One of the key messages at the heart of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign in 2019 was a very simple one: peace in Donbas, the war-torn region of Ukraine where Russian-supported separatists continue to fight a war against the Kyiv government. Zelenskyy’s message was based on the assumption that if a ceasefire could be respected, and all Ukrainian prisoners-of-war could return home, then peace would have been achieved.
Nine months after Zelenskyy’s inauguration and two months after his first Normandy Four summit (which brings together Germany and France with Ukraine and Russia to discuss Donbas), it appears more likely that this approach will lead Ukraine into a Russian trap.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the Euromaidan revolution in the winter of 2013–14, the EU has adopted a significantly more strategic approach to reform in Ukraine, in order to address fundamental weaknesses within Ukrainian state institutions.
The EU Commission of 2014–19 launched a number of major innovations to support Ukraine, which represented a step-change in EU support for domestic reforms in a neighbouring country.
The most significant of these was the creation of the Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA), a special taskforce for delivering assistance and supporting Ukraine, which became operational during Jean-Claude Juncker presidency of the Commission. The SGUA, led by Peter Wagner since 2016, consists of 35-40 officials who have developed an in-depth knowledge of Ukraine and have experimented with new approaches in supporting reforms.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the launch of the Eastern Partnership in 2009, Poland has been the most important member state in driving the engagement with the EU’s eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. But as the 4th bi-annual summit begins, Poland has seemingly abandoned its former policy, risking the political and economic development of these important partners, and in particular, the stability and integrity of Ukraine.
At the operational level, Polish diplomats and experts continue to contribute: Poland has the most impressive expertise on the post-Soviet countries in Europe and many think-tanks are working hard to promote closer ties. But the Polish political leadership is not only hesitant to promote the policy, it has seemed at times directly antagonistic to it, by, for example, re-stoking historical tensions with Ukraine, traditionally the most important of these relationships.… Seguir leyendo »
The mass protests of 2014 put the EU in the centre of reform efforts in Ukraine. The Association Agreement, support of which was the locus of the initial demonstrations, has become the blueprint for the country’s reformers, who believe that pursuing integration with the EU offers Ukraine the best (and only) pathway for modernization and economic growth.
But there is a mismatch between the very political impact of the reforms required by the Association Agreement and the technocratic approach the EU takes to such issues. This disconnect is putting Ukraine’s chances for a more European future in jeopardy.
A big job
There is some recognition on the part of the EU about the daunting task the implementation of the agreement presents.… Seguir leyendo »
Yesterday, President Vladimir Putin ordered the abolition of Russia’s free trade regime with Ukraine. He had been threatening to do so since 2011 as a response to the harm Russia claimed it would suffer from the implementation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the EU. To avert this scenario, last year the EU and Ukraine agreed to suspend the DCFTA until December 2015 and initiate trilateral negotiations.
In essence, Russia’s objections to Ukraine’s DCFTA are political rather than economic. The allegations of economic harm resulting from the DCFTA remain poorly justified and spurious. Trade problems lend themselves to resolution through, for example, the application of the WTO’s rules of origin requirements.… Seguir leyendo »