11 March 2014, Kiyv Post
Ukraine’s new leaders deserve praise for some of the moves they have made since coming to power after Viktor Yanukovych abandoned the presidency on Feb. 22. But they will need lots of outside help in managing the multiple political, economic and military crises confronting Ukraine.
Politically and economically, the Oleksandr Turchynov-Arseniy Yatseniuk team has taken the right moves by agreeing to whatever conditions that the United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund require for a multibillion-dollar bailout. Given the long and deep history of corruption among Ukraine’s elites, any Western aid would be foolish and wasted without stringent outside oversight and without designing new, sustainable mechanisms to prevent and fight corruption.
“It is very important that the world and especially the European Union stand by Ukraine right now,” comments Bankwatch’s executive director Mark Fodor. “Yet the financial package proposed by the EU relies too heavily on loans via institutions whose track record in both Ukraine and Russia has done more to benefit the domestic elites and foreign corporations than the general population. This sounds like just administering more of a medicine that has proven to suffocate the patient in the past.
Militarily, Ukraine finally has the opportunity to gain the West’s help in improving its capability.
However, in other areas, Ukraine’s power structure hasn’t changed much. Turning to Ukraine’s oligarchs to save Ukraine from Russian dismemberment may be a brilliant short-term move, but it’s not much of an exaggeration to liken it to turning to thieves for protection from murderers. Putin even identified the problem when he called Igor Kolomoisky “a crook” and Ukraine’s corruption stratospheric.
The Soviet and post-Soviet systems of corruption and governance need to be dislodged completely.
Ukraine’s leaders need to request outside help to fix the nation’s police and courts system. They need the West’s help in tracking down the dozens of former top officials, led by Yanukovych, and bringing them to justice. They need the West’s help in investigating violent and financial crimes, since Ukraine’s authorities have proven since 1991 they have no institutions or political will to do so.