Ukraine is facing a busy election season in 2019, with presidential elections on March 31 and parliamentary elections scheduled for October, amid a challenging security context. Many Ukrainians expect turbulent and “dirty” elections with increased tension during the campaign periods, and between Election Day and the likely presidential run-off.
Russia failed to anticipate that its invasion of Ukraine in 2014 would cost it one of its most powerful levers of influence over its neighbor: the formal authority of the Russian Orthodox Church over its Ukrainian counterpart. But it has done so, and that unintended consequence could lead to others: a decline in Russian influence within the Eastern Orthodox world, a deeper division in the Orthodox community—and even perhaps the largest schism in Christianity since 1054. The international community has a key role in determining how this unfolds and must act to ensure the worst scenarios don’t come to pass.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that President Vladimir Putin knew what was going on and had given the general guidance,” says William B. Taylor, regarding Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships in a vital maritime trade route for Ukraine. The United States and Europe must jointly apply additional economic sanctions and provide military assistance to Ukraine to pressure Russia to cease its aggressive actions.
“In its fifth year, Russia's armed aggression in Ukraine's Donbas region has become a costly burden with little strategic benefit,” says Charles North. One possible exit ramp has emerged from recent negotiations: a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping operation to facilitate a peace process resulting in Russia’s departure from Donbas and the return of control to Ukraine.
Jonas Claes provides risk analysis for elections taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December and in Ukraine in March, 2019. A combination of complicating factors ranging from ongoing conflicts, outside meddling, logistical hurdles and voter apathy top Claes’ concerns that election violence could be stoked in both elections.
Ahead of the highly anticipated Trump-Putin meeting and the NATO summit in Europe later this month, Ambassador Taylor discusses the key issues that will be on the agenda at both, including Russian meddling in U.S. elections and Moscow’s aggressive actions in Europe as well as NATO members’ progress as it relates to U.S. concerns over burden-sharing.
Following a meeting between U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and President Vladimir Putin this week, the White House announced that President Trump will sit down with his Russian counterpart for their first formal summit on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland. While both presidents Trump and Putin have repeatedly emphasized the need for improved ties, there are a host of contentious issues—such as the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent U.S. sanctions, Russia’s interference in U.S. and European elections, and the Syrian civil war—that could derail the effort to improve the bilateral relationship.
Ambassador William Taylor updates us on Ukraine’s efforts to upgrade its military with U.S. assistance to defend eastern Ukraine from Russian-led militias. Taylor weighs in on U.S. efforts to find a diplomatic solution to ease Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine, the effect of U.S. and European sanctions on Putin, and the recognition of the U.S. National Defense and National Security Strategies that Russia is a top threat.
Three former high-ranking officials in the State Department, the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) urged the next presidential administration to commit more attention and resources to preventing the kinds of violent conflicts that are roiling the Middle East and other regions today and spilling over into neighboring countries, Europe and the United States. Former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and USAID Assist...
The Obama administration’s announcement this week that it plans to quadruple military resources devoted to deterring Russia in Europe highlights how seriously U.S. and NATO leaders view the threat posed by Russia. Ukraine is struggling to save its young democracy and stave off public disaffection with the new government’s valiant but halting reforms, even as Russia continues its campaign of military and economic goading.