Posts Tagged ‘media’

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Corruption conviction statistics – MOJ publish them anywhere?

August 30, 2016

Never has this blog written an open letter or public request to any of the many Presidents, Prime Ministers or Cabinets whose governance (for want of a better description) it has lived under over the past decade and more in Ukraine.

The first reason for doing so is that once a reader has seen one Verkhovna Rada or Gov UA email address, it is very simple to work out the email address for any of them (no differently from working out the email address for somebody at the State Department or FCO etc.) and private communication has always remain the preferred channel of this blog.

Secondly, it would indeed be conceited to think that such a lowly foreign language hobby blog may get more than an infrequent and/or accidental visit from policymakers and/or legislators in Kyiv (discounting the diplomatic corps that seeks out what little English language “non-party line” commentary that spews forth from Odessa due to the absence of major “western” consulates in the region.  In short an OSINT source with friendly “useful idiocy” potential).

However, even lowly hobby bloggers occasionally write for money – and naturally to a far higher and heavily cited standard than that which appears in a free blog.  Indeed that writing can be academic and has been published by academic journals.

Facts and statistics even in a post-fact political world still have some resonance.  Being sarcastic, how else to produce unreliable facts from reliable figures – or vice versa?

Undoubtedly the Ministry of Justice is very busy.  Its reform agenda is vast and the obstructionism it faces is as robust as it is never ending.  Yet the role of the Ministry of Justice in combating corruption cannot be overstated.

Clearly there is pressure upon the “rule of law” ministries and State institutions to deliver anti-corruption results.  Indeed the blog’s social media time line and “favourite sites” are forever recording and highlighting the arrests of politicians and civil servants for corruption.  The beginning of a process for each and every cases- but not a result.

The Ukrainian anti-corruption fight will not be measured in the number of arrests, but in the number of convictions.

Naturally media and political attention focuses upon the high profile cases – or currently upon the absolute lack of convictions in high profile cases.  Important as they are, they too will only make up part of the picture when it comes to the fight against corruption.

Having searched in reasonable English, average Russian, and admittedly woeful Ukrainian, the blog is yet to find a consolidated list of corruption convictions – be it official statistics or a “best capture” effort by bloggers/civil society/media.

keep-calm-its-only-statistics-1

Somebody in the Ministry of Justice must have a list of every conviction for corruption of political and civil service figures across the entirety of Ukraine – if for no other reason to have a list of names that will subsequently be banned from holding office for a period of time following any conviction.

It would perhaps assist Ukraine in making its case that it is indeed fighting corruption and not just orating rhetoric and passing legislation that remains unimplemented – and certainly assist academic observation, even if empirical in nature – to provide easily located, easily accessible simple corruption conviction statistics.

The number of convictions for corruption per month (or per annum at least).  The judicial verdict/punishment handed down.  The region/oblast.  Ideally the specific court and/or the judge too would be enough.

How else can even empirical observation consider why one region may be far more active in arriving at convictions than another?  Is there a consistency in the sentencing – regionally or nationally?  What of proportionality?  Is one court far more “forgiving”/lenient than another?  Would any “unofficial punishment banding” become empirically apparent correlating to the level of the convicted in the bureaucratic machinery – or alternatively to the level of bribe received for their nefarious acts?

Naturally nobody would expect the Minister to know these statistics without having to refer to somebody in the “boiler room” of the Ministry of Justice – but somebody in the “boiler room” will know – and if nobody knows, then how is the Ministry of Justice (or any other ministry) measuring the fight against corruption where it counts – and the reactive side of the equation counts only in convictions (hopefully with proportionate and consistent sentencing).

(Admittedly it is far more difficult to accurately measure the proactive preventative side of the fight against corruption because if proactively preventing it then logically it didn’t happen to be measured – an inaccurate science no different in difficultly to accurately measuring any crime prevention initiative.)

Thus this entry is aimed at those that may have contact within Ministry of Justice (rather than personally at the Minister of Justice who won’t read it) – hopefully one of the fairly frequent diplomats that drop by will raise the question of where to locate collated, official, easily accessible, frequently updated statistics regarding convictions (not arrests) for corruption and accurately recorded sentencing handed down.

Perhaps somebody within the EU, EU Member States, US or Canada that are rightly spending taxpayers money to support the fight against corruption have such statistics available?  If not, how are they measuring the fight against corruption if convictions are not part of that benchmarking?

There is surely publicly available, updated statistics for the convictions and sentencing of public servants – for they are a matter of public record somewhere – and as headline grabbing as even a solitary conviction and sentencing of a sacrificial “big fish” will be (if it happens), the statistics sufficient to paint a much broader empirical picture, by region and nationally, would be gratefully received.

In the fairly certain knowledge that there will be no response to this plea/ admission of search engine defeat, perhaps the erudite readers will perchance furnish links to such hidden statistical knowledge that despite searches in 3 languages have thus far failed to produce the desired results?

Obliged in advance to any that may assist.

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Data accessibility – Apps4Cities competition

August 16, 2016

About a week ago, whilst sat with a friend (and soon to be business partner) fluent in those strange tongues of Java, C++ and other exotic yet unintelligible languages that produce Microsoft Ukraine winners,  the blog tentatively mentioned the fact that an “Odessa App” would be a rather good idea – particularly if the city emerges as the Eurovision host.  (“Tentatively mentioned” owing to the fact that keeping said friend (and soon to be business partner) concentrating on our mutual project was and is the priority.)

Some ideas were tossed about.

The issue was raised simply because the City and Oblast are particularly bad at communication both with each other, and perhaps more importantly with the local constituency.  Indeed “communication” is perhaps the wrong word when mentioning local government for it implies to many a two-way interaction.  It is more accurate to state that both City and Oblast are particularly bad at information and its delivery.

That said, our “tossing of ideas” covered far more than communicating Odessa local governance issues via an App. – nothing quite so dull.

App

Nevertheless, and by coincidence, 16th August witnessed the NGO OPORA announce an “Apps4Cities” competition.  What’s more there is a small $5000 incentive for winner(s) – not much, but a financial incentive nonetheless.

OPORA are certainly on the right track for expecting local governance to provide sensible solutions to their own woeful communication is folly – they can’t even communicate with each other.

Hopefully there will be a qualitative response.  It will be very interesting indeed to see just what solutions are offered by a very creative civil society and IT community now well used to filling gaping voids where governance fails. – and where governance fails the most is effective implementation and communication.

Expect some very smart solutions to be offered!

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Coming soon – Darth TV?

August 12, 2016

Much earlier in the year an entry appeared raising the mask of the Odessa political caricature of Darth Vader.

Better stated, it raised the mask of the current – and second – incarnation of Darth Vader, Odessa politician.

Behind that mask, in its current incarnation, sits the political machinery of MP Dmitry Golubov of the Block Poroshenko faction (although not of the Poroshenko party from which he resigned almost immediately after election to the national legislature).

That entry also outlined an on-going feud between Mr Golubov and Governor Saakashvili – a feud that continues to this day with no sign of abating or conclusion.  That said there is no national parliamentarian, or few local members of the political class that can be identified as having much – if any – affection for Governor Saakashvili.

For the Governor, it is perhaps fortunate that due to what seems to be an irreparable rift between Mayor Trukhanov and influential businessman Adnan Kivan, Odessa TV Channel 7 owned by the latter, has become a media platform for the Governor in an otherwise hostile media environment owned by the local political class.  It would be perhaps wrong to state that the Governor and Mr Kivan are allies, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend is an expression that currently has some limited merit.

Last week this blog became aware of a pending purchase of another local TV channel between local political personalities active upon the national stage.  The sale of Akademia TV was apparently in the offing.

Akademia TV until now was one of several local TV channels owned by the (in)famous MP Sergei Kivalov – and like all of his TV channels spends much time serving him up to the local constituency as a saintly demagogue, and promoting the exploits of his local political party and the local governance activities of this party (whilst trashing others) – notwithstanding its longstanding heavily pro-Russia bias.

This week has seen a noticeable change in political coverage.  Much more attention has been paid towards Messrs Lonov, Gregoriev and Vareschenko.  These people are closely associated with Dmitry Golubov.  The channel is also seemingly changing its pro-Russia stance.

Indeed it appears that Mr Kivalov has sold Akademia TV to Mr Golubov.

One less pro-Russia local TV channel, and a transition to one more pro-Ukrainian TV channel in Odessa will undoubtedly result.

Clearly Sergei Kivalov decided that he has sufficient media outlets to promote himself and his agenda, allowing the sale of Akademia TV – and Mr Golubov being without his own TV Channel now has one.

This acquisition is probably perceived by Mr Golubov as needed in order to have a 24/7 platform to project his anti-Saakashvili line and also prepare for any early elections upon the horizon – for it is unclear whether he can, or will be allowed, to run upon the Poroshenko ticket this time.

As an independent and with the Darth Vadar caricature having a far greater political footprint than Dmitry Golubov MP, there is clearly a preparatory need to raise both his personal profile and the profiles of “his people” within the City Hall machinery – Akademia TV now appears to be that vehicle.

“Darth” is now behind Akademia TV which will clearly turn from pro-Russian to pro-Ukrainian, however that creates issues for Mr Golubov, for it is entirely unclear just what Mr Golubov thinks regarding many issues – in fact most things.

His voting record within the Verkhovna Rada doesn’t provide much of a clue to any morally held views.  Neither is the Verkhovna Rada stuffed full of draft legislation submitted by Mr Golubov outlining his vision.

Little of Darth Vadar’s Internet Party manifesto provides insight into meaningful policy or solutions to the issues facing Ukraine – as entertaining as that manifesto may be.

As it is entirely wrong-headed to assume that being “anti” something necessarily infers being “pro” its polar opposite – there are a million shades of grey in between – it is thus difficult to know where Mr Golubov will take Akademia TV and its viewers, and equally importantly, where Akademia TV will take Mr Golubov.

Despite Mr Golubov being widely perceived as a (Alexie) “Goncharenko man” it will not serve him to simply ape Mr Goncharenko or turn Akademia TV into a copy of Mr Goncharenko’s Dumskaya media – something Mr Golubov is undoubtedly aware of.

Thus the purchase of this TV channel will presumably force one of the more private, and some may say mysterious politicians of Odessa to publicly and robustly plant some personal policy and moral flags in the ground if it is to serve his purposes to the fullest.

Vadar

Ergo Akademia/”Darth” TV will ultimately force Mr Golubov to personally shed the Vadar mask permanently, consigning it strictly and unambiguously to the numerous stand-ins within the “Internet Party” if the Vadar caricature is to continue at all.  It is now the face, voice, and vision of Mr Golubov and not of Darth Vadar that has to garner traction with the public.

Hopefully what is behind the mask is far less disfigured than that of the Star Wars film.

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A black PR storm awaits NABU?

August 11, 2016

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) hardly seems to be out of the headlines recently – either fighting for its independence, or for doing its job and watching the rest of the system fail it as suspects flee, and most recently for catching a judge in a $150,000 bribe yet being unable to arrest him due to judicial immunity – among many other cases.

Not withstanding internal structural changes within the PGO and numerous pending (as well as future) national legislative timetables, currently that the system and the entrenched vested interests remain stacked against NABU is without question.

Nevertheless, that it is so frequently in the headlines is no bad thing.  That it is seen to be doing its job, and that it is regularly publicly communicating the obstructions within the system preventing successful outcomes matters.

Artem Sitnic

Artem Sitnic

It is therefore worthy of note that Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Artem Sitnic, predicts a robust black PR campaign aimed at discrediting NABU and other anti-corruption agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor – “According to the information I have, somewhere around the end of September – beginning of October will be held a PR campaign to discredit our anti-corruption bodies.”

So who will launch this campaign and why?

Clearly, despite denials, there is friction between Prosecutor General Lutsenko and the anti-corruption agencies stoic in the defence of their independence within his empire.  Yuri Lutsenko is political “Grey Cardinal” and “doer of grubby deals” historically.  That he (currently) cannot micromanage and influence the necessarily independent anti-corruption PGO bodies will irk him immensely.

Thus an internal turf war designed to reduce that amount of independence – despite statute clearly ring fencing said independence?  Perhaps.

Will the black PR be as a consequence of the Verkhovna Rada returning from holidays with certain parties attempting to force early elections, dragging the lack of convictions from NABU investigations into the political fray?  (Despite convictions clearly not being the responsibility of prosecutors, but of courts and the judiciary.)

With judicial immunity set to end upon 30th September when constitutional changes enter into effect thus empowering NABU to arrest the judiciary without jumping through unnecessary hoops, will it be outspoken judges – or those behind the corrupt outspoken judges – that will lead this PR onslaught?  That would certainly fit the anticipated time frame given by Mr Sitnic snuggly.

Does that time frame adequately fit with sufficient investigative time for some early results from the unusually pointed and unambiguous lexicon employed by President Poroshenko when commenting upon the 15th August e-declarations entering into force?

Clearly Mr Sitnic received his information from somewhere regarding a forthcoming black PR campaign against the anti-corruption bodies, and certainly NABU has far fewer friends than it has enemies within the old establishment figures – be they before or behind the curtain, yet it remains unclear as to who the conductor is behind this (predictably) orchestrated move.   Undoubtedly he knows, even if he is not naming names – yet.  Indeed this may be a public, yet diplomatic, shot across their bows before plans are set in motion.

This is something to keep a watchful eye upon – for the black PR messenger(s) will ultimately identify the orchestrator(s).  Undoubtedly “western supporters” will be watching keenly, as patience is running rather thin.

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Savchenko and Overton’s Window

August 2, 2016

At the end of May, upon the release of Nadia Savchenko an entry appeared relating to Ukrainian folklore and the impossibility of two Ukrainian women (Ms Tymoshenko and Savchenko) sharing the same (Batkivshchyna) kitchen.

The entry concluded thus – “There seem to be no particularly good political options for Ms Tymoshenko when to comes to Ms Savchenko, and as has been written at this blog innumerable times, you either work for Ms Tymsohenko, or you work against Ms Tymoshenko.  Ms Tymoshenko does not do “work with”.  Thus the Batkivshchyna kitchen is simply not going to be big enough for these two Ukrainian women.

Whilst it is clear that Ms Savchenko will continue to work for the release of other prisoners incarcerated due to political expediency, and no doubt she will actively employ her Ukrainian PACE delegation position to that end, Ms Savchenko is not going to be missing that many Verkhovna Rada sessions.

Time will tell whether heroines should remain heroines, or if in time they become tarnished by politics, but in the immediate future, as tweeted upon receipt of the splendid news of Nadiya Savchenko’s release.”

It is now clear that Ms Savchenko has already lost the ego/personality cult battle within Batkivshchyna to Ms Tymoshenko.  Her political star will remain eclipsed by that of Ms Tymoshenko within the party and for the majority of the Ukrainian constituency too.  Few do empty populism as well as Yulia Tymoshenko.  Nevertheless, Ms Savchenko remains problematic for the Batkivshchyna leader when it comes to internal discipline and staying on “party message”.

The 2nd August saw Nadiya Savchenko give a press conference – a press conference not sanctioned by Batkivshchyna.  At least prima facie that appears to be the case with both Ms Savchenko, and the reaction of Sergie Sobolev of Batkivshchyna, giving that firm impression.

Without dwelling upon all that was said within the press conference and the deviations from the (current) Batkivshchyna Party line, the above quoted prediction of continued and energetic work toward the release of all Ukrainian prisoners by Ms Savchenko was more than apparent.

A cause that is rightful and moral undoubtedly.  However the means to this end identified by Ms Savchenko will cause much debate.

This brings about Overton’s Window, and how policy, however unpopular, radical, or simply stupid, can be maneuvered into a more acceptable, even main stream, policy position.

Overton_Window_diagram.svg

Ms Savchenko again reiterated previous statements that she be prepared to negotiate directly with the LNR and DNR, and that she had indeed secretly visited the region.

Fair enough.

But what mandate would she have in any negotiations?  A de facto ombudsman for captured Ukrainian servicemen is not the same thing as being the de jure representative charged with negotiating their release – and many have been released through the efforts of the currently mandated representative.  Further, it is not as though Iryna Gerashchenko allows the issue to drop from the governmental agenda, the “Contact Group” talks, nor from the media.

A response from “LNR leader” Igor Plotnitsky to her rhetoric stated “I think we can create a kind of a deputy group, of three persons. Basically, we can talk as a deputy to a deputy, if one wants to find a compromise and resolve the situation peacefully.”

Well perhaps – although caution is required.

This is not a traditional Track 2 agent of change and/or influence channel.  It is a channel that can easily become the channel of choice and inferred authority over and above the legitimate channel by one side but not another.

Differences between official and unofficial channels may very well complicate matters further and also be deliberately used to frustrate progress by any party concerned in negotiations when those differences are exploited.  As painful and prickly as each day of further detention of prisoners is, especially for those detained, the short-term goals of releasing all such prisons require a longer-term vision with regard to concessions sought and made.

Indeed with insufficient care there is a real possibility that due to deliberate, or unintentional, mishandling of negotiations those detained could be held far longer than would otherwise have been the case.

Does Ms Savchenko have that longer-term view?  Apparently not.

Upon making this offer of direct negotiation once again, she also announced a hunger strike in an effort to force the prisoner release issue stating the Ukrainian government and international authorities are inactive.

Batkivshchyna, via Mr Sobolev, were swift in making the following statement calling her decision an act of desperation – “The faction has never supported her hunger strike in the torture chambers of the Kremlin  We believe that her health is much more valuable. – This is an act of desperation,

Further Mr Sobolev went on to state that Ms Savchenko cannot influence the process of prisoner release from within the occupied Donbas nor the Russian Federation.  Batkivshchyna therefore clearly not in favour of her having any unofficial, nor official mandate to do so, and the wiser heads within the party are obviously aware of the complications that may come from it.  Unnecessary political complications and bad PR are not what populist parties thrive upon – they are about peddling populist angst whilst proposing no viable solutions.

Mr Sobolev, perhaps rightly, classified the declaration of Ms Savchenko as an act designed to “wake up” those involved to find new ways to facilitate prisoner exchanges.  Nevertheless, Ms Savchenko had made the ending of her hunger strike conditional upon “positive results“.  With at least 111 Ukrainians held in captivity within the areas outside of governmental control, how many releases constitute “positive results” sufficient to end her latest hunger strike  is an open question – and is also dependent upon the will of those with whom negotiations occur.

It remains to be seen how Batkivshchyna as a party, or more accurately how Ms Tymoshenko, will now deal with the issues of unsanctioned press conferences, policy statements that stray far beyond the (current) party line, and the latest hunger strike of Ms Savchenko.

Can Ms Savchenko pull Overton’s Window, and Batkivshchyna, to a position more favourable to adopting her declarations and goals as party policy?  Maybe – but doubtful.

Overton’s Window is usually a window that requires looking through for quite some time to witness progression from what begins as unthinkable to what becomes policy.  It is more likely a reader will see Batkivshchyna empathy – but not robust Batkivshchyna support – with regards to the questionable political means Ms Savchenko proposes to arrive at rightfully humanitarian ends.

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A summer of friction among the Odessa elite?

July 22, 2016

Odessa is a small city of just over 1 million people.  Indeed the Oblast has only just over two million people despite being a geographical area larger than Belgium.  Like everywhere however, it is in truth a small village when it comes to those of importance.

A few days ago, a list of the top 100 influential people within Odessa Oblast was released.  Though the blog may question the positioning of those upon the list, the content seems about right.  It is fair to say that more than half are friends or are friendly with this blog in the top 10 alone.  Almost 70 of the 100 listed are on friendly terms or at least of cordial acquaintance.  A few can be classed as trusted friends, some seen daily – often for hours at a time.

Of those that have never sat at the same table, and are thus unknown personally, as stated, Odessa is a small village where it counts.  If the blog doesn’t know the remainder, friends of it do and introductions can be made if there was ever a need (unlikely as it is that a need would arise).

Such networks are the same the world over.  There is nothing new regarding the above outline.

Historically whatever friction occurs within this circle of the elite rarely, if ever, makes its way into the public domain in Odessa – at least in the pre-Governor Saakashvili days.  Traditionally, even during the most bitter and blackest of election campaigns involving some upon the above list, those involved have refrained from the publicising of the most murky and personal affairs of those whom they confront.

A few days ago, the latest in a string of entries relating to Mayor Trukhanov and the current issues surrounding him was published.

In summary, it noted the 70 parliamentary signatures upon a new Verkhovna Rada Resolution calling for new mayoral elections in Odessa – of which none of the 16 parliamentarians from Odessa are signatories.

It also highlighted quite specifically a feud that is forever dripping details of an unfolding scandal into the media of Odessa between the Mayor and Adnan Kivan – Numbers 1 and 4 atop the list of the Odessa elite – “Perhaps his biggest threat comes from an ever-bubbling feud with the Syrian billionaire owner of Kadorr Group, Adnan Kivan, (who was/is close to the infamous Odessa MP Sergei Kivalov) and the continued leaking of nefarious detail to the media regarding behind their curtain dealings.

The entry concluding that – “Indeed it appears that Mr Kivan is making efforts to associate/ingratiate himself with President Poroshenko (particularly noticeable on Navy Day when President Poroshenko was in Odessa and met with Mr Kivan), perhaps acknowledging a degree of precariousness regarding his own position – not that Mayor Trukhanov can really afford to be seen to shaft a prominent and major foreign investor in Odessa (albeit his wife Olga and children may dilute the category of “foreign” somewhat).”

It went further to state “However, discounting the feud with Mr Kivan, of the aforementioned issues that may take longer to dissipate that most, is the issue relating to the holding of a Russian passport/citizenship.  Mayor Trukhanov, with his owned and aligned media were hardly supporters of the current direction Ukraine has taken during the turmoil of late 2013/early 2014 – quite the opposite.  That together with his (alleged) citizenship of Russia naturally will take some time to become a background issue for many who simply do not like, nor trust, the cut of his patriotic jib.”

The cut of Mayor Turkhanov’s “patriotic jib“, notwithstanding the quietly submitted Verkhovna Rada Resolution, has been very publicly raised in an uncompromising public statement by Governor Saakashvili a few days ago – “Nobody doubts….Trukhanov is a classic separatist.  This is a Russian officer, he has Russian citizenship and I am absolutely sure that if we delay, he will create enormous problems of Ukrainian state without the Odessa region Ukrainian government will be like without two legs.”

To twist the knife further, Governor Saakashvili publicly raised the association of Mayor Trukhanov with serious and organised crime – once again.  Past associations the Mayor does not deny, unlike any on-going active interaction, which he does.

Nevertheless, a reader may perhaps question the denials of his current interaction when those known associations are doing rather well since Mr Trukhanov became Mayor.  Indeed one such associate, Vladimir Galanternik (aka Lamposhka) now sits 3rd upon the elite list of Odessa – above Adnan Kivan who is by far the city’s most prominent source of FDI throughout recent years.

friction

It appears that the occasional friction that traditionally occurred thoroughly veiled by the “curtain” will become a public brawl between the Mayor, Mr Kivan and the Governor.

Indeed the Mayor appears to be using the regional institutions of State and City Hall to put increasing pressure upon Mr Kivan’s businesses, assets and on-going projects – a typically homo sovieticus response, but one that is at least some way short of the direct “persuasive tactics” employed when he was “hands on” within organised crime.

However, notwithstanding efforts to get close to President Poroshenko, Mr Kivan owns the fairly popular Channel 7 television station in Odessa.  It is a channel that has become noticeably far more “pro-presidential” and “pro-Ukrainian” since the issues between Messrs Kivan and Trukhanov began to spill into the public domain.

Governor Saakashvili has no local media platform of his own – unlike Mr Kivan or Mayor Trukhanov.  Depending upon the owners of local media, depends upon his air time (if any) or how his words and/or actions will be framed in print to suit the bias of any particular owner.

There is very little objectivity or qualitative analysis within the local media when it comes to politics or policy – a sign of media issues more globally perhaps.

There is no reason to believe that either Mr Kivan nor Governor Saakashvili will adopt an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” mentality, yet there is also no reason to discount it either.  Certainly, in the broadest terms, the editorial direction being undertaken at Channel 7 would become one fairly comfortable for the Governor should that editorial trajectory continue to manifest and consolidate – time will tell.  Should it do so, it seems likely that there will become sufficient room for some sort of “understanding” between the two – particularly if the Trukhanov owned media, misuse of State institutions and political bullying continues unabated toward Mr Kivan.

Perhaps the best seller and box office hit in Odessa this summer  will not be born of the 7th Annual Odessa Film Festival, but will be a Trukhanov, Kivan, Saakashvili production in serial format across the local news channels.  A local political sitcom/tragicomedy/farce/satirical exposé upon the local TV channels would certainly bring alternative entertainment to that of the re-runs of Versailles, Game of Thrones and CSI!

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NATO Warsaw 2016 – What does a “good result” for Ukraine look like?

July 4, 2016

With the NATO Summit in Warsaw now upon its Members (and partners), and with clear eyes noting the numerous issues facing the organisation and the Member States that form its constituent parts, be those issues coming from Russia, MENA, from cyberspace, or climate issues and its repercussions (to name but the most obvious) it is perhaps worth pondering what constitutes a “good result” for Ukraine.

Putting aside fanciful rhetoric of actual membership in the near future (if ever) there are certain possibilities and opportunities that with far less political will than that required regarding membership (in the near future, if ever) are worthy of pursuit – even if Warsaw 2016 be the official or unofficial platform from whence such goals, policies and strategies begin (or are further developed).

So what does a “good result” for Ukraine look like?  (Apart from more US anti-battery radar systems and assorted high-tech kit.)  Most will have their own ideas of what a “good result” would be, so here are a few thoughts that would/should/could fall within the limits of (wildest) expectation and acceptance by both parties.

It is already clear that Ukraine still blips brightly upon the NATO radar – even if it is not entirely clear where NATO “Ukraine policy” ends and NATO “Russia policy” begins.  Perhaps there is a necessarily (or deliberately – “strategic ambiguity” and all that) smudged line/overlap in places.

nato

Whatever the case, Ukraine gets a top table one to one with NATO leaders on 9th July – a propaganda result in and of itself (be the tangible outcome good, bad or indifferent).

It is also almost assuredly going to be the recipient of a package of NATO political and practical assistance.  Clearly the support thus far given with regard to capability development, defence restructuring, continued training and advice (both military and civilian), and progress toward universally meeting the most basic of NATO standards will continue.

As assuredly the repeated yet necessary rhetoric regarding the unequivocal support for, and recognition of, Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity will continue – and be clearly orated.  No doubt there will be mention of Minsk, but hopefully not one that overshadows or dilutes the unequivocal support for, and recognition of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in and of itself (with or without Minsk).

Specific NATO trust funds (hopefully under NATO administration) will be announced for various issues (Vets care etc) as well as future assistance in dealing with IEDs/war remnants, strategic communications, more non-lethal aid et al.

So far, so predictable – but not necessarily a “good result”.

However, having mentioned the prospect of (highly unlikely) NATO membership, it is perhaps time that the NATO Members actually made a decision with real meaning behind it regarding further NATO membership (regardless of what the Washington/North Atlantic Treaty actually says).

Ukraine, despite any rhetoric to the contrary, is at least a decade away from meeting the most basic of NATO standards in a holistic manner (and despite PM Groisman’s statements that he believes the nation will be within the EU in a decade, that certainly wont happen either – due to EU budgetary cycles and nations like France who will not want to see a lot more “Eastern European” MEPs contesting with “Club Med” MEPs, if for no other reasons).  Indeed perhaps Ukraine is further away from NATO standards than a decade considering the sound and sensible advice it has already received – and occasionally ignored.  (Take the stop-start policy of numerically large, and thus poorly prepared and trained mobilisation/demobilisation it continues to pursue, against the advice given regarding a rolling mobilisation/demobilisation in smaller yet better trained numbers as one very basic example of several when it comes to ignoring the advice it asks for.)

Nevertheless, weak and non-committal NATO “open door policy” statements are little use to anybody.  A definitive “Yes the door is open when you make the grade”, or equally explicit “No the door is not open for Membership whether you make the grade or not – but this is unquestionably on offer if you do” is now approaching something of a policy necessity – particularly when Georgia is there or thereabouts when it comes to making the NATO grade.

It is perhaps time the NATO Members made very clear the prospects (or almost certainly lack thereof) for NATO Membership.  If Montenegro, and perhaps Macedonia if it can settle its “name” issue with Greece, together with a few Balkan nations are to be the final membership count, then that should be made clear – whether it rubs against the text of the NATO Founding Treaty or not.

There are however anchors that Ukraine can drop solidly into the NATO waters that both partners can and perhaps should pursue sensibly – but also in earnest.  For all the West looks in at Ukraine, and Ukraine (to varying degrees examines itself), it also seeks an opportunity to do something practical and tangible externally to assist those that currently assist it quid pro quo,  and to project itself beyond its borders and UN physical commitments.

Perhaps those practical and tangible opportunities should be offered.

As written within entries past, the convergence between espionage, sabotage, organised crime and terrorism within cyberspace is increasing.  It is reaching a point where it can be difficult to tell espionage from sabotage until sometime after the fact (deliberately leaving delayed “nasties” in the system far beyond intelligence gathering).  Likewise organised crime becomes a funding revenue stream for terrorism, increasingly on-line.  There is certainly significant room for a far closer and integrated partnership considering the clear cyber-convergence trend and overlaps for all things illicit in the grubbier parts of the dark net.

There is certainly a common interest and possibilities for dedicated and prolonged Ukrainian participation in the Romanian led call for a NATO Black Sea presence – a legacy of an increasingly militarised Crimea.  As suffering as the Ukrainian Navy currently is, as yesterday’s entry infers, there is also the scope for its inclusion in any NATO and EU efforts with MENA migration on the open seas too.  It would go some way toward Ukraine meeting its new obligations toward the EU CSDP, increase interoperability with NATO, and enhance the necessary deepening of relations with Romania.  (Warsaw being the other vital capitol to deepen ties with in the neighbourhood when it comes to understanding shared threats.)

It is not all a one way street either.  Ukraine has hard earned experience of front line Russian led warfare to share.  It has experience of Russian equipment limitations and weaknesses.  It has experience of Kremlin led warfare against it in cyberspace (including infrastructure disabling), social manipulation, disinformation on a colossal scale (its domestic effects and effective counters), of continued and continuing infiltration, of agent provocateur and “Potemkin destabilising projects” etc., etc.

Significant and unambiguous steps toward clarifying and/or participating in all of the above during Warsaw 2016?  Now that would be a “good result” for Ukraine.

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