Judy Asks: Can the West Save Ukraine? spotlight image

Judy Asks: can the west save Ukraine?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
08 February 2015

The West can help Ukrainians save Ukraine, but the West itself cannot save the country. Ukraine has to embrace reforms like those that Poland made in the early 1990s. It has to sweep away decades of corruption and poor governance and build a new system more or less from the ground up. That is why steps like lustration—getting rid of corrupt or incompetent officials—are so important.

It would be hard enough for Ukraine to implement the necessary reforms in ideal conditions; it will be well-nigh impossible as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin is intent on dismantling the country. The West should use all the means it can to prevent further Russian aggression against Ukraine. The attempt launched on February 5 by French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to broker at least a renewed ceasefire looks like a last diplomatic effort to give Ukraine some breathing space. If it fails, there should be even more painful sanctions against Russia; and Western countries willing to do so should start giving Ukraine military aid.

Those who argue that this will provoke Russia need to explain why even without this “provocation” Russia has been occupying Ukrainian territory for the last year. It is in Europe’s interest that Ukraine should in the future be strong enough to stand up for itself.

Ian Bond is director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform.