Ukrainian anti-oligarch law inadvertently shines spotlight on Russian-linked members of presidential entourage

On September 22, someone fired shots at the car of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first aide, Serhiy Shefir. The attack unfolded near the village of Lisnyky, outside Kyiv. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, more than 10 bullets hit Mr. Shefir’s vehicle, wounding the driver, but Mr. Shefir himself escaped injury (Ukrin­form.net, September 22). Anton Geras­chenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian internal affairs minister, asserted that those who organized and executed the attack on Mr. Shefir’s car planned to kill everyone in the vehicle (Zn.ua, September 23).

Ukraine expanding space program, plans 2022 moon launch

Interest in privatizing space operations by Western companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic has now reached the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, which, for the moment, is focused on technological payloads rather than manned spaceflight. Unfortunately for advocates of Ukraine’s aerospace capabilities, on September 3, a Ukrainian-American rocket exploded two minutes into a test flight launch from Vandenberg Space Base in California (Channel 9, September 3).

Odesa mayor charged with corruption, in latest criminal case

KYIV – The mayor of Odesa has been charged with illegally acquiring several plots of land in Ukraine’s largest port city, the latest in a series of criminal cases opened against him.

Hennadiy Trukhanov has been a target for years of anti-corruption activists who say he and influential business allies have turned the Black Sea port into their own private fiefdom.

As dust settles on German elections, Ukraine looks for signs of change in Berlin’s foreign policy

In Germany, the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) narrowly beat the conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) in the federal election held on September 26.

Yes, the latter has lost after 16 years leading the government, and Germany’s long-serving chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose party’s support had been declining for some time, is leaving the helm.

Russian elections in Ukraine’s Donbas: annexing people before annexing territory

On September 17-19, elections to Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) were unlawfully staged in the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s east (Donetsk and Luhansk) as well as in annexed Crimea. Elections to the Russian Duma were also held unlawfully in Trans­nistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – territories seized from Moldova and Georgia, respectively. The voting demonstrated Moscow’s systematic use of illegal “passportization” of citizens of other countries in territories forcibly seized from those countries. Russia uses mass-passportization as a form of annexing populations without necessarily declaring the annexation of the territory to Russia (see accompanying article in Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 23).

Moscow seeks to use Babyn Yar against Ukrainians; Ukrainians want a memorial to the victims

There are two competing projects for a memorial at Babyn Yar, the site of a mass murder of Jews and others during the Nazi occupation. One of these projects, the Russian, is heavily funded by Kremlin allies and seeks to use the memorial to blame Ukrainian anti-Semitism for this crime against humanity.

The other, less well-funded and lacking even the enthusiastic backing of the current Ukrainian president, is being developed by a group of Ukrainians, Jewish and otherwise. Its purpose is not some information war with Russia, but rather a respectful memorial to the victims of this tragedy.

Parliament approves ‘oligarch law,’ day after attack on top presidential aide

Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a draft bill directed at limiting the influence of oligarchs, the day after a car carrying a top aide of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who pushed for the reform, was riddled with bullets as it traveled through a village.

The second and final reading of the proposed legislation – known as “the oligarch law” – was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on September 23.

U.S. House votes for sanctions in 11th-hour attempt to undermine Nord Stream 2

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has agreed to add legislation to the annual defense-spending bill that would place sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project, potentially putting in jeopardy an agreement reached between the Biden administ­ration and Germany in July.

The House on September 22 unanimously passed on a voice vote a package of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including the sanctions legislation.

Kyiv airing disappointment with Western policies

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelens­kyy is reverting to his earlier, forlorn hopes of improving relations with Russia through a personal meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian president is eager to meet Mr. Putin “any time, any place” – whether bilaterally or in the framework of a “Normandy” summit (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France). The chief of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, is negotiating the conditions for a Zelenskyy-Putin meeting in either of those formats. This track ended badly for Mr. Zelenskyy in 2019 (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, October 3, 16, 17, December 5, 2019).

Entire spectrum of Russian propaganda increasingly aggressive in its messaging, says Russia analyst

Russian propaganda can be classified into three broad categories, and until recently only the last contained aggressive messages, according to Kseniya Kirillova, an investigative journalist who also provides analysis for The Jamestown Foun­dation. But now things have changed, and Moscow has inserted aggressive notions in the other two as well, marking an effort to mobilize a population increasingly alienated from the regime.