Ukraine cabinet shuffle: a new beginning?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed through a government reshuffle. The new prime minister is Denys Shmyhal and 11 out of 17 ministers have been replaced. Zelensky accused the outgoing government of doing too little to combat smuggling, failing to adhere to the budget and not supporting industry. Observers say this political shake-up does not bode well.

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nv.ua (UA) /

Paying for inexperience

The replacement of almost the entire government is a sign of weakness on the part of Volodymyr Zelensky, writes Ukrainian-born political scientist Alexander Motyl in Novoye Vremya:

“Mistakes have become the norm. ... The lack of a clear strategy is always an obstacle for leading politicians. But in the case of Zelensky this is a particularly serious problem, because the incredible victories he and his party have secured have concentrated an enormous amount of power and responsibility in inexperienced hands. ... Zelensky must now acknowledge that despite a fantastic election victory he cannot govern alone. He needs the competence, experience and professionalism of the democratic opposition.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

The crippling power of the oligarchs

The influence of the oligarchs permeates the country's entire political spectrum, the Tages-Anzeiger laments:

“It's a tragedy. Only in theory does the head of government choose his team himself. In practice, President Zelensky's chief of staff does so in collaboration with Ukrainian oligarchs. Their handwriting is recognizable in the new government. Even the new prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, worked for the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov until 2019. ... Despite the billions in damage to Ukraine [through the oligarchs' corruption and fraud] there is not even a committee of inquiry. Instead the oligarchs control the parliament, the corrupt courts and apparently even the president himself. As long as this remains the case the country will not move forward.”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

West didn't have a clue who it was dealing with

Ria Novosti sees the change of government as confirmation that the West has misjudged Ukraine:

“Over the past six years, the general notion has been that Ukrainian elites are puppets who jump as soon as Washington (or Brussels) tells them to. This was wrong from the beginning. Ukraine is a large, highly developed country (even if it successfully manages to squander its development) with very rich elites who claimed their place in the sun in the bloodbath of the transition to capitalism. It was naive to believe that these people would sit up and beg or stand to attention for the West. ... These elites care little about protecting national interests, but they are very eager to assert their own.”