nominally governed by Russian-backed separatists. More than 3.5 million people in eastern Ukraine are in need of aid, according to UN figures. The need is particularly dire in the rebel-held territories, which confront a Ukrainian economic blockade as well as isolation imposed by the rebels themselves. The aging segment of the L/DPR’s population is hardest-hit of all, struggling to get by on pensions as low as $30 per month. But humanitarian groups face several obstacles in getting these people the aid they need.…  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 »

En los inicios del siglo XXI, El ala oeste era la serie de televisión favorita de muchos. Trataba de una administración estadounidense de ficción que luchaba contra el terrorismo sin librar guerras sobre una región o religión enteras, se negaba a pisotear el estado de derecho y, por lo general, tomaba decisiones que iban dirigidas al mejor interés de la nación. Muchos deseaban que Martin Sheen, el calmado y tranquilo presidente en la serie, reemplazara al presidente cowboy George W. Bush y a su belicoso compinche Dick Cheney.

En cierto sentido, eso es exactamente lo que ocurre hoy en Ucrania. El comediante Volodimir Zelensky, cuyo único mérito para la fama hasta ahora ha sido personificar a un profesor devenido en presidente en la popular serie televisiva Servidor del pueblo, ganó la presidencia por una abrumadora mayoría en abril.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gather April 22 at the Ukrainian presidential administration in Kiev to thank Poroshenko for what he did as president. (Tatayana Zenkovich/EPA-EFE) (Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On April 21, Volodymyr Zelensky, a Ukrainian actor, comedian and performer, decisively defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election. Zelensky led Kvartal-95, a popular comedy troupe, and played fictional president Vasyl Holoborodko on the wildly popular Ukrainian TV show “Servant of the People.”

Zelensky’s unorthodox path to the presidency has made headlines around the world — but there’s another story here. The pattern of support for Zelensky is distinctly different from the East-West divide that has characterized Ukrainian politics over the past 20 years.

What elections were like in Ukraine before 2014

Analysts often depict Ukraine’s politics as a constant struggle between a pro-European West and pro-Russian East.…  Seguir leyendo »