Ukraine Elections: An End to the Crisis?
2:00 - 3:30PM October 22, 2014
Center on Global Interests, 10th Floor, 1050 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC

In anticipation of Ukraine’s parliamentary elections on Oct. 26, CGI hosted Ambassador William Green Miller, former Ambassador to Ukraine (1993-1998); Katie Fox, Deputy Director of Eurasia Department at the National Democratic Institute; and Peter Voitsekhovsky, Research Director at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation to discuss the effects of the election on Ukrainian unity, and the implications for U.S.-Ukraine and Russia-Ukraine relations. Ambassador Miller argued that the United States should do everything it can to support Ukraine through political, economic, and military aid in order to minimize the possibilities of further Russian aggression. However, Miller added that the U.S. failure to recognize the facts on the ground has contributed to diplomatic shortcomings in handling the situation. He urged for considerably more discussion between Americans and Russians on ways to resolve the crisis. Katie Fox identified both positive and negative developments in Ukraine as a result of EuroMaidan. Chief among these is the clear emergence of a new generation of political leaders—individuals who were active on the Maidan and are now running for parliament—in a transition from protest to electoral politics that is rarely seen in post-Soviet states. Unfortunately, the changes made at the national level have not trickled down to the regional level, leaving many Ukrainians frustrated. Among the main domestic issues shaping the election, Fox identified the ongoing military conflict in the East, corruption, and inflation. Peter Voitsekhovsky drew a parallel between Ukraine in 2014 and the United States in 1776, periods at which both countries had undergone a revolution but the revolution was not fully complete. He said the upcoming elections will be above all about overcoming Ukraine’s post-Soviet legacy and implementing real rather than simulated democracy. After the elections, Ukraine will need to focus on developing a robust economy, which will be key to making the country more self-sufficient and less susceptible to pressure from Russia. This Sunday Ukraine will vote on a new government that will determine its future course. While the speakers cautioned there will be more challenges ahead, they agreed these elections are the first step toward a path to normalization in Ukraine.