Mon Nov 8th, 2021 at 11:30:19 PM EST
[Long update below the fold … Zelensky and US policy shaped under two presidents]
Conflict zone Eastern Front: expect more war propaganda the coming days, weeks ...
Great achievement by the Trump administration on the Islamic Republic of Iran ... come on EU, what's the beef?
Statement by President von der Leyen on the situation at the border between Poland and Belarus
The Belarusian authorities must understand that pressuring the European Union in this way through a cynical instrumentalisation of migrants will not help them succeed in their purposes.
I have spoken to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida imonytė and Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krijānis Kariņ to express the EU's solidarity and discuss with them the measures the EU can take to support them in their efforts to deal with this crisis.
I am calling on Member States to finally approve the extended sanctions regime on the Belarusian authorities responsible for this hybrid attack.
Ukraine Zelensky Corruption Groundhog Day
Faltering fightback: Zelensky's piecemeal campaign against Ukraine's oligarchs | ECFR - July 6, 2021 |
On 12 March this year, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, released a short appeal on YouTube called "Ukraine fights back". He declared that he was preparing to take on those who have been undermining the country - those who have exploited Ukraine's weaknesses in particular, including its frail rule of law. He attacked "the oligarchic class" - and named names: "[Viktor] Medvedchuk, [Ihor] Kolomoisky, [Petro] Poroshenko, [Rinat] Akhmetov, [Viktor] Pinchuk, [Dmitry] Firtash". He proceeded to address the oligarchs directly, asking, "Are you ready to work legally and transparently?" The president went on, "Or do you want to continue to create monopolies, control the media, influence deputies and other civil servants? The first is welcome. The second ends."
Ukrainians have heard this kind of talk before. Zelensky's predecessor, Poroshenko, also made `de-oligarchisation' a policy pledge. So, is this Groundhog Day, with the same empty promises, or is anything different this time? The signs are that some change may now be afoot in Ukraine, although it is proceeding in fits and starts, and with no small number of setbacks. And Ukraine's international situation is having a significant influence over this.
'They Want the West to Be Frightened.' Ukraine's President on Why Russia Sent Troops to the Border | Time - April 12, 2021 |
My diary on Ukraine ...
Ukraine MP election: Removing Oligarchs ... Some | July 21, 2019 |
Historical review ...
Kyiv Post's 3 owners paid a big price for editorial independence | Oct. 16, 2020 |
Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and President Zelensky following the EU-Ukraine Summit
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 262/2021 issued on 8 November 2021
[Update-1] zelensky powerbase role oligarchs ukraine relationship u.s. government
Zelenskyy’s Version of Perestroika and the Role of the Oligarchs| Wilson Center - March 19, 2020 |
As a student of the post-Soviet human, I am amazed to see how often political processes in contemporary Ukraine resemble those of its Soviet past. One such resemblance I see is between Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s policies and Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika.
Here I use the word “perestroika” (literally “reshaping” or “rebuilding”) as a term for a political action that offers an alternative to the usual choice of revolution or reform, between overthrowing everything and starting anew or molding what one has into a different shape. In this context, then, revolution denotes an event of radical innovation and a new beginning in politics (or some other sphere of human activity). Reform, by contrast, is a change within a given political regime aimed at making it more effective and viable. Perestroika is in between.
Cabinet reshuffle and back on track, at least with IMF? | Stanford - Apr. 3, 2020 |
The newly appointed prime minister spent the month stressing the importance of securing the IMF program. While he expressed his readiness to travel to Washington to meet the Fund’s leadership, the IMF told Kyiv to first complete two key preconditions.
One was Rada passage of a banking law that would prevent former owners whose banks had been nationalized from regaining ownership. This targeted oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a former owner of PrivatBank. After a 2016 audit revealed PrivatBank’s accounts were short $5 billion, the government nationalized it and made good the missing funds. However, Kolomoisky recently suggested legal action to regain ownership or compensation, a deal-breaker for the IMF.
Kolomoisky has a link to the president, as he owns the television network that broadcast the comedy show in which Zelensky played a common man suddenly thrust into the presidency. How the government handles the ownership of PrivatBank has become a litmus test for Zelensky.
The second issue was Rada passage of an agricultural reform bill that would lift a moratorium on the sale of agricultural land. Ukraine has 30 percent of the world’s black earth, and the agricultural sector represents a bright spot in the economy. But the prohibition on land sales denied private farmers the ability to use their land as collateral to secure loans to buy better seed, fertilizer and equipment.
Biden’s Ukrainian Oligarchs and Corruption | @BooMan - Aug. 6, 2017 |
Patriarch Joe Biden and the U.S. Power Grab in Ukraine 2014 to present
The Biden Presidency and Ukraine | Brooking Institute - Jan. 28, 2021 |
In a December 2020 New York Times interview, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president. Zelensky observed [NYT] that Biden “knows Ukraine better than the previous president” and “will really help strengthen relations, help settle the war in Donbas, and end the occupation of our territory.”
While Zelensky’s comments may prove overly optimistic, there is little reason to doubt that the Biden presidency will be good for Ukraine. The incoming president knows the country, and he understands both the value of a stable and successful Ukraine for U.S. interests in Europe and the challenges posed to Ukraine and the West by Russia.
That might—might, not will, but might—help break the logjam on the stalemated Donbas conflict, which Zelensky of course would welcome. Perhaps less welcome to the Ukrainian president may be Biden’s readiness to play hardball to press Kyiv to take needed but politically difficult reform and anti-corruption steps. Ukraine’s success as a liberal democracy depends not just on ending its conflict with Russia but also on combating corruption and advancing still necessary economic reforms.
U.S.-UKRAINE RELATIONS UNDER TRUMP
In one sense, U.S. policy toward Ukraine during the Trump administration had its strengths. It continued political and military support for Kyiv, including the provision of lethal military assistance that the Obama administration had been unwilling to provide. It maintained and strengthened Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia. And it took further steps to bolster the U.S. and NATO military presence in central European states on Ukraine’s western border.
How Zelenskyy can improve the US-Ukraine relationship | Atlantic Council - March 11, 2021 |
Following a sometimes rocky relationship during the four years of the Trump administration, the Ukrainian government is seeking to begin the Biden presidency with US-Ukrainian ties on a more stable footing.
Since President Biden’s inauguration, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken a number of steps that appear designed to win favor in Washington DC. He has banned Kremlin-linked Ukrainian TV channels, [read: Russian language media with natural affinity to Russia, risk of ethnic cleansing] sanctioned Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk, and blocked the planned Chinese purchase of Ukrainian aircraft engine producer Motor Sich. Zelenskyy has also appointed the respected former Ukrainian Finance Minister Oksana Makarova as the country’s new ambassador to the United States. These are all geopolitical gestures that are likely to be welcomed by the Biden administration.
Biden’s affinity for Ukraine is well known and evidenced by his six visits to the country while serving as Vice President in the Obama administration. From a Ukrainian perspective, his arrival in the White House could hardly be better timed. During the Trump presidency, Ukraine found itself caught up in an impeachment trial and at the center of efforts to tie Biden to corruption allegations. This led to uncharacteristic levels of tension in bilateral ties.
Ukraine will halt the takeover of an aircraft engine maker by a Chinese company, responding to U.S. objections over the prospect of important military technology falling into Beijing's hands.
Kyiv plans to return Motor Sich to Ukrainian control, ending efforts by Beijing Skyrizon Aviation to take management of the company, following a yearslong battle over the manufacturer's fate.
"The Motor Sich enterprise will be returned to the Ukrainian people," Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said after a March 11 meeting. "It will be returned to the ownership of the Ukrainian state in a legal, constitutional way in the near future."
The decision angered China, which has grown increasingly important economically to Ukraine since Kyiv's relationship with Moscow broke down following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. But when tensions between Beijing and Washington forced a choice between the two, Kyiv prioritized its relationship with a crucial security partner.
Ukraine: President bans three television channels | European Federation of Journalists - Feb. 3, 2021 |
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has banned three television channels from operating in Ukraine by revoking their broadcast licences and blocking assets after accusing them of being pro-Russian. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) condemned what they called “an extra-judicial and politically motivated ban and a blatant attack on press freedom that must be urgently reversed”.
TV broadcasters ZIK, NewsOne and 112 Ukraine have been forced off the air for a period of five years following a decision by Zelensky that critics said stifles freedom of speech. The three broadcasters employ around 1,500 people, whose jobs are now at serious risk.
There was no official justification for the ban, but Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter that Ukraine supports freedom of speech but not “propaganda financed by the aggressors”.
The measures include the blocking of broadcasters’ assets, the prohibition of using radio frequencies in Ukraine and a ban on finance operations within the country, among others.
The three affected broadcasters were previously blamed by the Ukrainian government for being under “malign Russian influence” and threatening the information security of Ukraine.
In a statement, the National Union Of Journalists Of Ukraine (NUJU) said that “depriving Ukrainian citizens of access to media without a prior trial and banning hundreds of journalists and media outlets of their right to work is an attack on freedom of speech” and remarked that “the political affiliation of Ukrainian media owners registered in Ukraine is not a crime”.
Ukraine’s anti-oligarch law could make President Zelenskyy too powerful | Atlantic Council - Nov. 6, 2021 |
Anyone anticipating that the anti-oligarch bill recently signed into law by President Zelenskyy marks a new beginning for Ukraine will have had their hopes dampened last week when the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting announced the awarding of regional television rights.
A total of 130 bidders were competing for 43 frequencies, but more than a third were scooped up by a single company, Avers, owned by Ihor Palytsia, a parliamentarian and close ally of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. The controversial oligarch has ties to Zelenskyy and was sanctioned by the US earlier this year over allegations of “significant corruption.”
What should have been a step forward for media pluralism in Ukraine thus turned into a tightening of control in the hands of those who already enjoy too much media power. As the owner of 1+1 Media Group, consisting of eight television channels with a combined audience share of around 20%, Kolomoisky wields significant political influence in today’s Ukraine. His media assets were used to promote the 2019 election campaign of President Zelenskyy, whose hit shows previously aired on Kolomoisky’s network.
The tale of a comedian to acting president of a key nation, ending up as media mogul played by the Ukrainian oligarchs.