Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is Putin's New Type Of War In Ukraine Failing?

By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
As the Kiev EuroMaidan demonstrations were gathering momentum in late February, Anne Applebaum prophetically wrote: "Putin doesn't need to invade Ukraine. He can destabilize it from the Kremlin." So far, Applebaum's insight has proven correct. What we have seen is a covert war of destabilization, rather than an invasion by conventional means. While we focus on the 40,000 troops amassed on the border, Putin has, all the while, been conducting a war of another kind in ten strategic cities and towns in eastern Ukraine.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

UN's Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine: why is it important?

By Kateryna Dronova (Berkeley, CA)

On April 15, 2014 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine”. This document provides a general overview on the problematic issues related to human rights protection is Ukraine and specifically highlights abuses related to Maidan protests and human rights challenges in Crimea. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich hastened to comment that this document “has one-sided, politicized and biased character and give no picture of the real situation in that country” and “was fabricated to fit prearranged conclusions to arrived at which there was no need to visit Ukraine.” Two days later France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud compared Russian behavior towards Ukraine to “fire-setting firefighter.” To clarify the validity of such claims this post suggests taking a closer look at the Report’s content and makes some conclusions on the nature of the document.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ukraine’s path to oligarchy: Lessons for the U.S.?

By Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley)

Because countries’ political systems tend to develop only gradually, it can be difficult to draw a hard line that identifies country X as a particular regime. There have, however, been some instances in which countries have turned into oligarchies quickly and these unusually rapid evolutions can teach us about the workings of the process as well as symptoms. Ukraine, my home country, is a showcase in this respect.

Monday, April 21, 2014

South & East of Ukraine: Is it one country?

By Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley)
Results of a new survey were published in The survey was conducted by a leading sociological institution in Ukraine: the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. Since there are many myths and guesses about what the South and East of Ukraine want to be and want to do, the survey is really helpful. It was aimed to understand the aspirations of the people (rather than special groups such as individuals who occupy buildings) in these regions of Ukraine. Here is an overview some key results.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Instant Parsing: Does The Geneva Agreement Defuse The Ukrainian Crisis?

By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
Today’s events constitute a surprise for me. I had expected a recalcitrant Russian negotiating stance that would deteriorate into a pointing of fingers of blame. The result, by all appearances was surprisingly positive, although the agreement was reached by ignoring or not spelling out the major points of contention.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lustration in Ukraine: Is the work ever over?

by Kateryna Dronova (Berkeley, CA)
The new Ukrainian government is currently facing a growing public demand for lustration of the former government members and their supporters who are considered corrupt as well as allied with Russian agents. As a response to this demand in February, 2014 Lustration Committee headed by Egor Sobolev (leading Ukrainian opposition journalist and activist) has been established under the Cabinet of Ministers. This post aims to review the steps undertaken by committee towards its initial goals, as well as critiques of recently introduced “lustration” bills.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Putin Needs Victory

Anders Aslund (PIIE) argues that the West should stop the Russian aggression now. This is the time to act because:
  1. Putin has nearly complete (if not all) control over political/military decision making in Russia. He faces no internal opposition and so one should not expect that anybody in Russia can stop him.
  2. Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union in some form. Crimea was an "appetizer" and Putin will continue aggression and, in fact, it is happening now in the East of Ukraine. 
  3. Sanctions imposed on Russia are laughable. West has probably less credibility with Putin than President Kennedy had with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev after their disastrous summit in Vienna in 1961. That debacle led to the Cuban missile crisis. After Russia’s war in Georgia in August 2008, the West made some noise, but soon it turned quiet, ignoring the Russian aggression. Clearly, Putin expects that to happen once again.
Aslund suggests that Russia, however, is in no position to rival the West and the Russian economy is  highly vulnerable. The popularity of Putin in built on the notion that he's a successful manager and there should be a limit to how much economic damage Putin can tolerate. The West needs to test this hypothesis by imposing a truly great cost upon him with a broad array of sanctions.  Sanctions should be as deep as the ones imposed on Iran. At the same time, the West should obviously also supply arms to Ukraine as fast as possible.
Aslund concludes that the West needs to recognize that it cannot afford not to stop Putin. The earlier and more effectively that is accomplished, the lower the cost will be. The obvious parallel is the West’s failure to stop Nazi Germany in time in 1938.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How many troops does Russia need to occupy Ukraine?

Prof. Motyl argues that
  • In order to occupy Donetsk and Luhansk provinces alone, Russian would have to deploy somewhere between 26,702 and 133,514 troops.
  • A “land bridge” from Crimea to Transnistria would mean occupying Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa provinces—which would entail somewhere between 46,497 and 92,994 soldiers.
  • Occupying all seven southeastern provinces would require between 118,536 (26,702 for Donetsk and Luhansk and 91,834 for the others) and 317,182 (133,514 for Donetsk and Luhansk and 183,668 for the others).
  • If Russia decides to conquer all of Ukraine, it would need an additional 548,587 troops—for a grand total of 667,123 to 865,769 troops.
  • Kyiv city and Kyiv Province alone would require 90,676 occupying soldiers.
  • All of Ukraine = more than 500,000 soldiers
These calculations suggest that Russian troops concentrated next to the Ukrainian border may be not enough to occupy many oblasts in Ukraine. However, the current Russian forces could be enough to occupy one or two oblasts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eyewitness To The Kharkiv Demonstrations: Going Against The Putin Machine

By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
Eyewitness Account of the events on April 6 in Kharkiv, Ukraine supplied to me by a colleague who vouches for the veracity of the writer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ukraine's Path To Justice Leads To Strasbourg

by Kateryna Dronova (Berkeley, CA)
In 2013, Ukrainians filed 13,152 complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which constituted 13.3% of all claims in the ECHR and put Ukraine in #3 position. The large protests in Kyiv and subsequent escalation leading to the Crimean crisis resulted in numerous human rights violations in Ukraine. Notably, attempts to address these grave breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights were undertaken not only by Ukrainian citizens, but also by the government of Ukraine in proceedings against Russia. This post suggests a brief review of the filed complaints and examines whether ECHR’s willingness to provide redress for the alleged breaches necessarily results in effectiveness of these decisions.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Putin's Attack On Ukraine Began Today: What This Means For Europe And The US

By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
Vladimir Putin had to act before the Ukrainian presidential election of May 25, at which time his narrative of neo-Nazis and nationalist extremists in charge of Ukraine would vanish into thin air.  Even Putin’s genius spin meisters could not portray a President Poroshenko from ex-boxer Klitschko’s UDAR party as a wild eyed extremist, nor could they whitewash the trivial vote for rightist candidates, although they would try.
Putin’s anti-Ukraine propaganda juggernaut rests squarely on the single fiction of a neo-Nazi, Jew-hating, extreme nationalist government in Kiev. If Putin waits out the election, his anti-Ukraine disinformation campaign directed to his Russian, southeastern Ukrainian, and Western audiences loses its credibility, even in receptive leftist quarters in the West.
True to expectations, Putin began today a coordinated attack on Eastern Ukraine and parts of Moldavia.

Can State Language Policies Distort Students’ Demand for Education?

By Alexander Muravyev (IZA and St. Petersburg University GSOM) and Oleksandr Talavera (University of Sheffield)
With territory larger than Metropolitan France, and population over 45 million people, Ukraine is characterized by considerable ethnic diversity. Ukrainians are by far the largest ethnic group constituting 77.8% of the population. Russians are the second largest ethnic group amounting to 17.3% of the population. The other large minorities include Belarusians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, and Jews. An interesting feature of the country is a disproportional use of Russian by ethnic Ukrainians and other ethnic minorities, a heritage of the explicit and implicit Russification which occurred over most of the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular, numerous surveys in Ukraine in the early 2000s revealed that only half of ethnic Ukrainians chose Ukrainian as language of interview, 17.9% were indifferent between Ukrainian and Russian and 32.0% preferred Russian. Strong preference for Russian is also documented among other ethnic groups.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Empathizing With The Devil: How Germany's Putin-Verstehers Shield Russia

By Paul Gregory (Hoover Institution and University of Houston)
In the days of the cold war, the Soviet Union and East Germany infiltrated their spies into the Bundestag, the federal bureaucracy, and even the chancellor’s (Willy Brandt’s) inner circle. The Federal Republic of Germany was Russia’s most spectacular espionage success, made possible by the common lineage of German communists and the Social Democrats (SPD), who alternated in power with rival Christian Democrats throughout the postwar era.
A quarter century after the end of the cold war, the German social democrats are still providing ideological cover for the Russian Bear along with their cast-out brethren – the ex-communists of Die Linke party. These prominent German Putin-Empathizers (from Versteher or, literally “understander” in German) serve as Putin’s first line of defense against meaningful European sanctions for the Anschluss of Crimea.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Russia-West relationship: The Long Telegram revisited

By Yuriy Gorodnichenko (UC Berkeley)

The Russian invasion into Crimea sent the Russia-West relationship to the lowest point in a long time and many commentators talk about the return of the Cold War: although Russian media talked about turning America into radioactive dust, few want to have a military conflict in Europe and yet the Russian aggression has to be stopped (the UN resolution on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity strongly indicates that the world condemns the invasion). Almost 70 years ago, George Kennan—the author of the long telegram which was further elaborated in The Sources of Soviet Conduct (1947)—outlined the policy of containment of the Soviet Union. Surprisingly, many of the points he made are still relevant. This post briefly reviews some of the key points in The Sources of Soviet Conduct.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Russian language minority in Ukraine: To the rescue?

by Kateryna Dronova (Berkeley, CA)
On the numerous occasions, the Russian government declared that the primary reason for the invasion of Russian troops into Crimea was protection of Russian-speaking population subjected to alleged persecution and oppression. This post aims to probe this claim and overviews compliance of Ukraine with its obligations to protect the Russian-speaking minority.