Kyiv Is Winning the War

In Politico Magazine, Chrystia Freeland writes:

In the fog of war, the ADHD of cable news and the smears of Russian propaganda have combined to obscure some important good news in this dismal summer. In the historic fight over the future of democracy in Ukraine, Kyiv is winning and the Kremlin is losing. That is good news for Ukrainians, but also for Europeans, for the rest of the world—and ultimately for Russians, too.

Read the whole article, here.

Russia “feared but not respected”

Michael McFaul:


“… the downing of Malaysia Airways #17 squandered in one day years of investment in changing Russia’s reputation abroad, including the $50 billion spent on the Sochi Olympics, which were intended to introduce the new, modern Russia to the world. Russia may be feared again, but Russia is not respected.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/putin-the-not-so-great-109711_Page3.html#ixzz39aIlIsAM

Tymoshenko was victim of government murder plot

The head of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Committee, Tetyana Chornovol, has published transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations which show that Party of Regions MPs advised former President Yanukovych to kill Yulia Tymoshenko in prison. The tapes have also been released on YouTube, here.

Hat tip: Taras Kuzio

Ukrainians become Ukrainian

At New Pathway, Alexander Motyl writes:

For the first time, arguably ever, Ukraine has a solidly pro-Western, pro-reform elite and society, a patriotic, self-mobilized, active, and pro-Ukrainian civil society and population, an increasingly patriotic security apparatus and army, the solid support of the West and of key Western institutions, and a crystal-clear sense of who the “enemy” is – Russia.

Ukrainians have finally become Ukrainian, and their society and state are finally in the West. This is unprecedented and of world-historical importance.

What needs to change is of course the economy, the state apparatus, the society. The economy has to be made more market friendly, the state has to be trimmed, decentralized, made less corrupt, and subordinate to the rule of law, and society has to be made less corrupt and also subordinate to the еrule of law. Opening up the economy is “easy,” as are trimming and decentralizing the state. A few good laws can do the trick. Changing attitudes to corruption and rule of law will take time.

The End of a Brand

On his blog The Vault of the Future, Silicon Valley startup entrepreneur Max Skibinsky takes an undeceived view of today’s Russia in the aftermath of the MH17 disaster, and explains some of the reasons for his reluctance to return there:

To understand Russia’s lightning fast descent into the abyss one has to understand a simple truth that many (myself included) suspected all along: Russia was and is a failed state. What is seen from the outside is just a facade imitating a functional country and government. High oil prices, residual infrastructure of USSR and internal mass propaganda machine maintained the illusion for more than a decade.

Not only is Russia a mafia state — it’s controlled by a vast propaganda machine that is even more all-devouring than the Soviet one:

Official TV propaganda lies professionally and constantly. There are no independent TV channels; everything is controlled by government stooges. The “news” teams employ special teams that do video editing and fabrications to present absolutely falsified accounts for TV transmission…

The best way to understand modern Russia is to imagine a steep pyramid. At the very top there is a clique of KGB-affiliated oligarchs, who manage a barely-competent class of middle-managers (who can and do steal a fraction of everything they touch) which in turn sits on top of a largely brainwashed and deranged mass population living on life-long government welfare.

As the author notes, “this is the most toxic environment imaginable to incubate a startup ecosystem.”

He concludes:

I think we came to the end of the line with regards to Russia as a name, culture, a global brand. For the time being the country future is destroyed, police state is well-entrenched and the narrative for the brainwashed locals would be xenophobic tale of struggle with the “West”.

Hat tip: Anders Östlund on Twitter: @andersostlund