Sunday, 26 February 2017

Who Will Be the New Messengers of the Kremlin?

It can be hard to empathise with the messengers of the regime that annexed Crimea and threw Eastern Ukraine into a conflict that has cost thousands of lives, and displaced more than 1 million people – let alone those who defended the Kremlin's bombing of Aleppo.

But two new, thoughtful pieces of analysis – without justifying either the actions of Vladimir Putin's Russia or glibly saying "Don't Shoot the Messenger" – pose the important question. Who will follow Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations who passed away this week? Likewise, who will succeed Sergey Lavrov, Putin's Foreign Minister who since the annexation of Crimea has seemed to be less and less convinced of the words of justification he seems compelled to utter?

Samantha Power, who for the past four years was the Obama Administration's counterpart to Churkin at the UN, writing in the New York Times, makes a strong case for continuing close engagement with figures such as Churkin (although we don't yet know who will be his successor) – not least on the basis that he would often spend days trying to find a compromise on resolutions at the UN over Syria and other issues, only to have his hard work rejected by Moscow, compelling him to exercise the Russian veto in the Security Council.

Just on the eve of Churkin's death, Mark Galeotti, writing for bne IntelliNews, raised a similar question, but about the other top diplomat of Russia – Foreign Minister Lavrov. Lavrov "has essentially been excluded from the inner circle setting foreign policy and is instead relegated to the role of articulating and defending an increasingly untenable and incredible official line," writes Galeotti. Real authority "has passed to 'adhocrats', figures made presidential plenipotentiaries regardless of their official role," he writes. There have long been rumours that Lavrov wants to retire, writes Galeotti, but "the wider implications are worrying," he writes. "FSB security briefings appear to have more weight than ambassadorial cables. The result is an impoverishment of policy."

With the development in the first month of the Trump Administration that senior military staff were no longer core members of the US National Security Council, while Trump's Chief Strategist, ex-Breitbart News Chair, Steve Bannon, would be there, we were facing the prospect of "policy-setters" shaping the US security agenda without heeding the advice and reality check of military and security professionals. At least in the US, with the departure of Trump's initial appointee Michael Flynn, we now have in incoming US National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster a figure who is clearly not buying Bannon's populist agenda. In fact, the US foreign policy team (except the President himself) is beginning to look credible and professional – unlike his domestic policy team.

We now await Putin's choice for successor to Churkin, and in time, to Lavrov...

Monday, 16 January 2017

Refugees in Ukraine – Life Goes On

The war in Ukraine has driven thousands of people to flee their homes. Many have ended up in refugee camps and know they can never return to their old homes and lives. How can they manage with that stark reality, asks Yuliana Romanyshyn in this story, Life Goes On, written for Spiegel Online as part of her New Diplomacy Journalism Fellowship. Yuliana is a journalist with the Kyiv Post, who spent five weeks as part of her fellowship working with Spiegel Online in Hamburg, Germany.

There are more than 1.6 million internally displaced persons who have fled from war-torn Eastern Ukraine to other parts of Ukraine, alongside around 900,000 that fled to Russia, and smaller numbers to Belarus and EU countries. Seven refugee camps in Ukraine have been set up by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) on behalf of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ).

Yuliana's report, published on 16 January 2017, includes interviews with refugees from Donbas at a GIZ-run camp in Kharkiv, and the report includes data visualisation tracking the movements of refugees, as well as photographs from the camps by her Kyiv Post colleague, Anastasia Vlasova.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Journalism Fellows Tackle Propaganda, US Election, and a Hostage-Rescue in Ukraine

In the first year of New Diplomacy's Eastern Partnership Journalism fellowship, five fellows – three journalists from Ukraine, two from Georgia – were selected.

Here is a selection of some of the stories from three of the fellows - hosted respectively by in Poland, and Spiegel Online and ZDF public television in Germany.

The stories include an interview with New Diplomacy co-founder Jan Piekło just a few months after taking up the position of Poland's Ambassador to Ukraine.

A selection of media stories by the fellows:

Olena SolodovnikovaRoad Control newspaper, Ukraine
Host organisation:, Poland
Thematic focus: Release of hostages in Eastern Ukraine and the propaganda war; comparative reform of coal industry in Poland/Ukraine.

During her fellowship, on 6 December 2016, published the following article by Olena: Ян Пекло: Лучшее оружие против пропаганды — правда (Jan Piekło - The Best Weapon Against Propaganda is the Truth). The piece is an interview with New Diplomacy co-founder, Jan Piekło, a former journalist who wrote for samizdat media under communist rule in Poland, and later covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Jan, now Poland's Ambassador to Ukraine, explains that the best way to fight propaganda is to report the truth about what is going on in Eastern Ukraine.

Olena wrote the following piece for, published on 22 November 2016: Украинские заложники. Изнанка спасательных операций (Ukrainian Hostages. The Rescue Operations from the Other Side of the Fence), in which she charts the challenges she faced in the harrowing experience of securing the release of her husband, a fellow journalist captured by separatists in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine.

On 20 December, Olena wrote Услышать Силезию (Listening to Silesia) for, in which she examines the lessons of the reform of the coal sector in Poland for the restructuring of the energy sector in  Ukraine, as the government intends to close a significant number of unprofitable mines and shed thousands of jobs. And there are many parallels between Donetsk, host to Ukraine's coal fields, and Silesia, with its own strong regional identity in Poland.

Yuliana RomanyshynKyiv Post, Ukraine
Host organisation: Spiegel Online, Hamburg, Germany
Thematic focus: Refugee crisis in Germany alongside IDP experience in Ukraine, focus on data visualisation and media standards.

During her fellowship, Yuliana contributed to the following data-rich Spiegel Online analysis, published on 26 October 2016: Angezählt: Hillary Clinton führt klar vor Donald Trump, die US-Wahl scheint knapp zwei Wochen vor dem Stichtag entschieden. Wirklich? (Countdown: Hillary Clinton is Clearly Ahead of Donald Trump, the US Election Seems to Have Been Decided Just Two Weeks Before Election Day. Really?)

Yana BiliaievaMYMEDIA and Detector Media, Lviv, Ukraine
Host organisation: ZDF public television, Mainz, Germany
Thematic focus: Russia's influence in Germany, media reform for Ukraine.

The following are a selection of articles written by Yana for MYMEDIA during the time of her fellowship:

Свобода СМИ по-украински: взгляд Запада и Украины (Freedom of the Media in Ukrainian: The View from the West and Ukraine), published on 17 September 2016, about the conflicting views of Ukrainian and Western experts on freedom of speech and safety of journalists in Ukraine.

Дэвид Саттер: «Когда пропаганда стоит жизни людей, запрет российских каналов обсуждаем» (Author David Satter Talks about Kremlin Ban on Him), published on 5 October 2016 - an interview with David Satter, an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and expert on Russia and the USSR, about Russian propaganda and media influence in Ukraine and the US.

Как Украина борется с российской пропагандой (How Ukraine Struggles With Russian Propaganda), published on 19 October 2016, providing an overview of expert opinion on the methods used in Ukraine to fight Russian propaganda.

21 совет журналистам-расследователям от Пулитцеровского лауреата (21 Tips for Investigative Journalists from A Pulitzer Laureate), published on 30 September 2016, where David Crawford, who investigated the shooting down of the MH17 flight over Eastern Ukraine, provides advice to local journalists. Crawford has undertaken several big investigations on Russia.

Американская журналистка о Трампе в СМИ: «Это как наркомания. На каком-то этапе уже трудно остановиться» (American Journalist about Trump in the Media: "It's Like an Addiction. At A Certain Stage, It Becomes Difficult to Stop.”) - interview, published on 7 November 2016, with Betsy Fischer, an American journalist who produced interviews with top politicians on NBS for 23 years. Yana discussed with her the "Trump phenomenon", media standards, and Russian intrusion into the American information space and political system.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Trolls, Fake News, Kremlin Propaganda - New Diplomacy Fellow to Speak At Eastbook event, Warsaw

Trolls, Fake News, and Other Tools of Kremlin Propaganda - Eastbook event at Duży Pokój, ul. Warecka 4/6 (wejście od ul. Kubusia Puchatka), Warsaw - with Olena Vorobyova, New Diplomacy journalism fellow, 18.00-20.00, Monday19 December

Panellists to include:
  • Witold Jurasz (Poland) 
  • Olena Vorobyova (Ukraine)
  • Aleś Zarembiuk (Belarus)
Krzysztof Nieczypor will moderate the event, which is taking place in association with New Diplomacy.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Fellows from Ukraine and Georgia Head to ZDF, Spiegel Online, and Other Internationally Recognised Media Institutions

Five fellows – three journalists from Ukraine, two from Georgia – have been selected following an open call for applications for the New Diplomacy fellowship programme, Supporting Independent Journalism in Eastern Partnership Countries.

The fellowships (including a five-week placement with a media organisation in the EU) are already underway, taking place between August 2016-February 2017. The host organisations are internationally recognised media institutions, namely Hamburger Abendblatt, Spiegel Online, and ZDF public television in Germany, DELFI/Lithuania Tribune in Lithuania, and in Poland.

The fellows were selected by a three-person programme committee from a total of 19
applicants that met the eligibility requirements for the fellowship. The call was launched in May 2016, and open until 20 June 2016.

The five selected fellows are:

Yana Biliaieva, MYMEDIA and Detector Media, Lviv, Ukraine
Host organisation: ZDF public television, Mainz, Germany
Thematic focus: Russia's influence in Germany, media reform for Ukraine.

Yuliana Romanyshyn, Kyiv Post, Ukraine
Host organisation: Spiegel Online, Hamburg, Germany
Thematic focus: Refugee crisis in Germany alongside IDP experience in Ukraine, focus on data visualisation and media standards.

Olena Solodovnikova, Road Control newspaper, Ukraine
Host organisation:, Poland
Thematic focus: Release of hostages in Eastern Ukraine and the propaganda war; comparative reform of coal industry in Poland/Ukraine.

Levani Tchikadze, MA student (Journalism & Media Analysis in Kaunas, Lithuania), Georgia
Host organisation: DELFI/Lithuania Tribune, Vilnius, Lithuania
Thematic focus: Pro-Russian tendencies in Lithuania.

Eter Turadze, Batumelebi newspaper, Batumi, Georgia
Host organisation: Hamburger Abendblatt, Hamburg, Germany
Thematic focus: Refugees in EU.

Applications were open to journalists from Eastern Partnership countries, or journalists working for independent or public service media outlets in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine). Freelance journalists were also welcome to apply.

New Diplomacy's Independent Journalism Fellowship for Eastern Partnership Countries is an initiative to raise standards of journalism covering the post-Soviet space, in particular the Eastern Partnership countries. This will be achieved by a programme of mentoring journalists from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan or Belarus, including placements of four journalism fellows in EU member states to work with leading broadcast or print media and engage also with independent non-profit organisations working on the post-Soviet space (human rights organisations, independent media associations and think-tanks).

Through mentoring and co-operation, the journalists will also link up with each other to strengthen co-operation of newsrooms in different Eastern Partnership countries in terms of sharing content, and also in formulating and promoting high standards of news reporting, public service broadcasting standards, and regulation of propaganda in their home countries.

The fellowship is made possible with the financial support of the US National Endowment for Democracy.

For full details of the fellowship, click here.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

New Security Architecture for European Neighbourhood

The EU Global Strategy and the NATO Warsaw Summit Communiqué are starting-points for a comprehensive new NATO-led security framework, where the EU can focus on diplomacy and NATO can focus on hard power and deterrence strategy, argues Jeff Lovitt in Time for a New Security Architecture for NATO and Eastern Neighbours. He argues that the EU is better at diplomacy than strategy, and proposes embracing the expertise in tackling hybrid warfare of three of the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) as an important contribution to shaping the new European security architecture. The study is the final paper in the project, Security Alert on the EU's Doorstep, co-ordinated by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development/CIPDD (Georgia).

"The governments of Georgia and Ukraine should complete radical reforms of their own security sectors, and work together with EU member states and civil society to strengthen co-operation and shared know-how to tackle hybrid warfare threats, including disinformation," he writes. Likewise, EU member states should take the decision to grant visa-free travel to Georgia and Ukraine, which "will send an important signal to the two countries' citizens, and will send a strong political message to reform-minded politicians in Georgia and Ukraine to build on their achievement and to continue along the path of closer integration with the EU".

Any effective strategy, he argues, "will require EU members of NATO to increase their defence commitments and to raise their capacity and co-operation on intelligence-sharing to counter hybrid warfare. But the strategy will require NATO to have the hard power in air and naval resources to prevent military incursions, and deter provocative air activity or impediments to free naval passage in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Confidence-building measures are necessary now; in the long term, NATO needs to restore its hard power advantage to build lasting confidence. That restoration needs to start now."

On the diplomacy side, just as Russia has been weakened by economic sanctions, he argues, so the EU should continue to build a proactive policy of engagement with Eastern Partnership countries. But the EU can also take a lead "on laying the ground for easing tensions and opening space for dialogue to resolve the ongoing conflicts and territorial disputes in the Caucasus, and of course the Transnistria conflict in Moldova and the conflict in eastern Ukraine". A first step should be to strengthen the resources and mandate of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia.

Key Recommendations of the Study:

The European Union (EU) and NATO need to build on the decisions of the Warsaw Summit to restore confidence in Europe's security architecture, backed up by unequivocal strength in defence and deterrence capacity, and energetic sustained diplomatic engagement to reduce tensions and resolve ongoing conflicts. The resources and mandate of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia should be strengthened.

The governments of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine need to complete radical reforms of their own security sectors, and bring their own expertise in hybrid warfare and counterintelligence into a mutually beneficial partnership with EU and NATO members, providing strengthened early warning of threats, and increasing their own strategic communications to place security co-operation at the top of the agenda in their relations with the West.

The EU can build on the EU-NATO declaration issued at the Warsaw Summit by establishing “a Centre of Excellence for countering hybrid threats” and working closely with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in developing joint strategies to counter hybrid warfare.

Ukraine and Georgia should be embraced as partners in planning the NATO maritime mission in the Black Sea, building on the model of the Lithuanian–Polish–Ukrainian military brigade.

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum should embrace the commitments to support civil society in the new EU Global Strategy, and actively campaign for a new, full-fledged Eastern Partnership Platform on Common Security and Defence Policy.

It is in NATO’s own interests to elaborate and present to three Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova) a roadmap for further co-operation with a membership perspective.

The EU member states should recognise the achievements of Georgia and Ukraine in meeting the technical and political criteria for visa liberalisation, and grant their citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen area before the end of 2016.

Time for a New Security Architecture for NATO and Eastern Neighbours by Jeff Lovitt can be downloaded here.

The first publication in the project, published ahead of the NATO Warsaw Summit, and authored by Ghia Nodia, Jan Piekło and Jeff Lovitt, Security Alert on the EU's Doorstep: Strategies for Strengthening Security in the Eastern Partnership Countries, is available here.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Confidence-Building in Moldova: A Prerequisite for Security Sector Reform

Corruption and the risk of political destabilisation rank alongside the Russia-Ukraine conflict and information warfare as the principal security challenges facing Moldova. Confidence-Building in Moldova: Domestic and External Security Challenges assesses the priorities for a security strategy to rebuild trust at home and strengthen international co-operation to diffuse conflicts in the neighbourhood and to settle the Transnistria conflict.

The study by by Corneliu Ciurea (with additional analysis by Victoria Bucătaru) is the latest paper to complement the overview study, Security Alert on the EU's Doorstep: Strategies for Strengthening Security in the Eastern Partnership Countriespublished by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development/CIPDD (Georgia) and presented at a roundtable event hosted by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) in Warsaw on 21 June 2016.

The paper on Moldova sets out the following key recommendations:

Confidence must be restored and maintained in the rule of law and the judicial system. The Ministry of Justice should undertake a detailed and transparent evaluation of the current shortcomings and introduce reform of the justice system, and needs to not only lead the reform, but to demonstrate tangible and successful implementation. An independent judiciary is a top priority.

There should be a national campaign to promote good governance and establish mechanisms applicable to Moldovan society as a whole, and public institutions in particular. Reforms, under the monitoring of civil society, should include a set of good governance and public service modernisation landmarks, together with a timeframe for their implementation.

It is a strategic necessity to strengthen the institutional capacities of the anti-corruption system. The government, working with civil society, should strengthen democratic institutions, and improve the capacities of law enforcement bodies by strict delimitation of powers, ensuring their independence and integrity, providing the legal and technical framework for sanctions and punishment, and creating mechanisms for the recovery of stolen assets.

It is essential to promote continuous dialogue with representatives of Tiraspol and external partners to support the Transnistria settlement process. An initiative should be launched to elaborate and promote a genuine reintegration policy and eliminate barriers between the two banks of the river Dniester, and to ensure external support for a settlement of the Transnistria conflict that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova. Efforts should be undertaken to implement the EU-Moldova Association Agreement throughout the country, especially in the context of the extension of the DCFTA component to the Transnistria region.

The authorities should consolidate co-operation with the EU within the framework of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and with NATO in its Partnership for Peace programme. Civil society should increase its knowledge and expertise about the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, establish viable co-operation with the Moldovan government, and also international partners, in order to strengthen watchdog practices in the defence and security sector. The government authorities should increase their efforts to interconnect with the EU energy market, in particular natural gas, ensuring the objective of real diversification of energy sources and routes by 2018.

Corneliu Ciurea is an independent security expert, and Victoria Bucătaru is Programme Director of the Foreign Policy Association, Moldova. The editor of the study was New Diplomacy Chair, Jeff Lovitt.

The paper was produced in the framework of the project Security Alert on the EU’s Eastern Doorstep by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development/CIPDD (Georgia), in partnership with the Foreign Policy Association (Moldova) and the NGO Promotion of Intercultural Cooperation (Ukraine).