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Artem Romaniukov
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I am a Ukrainian national. I studied at Stanford University in 2019 and 2020 in the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program run by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

For several years now, I have been a leader of environmental and anti-corruption NGOs. Among other endeavors, my team and I developed the SaveEcoBot program, which is the most popular air quality monitoring service in Ukraine and has 1.5 million users in 15 countries.

I was with my wife and six-year-old daughter in Kyiv when Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began. I grabbed my family and brought them to a place I thought they would be safer. Then I immediately volunteered to join the Ukrainian Defense Force. I have already seen active fire, which has resulted in a dreadful number of casualties, both for Ukrainians and Russians. But this tragedy is not just a humanitarian emergency.

Ukraine at Stanford: Meet the Third Cohort, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, 3 October 2019. From left, (1) Francis Fukuyama; (2) Artem Romaniukov; (3) Kateryna Bondar; and, (4) Pavel Vrzheshch.
Ukraine at Stanford: Meet the Third Cohort, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, 3 October 2019. From left, (1) Francis Fukuyama; (2) Artem Romaniukov; (3) Kateryna Bondar; and, (4) Pavel Vrzheshch. Artem Romaniukov

The Pentagon estimates that 600 Russian missiles have been fired at Ukrainian targets in the first 10 days of war alone. Additionally, the infamous abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant has been seized by Russian forces and, most recently, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar has been attacked and occupied by armed Russian soldiers. Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and Russian projectiles started a localized fire in an auxiliary building on the site on March 3, 2020.

Russian forces have also cut off the power supply to the Chernobyl reactor and containment site. This means that spent nuclear fuel is not being cooled at the site in accordance to internationally recognized standards. The head of the Chernobyl nuclear plant has said that the back-up generators have enough fuel to power the site for 48 hours. We can only guess what might happen after that. If this were not enough, there is still ongoing shelling at a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv. The current conditions there are unknown.

In Ukraine, we have a saying, “мавпа з гранатою,” which means, “Like a monkey with a grenade." Russia is playing the monkey to all of Europe.

Despite these chaotic circumstances, the SaveEcoBot team, in coordination with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, has put a lot of effort into radiation monitoring and informing the public about changes in background radiation. We’ve been set back in this critical work by the damages done to our monitoring equipment by Russians, but Ukrainian technicians are restoring the systems as fast as they can.

The assaults on the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia power plants have already had implications for the environment. The radioactive dust raised by the wheels and trucks of the Russian combat vehicles in the Chernobyl zone has raised the background radiation levels to a hundredfold excess of the normal threshold. Just imagine what chaotic attacks, with Russians shooting, firing missiles, and bombing other parts of Ukrainian territory might lead to. In Ukraine, we have a saying, “мавпа з гранатою,” which means, “Like a monkey with a grenade." Russia is playing the monkey to all of Europe.

Lieutenant Artem Romaniukov, on active duty at the Ukrainian Defence Forces, March 2022.
Lieutenant Artem Romaniukov on active duty with the Ukrainian Defence Forces, March 2022. Artem Romaniukov

Russia continues to assert that its forces are in Ukraine for reasons of safety and security. The takeover of Chernobyl disturbed large amounts of radioactive soil, propelling it into the air. The attack on Zaporizhzhia resulted in a fire on the site of an active nuclear plant. This is not what safety looks like. To pretend that these actions are anything but a dangerous disregard for life is an insult to all sane, rational people. We are all very lucky that none of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors were hit by the tank shell that started that fire.

Russia, the U.S. and the UK committed 20 years ago to ensure Ukraine’s peaceful sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons program. This agreement was built on the idea that Ukraine without nuclear weapons would never have cause to be the target of any attack. This assurance was guaranteed by the signers of the memorandum.

But Russia’s violent attacks have proven that a nuclear threat still exists in Ukraine. It is not a threat of Ukraine’s making, but one engineered by Russia’s own reckless assault on our civilian nuclear facilities. The consequences of this diabolical action go well beyond a potential environmental catastrophe for Ukraine; our neighbors, including Russia itself, and even countries outside of Europe could all be affected by nuclear fallout carried on high-atmosphere winds across continent and over oceans.

This is not what safety looks like. To pretend that these actions are anything but a dangerous disregard for life is an insult to all sane, rational people.

One way to mitigate this threat and to realize security assurances to Ukraine is to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The hesitance of the EU and U.S.  to implement a no-fly zone is understandable. But at the same time, it is critically important to develop options and generate models for other types of no-fly zones beyond the proposals being discussed today. Such alternative options could be the key to helping prevent a Ukrainian tragedy not only in terms of nuclear security, but also in averting a similar tragedy to what the world witnessed in Aleppo.

To do this, Ukraine needs more military support. We have gratefully received strong military support from our allies, but even this bounty is not enough to defend our country. Stinger missiles can shoot down small, low-flying aircraft from a fairly short distance, but are useless against ballistic missiles and high-altitude bombers. We need weapons that can shoot down planes at considerable distances and altitudes, systems to detect and shoot down cruise missiles, and planes to protect our airspace. Early Russian attacks targeted our airports to deplete our air defense capabilities and frustrate our ability to get planes in the air. But we still stand. But if we want to avert a second Chernobyl or another Aleppo, we need to strengthen our air defenses.

We learned in 1939 that making concessions to tyrants is no plan for peace. Putin is a bully. Like all bullies, he will take as much as he can get while treating all harm — including environmental harm — as merely incidental. Like all bullies, he will stop only when he meets strong resistance. Putin and the Russia propaganda machine frame all attempts to stymie Russian aggression as not only a provocation, but a provocation that could trigger a nuclear response. Such veiled threats of nuclear attacks are a form of prior restraint meant to constrain Ukraine’s allies from even suggesting that the Russian invasion is improper. But we must not accept this starkly irrational framework. Nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence, not tools to chill diplomatic criticism.

Any compromised nuclear facility in Ukraine inherently becomes an international problem, not just a local one. Like Putin, radioactive fallout does not respect borders.

American analysts say that they expect the Russian attacks to become increasingly more brutal. Any increased risks to civilian and military targets commensurately increases risks to nuclear sites as well. And any compromised nuclear facility in Ukraine inherently becomes an international problem, not just a local one. Like Putin, radioactive fallout does not respect borders.

Just ten days ago, my life changed dramatically. I used to be a successful civil leader and entrepreneur with an innovative business. Now I sleep on the floor of an abandoned building with my gun in hand. My daughter knows exactly how the air raid siren sounds. But we are still Ukrainians. We are still Europeans. We still count on our allies. So to our allies, I say: close the Ukrainian sky. Provide us with enough weapons. We will do the rest.

Resources on the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

As the war in Ukraine evolves, the Stanford community is working to provide support and perspectives on the unfolding crisis. Follow the links below to find FSI's resource page of expert analysis from our scholars, and to learn how to get involved with #StandWithUkraine.

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Left to right: Denis Gutenko, Nariman Ustaiev, Yulia Bezvershenko -- fellows of the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program -- and Francis Fukuyama, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Stanford welcomes Ukrainian emerging leaders after COVID-19 disruption

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, fellows of the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program are now on campus, ready to begin their ten months attending classes and working on projects tackling issues relevant in Ukraine.
Stanford welcomes Ukrainian emerging leaders after COVID-19 disruption
Members of the Ukrainian military carry the flag of Ukraine during the 30th anniversary of the country's independence.

What the Ukraine-Russia Crisis Says about the Global Struggle for Democracy

Former prime minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk joins Michael McFaul on the World Class Podcast to analyze Russia's aggression towards Ukraine and how it fits into Vladamir Putin's bigger strategy to undermine democracy globally.
What the Ukraine-Russia Crisis Says about the Global Struggle for Democracy
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Firing on civilian nuclear facilities is an unacceptable disregard for the rules of war that endangers the entire world, not just Ukraine.


Chairman of National (Germany) Regulatory Control Council 2006-2021; CEO of German Railways and afterward Community of European Railways, Brussels 1997-2010; State Secretary Federal Ministry of Economics (1995-1997); Economic and Financial Advisor to the German Federal Chancellor, also responsible for the economic reconstruction of East Germany after Reunification 1990; Dr.(PhD) 1975 (University of Hamburg); MS 1972 (Stanford University).

CDDRL Visiting Scholar, 2022

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Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies
Professor of Political Science
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Anna Grzymała-Busse is a professor in the Department of Political Science, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the director of The Europe Center. Her research interests include political parties, state development and transformation, informal political institutions, religion and politics, and post-communist politics.

In her first book, Redeeming the Communist Past, she examined the paradox of the communist successor parties in East Central Europe: incompetent as authoritarian rulers of the communist party-state, several then succeeded as democratic competitors after the collapse of these communist regimes in 1989.

Rebuilding Leviathan, her second book project, investigated the role of political parties and party competition in the reconstruction of the post-communist state. Unless checked by a robust competition, democratic governing parties simultaneously rebuilt the state and ensured their own survival by building in enormous discretion into new state institutions.

Anna's third book, Nations Under God, examines why some churches have been able to wield enormous policy influence. Others have failed to do so, even in very religious countries. Where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gained great moral authority, and subsequently covert and direct access to state institutions. It was this institutional access, rather than either partisan coalitions or electoral mobilization, that allowed some churches to become so powerful.

Anna's most recent book, Sacred Foundations: The Religious and Medieval Roots of the European State argues that the medieval church was a fundamental force in European state formation.

Other areas of interest include informal institutions, the impact of European Union membership on politics in newer member countries, and the role of temporality and causal mechanisms in social science explanations.

Director of The Europe Center

The Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective is holding a conference on Democracy and its Discontents on October 8-10 in Budapest, Hungary. The conference, co-hosted with Central European University, will bring together scholars of American and European politics to examine topics such as democratic backsliding, inequality, and money in politics. Saskia Sassen of Columbia University will deliver the keynote address. 

Democracy and its Discontents Agenda
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Appeared in Stanford Report, May 29, 2014

By Clifton B. Parker

The electoral eruption of anti-European Union populism is a reflection of structural flaws in that body but does not represent a fatal political blow, according to Stanford scholars.

In the May 25 elections for the European Parliament, anti-immigration parties won 140 of the 751 seats, well short of control, but enough to rattle supporters of the EU, which has 28 member nations. In Britain, Denmark, France and Greece, the political fringe vote totals stunned the political establishments.

Stanford political scientist Francis Fukuyama said the rise of extremism and anti-elitism is not surprising in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent high levels of unemployment throughout Europe. In one sense, the EU elites have themselves to blame, he said.

"The elites who designed the EU and the eurozone failed in a major way," he said. "There was a structural flaw in the design of the euro (monetary union absent fiscal union, and the method of disciplining countries once in the zone)," said Fukuyama, the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and Research Afflilate at The Europe Center.

Some have argued that the European Union should adopt a form of fiscal union because without one, decisions about taxes and spending remain at the national level.

As Fukuyama points out, this becomes a problem, as in the case of a debt-ridden Greece, which he believes should not have qualified for EU membership in the first place. In fact, he said, it would have been better for Greece itself to leave the euro at the outset of the 2008 crisis.

Still, Fukuyama said the big picture behind the recent election is clear – it was a confluence of issues and timing.

"It is a bit like an off-year election in the U.S., where activists are more likely to vote than ordinary citizens," he said.

Fukuyama believes the EU will survive this electoral crisis. "I think the EU will be resilient. It has weathered other rejections in the past. The costs of really exiting the EU are too high in the end, and the elites will adjust, having been given this message," he said.

Meanwhile, the populist parties in the different countries are not unified or intent on building coalitions with each other.

"Other than being anti-EU, most of them have little in common," Fukuyama said. "They differ with regard to specific positions on immigration, economic policy, and they respond to different social bases."

Ongoing anger

Dan Edelstein, a professor of French, said the largest factor for success by extremist candidates was "ongoing anger toward the austerity policy imposed by the EU," primarily by Germany.

Edelstein estimates that a large majority of French voters are still generally supportive of the EU. For the time being, the anti-EU faction does not have a majority, though they now have much more representation in the European Parliament.

Edelstein noted existing strains among the anti-EU parties – for example, the UK Independence Party in Britain has stated that it would not form an alliance with the National Front party in France.

Immigration remains a thorny issue for some Europeans, Edelstein said.

"'Immigration' in most European political debates, tends to be a synonym for 'Islam.' While there are some countries, such as Britain, that are primarily worried about the economic costs of immigration, in most continental European countries, the fears are cultural," he said.

As Edelstein put it, Muslims are perceived as a "demographic threat" to white or Christian Europe. However, he is optimistic in the long run.

"It seems a little early to be writing the obituary of the EU. Should economic conditions improve over the next few years, as they are predicted to, we will likely see this high-water mark of populist anger recede," said Edelstein.

Cécile Alduy, an associate professor of French, writes in the May 28 issue of The Nation about how the ultra-right-wing National Front came in first place in France's election.

"This outcome was also the logical conclusion of a string of political betrayals, scandals and mismanagement that were only compounded by the persistent economic and social morass that has plunged France into perpetual gloom," she wrote.

Historian J.P. Daughton said that like elsewhere in the world, immigration often becomes a contentious issue in Europe in times of economic difficulties.  

"High unemployment and painful austerity measures in many parts of Europe have led extremist parties to blame immigrants for taking jobs and sapping already limited social programs," he said.

Anti-immigration rhetoric plays particularly well in EU elections, Daughton said. "Extremist parties portray European integration as a threat not only to national sovereignty, but also to national identity.

Edelstein, Alduy and Daughton are all Faculty Affiliates of The Europe Center.

Wake-up call

Russell A. Berman, a professor of German studies and comparative literature, said many Europeans perceive the EU as "somehow impenetrable, far from the civic politics of the nation states."

As a result, people resent regulations issued by an "intangible bureaucracy," and have come to believe that the European Parliament has not grappled with major issues such as mustering a coherent foreign policy voice, he said.

"The EU can be great on details but pretty weak on the big picture," said Berman, who is the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Faculty Affiliate of The Europe Center. "It is this discrepancy that feeds the dissatisfaction."

Yet he points out that the extremist vote surged in only 14 nations of the EU – in the other 14, there was "negligible extremism," as he describes it.

"We're a long way from talking about a fatal blow, but the vote is indeed a wake-up call to the centrists that they have to make a better case for Europe," Berman said.

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Abstract: Taiwan (the Republic of China) has been changing with the times. So has its diplomacy. Having served his country for more than 40 years in various important diplomatic posts under different administrations, Ambassador Chen is one of Taiwan’s most seasoned diplomats. He joins us to share his personal experience and perspectives of Taiwan’s diplomacy. It is a historical review, but also an attempt to explore the future. Ambassador Chen believes that the diplomacy of Taiwan is unique because of its unique background. Although it should be defined by its own people, the country has been heavily influenced by the Chinese Mainland and the United States of America. How to promote Taiwan’s interests while preserving its identity and dignity, and conducting the balancing exercises in an asymmetric international environment has always been the crux of diplomacy in Taiwan. Ambassador Chen’s insights will allow us a better understanding of diplomacy in Taiwan, its successes and frustrations and presenting a possible roadmap for the future.

C.J. Chen is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (1999-2000). He has also served as Taiwan’s de facto Ambassador to the United States (2000-2004) and European Union (2004-2006). Having spent most of his career in the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Chen is regarded as one of Taiwan’s most accomplished diplomats and an expert on U.S./Taiwan relations. He was educated in Taiwan, Britain, Spain and the US, and has extensive experience representing his nation in the United States. He began his first tour of duty in Washington, D.C. in 1971 and was later a key member of the team that negotiated with the United States government for the future relations between Taiwan and the U.S. after the U.S. switched diplomatic ties from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China) in 1979. Mr. Chen was heavily involved in communicating with the U.S. Congress during the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) which still serves as the back bone and framework for U.S./ Taiwan relations. In addition to Mr. Chen’s diplomatic experience, he was also selected by the Kuomintang (KMT), to be a member of the Legislative Yuan, where served under both the blue (KMT) and green (DPP) administrations.

CISAC Conference Room

Ambassador C.J. Chen Founder, Taipei Forum and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (1999-2000) Speaker

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Fulbright and BAEF postdoctoral fellow 2012-2013

Karen Del Biondo is a 2012-2013 postdoctoral scholar at CDDRL. Her research is funded with a Fulbright-Schuman award and a postdoctoral grant from the Belgian-American Educational Foundation (BAEF). She holds an MA in Political Science (International Relations) from Ghent University and an MA in European Studies from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. In 2007-2008 she obtained a Bernheim fellowship for an internship in European affairs at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Representation to the EU. 

Karen Del Biondo obtained her PhD at the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University in September 2012 with a dissertation entitled ‘Norms, self-interest and effectiveness: Explaining double standards in EU reactions to violations of democratic principles in sub-Saharan Africa’. Her PhD research was funded by the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO). Apart from her PhD research, she has been involved in the research project ‘The Substance of EU Democracy Promotion’ (Ghent University/University of Mannheim/Centre of European Policy Studies) and has published on the securitisation of EU development policies. In January 2011 she conducted field research in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her postdoctoral research will focus on the comparison between EU and US democracy assistance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Karen Del Biondo’s recent publications include: ‘Security and Development in EU External Relations: Converging, but in which direction?’ (with Stefan Oltsch and Jan Orbie), in S. Biscop & R. Whitman (eds.) Handbook of European Union Security, Routledge (2012); ‘Democracy Promotion Meets Development Cooperation: The EU as a Promoter of Democratic Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa’, European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 16, N°5, 2011, 659-672; and ‘EU Aid Conditionality in ACP Countries. Explaining Inconsistency in EU Sanctions Practice’, Journal of Contemporary European Research, Vol. 7, N°3, 2011, 380-395.

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Visiting Scholar Program on Arab Reform and Democracy

Ahmed Benchemsi is a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. His focus is on the democratic grassroots movement that recently burgeoned in Morocco, as in Tunisia and Egypt. Ahmed researches how and under what circumstances a handful of young Facebook activists managed to infuse democratic spirit which eventually inspired hundreds of thousands, leading them to hit the streets in massive protests. He investigates whether this actual trend will pave the way for genuine democratic reform or for the traditional political system's reconfiguration around a new balance of powers - or both.  

Before joining Stanford, Ahmed was the publisher and editor of Morocco's two best-selling newsweeklies TelQuel (French) and Nishan (Arabic), which he founded in 2001 and 2006, respectively. Covering politics, business, society and the arts, Ahmed's magazines were repeatedly cited by major media such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and more, as strong advocates of democracy and secularism in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ahmed received awards from the European Union and Lebanon's Samir Kassir Foundation, notably for his work on the "Cult of personality" surrounding Morocco's King. He also published op-eds in Le Monde and Newsweek where he completed fellowships.

Ahmed received his M.Phil in Political Science in 1998 from Paris' Institut d'Etudes Politiques (aka "Sciences Po"), his M.A in Development Economics in 1995 from La Sorbonne, and his B.A in Finance in 1994 from Paris VIII University.

Stanford University
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CDDRL Visiting Scholar Winter/Spring 2009

Vera was a visiting researcher during the spring and winter quarters of 2009 CDDRL. She was also a doctoral candidate in the department of political and social sciences at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany. In her thesis, she compared and explained the active engagement of Mediterranean non-member countries in cooperation with the European Union (EU) and its democracy promotion efforts. During her time at CDDRL, she finished the first draft of her thesis and coordinate the grant proposal for a joint research project, with Professors Stephen D. Krasner of Stanford University and Tanja A. Börzel of Freie Universität Berlin, on the "governance export" of international actors to areas of limited statehood.

Since 2005, she has been working as a research associate at the Center for European Integration at the Freie Universität Berlin, where she researches and teaches on the EU as an international actor and particularly on European neighborhood policies. She received a Master's degree in "European Studies" from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, and the "Certificat d'Etudes Politiques" from the the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble, France. Together with a colleague, she has contributed a chapter on "Comparing EU and US democracy promotion in the Mediterranean and the Newly Independent States" in a forthcoming (2009) volume edited by Amichai Magen, Michael McFaul and Thomas Risse.

Conventional wisdom holds that the United States and the European Union pursue vastly different strategies to promote democracy around the globe. The U.S. is often perceived to rely on coercion, while the EU employs "soft power." This project completed a book demonstrating that American and European strategies to spread democracy display far more similarities than differences. For the first time, leading European and American experts systematically compare U.S.

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