Ukraine In-Depth: Weekend Terrorism by Russia (with infographics)

It is quite typical of Vladimir Putin to choose weekends and holidays for his nasty attacks on the European peace and security. Last Saturday his target was Mariupol, a city in South-Eastern Ukraine, where a series of missiles landed on residential quarters killing at least 30 civilians. Just two days earlier, a trolley bus with civilian passengers was shelled in Donetsk.

Mariupol attack is one more instance of the new phase of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Starting from the bus blast near Volnovakha, civilians have become deliberate, rather than accidental targets. Indirect evidence suggests that both a trolley bus accident in Donetsk and Mariupol missile attack were carefully pre-planed. In Donetsk, a Lifenews TV crew appeared at the scene immediately after the tragedy, accompanied by special «actors» disguised as shop assistants of the local store. Russian blogger Andrey Shipilov on his FB page identifies one of the actors and provides evidence of her starring in other conflict-related roles on Russian TV (i.e. a victim of shelling in Volnovakha). As for Mariupol attack, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine confirmed that the impacts were caused by Grad and Uragan rockets coming from the territories controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic. In total, over 50 civilians died and about 130 left injured as a result of the offensive in Volnovakha, Donetsk and Mariupol.

The aim of these attacks could be manifold. Apart from flexing its muscles and trying to leave Ukraine and its partners panic-stricken, this is Kremlin’s attempt to defame the Ukrainian combatants and undermine trust among Ukrainians, who are depicted as responsible for the tragedies by the terrorists.

Meanwhile, Russian officials did not issue any statements about the Mariupol attack. However, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website featured a statement about the discrimination of Russian-speaking population in Latvia. This is far from the first time Kremlin stresses its concern over the rights of ethnic Russians in the Baltics. Last year, when the EU was musing over whether to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine, Moscow made public its worries about the Russians in Estonia…

It is, of course, very “timely” of Chancellor Merkel to think about the economic measures that could appease Russia, like a free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok. It’s high time the West understood: Putin is not guided by the economic rationale. The annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent offensive in Donbas amid Russia’s crumbling economy proves exactly this. What he dreams of is the empire of which Ukraine would be the crown jewel. And he will not let this dream off easily.

The EU, do you still think you could be not part of this?



Infographics on Mariupol attack by Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre




































The views expressed in this entry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of World Policy.

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Ukraine In-Depth: from a Victim Nation to a Winner Nation

Today Ukrainians commemorate the 1st anniversary of Euromaidan. It was exactly one year ago when the first people came to Maidan square in Kyiv to protest against Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU.

Tomorrow is another remembrance day. The fourth Saturday of November is the Remembrance Day of Holodomor (artificial famine of the Ukrainian peasants in the Soviet times) and Political Repressions Victims. Unfortunately, this death toll still claims its prey today. The political repressions victims of the Euromaidan formed the «Heaven Hundred» (in reality, they were more than a hundred). People are starving to death now in the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the East.

As a nation Ukrainians are very young. According to Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytskyi, its modern appearance counts up to 100 years– not because Ukrainians only appeared 100 years ago but because the Ukrainian nation encountered breaks in its existence. 100 years for a nation is quite a short period of time even in regular circumstances. Now imagine that during these 100 years the Ukrainian nation was constantly oppressed, deceived, manipulated and russified in all fathomable and infathomable ways. One of the biggest atrocities committed to the Ukrainians was Holodomor, the artificial famine, which took the lives of some 3,3 mio of people on Ukraine’s territory. (Stalin’s and Soviet crimes in and against Ukraine cannot be limited to Holodomor only, of course).

Prominent Ukrainian historian Yaroslav Hrytsak argues that Ukrainians are a post-genocide nation which has yet to realise this. This is just one example of self-realization that the Ukrainian nation is missing. There are numerous unresolved issues of the national memory which the Ukrainians have yet to agree upon. So, Ukrainians are building a state and a nation – all at once. Right now Ukrainians are at the stage where the Old Europe was some 200 years ago.

Time only works against us. Ukraine is at war. Parts of its territories are occupied.

And one year onwards, the revolution is not over. It will only be over, late Kakha Bendukidze said, when there is change of elites in Ukraine. The reform process is not flawless, too, and corruption, unfortunately, is here to stay.

Still, looking at how Ukrainians are struggling for their freedom, how passionately they are defending their land, how Ukraine, against all odds, survives as a country and as a nation – looking at it all from a historical perspective, what the Ukrainians are doing is pretty amazing.

The views expressed in this entry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of World Policy.


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Ukraine In-Depth: the New Parliament

Ukrainians went to elect their parliament for the fourth time in the last 10 years (in total they could enjoy the vote-casting seven times over the last decade). However, it was the first time when the country had to pay for the boon of democracy with the blood of its citizens.

According to the exit polls, seven parties made it to the new Parliament. The party of the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko is the leader of the parliamentary race. The party of the current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk is the runner-up. The third prize goes to the «Self-help» party, which is new to the Parliament and which is headed by Lviv city mayor Andriy Sadovyi, popular far beyond Lviv for his effective city management. «The Opposition Block», which is the remnants of the «Party of the Regions», made it to the Parliament with some 9% and is the only pro-Russian party in the Parliament.

In brief, the good news is as follows.

The Communist party is finally out. (It took Ukraine amazingly long 23 years.)

New people will indeed make it to the Parliament. Young people under 35 years old made 32% of those running for the parliamentary seats. Almost every party made a stake on the young candidates, filling their lists with prominent civil activists and journalists. «Self-help», who won roughly 35 seats, will bring an entirely new team – not one person on their list served as an MP in the past.

Also, the fact that someone (like NGO and media representatives) can become an MP simply because of his/her professional competence and expertise, and not the money paid for a place on the party list or good connections in the power top tiers, is a great improvement for the Ukrainian political culture.

Despite Russian hopes, no rise of ultra-nationalism in Ukraine could be witnessed: the Right Sector only scrapped some 2% of the votes.

The not so good news pertains rather to the strategic culture surrounding the elections than their results.

The parties remain personality and not ideology based. For instance, Arseniy Yatseniuk’s «People’s Front» party was only registered in March 2014, which did not prevent it from coming second in the national polling.

The similarity of the parties’ «catch-all» approach can be illustrated by the fact that every party expecting to mount the electoral threshold uniformly packed its lists with civic activists and ATO combats (these two groups boasted the highest credibility and popularity rates among the population). Thus, corruption fighters and reform lobbists from the civic sector appeared to be more or less evenly represented on the pro-European parties lists – not because their political views were so different, but rather because the parties programs and goals were so similarly populist and vague.

As a result, the average Ukrainian voter was so puzzled that a week before the elections as many as 54,8% of the voters were undecided as to their preferred candidates.

Also, clearing Ukrainian politics from the dependence on big business is still a challenge. Worringly, the parties finance is oligarch-bound. Parties who only count on popular financial support unfortunately could not make it to big politics so far.

How serious is the new Parliament about Ukraine’s European integration? While five out of seven incoming parties declare support for Ukraine’s European choice, only two of them, Yatseniuk’s «People’s Front» and Yulia Tymoshenko’s «Batkivshchyna», made an explicit reference to the implementation of the Association Agreement in the programs. It might be that the other parties are equally serious about the AA, of course. They’d better be: the public support for Ukraine’s European integration is 50,5% now. Just a fact to remember for the new Rada: it was failing to sign the AA by the previous government that in effect brought these election about.

The views expressed in this entry are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute of World Policy.



Ukraine In-Depth: On Volunteer Battalions

I would like to address the issue of Ukraine’s volunteer battalions (VBs) which are fighting in the unproclaimed war between Russia and Ukraine. We at IWP have been frequently approached by Western analysts and journalists with a request to clarify their legal premises, goal and mission. Unfortunately, so far the Western media have been dominated by the Russian propaganda rather than facts regarding the VBs.

There are roughly 50 000 fighters taking part in the Antiterrorist operation (ATO) in the East. Out of them, 7000 are constituted by the VBs. While the purpose and legal base of the VBs may seem obscure to a foreign observer, inside Ukraine their formation was generally welcomed. Indeed, when the partial conscription was announced, many potential conscripts tried to avoid it. In contrast, the volunteer fighters did not need a special command to stand up and protect their motherland from the Russian aggression.

During the years of independence the Ukrainian Army was methodically destructed by the authorities. Few of them took any potential military threats seriously, hence the military budget decreased from year to year. In the last years Ukraine’s defence budget amounted to 1,1-1,2 % of GDP, which only covered 20-40% of the necessary minimum. The Army accounted for less than a half of these money. And even these resources were the object of corruption. Needless to say, the troops’ morale was low. The Army only attracted either those few who felt military to be their vocation or, usually, those poor who could not afford to pay a bribe in order to avoid the conscription.

In these circumstances people who volunteered to fight only evoked admiration and gratitude of Ukraine’s citizens. Indeed, the first National Guard battalions were at the frontline while the state was mobilizing what was left of the existing Army.

Who gives orders?

The legal premises of the VBs are indeed murky. However, the volunteer combatants are not outlaws. With several exceptions, they follow the command of the National Guard, the Ministry of Defence or the Ministry of Interior. Some of them – those under the Ministry of Defence – were mobilized through conscription, however, volunteers could also join. Others were formed based on the decision of Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov. Even those several VBs which are indeed under no jurisdiction of an official Ukrainian state body coordinate their actions with state military units in the war zone.

The truth is that there is no law on the VBs which would provide them with a legal status and clarify their mission once the war is over. Also, they receive no money from the state and subsist on private donations which naturally reduces their accountability to the state bodies.


Importantly, the VBs were essentially formed for a kind of a police mission in Donbas. When the conflict escalated and Russia openly invaded Ukraine, they ended up taking part in heavy warfare.

Image and ideology

Regardless of whether the VBs will take their place in Ukraine’s regular army once the war is over, they have created a totally new positive image of Ukraine’s military and boosted the sense of national pride and patriotism. While before 2014 speaking of Ukraine’s army provoked shame and sorrow, Ukrainians do so now with pride and empathy.

Supporting Ukraine’s military became one more nation-uniting factor. Many Ukrainians are engaged in volunteer fundraising activities, since in many cases state budget is incapable of providing the troops with basic necessities, let alone modern weapons. It is also extremely important that many volunteer combatants hail from the East of Ukraine, which refutes the allegation that Ukraine’s patriotism and nation-building efforts only come from its Western parts.

The fact that some (in fact, few) VBs include the members or are even led by people with ultranationalist views, is unfortunate – but only because this situation is a convenient target of Russian propaganda. The VBs have no ideology as such. The views of some VB members can be no means be amounted to the common ideology behind a battalion. The “Azov” battalion was mainly formed by people who were members of Avtomaidan*. Some observers claim that Andriy Biletskyi headed the battalion because of his ties to Arsen Avakov, others attribute it to his group’s effective fighting with separatists. However, his political views seem to have no connection with “Azov” military activity. The fact that he, alongside other VB commanders and fighters, made it to the list of the parliamentary candidates, only illustrates the popularity of the fighters with general public. Ironically, the parties hope to get extra votes for the courage of their candidates, not their political views.

Naturally, the situation with the VBs is not black and white. As an ad hoc grassroot movement with no clear selection procedure, it attracts different people – professionals and beginners, liberal and conservative, educated or not. The majority of them learn by doing. Undoubtedly, their actions must be governed and judged by the rule of law.

That said, their apprearance shows that the Ukrainian nation is more mature than anyone, the nation included, had thought it to be.

*Mobile anti-government movement which appeared during the Euromaidan events in Kyiv.

The views expressed in this entry are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute of World Policy.

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Can Business Tycoon Bring Ukraine to the EU?

In Ukrainian elections are sometimes metaphorically called ”the will expression fest”. Up until now, the phrase was only loaded with irony. However, on Sunday, May 25, it felt like a fest indeed. The average turnout exceeded 60%. Kyiv, among others, witnessed unprecedented queues, where the average waiting time to fulfil one’s civil duty was 1,5-2 hours. Many joined the flash mob of wearing Ukrainian traditional shirt vyshyvanka to the polling site. Others put on their best outfits. People were not discouraged by long queues, nor by the heat, not by the absence of air conditioning .

These elections are the pinnacle of the long winter protest, in which many people died and even more were injured in the fight for their rights and freedoms. Last Sunday people felt that they had to take this chance seriously and not only finally elect a legitimate and trustworthy President but also demonstrate their political and civil maturity to the whole world.

Petro Poroshenko, who won by a landslide, is not a representative of a young generation. But he is definitely of a different quality compared to the presidents Ukraine has had so far.

Terming him an oligarch might be not exactly correct since he made his fortune without any privatization schemes in the 1990-ies. Nor does he have any nomenklatura roots.  Vice versa, as soon as private entrepreneurship was made possible  in the final years of the Soviet Union, he demonstrated strong business skills and a flair for profit-making. Some of his business partnerships, as well as his marriage, go back to his student years.

He is also the first Ukrainian President who speaks English fluently.

What does Poroshenko’s presidency mean for the EU-Ukraine relations?

Poroshenko’s victory is probably good news for Ukraine’s European integration, since he’s been its ardent and consecutive supporter for many years.

The recent expert survey, conducted by the Institute of World Policy and aimed at determining which candidate in the presidential race was best fit to advance Ukraine’s European integration, resulted in Poroshenko’s undisputed leadership. IWP polled 80 independent and respectable Ukrainian experts, out of whom 54 ranked Poroshenko first and 16 more ranked him second or third.

The “chocolate king” is not new to the Ukrainian politics. His political career started back in 1997. Not only was his activitity was closely related to Ukraine-EU relations but he actually managed to have top positions under Ukraine’s two previous presidents: he was the head of the National Security and Defense Council and the Minister of Foreign Affairs under Yushchenko and a Minister for Economic Development and Trade under Yanukovych. In particular, Ukraine’s trade relations with European countries were in his jurisdiction. He was also offered a Deputy Minister position by Leonid Kuchma in 2003 but declined because he supported Yushchenko at that time. As a businessman and philantropist he also supported public events in Brussels, aimed at better understanding between the EU and Ukraine. Hence, he has wide connections among the European political and business elite.

In 2013 Poroshenko constantly tried to persuade Ukraine’s authorities to sign the Association agreement with the EU. He also called the European integration one of the priorities for his presidency.

Is he fit for managing a country? His experience of big business management speaks in his favour. He is said to have the deep first-hand understanding of his business, which, among others, includes confectionary and media assets.

It is important to underline that the Ukrainian society now is very different from what it was back when the previous presidents were elected. Poroshenko can boast no excessive credibility among the Ukrainian people, who have baptized their right for democracy and the rule of law with the blood of innocent people. He was elected to be an accountable public manager, not a uncontrolled ruler.

For starters, it is precisely his business assets where Poroshenko should eliminate the conflict of interest in order to maintain his popularity. In particular, he promised to sell his business upon becoming a President. Its the primary asset is “Roshen” corporation which Poroshenko calls his fifth child and which belongs among 20 largest confectionary factories in the world. In his interview to Ukrainian “Forbes” in 2013 his answer to the question on a possible “Roshen” sale was: “The Motherland, “Roshen” and other things are not for sale”. It remains to be seen whether the businessman elected a President can sell his brainchild but not his country.

The project “European President” was conducted by Institute of World Policy as part of its project New European Policy implemented under Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Pact Inc.

The views expressed in this entry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of World Policy. 

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Upcoming Presidential Elections in Ukraine: Any Difference?

On May 25 Ukrainians will cast their votes for the new President. Is there any difference between the upcoming elections and all that we have witnessed so far?

In the first place, this is an unprecedented situation that noone from the incumbent top officials is running. In fact, six months ago it would have been unfathomable. It would have been equally hard to conceive that the leaders of the biggest oppositional forces – Arseniy Yatseniuk and Vitaliy Klytschko – would not compete for the presidential seat. At the moment Yatseniuk is superceded by Yulia Tymoshenko, whose reputation, as opposed to that of Yatseniuk, is a lot more tarnished, and Klytschko is running for Kyiv’s mayor.

Secondly, these elections promise to be if not free and fair but at least with significantly smaller amount of violations, simply because the administrative resource, traditionally usurped by the candidates in power at the moment of the elections, is exhausted.

Thirdly, these elections see some candidates who not only wouldn’t have been expected some year ago but also would hardly have expected themselves to run as well. Moreover, some of these candidates can well expect to beat the «psychological barrier» of 4%. Some of them arose during the Euromaidan – for instance, Olha Bogomolets, a well-known doctor, scholar, civil activist and singer, who operated a medical point during the Euromaidan revolution and therefore boosted her popularity substantially. She also made a claim that the registration pledge of 2,5 mln UAH had been collected by means of open public donations, which, if true, signifies substantial popular support and understanding of democratic tradition by the candidate.

Finally, for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine the presidential elections will not take place on all of its territory, given the occupied Crimean peninsula. The elections will likely be sabotaged at the numerous constituencies in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which will make them undoubtedly more tense.

The views expressed in this entry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of World Policy. 



Ukraine: Countering the Russian Propaganda

It is not easy for Ukraine to tell its story to the West and especially to counter Russian propaganda machine. The reasons for it are complicated and go back to the past centuries.

As many Central and Eastern European countries, which underwent the so called «white colonization», Ukraine was deprived of its narrative tradition. For several centuries, and especially during the Soviet times, its story was told by the Soviet Empire in a convoluted and untruthful way. Ukraine was depicted as a weak and  incompetent entity, its history was distorted and its heroes were defamed. Its statehood was negated. Soviet Ukrainians were neither allowed to produce authentic scholarship regarding their own statehood, nor could they travel abroad to gain access to alternative information sources or ways of thinking.

American scholar Ewa Thompson underlines that if the knowledge about a certain subject is distorted during the life of several generations, it becomes deformed and cannot be easily corrected in one article, lecture or book.

That is why so many in the West still think that Ukraine is a part of Russia. That is why Russian propaganda machine is still so effective in the West – because the ears it falls on are receptive to the information it offers.

Ukraine works hard on countering this legacy. And many Europeans and Americans help. I am really happy that this week was celebrated by two prominent events aimed at bringing the objective information about what’s going on in Ukraine to the West.

The Institute of World Policy in partnership with CIDOB (Barcelona Center for International Affairs, Spain) has brought twenty experts from the most influential European think-tanks to meet Ukraine’s top decision-makers and important stakeholders on May 15-16. CEPS, European Stability Initiative, Centre for Liberal Strategies, EU Institute for Security Studies, ECFR and many others will bring back the unique first-hand expertise about Ukraine and transmit it to the national and EU decision-makers.

Simultaneously, a huge international event “Ukraine: Thinking Together” is taking place on May 15-19. It was initiated by two profound thinkers Timothy Snyder and Leon Wieseltier and brings key European intellectuals to Ukraine’s capital for a 5-day intellectual marathon. Snyder’s recent publications made immense input into the understanding of what’s going on in Ukraine in the last months and this local initiative looks like a pinnacle of his efforts. It has always impressed me how precise his understanding of Ukraine’s situation is, despite observing it from the distance. I equally appreciate his profound understanding of Ukraine’s instrumental role for the future of Europe and only wish all European and American decision-makers took in his arguments.

Snyder started his opening lecture yesterday with Faulkner’s quote “The past is not over”. Indeed, the past is not over for Ukraine, it haunts it in the incarnation of Putin’s imperial complex, in Ukraine’s own real complexes and fears. But it’s ok, we are working hard. As Ukraine’s national poet, symbol of Ukraine’s resistance Taras Shevchenko bequethed: “Strive, and you will succeed! God helps you!” (“Борітеся – поборете! Вам Бог помагає!”).

Visit of European think-tanks to Kyiv is organized with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation and “Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms” (UNITER) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Pact in Ukraine; Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine.

The views expressed in this entry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of World Policy.



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Ukraine: Why Protests in the East are Fake

It does seem that Ukraine is long away from stability. The unrest which have been stirred up in the East and the South since Yanukovych’s escape and the formation of the interim government assumed a radical form last weekend. Local government buidlings were attacked and occupied in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. Radical groups have proclaimed the Kharkiv and Donetsk «Independent Republics». One of their key demands is holding a referendum on the issue of accession to the Russian Federation, following the Crimean scenario.

There is much evidence that these protests have hardly anything to do with democracy and popular will, but are rather carefully instigated from the outside.

Indeed, there are no obvious reasons that could bring people to the streets in the East and South of Ukraine. No steps have been taken by the interim government which could anyhow oppress the rights and freedoms of Ukraine’s citizens there. The Verkhovna Rada is exactly the same which was elected in 2012, meaning that the East and the South still have their legitimate representatives there, and the Party of the Regions still has the largest faction in the Parliament.

If the people were unhappy with the former opposition coming to power and forming the interim government, it is strange that the protests only took place now and not in end February. Even stranger is the fact that the protesters do not request the restoration of Viktor Yanukovych in power. In 2010 he won in Donetsk and Luhansk regions with the landslide of 90,44% and 88,96% of votes respectively, and even during the Euromaidan his support in the East and the South was significant.  The radicalists don’t even claim the right to run in the upcoming presidential elections for Yanukovych – instead, they demand their cancellation altogether, which conspicuously coincides with Russia’s vision.

Besides, the protesters number is indeed meagre (up to 1000, which is a triffle for Donetsk and Kharkiv with over a million citizens in each), which can hardly lay a claim for a ‘popular’ uprising. Meanwhile, they are equipped with genuine weapons, whereas the multithousand protesters in Kyiv Maidan could only afford sticks and self-made Molotov cocktails.

The small numbers of protesters are explicable by the fact that traditionally the protest potential in the East and in the South is the weakest among all Ukraine’s regions. Even if one imagines that the active minority has decided to take to the streets, it still does not represent the popular will. Independent Donbas Miners Trade Union leader Mykola Volynko stated that Donetsk region miners did not support the separatists. According to the latest Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation opinion poll, only 26% of the population in the East and 19% in the South would like to join Russia.

The latest Rating Group poll also indicated that 64% of the Ukrainians are against federalization of the Ukrainian state. This is true for the South and the East alike: according to the poll results, 45% and 44% respectively support the unitary form of the Ukrainian state, while only 22% and 26% are in favour of the federalization.

Hence, it is evident that the South-Eastern crisis is the Russian attempt to destabilise Ukraine at the very least, keep it within its orbit of influence or even restore the former empire.

Skillful resolution of the crisis is now the biggest challenge for the interim government, a real test for their capacity to stand up for and defend Ukraine’s independence. Ukraine knows to its own cost that winning a revolution is not the end of it, defending the results is most important. The 1990 ‘revolution on granite’ and the 2004 Orange revolution were bitter lessons. It remains to be seen whether at the third attempt Ukrainians will finally make it, bearing in mind that their enemy is the most powerful person on the Earth.

The views expressed in this entry are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute of World Policy.


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Ukraine-EU: A Chance to Restore Historical Justice

During the Euromaidan’s events the EU’s normative power declared itself fully — Ukrainians were ready not only to massively defend a new European quality of internal development, they gave their lives for it. In time of its own existential crisis, the EU has received a chance to look at itself from the outside, to feel its attractiveness and historical necessity.

However, in three months of protests an enormous re-estimation of the EU, as an international player in Ukraine, took place. The EU suffered serious reputational losses because they had not answered the main expectations raised by the Euromaidan’s participants and supporters in Ukraine — the EU had not imposed targeted sanctions against members of the Ukrainian leadership before blood was spilled. In general, the European Union’s contribution in resolving the Ukrainian crisis can be defined as «too late and too little».

This is a serious threat  for the EU policy in the neighbourhood. Losing its credibility in the region could lead to a serious – if not fatal – damage to its ‘soft power’, the only kind of  transformative power the EU actually possesses. EU policy makers should take into account that for many Ukrainians the concept of the EU and the concept of democracy are identical, so the disappointment in the EU can strike pro-democracy forces in the country.

Preventing this from happening is easy.

Firstly, the EU should sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine. In full, not in parts.

Indeed, it is not clear why the document should be divided in two parts now. In the first place, the transformative capacity of the Agreement lies in its DCFTA part and not in the political part. Moreover, if the EU was ready to sign it with the authorities whose genuine ambition to implement it was very doubtful, it is unclear why it cannot do the same with the government which is significantly more likely to take its implementation seriously.

The EU owes this to Ukraine. Not to the government – to the people.  Even in the third month of protests, when more than a hundred people died and hundreds were injured, the Ukrainian government’s reluctance to sign the Association Agreement with the EU remained one of  the key motivations for people to stay on the Maidan. In addition, after the failure to sign the Agreement in Vilnius, Ukrainians became more interested in European integration: the unprecendented figure of 60% of respondents consider the focus on the EU to be the key condition for improving the situation in the country.

The Ukrainian people voiced their will eloquently. So, signing the Association Agreement now seems a logical response from the EU – keeping its word about the AA «being on the table» for Ukraine.

But the effect of the membership perspective will be even stronger, especially if you consider that post-revolutionary politics came to power using pro-European slogans. The policy of conditionality has proved its effectiveness in Central Europe, and therefore it has a great chance to be effective in the Ukrainian case.

The membership perspective may give an even bigger chance to establish trust. Today, 50% of Ukrainians support Ukraine’s accession to the EU,  while 13% are undecided.

Let’s face it: there would be no reputational costs for the EU. The surveys conducted in six largest EU countries show that the majority of the population there are in favour of Ukraine’s accession. Besides, accession is a long-term process and the EU would have plenty of time to prepare against ‘enlargement fatigue’. Meanwhile, in Ukraine it would bear an unprecedented symbolic value, an incentive for qualitative change not only for the state structures but also for ordinary citizens.

Last but not least, the membership perspective for Ukraine would put an end to Russia’s attempts to force on European countries an agenda and competition spirit of the Cold War era.

If the EU denies the historic chance of the ‘return to Europe’ to Ukraine, it will only admit its own power limits and put an end to its own ambition of global influence. If the EU supports Ukraine now, it will receive an unprecedented ‘success story’, a luminous justification of its raison d’être and unique European mission.

This blog entry is based on the policy paper ‘A Call for the EU — Tme to Step In. Ukraine’s Expectations from the European Union’ (authored by Alyona Getmanchuk and Sergiy Solodkyy). It was presented by the Institute of World Policy on March 11, 2014 in Kyiv. The full text can be accessed at (English version starting from page 17).

The policy paper was conducted by Institute of World Policy as part of its project New European Policy implemented under Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Pact Inc. It is also part of the project ”Romania — Ukraine Civic Forum” — implemented together by the Institute of World Policy in Kyiv and the Romanian Center for European Policies in Bucharest with the support of UNDP and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania.

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10 Things You Should Know About Russia’s Aggression (in English and Russian)

The analysis below was prepared by the Institute of World Policy (Kyiv, Ukraine),


1. The intervention is based on lies. Russia has invaded Ukraine under a false pretext that there were victims among Russian population in the Crimea. There is no single proof that any Russian was killed in the Crimea or in South-Eastern Ukraine.

2. Ukrainians do not want to join Russia. There is no single region in Ukraine where the majority of the population is willing to join Russia. Even in the Crimea the number of those who would like to see the peninsula as a part of the Russian Federation amounts to 41% of the population. Only 33% of locals in the Donetsk region would like to join Russia.

3. Ukrainians are not separatists. 80% in the South and 76% in the East of Ukraine refuse the idea of establishing an independent state on the basis of the South-Eastern Ukraine. Let us recall: The Constitution of Ukraine allows to make changes regarding the territory of Ukraine only through a NATIONAL, not local, referendum.

4. How are Russia’s interests being infringed?The interim government of Ukraine has NOT APPROVED ANY SINGLE decision that discriminates Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population: Parliament’s decision to repeal the law on regional languages has not come into force. NATO integration is NOT mentioned in the program of the new government.

5. The EU enjoys a stronger support. The majority of Ukraine’s population (55%) supported signing of the Association Agreement. Moreover, almost half of those (47%), who voted for the most popular in the South-East of Ukraine Party of Regions, supported the signing of this Agreement.

6. How many Russians are there in Ukraine? Putin has claimed that there are 17 million of Russians in Ukraine. In fact, 17% of the Ukrainian population are Russians; it amounts to about 8 million people. The percentage is lower than in Latvia (where are 27% of the population are Russians) and Estonia (almost 26%).

7. Who are fascists and Russophobes? Four ministers of the new government were born in Russia. The new head of the Dnipropetrovsk administration, Igor Kolomoisky, is the Head of the European Jewish Council.

8. Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine are not necessarily pro-Russian. The daily language for nearly half (45%) of the Euromaidan participants is Russian!

9. Ukrainians are against federalization. Most residents of Ukraine are against a federal structure of the country. 53% in the East and 63% in the South do not support this idea.

10. Ukrainians are patriots. 95% of Ukrainians consider Ukraine as their motherland. None of the military units of the Ukrainian Navy has surrendered to the Russian invaders or has sworn to the self-proclaimed “government of the Crimea”.

Sociological data comes from Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Levada-Centre, Razumkov Centre, Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, DW-Trend, etc.


1. Интервенция на лжи. Россия вторглась в Украину под вымышленным предлогом – жертвы среди русского населения в Крыму. Ни одного убитого русского ни в Крыму, ни в Юго-Восточной Украине не обнаружено.

2. Украинцы в Россию не хотят. Ни в одном регионе Украины нет большинства, желающего присоединиться к России. Даже в Крыму количество видеть полуостров в составе РФ составляет 41% населения, на Донбассе к России хотят только 33%.

3. Украинцы – не сепаратисты. 80% Юга и 76% Востока Украины против независимого государства на основе Юго-Восточной Украины. Напомним: Конституция Украины позволяет изменить территорию страны только через ОБЩЕНАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ референдум.

4. Где ущемление интересов России? Переходное правительство не утвердило НИ ОДНОГО решения, дискриминирующего русскоязычное население Украины: решение парламента об отмене закона о региональных языках не вступило в силу. Интеграции в НАТО в программе нового правительства НЕТ.

5. ЕС поддерживают больше. Большинство украинцев (55%) поддерживали подписание Соглашения об ассоциации. Более того, подписание этого Соглашения  поддержала почти половина (47%) избирателей самой популярной на Юго-Востоке Украины  Партии  регионов.

6. Сколько русских в Украине? Путин заявлял о 17 млн. русских в Украине. На самом деле русских в стране 17% – это около 8 млн. человек. В процентном соотношении это меньше, чем в Латвии – 27% русских или в Эстонии – почти 26%.

7. Кто фашисты и русофобы? Четыре министра нового правительства родились в России. Новый глава Днепропетровской администрации – Игорь Коломойский, глава Европейского еврейского совета.

8. Русскоязычные в Украине – не значит пророссийские. Почти половина – 45% – участников Евромайдана в быту говорят на русском языке!

9.  Украинцы против федерализации. Большинство жителей Украины против федеративного устройства страны. На Востоке не воспринимают эту идею 53% и 63% на Юге.

10. Украинцы – патриоты.  95% украинцев считают Украину  своей  Родиной. Ни одна из воинских частей ВМС Украины не сдалась российским оккупантам и не присягнула самопровозглашенному «правительству Крыма».

Институт мировой политики,

Социология: ДИФ, Центр Разумкова, КМИС, Левада-Центр, ВЦИОМ, DW-Trend и др.


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