Reform and conflict in Ukraine

Ukraine continues to fight for its territorial integrity in the face of Russian encroachment, while seeking to democratise and modernise. The enormity of these challenges was the subject of “Securing the Modernisation of Ukraine”, a seminar held in Brussels on December 6th. Adam Shub, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Mission to the EU, commended Ukraine for its reforms in the energy, banking and judiciary sectors and stressed that there was no difference between the EU and the US positions: both would maintain sanctions against Russia until Moscow fully complies with the Minsk agreement. Oleksii Makeiev, a senior Ukrainian diplomat, described Kyiv’s goal as “to get Russia out of Donbas and to get the international community in”.

Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General of DG NEAR, admitted that “economic transition and socio-economic transformation is an inherently messy process” and that those clinging to their privileges are waging a “dirty war, hybrid war, information war, which makes it look even worse from outside”. She gave a cautious welcome to the early stages of judicial reform and warned against listening to the advice of well-meaning commentators to shield the judiciary from political interference. Even more controversially, she stressed the importance of land reform, which is opposed by many Ukrainians, in unlocking the country’s vast agricultural potential and attracting foreign direct investment.