Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts

19 January 2018

A Year in Review: Ukraine Faced Mixed Fortunes, Missed Opportunities in 2017

By: Oleg Varfolomeyev

Ukraine missed some chances to improve the domestic situation last year, with the fight against corruption not as efficient as Western creditors expected and the economy growing at only a sluggish pace. Among the country’s achievements in 2017 were the long-awaited ratification of the association and free trade agreement plus a visa-free travel bonus from the European Union, and Naftogaz Ukrainy’s victory over Russian Gazprom in an international arbitration court. Nonetheless, there is still no light in the end of the tunnel as far as the conflict with Russia-backed militants in Donbas is concerned, and Ukraine deepened the split by stepping up the economic blockade of the area. The governing coalition led by President Petro Poroshenko proved stable, but it will face challenges ahead of both presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2019.

15 January 2018

Russian military was behind ‘NotPetya’ cyberattack in Ukraine, CIA concludes

Ellen Nakashima

The CIA has attributed to Russian military hackers a cyberattack that crippled computers in Ukraine last year, an effort to disrupt that country’s financial system amid its ongoing war with separatists loyal to the Kremlin. The June 2017 attack, delivered through a mock ransomware virus dubbed NotPetya, wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport.The GRU military spy agency created NotPetya, the CIA concluded with “high confidence” in November, according to classified reports cited by U.S. intelligence officials.

11 January 2018

Ukraine on the brink of kleptocracy

On January 3rd former Georgian President Michael Saakashvili’s plea for asylum in Ukraine was turned down, removing a key obstacle to deport him to Georgia. If deported, he will likely be show-trialled without a fair chance of defence. Since Saakashvili broke his alliance with President Poroshenko, the Ukrainian authorities have been working overtime to get rid of their new political opponent. The Soviet-style harassment campaign started with stripping him of his Ukrainian citizenship (a decision judged illegal by most independent experts), denying him entry into Ukraine, and arbitrary arrests of his aides. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko tried to bring about his own political show trial of Saakashvili, which he had to abandon on November 13th, formally due to weak evidence, but in effect due to pressure from the EU and the US.

7 January 2018

Where The Uranium Comes From

by Dyfed Loesche

According to the German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources BGR, Kazakhstan is the biggest producer of the radioactive metal. The central Asian country produced around 24,600 metric tons of the substance in 2016. This is a share of close to 40 percent of the worldwide production. Australia comes in at third place with 6,300 metric tons. However, in terms of total resources Australia has the most. Around 1.1 million tons are slumbering in its earths, of which not all can currently be excavated at reasonable costs. Around the world there are known resources of some 3.5 million tons, so there is no foreseeable shortage.

6 January 2018

Ukraine: Will the Centre Hold?

What’s the issue?

While the war in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas rumbles on, the regions of Polissya and Zakarpattya in the country’s west are corroded by systemic state corruption. Resentment toward Kyiv in these peripheral regions is pushing many into the shadow economies and exacerbating state fragility.

Why does it matter?

Widespread corruption in Ukraine’s western regions demonstrates that state fragility is not limited to areas controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists. This is undermining Kyiv’s capacity to withstand Russian aggression and restore its sovereignty over Donbas, meaning Moscow’s withdrawal from eastern Ukraine will not necessarily lead to national cohesion.

1 January 2018



Minsk is shorthand for a diplomatic process established in 2014 and early 2015. The formal deadline for completing Minsk was December 2015, a deadline that long since passed without its first phase — a ceasefire — going into effect. The next two phases — decentralization and a political process for the Donbas — have never progressed beyond the hypothetical. As of this winter, the line of contact between the Ukrainian and the Russian-backed forces remains bloody and volatile. At this stage, declaring Minsk dead might be an acceptance of a self-evident reality. Consigning Minsk to history might allow everyone to move forward along a different track.

27 December 2017

Donbass Blues, The Forgotten Conflict In Eastern Ukraine

KRASNOHORIVKA — The sound of canon fire has become more distant of late in Krasnohorivka. But the war continues to haunt Lioudmila Sidonnka. The young mother's stories are those of soldiers running in all directions, of smoking tanks, never-ending detonations, nights spent in her building's basement, houses on fire.

Little wonder that so many residents in this hamlet, on the Ukrainian side of the frontline, have left. After three years of conflict, only about 100 people — a third of the ghost village's pre-war population — remain. Lioudmila and her family are among the holdouts. Her 14-year-old son, Vadim, shows us shell fragments that he's collected. He also shows us around his school, the only connection he still has to real life. Life before the war.

24 December 2017

Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine

By Josh Rogin

Correction: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly reported that the Trump administration had approved the first-ever commercial sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It stated that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had publicly supported arms sales to Ukraine; Mattis did not explicitly do so. This post has been updated. 

The Trump administration has approved the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014. The move was heavily supported by top Trump national security Cabinet officials and Congress but may complicate President Trump’s stated ambition to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

20 December 2017

Will Ukraine Be Hit by Yet Another Holiday Power-Grid Hack?


The holiday season has not been a joyful time with respect to Ukraine’s power grid. Days before Christmas in 2015, remote hackers wrested control from Ukrainian grid operators, and, by digitally commandeering substations, shut off power for 225,000 customers for several hours. Then, in mid-December of last year, hackers developed a malicious code that, without any real-time human support, disrupted a Kiev transmission station and caused a substantial blackout that lasted roughly an hour in the capital—in the first fully automated grid attack ever seen.

Hackers halt plant operations in watershed cyber attack

Hackers halt plant operations in watershed cyber attack 

Hackers likely working for a nation-state recently invaded the safety system of a critical infrastructure facility in a watershed attack that halted plant operations, according to cyber investigators and the firm whose software was targeted. FireEye Inc (FEYE.O) disclosed the incident on Thursday, saying it targeted Triconex industrial safety technology from Schneider Electric SE (SCHN.PA). Schneider confirmed that the incident had occurred and that it had issued a security alert to users of Triconex, which cyber experts said is widely used in the energy industry, including at nuclear facilities, and oil and gas plants.

19 December 2017


By Violeta Moskalu

This fall has been an ugly one for Ukraine. Throughout September, October, November, and December, Ukrainian authorities have illegally detained, persecuted, and expelled several foreign journalists and other foreign residents, causing observers to question whether Ukrainian leaders are actively violating human rights and willfully persecuting their political opponents in an effort to maintain their grip on power. In fact, the Ukrainian authorities seem to be pursuing a policy of double standards, demanding that Russia liberate Ukrainian political hostages and journalists while simultaneously arresting dissenting activists, journalists, and political opponents.

18 December 2017

What on Earth Is Going on in Ukraine?


On December 7, Ukraine’s parliament is likely to dismiss the head of Ukraine’s only independent anticorruption body, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). Established in 2015 to target high-level crimes committed by the country’s corrupt political class, NABU has demonstrated a high level of independence led by its director Artem Sytnyk. It has not hesitated to target senior officials, judges, and state enterprise managers who previously possessed de-facto immunity from prosecution.

12 December 2017

What on Earth Is Going on in Ukraine?


On December 7, Ukraine’s parliament is likely to dismiss the head of Ukraine’s only independent anticorruption body, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). Established in 2015 to target high-level crimes committed by the country’s corrupt political class, NABU has demonstrated a high level of independence led by its director Artem Sytnyk. It has not hesitated to target senior officials, judges, and state enterprise managers who previously possessed de-facto immunity from prosecution.

7 November 2017

Ukraine Has Gas for Upcoming Winter, but Time for Reforms Is Running Out

Ukraine has entered a new heating season with almost 17 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas stored in its underground reservoirs, according to Ukrtransgaz, the gas transportation and storage subsidiary of the state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy (, accessed October 30). This is more than Ukraine stored up in anticipation of winter both last year as well as two years ago. As such, winter 2017–2018 will be the third heating season in a row that Ukraine will have enough stored gas to make it through the cold months since natural gas purchases from Russia’s Gazprom were stopped in November 2015. Having built the foundations for stable gas deliveries from the European Union via Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, Ukraine has proved that it can survive without Gazprom, which used to account for 100 percent of its imports of the “blue fuel.” Although, it bears pointing out that much of the gas that Ukraine is buying from the EU is actually Russian gas pumped in the reverse direction.

18 October 2017

Ukraine Won’t Be Solved Any Time Soon

By Emil Avdaliani

The conflict in East Ukraine has reached a frozen phase in which neither side is making many gains. Despite agreements, the conflict has not seen any meaningful breakthrough for more than three years. Geopolitical imperatives dictate that progress will be contingent upon either Russia or Ukraine (i.e., the West) conceding their interests. The Ukrainian problem is rooted in the geography of the country as well as in the consistent failure of Russia to leverage its involvement in Syria and other theaters for western concessions.

12 October 2017

What Makes the Ukraine a Hotbed of Intrigue and Scandal? Or Why You Can’t Trust the Ukrainian Security Service

Andrew E. Higgins and Andrew Kramer

POLTAVA, Ukraine — After four years of investigation by the German police, the F.B.I. and other crime-fighting agencies around the world, heavily armed security officers stormed an apartment in the central Ukrainian town of Poltava. After a brief exchange of gunfire, they captured their prey: the man suspected of leading a cybercrime gang accused of stealing more than $100 million.

4 October 2017

2019 Could Be a Very Bad Year for Ukraine

Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Yes, 2019 matters ...

For several years, Russia has been warning—consistently and clearly—that it tends to stop using Ukraine as a transit country for sending its energy to Western markets. If this happens, a major hole will open in the Ukrainian economy which Europe and the United States do not appear to be prepared to fill.

19 September 2017


On Sep 14 2017 a successful drone drone test has taken place in Ukraine. The Sokol (or Sokil – eng Falcon) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). But rather than holding a separate high-explosive warhead, the drone itself is the main munition.

This was stated by Oleksandr Turchinov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, after completing the tests at the landfill in Goncharivka, Chernihiv region.

According to him, one of the tasks set by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine towards the domestic defense and industrial complex was “the establishment of production of high-quality unmanned combat vehicles”.

“The Sokol reconnaissance and attack drone, which we have tested today, it is capable of finding and accurately striking targets, using, depending on the tasks, the high-explosive, fragmentation-explosive and thermobaric munitions,” – O. Turchinov noted, adding that today’s tests were carried out in extremely difficult weather conditions: “The wind gusts were 14-17 meters per second.” “Despite these problems, in fact all the tasks that have been set are fulfilled, the goals are meet” he said.

After analysis of the the Ukraine Armed Forces video, the system consists of RC plane equipped with a camera and directed remotely from a control station. Apparently, the flight controller software would be Ardupilot. Since one of the video captures shows a typical version of its Mission Planner software. ArduPilot one of the most advanced, full-featured and reliable autopilot software available, used by a wide variety of both professionals and amateurs, and has been developed by a team of diverse professional engineers and computer scientists. ArduPilot source code is stored and managed on GitHub, and as of early 2017 has been forked by more than 5,000 GitHub users. The souce tree includes approximately 700,000 lines of primarily C++ code, originating from 25,000 patches with 300+ contributors, and has been forked over 5,000 times.

Russia’s Digital Weapons Refined on Virtual Battlefield’ of Ukraine

A laptop shows part of a code, which is the component of Petya malware computer virus, according to representatives of Ukrainian cybersecurity firm ISSP, at the firm's office in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 4, 2017.

It was a Friday in June, a short workday before a public holiday weekend in Ukraine, and cybersecurity expert Victor Zhora had left the capital, Kyiv, and was in the western city of Lviv when he got the first in a torrent of phone calls from frantic clients.

His clients’ networks were being crippled by ransomware known as Petya, a malicious software that locks up infected computers and data. But this ransomware was a variant of an older one and wasn’t designed to extort money — the goal of the virus’ designers was massive disruption to Ukraine’s economy.

“I decided not to switch on my computer and just used my phone and iPad as a precaution,” he said. “I didn’t want my laptop to be contaminated by the virus and to lose my data,” he said.

18 September 2017



Earlier this year, armed protesters used violence and threats to force Ukraine’s government into a substantial policy reversal: a ban on anthracite coal imports from separatist-controlled territory, crucial to the country’s electricity supply. The protesters were representatives of “volunteer battalions” (or pro-state militias), broadly credited with helping Ukraine survive the early days of its continuing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the East. This incident, and others like it, illustrate how the continued cohesiveness, weapons access, and politicization of these groups threatens Ukraine’s democracy and stability.

When the volunteer battalions (although not all are technically battalions, we will use this terminology as shorthand) first appeared in 2014, their assistance was welcome and necessary, albeit controversial. Although seen as patriots by many, critics deemed these groups undisciplined, politically extremist, and insufficiently controlled by Ukrainian authorities. Some were credibly linked to human rights violations and neo-Nazi sympathies.