To strengthen security
- The West’s goal must be to ensure that Ukraine has the capacity to preserve its independence and territorial integrity, irrespective of Russian wishes or intentions. In this collective undertaking, Ukraine bears primary responsibility and must shoulder the principal burden. This requires political will and demonstrable progress in upholding standards of good governance in key security and political institutions.
- Ukraine must understand that internal transformation is a prerequisite both to national security and to Euro-Atlantic integration. The establishment of an effective, trusted and accountable state is a primary national interest. Unless law enforcement, security and defence institutions are fit for purpose, the country will remain dangerously vulnerable to infowar, penetration, sabotage and destabilization.
- Russia’s military options must be curtailed and its effective capabilities against Ukraine reduced. To this end, a structure of deterrence is needed inside Ukraine, not only on the eastern border of NATO. The basis for deciding which weapons to supply Ukraine should be effectiveness rather than politics. Modern weaponry from the West will not overcome the ills of a largely unreformed defence system.
- NATO and the EU should, respectively, launch security sector and law enforcement advisory programmes in Ukraine, commensurate with NATO’s existing efforts in the defence sphere.
- There is no contradiction between dialogue and defence. The West must work inside and outside the Normandy Format and Minsk process to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and strengthen European security. The Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 – which aimed to establish a political solution – should not be abandoned, but deadlock should not become a pretext for diluting their core provisions: a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces and heavy weapons from occupied territories in Donbas, and unimpeded access for monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Verified implementation of these security components must precede implementation of the political segment of the Minsk protocols.
- The West’s sanctions against Russia should be periodically reviewed, strengthened where necessary, and kept in place however long the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula lasts and destabilization of the east of the country continues. Full restoration of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders should not be compromised.
To advance EU integration
- The EU must have realistic expectations of how long it will take for Ukraine to reform. The EU must maintain strong conditionality in the long term to stimulate real, rather than partial or cosmetic, reforms. Ukraine must recognize that integration is impossible without delivery of political and economic transformation.
- The EU’s Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA) has been a particularly successful innovation in policy towards Ukraine. The SGUA has matched the supply of expertise to need. The EU should rely on this tailored and agile mechanism when planning assistance for Ukraine.
- The EU’s support should move away from classic, pre-scripted technical assistance projects – the effectiveness of which is very low – to tailored, more flexible and longer-term programmes of at least four to five years in duration. The EU should consider using some instruments that have been successfully deployed in Romania (and learn lessons from failure in Bulgaria) to support the rule of law and judicial reforms.
- Support for Ukrainian businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, is needed to help them withstand competitive pressures once the transition periods for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) finish. This gap remains a major weakness in the EU’s strategy towards Ukraine (especially at the regional level), and contrasts with the support available to EU accession candidate countries.
To boost economic and political reform
- Land reform – allowing and facilitating a functioning market for land – is badly needed to ensure that Ukraine’s large but low-productivity agricultural sector is a powerhouse for longer-term economic growth. There are indications that the Ukrainian government will partially lift a moratorium on land sales by the end of 2017.
- Further reform of Ukraine’s more than 3,000 state-owned enterprises is essential. Efforts should focus on three areas: improving the corporate governance of strategic entities identified as likely to remain in state ownership; privatizing the remaining enterprises and assets for which there is a ready market; and closing the rest. Reform should also include the sale of over 10 million hectares of agricultural land currently in state ownership, which could potentially raise big sums for the state budget.
- Civil society and the international community should place as much stress on electoral and institutional reform as on anti-corruption measures, to encourage a break with the old system and allow a new generation of genuine reformers to shape laws and policies. Wider use of institutional exchanges between Ukrainian government entities and EU member state governments will encourage best practice in administration and better policy formulation and implementation.
- Building public trust is of critical importance. Responsibility for this lies first and foremost with the Ukrainian political class, which needs to convince the population and Ukraine’s foreign friends and partners that there is serious political will to reform the corrupt political system. Civil society can help to do this ‘from the top’, by joining forces with reformers in the legislature and executive. Civil society also needs to work from the ‘bottom up’ to ensure that citizens can engage in their country’s governance and exercise civic oversight. Active citizenship could help establish a larger and more reformist political class in the future. Unless Ukrainian politicians, judges and civil servants accept the need for their system to change fundamentally – through the creation of robust institutions, genuine safeguards against corruption, and true political and legal accountability – old habits will continue, Western partners will grow weary, and Russia will continue to be able to undermine the country’s territorial integrity, politics and future sustainability.
- Western donors should integrate requirements for wider popular participation into their grant-making. They should fund projects that build civic support networks. They should promote action-based rather than adversarial revolutionary activism. The expansion of housing associations, farmers’ unions, credit unions, teachers’ associations and business associations would make decentralization of power more effective and local government more accountable.
- Through international development assistance, Western partners must assist Ukrainian NGOs and nascent political parties, as well as universities and management schools, in the creation of a new political and managerial class.
- Western countries must sustain pressure for judicial reform and the prosecution of high-level officials who have abused their office. There must be continued pressure for progress towards zero tolerance of corruption at all levels. The establishment of a special trial court or chamber free from political interference is essential for further progress in the battle against corruption and the development of a new legal culture. The appeal system must be similarly independent. Any signs of backtracking on these issues must be addressed robustly. An independent judiciary is the ultimate test of Ukraine’s reforms.
- To maintain the momentum of the anti-corruption effort, the government must speed up privatization of state-owned enterprises using transparent tender procedures. Further deregulation should also be a high priority, in order to reduce opportunities for officials to extort money from business.
- Ukraine’s anti-corruption reformers must communicate their achievements to society and address the perception that ‘nothing has changed’ since 2014. Important progress has been made on reducing the space for corruption, but the Ukrainian public is generally not aware of these changes.