• Cabinet Composition: The coalition talks are winding down and the composition of the new Cabinet of Ministers is about to be announced and voted on by the new Parliament. Here are the names under discussion so far as largely proposed by Yatsenyuk:
Prime Minister: Arseniy Yatsenyuk
First Deputy Premier: ???. This post has been vacant since Vitaly Yarema resigned to become Prosecutor General. Most likely it would be to a Poroshenko ally.
Deputy Prime Minister for Regional Policy: Volodymyr Hroisman from the Poroshenko Bloc. It is possible that this post could also be combined with First Deputy Premier.
Deputy Prime Minister for Agriculture: Ivan Miroshnichenko from Samopomich. Samopomich’s surprise election results earned them a deputy premiership.
Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Issues: Ihor Zhdanov from Motherland/Tymoshenko. This move is a bit of a surprise as it indicates a desire Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk to placate Tymoshenko. Despite her poor election results, she is still a force to be reckoned with in Ukrainian politics. Hence, her loyalist Zhdanov is set to receive this high ranking post.
Finance Minister: Yatsenyuk has proposed the Deputy Finance Minister Vitaliy Lisovenko to fill the post. UDAR’s Viktor Pynzenyk’s name has also been mentioned as he has performed well in the past in previous administrations -especially during times of economic crisis. Oleksandr Shlapak, the current minister, has performed admirably in difficult circumstances but lacks political allies in the new coalition. Whoever fills this post will have a hard road ahead.
Economic Minister: Dmitry Shymkiv from Poroshenko Bloc. Shymkiv is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. In this scenario, Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko would share responsibility for the economy by divvying up the Finance and Economy ministries. It’s not clear if Shymkiv will agree to this though as he currently needs to keep just one person happy to keep his job (Poroshenko) but if he becomes Economy Minister he must keep the Parliament and Ukrainian people happy -in the midst of a recession no less.
Justice Minister: Petro Petrenko is likely to keep his job.
Interior Minister: Arsen Avakov is likely to stay on the job as he seems to have overcome some initial difficulties in managing the job.
Education Minister: Serhiy Kvit maintains Yatsenyuk’s trust to do the job. However, Poroshenko adviser and MP Mykola Tomenko also has his eyes on the job.
Culture Minister: Yevhen Nyschuk appears likely to keep his job.
Health Minister: Acting Minister Vasyl Lazoryshynets has Yatsenyuk’s support to stay on the job. The previous minister, Oleh Musiy resigned and ran for Parliament in Lviv, winning a decisive victory. Yatsenyuk has accused Musiy of mismanagement and Musiy in turn had accused Yatsenyuk of corruption. With Musiy now in parliament, expect him to be a strong critic of Lazoryshynets if he holds on to the post.
Agriculture Minister: President of the Ukrainian Grain Association Leonid Kozachenko has been mentioned to head the Agriculture Ministry. Kozachenko brings a wealth of experience to the job and is widely considered one of Yatsenyuk’s strongest and most knowledgeable nominees.
Energy Minister: Andriy Kobolev has performed exceptionally well at Naftogaz despite being given the task of negotiating with Gazprom over winter gas supplies. His reward appears to be the Energy Ministry itself to replace Tymoshenko ally Yuri Prodan.
Environment Minister: Hanna Hopko is being mentioned as the new minister for this post. Given the success of her anti-smoking crusade under the Yanukovych government, it is hoped that with a more friendly government in place now, she can do wonders with the environment in Ukraine. Cynically though, some insiders see her likely appointment as a way to promote her ‘up and out’. That is, get her out of parliament where she can be a constant agitator/advocate for many issues and into a ministry where she be contained to one sphere. Plus, parliamentarians serve a five year term whereas government ministers average only about a year. Time will tell what will be the case with Hopko at the Environmental Ministry.
Youth and Sports Ministry: swimming champion Denys Sylantiev from the Radical Party is being mentioned for the Minister of Youth and Sports. So far, this is the only ministry being offered to the Radical party since they are seen as the ‘weak’ link in the coalition and not trusted by the other partners.
Social Policy Minister: UDAR MP Pavlo Rozenko is being proposed for this post. Rozenko is one of parliament’s more knowledgable and intellectual members
Infrastructure Minister: Maksim Burbak doesn’t seem to have the political clout to keep his job this post is currently a key negotiating prize among the coalition partners.
As for the Poroshenko appointed posts, most of them are expected to stay the same including:
Defense Minister: Stefan Poltorak, given his recent appointment this isn’t likely to change soon.
Foreign Minister: Pavlo Klimkin has performed professionally over the last four months although there are rumors of his replacement.
SBU: Valentin Nalyvychenko continues to be the linchpin of the security apparatus for the country. He may eventually get replaced for political reasons but it won’t be because he didn’t do his job admirably in difficult circumstances. The next SBU Chief will be hard pressed to perform better.
National Security and Defense Chairman: this post is currently vacant but Poroshenko ally and MP Yuri Stets’ name is being touted for this job.
Prosecutor General: Vitaly Yarema is doing his job and bringing criminal charges against some of Yanukovych’s friends. It remains to be seen if the courts will convict those individuals but for the first time in decades, the Prosecutor General is actually going after the criminals rather than protecting them. Yarema is likely to stay in his post.
We will see if this preliminary lists holds up to parliamentary scrutiny and last minute negotiations when parliament votes this week on the new cabinet.
• Putin’s Short Term Military Objective? Only Vladimir Putin himself knows his real objectives and endgame. However some speculate that the increase in shelling by the Russian side in the Donbass over the last two weeks is a result of the US Congressional elections as well as an opportunity resulting from meteorological events. First, the Republican landslide in the Congressional elections means that the Russian Aggression Act is now likely to pass the Congress. This bills gives Ukraine $100 million in lethal military assistance. Russia had previously spent $50 million this year alone on DC lobbyists in an effort to fight this bill and pursue their foreign policy priorities. If Congress passes that bill and the President signs it (likely given the veto profit majority that is inclined to support it), then it must work its way through the bureaucracy before reaching the hands of the Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines. At the earliest that would be next summer, and probably not until this time next year. Nonetheless that means that the cost in human lives for Russia will dramatically increase once those weapons reach the war theater. Therefore, Russia is highly motivated to maximize their land gains now and reach a new cease fire before that happens. On the meteorological front, the mild Autumn has delayed the onset of the rain and snow in Ukraine which makes warfare more complicated. By moving to occupy more territory now, Putin may be hoping that to ‘lock in’ the gain before the bad weather arrives. In this case, Putin would have four to five months to sufficiently ‘russifiy’ the territories since the Ukrainian army would not likely be able to liberate those towns during the typically brutal winter months.
Dates to Watch:
• November 11-25, IMF Visit to Kyiv: The IMF had asserted itself by insisting to meet with the new Cabinet of Ministers prior to their departure from Kyiv. That being said, other than verbal assurances that the new Cabinet will stick to the board IMF priorities, the meeting will merely be introductory and pro forma.
• Before November 25, First Session of the New Parliament: Expect Parliament to meet this week to approve the new Government. Originally they predicted a December 1 date but due to the IMF’s insistence as well as the fact that the agreement is close to conclusion, the extra week isn’t needed.
• October 2015, National Local Elections: The new parliament plans to try to pass a bill to make future parliamentary elections to be conducted under an open party list system rather than the current 50/50 one. However, presidential advisor and MP Mykola Tomenko says that the local election format will be decided later. This indicates that the current system may stay in effect rather than revert to the poorly planned close list, local election system of 2006. Parliament has many items on their plate for now but the fact that there is no consensus bodes well for the status quo.