Ukraine after a year of changes

The State of the War

The situation for civilians in Eastern Ukraine is dire

Weak government, strong society

In post-Maidan Ukraine, failing governmental action is substituted by voluntary work. While the Ukrainian state is failing in many aspects, Ukrainian society is very strong. 

Kyiv and the regions

Ukraine has been an over-centralised state since its independence from the Soviet Union, but now the notion of “decentralisation” has taken hold in even tiny villages

There is much written about Ukraine’s struggle with reforms and the war to the east and its meaning for the West. Indeed, the crisis is one of the most defining crises of our time, but there is probably too little attention on what is actually happening on the ground in Ukraine. After the Maidan, the country embarked on a course of Westernisation. Because all previous governments – including those who have formally pledged to reform the country – dodged meaningful institutional overhaul, the tasks ahead for Kyiv are immense.

Public perception in the West on these reforms is divided. One camp claims that reforms are happening, and Ukraine is on the right path. The other claims that oligarchs, bureaucrats and other “old structures” are successfully derailing and delaying the reform progress and that the “Maidan-adventure” is prone to fail like the orange revolution failed.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

This series of articles is based, in part, on the findings of Gustav Gressel on a research trip to Ukraine at the end of April 2015. It is not an attempt to draw a complete and comprehensive review on how far progresses has been made in all issues on the reform agenda, but rather to give the reader an impression on the tasks ahead and the moods in the population.