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 »

Ukrainian feminists and human rights activists carry posters at an International Women's Day protest in Kyiv, Ukraine on 8 March 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

The virus of violence

According to the UN (para. 7) and the International Criminal Court (ICC, para. 279), conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is quite prevalent in hostilities-affected eastern Ukraine. Both sexes are subjected to sexualized torture, rape, forced nudity, prolonged detention in unsanitary conditions with members of the other sex and threats of sexual violence towards detainees or their relatives to force confessions. Men are castrated. Women additionally suffer from sexual slavery, enforced and survival prostitution, and other forms of sexual abuse. Women are more exposed to CRSV: in the hostilities-affected area, every third woman has experienced or witnessed CRSV as opposed to every fourth man.…  Seguir leyendo »

In face-to-face surveys carried out by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) and Levada Marketing Research (Moscow), we asked 2,750 respondents in southeast Ukraine and in Crimea in December 2014 and another 3,037 respondents throughout Ukraine and in Crimea in December 2019/January 2020 the question: “Have you heard about the catastrophe of the Malaysian aircraft in July 2014 in eastern Ukraine? And if so, in your view, what caused it?” Large regional differences in blame attribution are evident across Ukraine’s regions. More respondents gave “don’t know” answers in 2019 than 2014, though respondents in Crimea widely blamed Ukraine for the downed flight. Figure by authors.

Six years ago this week, a Russian-made missile shot Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a civilian passenger plane with 298 people on board, from the sky over war-torn Ukraine. Last week, the Dutch government, acting on behalf of the 193 Dutch nationals on the flight, announced it was taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights. A criminal trial against four suspects involved in transporting the missile system that downed MH17 began in Amsterdam in March.

The destruction of MH17 on July 17, 2014, sparked outrage and accusations. Russia — and Russian separatists in Ukraine — continue to deny any responsibility.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainians wearing protective face masks hold placards during a protest in front of the Cabinet of Ministers building in central Kyiv on Tuesday. (Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

In the covid-19 fight, at what point do people think the cure is worse than the disease?

Our new survey evidence from Ukraine shows that for countries in conflict, economic fears aren’t the only issue. National security threats may pose significant barriers to slowing down the virus.

How we did our research

All countries face short-term trade-offs between fighting the virus and keeping the economy going. We wanted to uncover people’s priorities in a country that also faced an immediate security threat, as do many of the world’s countries.

Ukraine fits this bill. Not only are economic choices hard there — we document that 58 percent of all citizens found it difficult to afford clothing as of April 2020 — but Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia-backed insurgents in the Donbas has claimed over 14,000 lives since 2014.…  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 »

Marking the Day of The National Flag of Ukraine, a day before celebrations of the anniversary of state independence. Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images.

The recognition by Ukraine of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider grave crimes allegedly perpetrated in its territory has led to the ICC Prosecutor’s preliminary examination identifying a wave of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are claims of persecution, forced conscription, deportation, sham trials, enforced disappearances, and property seizure – in Crimea. As well as killings, torture, inhuman treatment, sexual violence, and indiscriminate shelling – in Donbas. The court now needs to decide whether to open a full investigation which could lead to charges against specific individuals, as in the trial currently taking place in the Netherlands over MH-17.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rally in support of keeping Crimea as part of Ukraine. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Russia’s ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and support of separatist hostilities in the eastern provinces of Donbas have resulted in 1.5 million internally displaced persons, 3,000 civilians killed, and a growing list of alleged violations of international law and socio-economic hardship.

But Ukraine is struggling in its efforts to hold Russia accountable – either as a state or through individual criminal responsibility – as it cannot unilaterally ask any international court to give an overall judgment on the conflict.

So it focuses on narrower issues, referring them to authorised adjudication and arbitration platforms such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), European Court of Human Rights, UNCLOS arbitration, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).…  Seguir leyendo »

People attend a demonstration of military equipment and hardware on the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Feb. 23. (Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters)

Wednesday is the sixth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. After a hastily organized and deeply contentious referendum on March 16, 2014, following Russia’s military occupation of the peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of accession with Crimean leaders in Moscow two days later.

An avalanche of international criticism followed. Analysts pointed out that this was the first annexation by one state of the territory of a neighboring state on the European continent since World War II. In the United Nations, 100 countries condemned the unauthorized referendum and affirmed their support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

In Crimea itself, the annexation was popular, especially among Crimea’s large population of older ethnic Russians.…  Seguir leyendo »

People pose on T-72 battle tank during a Defender of the Fatherland Day celebration Feb. 23 at a former airport in Luhansk, Ukraine. (Dave Mustaine/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month challenged a reporter to locate Ukraine on a blank map. While visiting Kyiv in late January, Pompeo described Ukraine in a colorful manner, as “the hinge of freedom.” The country, he said, “sits right on the edge between Europe and Russia.” Yet, mixing his metaphors, he said Ukraine is “firmly anchored in the West.”

So where is Ukraine on the geopolitical map? Is it an in-between country, caught between Europe and Russia — or is it definitely in the West? We asked Ukrainians this important question in a December 2019 nationally representative survey.

Which way is Ukraine leaning?…  Seguir leyendo »

Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a ceremony welcoming Ukrainians who were freed by pro-Russian rebels during a prisoner exchange. Photo: Getty Images.

One of the key messages at the heart of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign in 2019 was a very simple one: peace in Donbas, the war-torn region of Ukraine where Russian-supported separatists continue to fight a war against the Kyiv government. Zelenskyy’s message was based on the assumption that if a ceasefire could be respected, and all Ukrainian prisoners-of-war could return home, then peace would have been achieved.

Nine months after Zelenskyy’s inauguration and two months after his first Normandy Four summit (which brings together Germany and France with Ukraine and Russia to discuss Donbas), it appears more likely that this approach will lead Ukraine into a Russian trap.…  Seguir leyendo »

'The destructive reconstruction of the 16th-century Bakhchysarai Palace is being conducted by a team with no experience of cultural sites, in a manner that erodes its authenticity and historical value.' Photo: Getty Images.

Violations against cultural property – such as archaeological treasures, artworks, museums or historical sites – can be no less detrimental to the survival of a nation than the physical persecution of its people. These assaults on heritage ensure the hegemony of some nations and distort the imprint of other nations in world history, sometimes to the point of eradication.

As contemporary armed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen demonstrate, cultural property violations are not only a matter of the colonial past; they continue to be perpetrated, often in new, intricate ways.

Understandably, from a moral perspective, it is more often the suffering of persons, rather than any kind of ‘cultural’ destruction, that receives the most attention from humanitarian aid providers, the media or the courts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las audiencias del proceso de destitución que se le sigue al presidente Donald Trump han puesto de manifiesto que cualquiera sea su partido, los políticos estadounidenses coinciden en que Ucrania es un país corrupto. Sin embargo, sería lamentable que durante este proceso la opinión pública sólo oiga decir que Ucrania está irremediablemente sumida en la anomia, la pobreza y la desesperanza, y no se hable de la transformación generalizada que atraviesa.

Es verdad que Ucrania sigue siendo un país pobre y, en ocasiones, desesperanzado. Pero el año pasado, su ciudadanía emitió dos veces un voto inequívoco contra la corrupción y la incompetencia que han sido sinónimo de la clase política desde que el país se independizó en 1991.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s not been a good year for major media.

First, they were caught red-handed as shills for the fake Russian collusion narrative that convulsed the nation for nearly three years.

Then, they were exposed as barkers for the fake Ukraine scandal while the real thing — Joe Biden’s pay-for-play scheme and $1 billion “quid pro quo” while he was President Obama’s vice president — still goes largely unexamined.

Truth be told, this kind of slanted reporting involving Russia and Ukraine has a long pedigree.

In 1932, The New York Times’ Moscow bureau chief, Walter Duranty, won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Joseph Stalin’s USSR.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le sommet qui a réuni à Paris, le 9 décembre, la Russie, l’Ukraine, l’Allemagne et la France a produit des effets significatifs et aura un impact sur le processus de paix dans l’est du Donbass. L’absence de résultats marquants est paradoxalement rassurante, car tout compromis accepté par le président russe aurait signifié une concession unilatérale du président ukrainien.

Tout d’abord, Volodymyr Zelensky a fait connaissance avec Vladimir Poutine en terre européenne, à Paris, sous les regards protecteurs d’Emmanuel Macron et d’Angela Merkel. Le chef d’Etat ukrainien s’y trouvait en position de force diplomatique. Il pouvait accepter de serrer la main de son adversaire et lui rappeler la position de son pays, et les « lignes rouges » infranchissables.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, left, joined Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in talks on the conflict in Ukraine on Monday in Paris.Credit...Pool photo by Ian Langsdon

The France-Germany-Russia-Ukraine summit meeting in Paris on Monday, seeking ways to end the war ravaging eastern Ukraine, ended with a few promising words but no progress in reality. Russia, the aggressor, continues to keep the Ukrainian territory it seized in 2014, and Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, showed he can’t easily be pressured into surrender.

That left a just and lasting peace in Ukraine not an inch closer.

Still, while Mr. Zelensky’s steadfastness was a relief to millions of Ukrainians, the intransigence of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, brought into sharper relief a few realities, none of which bodes well for the West in the long term.…  Seguir leyendo »

En diciembre de 1994, Ucrania rubricó el Memorando de Budapest para convertirse en un Estado libre de armas nucleares. Los firmantes, Estados Unidos, Rusia y el Reino Unido, reafirmaron entonces su compromiso “de respetar la independencia y soberanía y las fronteras existentes de Ucrania” y “de no recurrir a la amenaza o al uso de la fuerza contra la integridad territorial o la independencia política de Ucrania”. El mismo mes, 25 años después, Ucrania se vuelve a reunir en París con sus homólogos de Rusia, Alemania y Francia, para negociar el fin de la violación de todo lo anterior por parte de uno de los signatarios.…  Seguir leyendo »

In one of the closing episodes of the televised comedy drama, «Servant of the People,» the character played by Volodymyr Zelensky — an actor before he entered politics — delivers a humiliating public tongue-lashing to a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He catches the group off guard by rejecting their harsh austerity measures on the basis that they will hurt the Ukrainian people.

On Monday, during the Normandy Four peace summit in Paris, Zelensky, now Ukraine’s president, will go up against a much more formidable foe, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will discuss how to bring normalcy back to areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian-backed rebels.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »