How can Ukraine end its crisis?

Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Groysman is to replace Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who resigned on Monday. Can Groysman, a close confidant of President Petro Poroshnko, steer the country in the right direction?

Open/close all quotes
Financial Times (GB) /

Everything depends on Poroshenko

After the replacement of Ukraine's prime minister President Petro Poroshenko will play an even more important role in determining his country's fate, the conservative daily Financial Times comments:

“The future of Ukraine’s reform project will therefore hinge even more on the choices of the president. In recent months, doubts have grown over whether Mr Poroshenko is willing to distance himself from his background as a billionaire businessman. He clung on too long to a much-criticised loyalist in the pivotal post of prosecutor-general. But it is not too late for the capable Mr Poroshenko to pursue a place in history as the man who launched Ukraine on the path to European-style, law-based democracy. To coax Mr Poroshenko towards that goal, the support of the EU, the US and international lenders remains critical.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

A relapse into the past

For the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger, by contrast, Poroshenko's growing influence marks the end of the reform process in Ukraine:

“The new government comprises true followers of Poroshenko, none of whom has the stature - or even the will - to give the country a good shake-up. ... The jovial Petro Poroshenko may come across as more congenial than the stiff-necked Viktor Yanukovych, who was chased from office by demonstrators in 2014. But his Ukraine looks increasingly like the old system that the Maidan movement wanted to put an end to. Instead of a modern, European-oriented country, Ukraine threatens once more to become just another post-Soviet state. Not as bad as Russia or Belarus, but not much better: corrupt, undemocratic, and, one fears, increasingly autocratic.”

Contributors (RO) /

Abandoned by all

The West has abandoned Ukraine in a disgraceful manner, political scientist Valentin Naumescu laments on the blog Contributors:

“The new prime minister won't be able to defuse the political and social tensions in the country until the major powers find a fitting place for Ukraine on Europe's geopolitical map. What is happening now is not good for the EU. But the Western Europeans have more important concerns than lifting Ukraine out of Eastern Europe's buffer zone hole. … Ukraine is too big and unfortunately too close to Russia to be rescued by either the Europeans or the Americans. … Germany and France are just waiting eagerly to lift the sanctions against Russia, while the Netherlands is hypocritically playing its own domestic policy score. … The US has promised a lot but done too little to support Kiev's pro-Western efforts. All sides have made intelligent comments but no one has really engaged with Ukraine.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Judicial reform the only hope

The Ukrainian elite can only survive the profound crisis of confidence if the new government reforms the justice system, the centre-right daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

“Parliament is still dominated by parties that lack a broad basis of support and depend on financing from the oligarchs. The same goes for the media sector, whose major television stations are also in the hands of the oligarchs. The political elite, which was only partially renewed by the revolution, is held captive by this system. Money is power, power is money, and anyone who doesn't play along is excluded. ... But regardless of how the new government is formed, the crucial question will be if it dares to tackle what has so far been the biggest failure: the reform of the courts and the public prosecution department. Without such a reform even the best anti-corruption laws are useless. Only in this way can Ukraine free itself from the old system.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Don't give up all expectations

Ukraine still has a chance to move forward despite all its problems, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza believes:

“Yatsenyuk's resignation is the negative climax of a conflict between the camps of the prime minister and the president which has been smouldering over the last few months. Both sides accuse each other of blocking necessary reforms, doing too little to fight corruption and listening too much to the oligarchs. ... Nevertheless Europe still remembers the 1990s, in which difficult reforms were pushed through despite unstable governments. For that reason Ukraine still has a good chance of successful development, even if it is burdened not only by economic woes but also by the latent conflict in Donbass.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

New PM can't do anything either

The liberal daily Turun Sanomat warns that we shouldn't expect too much of the new head of government:

“Yatsenyuk's government was unable to fulfil the hopes and expectations that had been placed in it. The country's antiquated economy is in a chaotic state, the banking system is in crisis and the energy providers and producers are in serious difficulties. Corruption is flourishing unhindered. … The future prime minister is praised for his willingness to introduce reforms. But things can't be expected to improve so quickly. The old power structures are still in place. A détente in Eastern Ukraine, as well as in the relations between the EU and Russia, would create the conditions for economic reforms. But Ukraine's power to influence things in this direction is limited.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Money for Kiev only in exchange for reforms

There is no sign of the urgently needed fresh start in Ukraine, the liberal business paper Handelsblatt sighs:

“Groysman's election rules out the chance of a true government of experts under the leadership of the independent US-born former fund manager Natalie Jaresko. Despite the power still held by the oligarchs, she is the one who could clean out the Augean stables in the country - with the support of Washington, Berlin and Brussels. Groysman's election signals 'business as usual'. ... Despite the refugee crisis the Europeans should pull themselves together and put Kiev under constant pressure to reform. There can be no question of providing money to Kiev until the promised reforms have been implemented. This principle [held by the IMF] should also go for EU aid. If Ukraine fails, the model of a free and self-determined Europe will also fail.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

That was perhaps the last chance

The prime minister's resignation could plunge the country into turmoil, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita fears:

“The prospects for Ukraine don't look at all good right now. In the event of new elections the populist parties would win, and in the east of the country the pro-Russian groups. President Poroshenko's days as leader are numbered. He won't be in a position to box through the most important reforms. Moreover it seems increasingly likely that Putin, who has pulled out of the Syria war, is preparing a new offensive in Donbass. Ukraine has a comparatively young history. It only became a state in its own right not so long ago. Now another opportunity to build up the country has been missed. Perhaps there won't be any more such opportunities.”