Indispensable reforms for Ukraine’s ‘revolution without change’


Achieving progress on reforming Ukraine’s economy would send the strongest possible message to critics who doubt the country’s ability to operate as a modern state, argues Carnegie analyst Pierre Vimont:

More fundamentally, the government seems all too often to be pushing back decisions on the priorities it should be promoting because of the political risks this might imply when tackling oligarchs and corrupt practices. Caught between hyperactivity and hesitation, Ukraine displays an uneasy combination of determination, on the one hand, and constant bargaining, on the other, prompting an overall feeling of a country stuck in the middle of the road or in a gray zone.

Western leaders need to reassure Ukraine that sanctions against the Putin regime will remain in place as long as Russian continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also apply heightened outside pressure on Ukraine’s leaders involving four main elements, the McCain Institute’s David Kramer writes for The American Interest:

  • First, the United States, European Union, and international lending agencies should make further financial assistance to Ukraine conditional on results and performance, not rhetoric and empty promises. ….
  • Second, the United States and its European allies should more aggressively offer help from agencies like the FBI and Department of Justice for investigations into corruption inside Ukraine. ….
  • Third, American and European law enforcement agencies should look into the source of purchases of high-ticket assets and real estate by Ukrainians in our own countries. ….
  • Fourth, it is time for targeted sanctions against Ukrainians involved in serious corruption. ….

Despite the bleak picture right now, Ukraine has a fighting chance at a genuine transformation, Freedom House analyst Daniel Calingaert writes:

Since 1995, Freedom House’s Nations in Transit has measured democratization in all 29 formerly Communist countries of Europe and Eurasia. Ukraine stands out in the report for its extremely strong civil society, which is comparable to those in European Union member states in Central Europe and the Baltics. Ukraine’s media and electoral process are also relative strengths, better than the average of potential and official EU membership candidates in the Balkans.

How are Ukraine’s reforms coming along? It depends who you ask. During a recent visit to Kyiv, I heard a wide range of views, notes The Atlantic Council’s Melinda Haring:

“Reforms are painful, slow, and haven’t passed the tipping point yet,” said Orysia Lutsevych, manager of the Ukraine Forum at London’s Chatham House, during the Kyiv Security Forum on April 14-15. “It’s very important for the West not to be discouraged,” she urged, adding that the West needs to keep a wider view on what’s happening in cities outside of Kyiv, like Odesa and Lviv. “These places are real laboratories of change,” she said…… Ukraine’s much-heralded reforms haven’t delivered much bread-and-butter relief to ordinary people—and yet Ukrainians are still more optimistic about the future than Europeans, said Bruce Stokes with the Pew Research Center. While 66 percent of Ukrainians told pollsters that the economy is “very bad,” and another 28 percent said it was “somewhat bad,” 48 percent of Ukrainians believe the next generation will have it better than they do.

So, how can the West best help Ukraine?

Lutsevych argued that it should support change makers, although they haven’t reached a critical mass yet. MP Hanna Hopko (above) made a similar argument.

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