Posts Tagged ‘foriegn policy’

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Cybersecurity

November 27, 2014

Part of Ukraine’s security and defence reconstruction will have to include cybersecurity.

Despite having a nation with more than its fair share of seriously and mind-bogglingly clever programmers/hackers, Microsoft competition winners and IT geeks  – external help if not required, has been offered and accepted.  Indeed it is being given, in particular by one nation, if not a nation many would immediately think of.  And rightly so.

This link can become quite mesmerising watching cyber attacks being sent, and cyber warfare taking place in real time.

All such IT things are far beyond the competence of this blog.  Indeed “IT retarded” would overstate its competency.  Nevertheless, below is a very interesting speech by Dan Geer, a man with fascinating sideburns, who knows far more about cybersecurity than most – actually almost anybody.

“Power exists to be used. Some wish for cyber safety, which they will not get. Others wish for cyber order, which they will not get. Some have the eye to discern cyber policies that are “the least worst thing;” may they fill the vacuum of wishful thinking.”

A significant realpolitik statement for a virtual realm.  Particularly so when  Ukraine has the desire to significantly move toward both e-governance and e-democracy – and away from paper (not withstanding creating a robust cybersecurity system).  That said, Ukraine should perhaps begin by putting legitimate, licensed software on government hardware, instead of pirated software (and whatever nasty extras that may contain hidden within the code) as a starting point.

Anyway, have a listen to Mr Geer – and try not to get addicted to watch the cyber attacks in the link above – whilst pondering just how incredibly difficult cybersecurity actually has become, and will continue to be.

 

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Outcomes of 16th July – Ukraine

July 18, 2014

Following on from yesterday’s entry – how did yesterday turn out for Ukraine on the international stage?  Was is as good or bad as expected?

Firstly with regard the European Member States, by way of immediate sanctions there was nothing that wasn’t stated in the aforementioned link.  In short, no further EIB or EBRD lending, and the suspension of some joint EU – Russia projects.

There was, however, agreement on the mechanisms relating to moving to sectoral sanctions.  Those mechanisms agreed by the EU Council, no sector sanctions actually came.

Those sector sanctions may/will come by the end of July.  Hard hitting or not, if and when they come, remains to be seen. However, the EU Council meeting was not entirely an event without positive results for Ukraine (or Georgia and Moldova).

As tweeted last week, the worst possible outcome for Ukraine would have been no EU sector sanctions and the appointment of Federica Mogherini as the new head of the EEAS.  The said appointment did not happen – at least not yet – due to robust disagreements about her candidature between the Member States.  The vast majority of the central and eastern European Member States are very much opposed to her appointment and seem unlikely to acquiesce – thankfully.

All in all, certainly not the best or most dynamic of outcomes for Ukraine – but far from being the complete washout it could have been. Perhaps by the end of the month and a few sector sanctions later, it will be seen as a good result.

With regard to a visibly impatient USA, and as countless entries over the past weeks have alluded to, sanctions came.  Those sanctions taking matters to an entirely new level.

Of the companies listed, the most prominent are clearly Rosneft, VTB and Novatek.  Without doubt pain will be felt within Kremlin walls regarding those three companies.

Whether it is enough pain remains to be seen.  If not, should Sberbank and a few others appear on the next round of US sanctions, that pain really would begin to bite.

Nonetheless, some robust sanctions by the US, putting pressure not only on The Kremlin, but also on the Europeans to deliver something more than “santions-lite” within the next two weeks.

However, as the above tweet makes clear, the effectiveness of sanctions ultimately comes down to the will and ability of those sanctioned to take the pain whilst pursuing actions that caused the sanctions in the first place.  It would be very foolish to expect these, or any other sanctions, to change The Kremlin course.  It is very capable of taking the pain whilst continuing its actions in Ukraine, attempting to divide EU Member States unity and being disruptive and obstructionist on the global stage too.

It is perhaps why governments have been careful in stating that continued Kremlin action “will have costs” – for the sanctions will certainly be costly, despite probably not changing Kremlin course with regard Ukraine – at least immediately.

All of which leaves Ukraine where?

A reasonable tactic in the current circumstances – but what of a security strategy looking forward over the next decade during on-going Kremlin shenanigans of one form or another – or beyond?

Coalitions of the willing such as the UkrPolLit Brigade are a start – but clearly not nearly enough.

All in all though, a better than expected day for Ukraine.  The US delivered.  The EU agreed mechanisms to deliver eventually – maybe – but just as importantly failed to agree to appoint Federica Mogherini as EEAS head, which in itself is something of a result.

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Mouth engaged before brain again – Yulia Tymoshenko

March 26, 2014

As is very well known, Russian espionage tradecraft is alive and working very well – as US Ambassador Geoffery Pyatt and Assistant Secretary Nuland are well aware.  Nobody in the EU will forget her publicised “F*ck the EU” statement not long ago made publicly available thanks to Russia.

It should therefore come as no surprise to any of the top Ukrainian politicians, “persons of interest” and “interesting people” – not the same thing – that they too would be subject to such tradecraft, especially so in the current circumstances.

But stupid is as stupid does – and there is nobody in Ukraine better at engaging their rhetorical mouth before engaging their brain than Yulia Tymoshenko when it comes to “persons of interest” to The Kremlin.

Thus the content of this leaked telephone call of Ms Tymoshenko, where she states it’s “time to take up arms and whack those damned Russkis and their leader.”  I shall refrain from translating it all, other than to say that this is by far the mildest of the comments made.  Think scorched earth, flattened Russia, machine guns fired in Russian heads and such.

Blimey how that will help deescalate matters

As I have written time and time again “Ms Tymoshenko knows only autocratic and oligarchical politics. She knows seedy opaque deals. She understands zero sum, conflict and division.”

She later confirmed the authenticity of the telephone conversation in the above tweet – but claimed it had been edited to mislead.

Given the sheer number of so many incredibly stupid statements she has made as a public figure – such as going on television in 2008 stating the global economic crisis would not affect Ukraine – belief in her statements and subsequent spin is somewhat thin.  Thus few will believe her story of the conversation being edited – if it was.

Regardless of any truth in the tale of the conversation being edited – or not – it has very little relevance.  It’s not what you say, but what people hear that counts.

Due to her complete lack of thought of both what she was saying and the medium she was using when she said it, what people will hear in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Odessa, are words from a presidential candidate – and woman widely believed to be very corrupt, far from honest in her oratory, and whom is already thought to be running the country from the shadows – making statements that will only further fuel their Kremlin planted/cultivated anxieties.

Alternatively, it may further spur secessionist sentiment amongst the hard core in western Ukraine to leave the rest of the nation behind if it is seen to be moving too slowly – or not at all.  (At least such sentiment amongst the hard core nationalists that remain alive that is – some even manage to predict their own demise.)

Considering Kremlin attempts to mobilise the south and east of Ukraine must be very disappointing from their point of view thus far, perhaps they will now see a lever that can be engineered to push the west of Ukraine away instead.  Or try both simultaneously.  (The option of pushing western Ukraine away, as pulling southern and eastern Ukraine in seems to be currently failing miserably, is something I wrote about elsewhere a few days ago).

Perhaps once it was leaked, her swift confirmation of authenticity was to make the best of a bad situation.  A swift spin into an attempt to win voters in western Ukraine from the nationalist ranks and such a strong rhetoric may also appeal to the millions of Russian speakers who do not want rescuing by Russia in preparation for the forthcoming presidential elections.  A Ukrainian Boudica of imagery if not action at least?

Whatever the case, it seems there is a competition between Svoboda and Ms Tymoshenko to legitimise everything President Putin wants to plant in the minds of the ethnic and Russian speaking constituency in Ukraine.  Why not just ask these regions to roll out the red carpet for Russian intervention to save them – not from fascists or anti-Russian sentiment – but from unbelievable Ukrainian political stupidity, whilst simultaneously further whipping up any secessionist sentiment in western Ukraine to leave the rest behind.

Considering there is little more divisive in Ukrainian politics than Yulia Tymoshenko – and the ideology of Svoboda – just how incredibly stupid and self-defeating can the current Svoboda/Batkivshchyna Party interim government be?  There seems to be no limits!

Still, a timely reminder for the Europeans, western orientated nations and institutions intent upon supporting Ukraine in the years ahead, of just how very difficult that will be with the incredibly feckless Ukrainian political class and the likelihood of further public unrest  – notwithstanding any Russian attempts to undermine any assistance given along the way.

Although I doubt any within the EU will have forgotten what became known as “Tymoshenko fatigue” a few years ago when she was last in power – if ever they needed a reminder – Yulia Tymoshenko is bound to provide it……time and time again!

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Media failings – Meet the new boss – same as the old boss

March 23, 2014

Well, very little seems to have changed since Viktor Yanukovych and Mykola Azarov left the building with regard to political control of the state/oligarchical media and exposure of “the chosen”.

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4 hours – Yes FOUR CONTINUOUS HOURS of sanctimonious egotistical flapdoodle was inflicted upon Ukrainians by Yulia Tymoshenko and television producers last night.

It felt as though I had been teleported to Pyongyang and was being forcibly brainwashed by “the Great Leader” in order that I forget just how her previous actions had contributed – in no uncertain terms – to many of the crisis issues now faced by Ukraine.

Ms Tymoshenko has now the personal loyalty of 10 regional governors and is behind the oligarch appointments in eastern Ukraine.  Despite a very capable but independent of mind Batkivshchyna candidate in Lesya Orobets for Mayor of Kyiv, she has encouraged Yuri Lutsenko to run – presumably because he is simply far more loyal to her personally.

As Vitkor Yanukovych’s power vertical is being dismantled still now – Ms Tymoshenko is quite obviously building her own.  She also quite clearly has the intention, access and ambition to dominate the media – long term election observers take note now – her campaign began last night with this 4 hour mainstream media stint.

Let us hope that despite her undisputed title as Queen of Rhetoric, the election comes soon enough that people clearly remember she also failed to deliver anything whatsoever when in power – and has been a considerable contributory factor to where Ukraine finds itself today – no different in deeds to all the other historically feckless Ukrainian political class.

Ukraine seems likely to leap from one domestic political abyss personified by Viktor Yanukovych to yet  another in Ms Tymoshenko if it is not careful.

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Extremist Ukrainian Bratsvo Party to train Russian activists

June 17, 2013

Well here is an interesting article that states the extremist Ukrainian Bratsvo Party will train Russian activists in Ukraine this summer.

The Bratsvo Party agenda being the break up of the Russian Federation by organising the peripheral and anti-Moscow States and youth with training camps focusing upon civil disobedience, battling law enforcement, agitation and propaganda – not to mention “the theoretical foundations of Russian autonomy” and the “theology of the Russian Autonomous Church”.

Blimey – I wonder how many disenfranchised Russians will turn up!

It’s probably better I not hold my breath to see any effective results from the Bratsvo Party plan, and am wiser waiting for Putinism without Putin – a time that will eventually arrive – to watch the Russian Federation possibly fray at the periphery.

Still, always interesting to keep an eye on what the ultra far right nationalists are doing.

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Devaluation pressure on the hryvnia continues

August 22, 2012

I am not an economist, nor am I a banker, financial analyst, Forex trader, or a particularly interested fiscal and monetary watcher.

However, I have mentioned the devaluation of the Hryvnia several times in the past 12 months, most recently here, and maybe somewhat bravely (or foolishly) predicted a Hryvnia/US$ rate of 9.5 – 10 before the middle of 2013 in several dots within cyberspace as well.

A significant devaluation from the Hryvnia/US$ rate of UAH 8/1 US$ of today.

As I have said, such events will not occur until after the elections at the end of October this year if they occur at all.  Having predicted for more than 12 months that it will happen, I am not about to state otherwise now as nothing has changed for the better as far as I can see.

In fact, recent moves by the National Bank of Ukraine have only reinforced my opinion.  It is a move which does nothing other than confirm my longstanding forecasts of devaluation after the October elections.

What’s more, I really don’t think the NBU policy will work.  It is simply too easy to circumvent it.

I have already put my money where my mouth is some time ago and moved out of the Hryvnia and into GBP Sterling, US$ and Swiss Franc.  It still appears to me to have been a wise decision.

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Human Trafficking

April 9, 2012

Today I was going to write about why reform in Ukraine is so slow and the bottom-up support that is missing.  That will have to wait until I get around to it.

Currently I am researching serious and organised crime for a document that will be published elsewhere in cyberspace in the months ahead.  Certainly it should be published by the year end.  Needless to say, Ukraine like most nations has issues with serious organised crime and within that broad heading human trafficking falls.

During this research, this very powerful, short and thoughtful Dutch video got my attention.  Whilst it does not go into the methodology, statistics, trafficking routes, reasons and end results, it does make anybody who watches it think twice about what is going on around them.

Watch it to the end – Something to think about!

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