Home >> Former USSR
Ukraine, Belorussia & Moldova
The Meaning of Tymoshenko’s Case for the EU: Will Brussels Sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 9/4/2013
For two years now, Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been in prison, and the European Union has constantly demanded her release. While the former prime minister’s name is not mentioned in all of Brussels’s statements, it is clear that her discharge is a necessary prerequisite for signing the Association Agreement. Why has the EU set such a condition for concluding this historic agreement, and what role does the Tymoshenko case play?
Four Political Dimensions of Ukraine’s Future Europeanization: Why Brussels and the EU Member States Need to Keep an Eye on Kyiv
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/20/2012
Although the EU plays a crucial role for the future of Europe, the stability and development of Europe in the 21st century depend not only on the Union’s internal affairs. The Union’s relationship to its European Eastern neighbors in the next years, above all to Russia and Ukraine, may be even more important than the EU’s finances, reform and performance.
Plea for a New Eastern Europe Policy of the EU: How Ukraine could help re-democratizing Russia
Dr. Andreas Umland - 5/10/2011
Recent political developments in the three Eastern Slavic states, like the repression of opposition figures in Moscow, Minsk and Kyiv, have been frustrating. They illustrate once more that the EU's and, not the least, Germany's policies towards Eastern Europe during the last two decades were a failure, in a number of ways.
Ukraine's New Problems
Tamerlan Vahabov - 9/28/2010
If we aspire change in Ukraine, we need to distantiate ourselves from the personalities of Yulia Timoshenko, Viktor Yanukovych, and others. Active lobbying of such reforms as legislation on local elections and the expansion of Presidential power provides strong reasons to believe that the Party of Regions aims at long-term stay in power. What is really important now is to start looking at the situation more broadly. The current electoral fatigue from traditional parties creates good opportunities for new brands to emerge and mobilize substantial support. One example thereof is the electoral su...
European Confusion in Kyiv
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/9/2010
Largely unnoticed in the West, Ukraine’s new President, Viktor Yanukovych, has brought to power an illegitimate government, in March 2010. Though being installed via a seemingly orderly parliamentary procedure, the current Ukrainian cabinet headed by Prime-Minister Mykola Azarov has no proper popular mandate. Worse, according to Ukrainian press reports, Yanukovych’s actions received first hesitant, and later explicit support from official representatives of Western countries and organizations. How did that come about?
Ukraine's democracy in decline
Dr. Andreas Umland - 3/29/2010
“Tushka” is the Russian word for the dead body of a small animal. During the last weeks, its plural form “tushki” has come into wide use, in Ukraine, as a metaphor for a number of former members of the parliamentary factions of the pro-Yushchenko party alliance Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense, and Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko. Despite being elected to the Verkhovna Rada as list members of these two political associations, the tushki have left their original factions – six deputies, in each case – and joined the opposed camp in the Verkhovna Rada, namely an alliance of the Party of Regions, Co...
Ukraine as a link between East and West?
Aaron Beitman - 3/13/2010
Ukrainian leaders since 1991 have employed different strategies for navigating the cramped geopolitical space between Russia and the West. Viktor Yanukovych will be the latest to chart a course through these treacherous waters, following his triumph over Yulia Tymoshenko in February’s presidential elections. In contrast to Yanukovych’s 2004 victory, domestic and international observers roundly affirmed the February votes as free and fair. Though the Orange Revolution has been read its obituary, the February votes should be seen as healthy steps towards democracy in a region that has in recent ...
Ukraine’s Future: The Precarious Alternatives to an EU Membership Perspective
Dr. Andreas Umland - 2/8/2010
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dictum that, without Ukraine, Russia is no longer an empire is well-known in Europe too. Yet, its topicality for European security seems insufficiently appreciated in Brussels. While the EU cannot directly influence relations between Russia and Ukraine, any more than it can solve her problems, its Eastern policies do nonetheless affect both Kyiv’s foreign affairs and Ukrainian domestic politics. Whether it likes or not, the EU exerts influence on the whole process of Ukraine’s post-Soviet transformation – as it did in post-communist Central Europe. To be sure, the success...
Ukraine: What will happen after the first blood?
Dr. Andreas Umland - 1/27/2010
On December 26, 2009, the famous Crimean city of Sevastopol saw yet another confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian nationalists. A group of activists of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda,” Ukraine’s largest explicitly nationalist party, tried to conduct a – what they called – March Against Illegal Immigration through the town that hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet. As could be expected, they soon encountered a pro-Russian counter-demonstration. Although some violence occurred, Sevastopol’s police was able to hold the two groups separate, and to prevent an escalation.
Ukraine's German Chance
Dr. Andreas Umland - 12/16/2009
The issue of an EU membership perspective for Ukraine is central to this young democracy’s current foreign relations and future domestic development. At least, this is what many members of Kyiv’s political and intellectual elite believe – arguably, for good reasons. The prospect of becoming a fully accepted “member of the European family” was, in the opinion of many in both the West and East, important for the political and economic development of Central European as well as Baltic countries in the 1990s. It was a driving force in the quick transition of these post-totalitarian states into more or less liberal democracies today.
Understanding the Orange Revolution: Ukraine's Democratization in the Russian Mirror
Dr. Andreas Umland - 11/20/2009
On November 21st, 2009, Ukrainian democrats will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the start of demonstrations in Kyiv which led to larger political developments that came to reshape our understanding of post-Soviet politics. During the last five years, the 2004 events in Ukraine known as the Orange Revolution have become important reference points in the international study of democratic transition and consolidation. The Orange Revolution is certainly the major event in the study of current Ukrainian history. Whatever happens to Ukraine in the future, it seems to be destined to become a “crucial case” within comparative research into post-communist politics.
Europe’s Share in the Ukrainian Malaise
Dr. Andreas Umland - 8/20/2009
Much can be heard from Western visitors of Ukraine or observers analyzing the post-Soviet region that Kyiv politics today is a “mess.” Hardly anybody (least of all, Ukrainians themselves) will disagree. Even lowbrow EU citizens may come up with an opinion on current Ukrainian affairs, and criticize the ensuing political chaos, in Kyiv. Sometimes, Western ignorance mixes with European arrogance to re-produce stereotypes about Ukraine eerily similar to the way in which former KGB officers in Moscow would like to portray Europe’s largest new democracy.
Ukraine's Window of Opportunity
Dr. Andreas Umland - 12/29/2008
As president Victor Yushchenko's rating plummets further there is a chance that Kiev's political elite may agree to form a parliamentary republic.
Ukraine, NATO, and German Foreign Policy
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/30/2008
Since the beginning of April, Germany has become a rather less popular country in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Western provinces. Patriotic Ukrainian elites are mostly right in their evaluation of the effects of recent German foreign policies. At the summit in Bucharest in early April, it was not the least Germany's refusal to immediately invite Ukraine to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) that led to the postponement of the issue to NATO’s next large meeting later this year.
Aspects of the Orange Revolution
Dr. Andreas Umland - 4/20/2008
Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election was falsified, spurring the Orange Revolution. To many observers, the Orange Revolution was a shock, and the stolen elections a recent development. However, both the election fraud and the effort to topple the government of Leonid Kuchma emerged from political dynamics that had appeared in earlier Ukrainian elections.
Russia's Role in a Brave, New World
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/1/2006
This article was originally written in May 1999. How little has changed! Replace Yeltsin with Putin and the text, regrettably, is utterly applicable - even more so than when it was written. A president (Yeltsin) almost impeached. An important politician sacked due to incompetence. Business tycoons under investigation. The USA? No, this is the new, post-communist, Russia. Many firsts, meagre experience, numerous blunders. Is it democracy in action? No, it is simply autocracy exposed. The same machinations went on in Ivan the Terrible's court, the same conspiracies enshrouded Peter the Great's cabin, the same conflicts besieged Stalin. Ask Khruschev.
Energy geopolicy of the Ukraine
Todor Kondakov, Ph.D. - 8/1/2006
It is a well-known fact that the present authorities in the Ukraine consider the energy independency of the country from Russia for the topmost national priority. Over 90% of the deliveries of Russian natural gas for Europe go via this country and Belarus. But if Russian energy companies can reach agreements with Belarus, which is considered as a solid ally of Moscow's, the Ukraine has become a real nightmare for Kremlin after the victory of the "orange revolution". Furthermore, this does not concern the mere transit of energy raw materials for Europe - a much greater challenge is posed by the...
Ukraine: Challenges of Sovereignty
Teymur Huseyinov - 3/27/2006
In the March 26 parliamentary elections in Ukraine - a country that is a bridge between Russia and the EU - the voters will, once again, have to assess whether the direction where the country is headed for satisfies them. This time around opinion polls favor Viktor Yanukovich, the ex-Prime Minister and Yuschenko rival in the presidential elections of December 2004, followed by the sensational Orange Revolution that brought the latter to power. The reasons for this are manifold ranging from lack of political will on the side of the pro-Western President Yuschenko to soaring inflation and plummeting economic performance.
Ukraine and the Processing of Export Zones
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/22/2006
Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, told, in Fenruary 2003, an assembly of senior customs service officials that "it is necessary to put an end to (Ukraine's 11 free economic and 9 priority) zones (and) liquidate them completely. (They) have become semi-criminal zones, and this refers not only to the Donetsk zone. You pull the meat that Europe doesn't want to eat into these zones and sell it there without [paying] taxes".
Transnistria and Tensions in Southeastern Europe
Manuela Paraipan - 11/11/2005
The Transnistrian Republic recently celebrated 15 years since it declared itself as a separate entity of Moldova. The international community often calls it "the Russian enclave". The enclave has today all the attributes of a semi functional, yet unrecognized state. It has its own Constitution, Parliament called the Supreme Soviet, army, currency, flag, etc. On the socio-economical level the state is the one in control of everything starting from education, mass media, to the financial sector. Despite the tensions between Chisinau and Tyraspol, Transnistria maintains relations with Moldova on political, social and economical levels.
Ukraine Government Difficulties Make Moscow Happy
Angelique van Engelen - 9/28/2005
Ukraine's faltering Orange Revolution is seen by analysts as something that was hardly avoidable. Many Eastern European countries went through a number of rapid successions in leadership before they somewhat stabilized. But given the EU's reduced appetite for new members any time soon, will this lead to greater chances for Moscow to embark on a renewed struggle for control over its neigbour?
Transnistria And Influence on Former Soviet Republics by Russia and the West
Manuela Paraipan - 9/13/2005
The Transnistrian Republic recently celebrated 15 years since it declared itself as a separate entity of Moldova. The international community often calls it "the Russian enclave". The enclave has today all the attributes of a semi functional, yet unrecognized state. It has its own Constitution, Parliament called the Supreme Soviet, army, currency, flag, etc. On the socio-economical level the state is the one in control of everything starting from education, mass media, to the financial sector. Despite the tensions between [Moldovan capital] Chisinau and [Transnistrian capital] Tyraspol, Transnistria maintains relations with Moldova on political, social and economical levels.
Aleksander Lukashenka of Belarus: Europe's Pariah Strongman
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/6/2005
Most of the post-communist countries in transition are ruled either by reformed communists or by authoritarian anti-communists. It is ironic that the West - recently led more by the European Union than by the USA - helps the former to get elected even as it demonizes and vilifies the latter. The "regime change" fad, one must recall, started in the Balkans with Slobodan Milosevic, not in Afghanistan, or Iraq. Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former communist minister and the current president of Poland is feted by the likes of George Bush. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer and Russia's president, i...
Ukraine: The Crouching Tiger
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/15/2005
Reading the Western media, one would think that Ukraine's main products are grotesquely corrupt politicians, grey hued, drab, and polluted cities, and mysteriously deceased investigative journalists and erstwhile state functionaries.
Ukraine: Russia's Younger Brother?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/14/2005
The "Orange Revolution" in October-November 2004 was a coup d'etat. It was a disorderly, though popular, transfer of power from one group within the "Dniepropetrovsk clan", headed by Leonid Kuchma and his henchman to another faction, headed by the volatile and incompatible Viktor Yuschenko and Yulia Timoshenko.
Organ Trafficking in Eastern Europe
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/7/2005
A kidney fetches $2700 in Turkey. According to the October 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, this is a high price. An Indian or Iraqi kidney enriches its former owner by a mere $1000. Wealthy clients later pay for the rare organ up to $150,000.
Moldova's Communist Government Looks Westward
Jovan Franke - 2/13/2005
Located between Ukraine and Romania, the small ex-Soviet republic of Moldova holds the unenviable position as the poorest country in Europe with debilitating foreign debt and high unemployment. After a decade of ineffective reformist governments, the Party of Communists of Moldova (PCRM) was elected to power by a large margin, in February 2001, on a platform of pro-Russian policies. However, with the PCRM seeking re-election next month, the government has noticeably shifted its foreign policy direction by promising closer ties with the European Union. While this westward turn can be partially ...