The maintenance of Western sanctions is contingent upon Ukraine’s willingness to reform itself, according to former Ukrainian foreign minister Volodymyr Ohryzko. If Ukraine does not act, the West will ultimately lift the sanctions; and Ukraine will have only itself to blame for its resulting isolation.
In a commentary today, the diplomat argues that the West is ready “to forgive us a very great deal, both in regard to the Minsk process and to questions related to it, if we demonstrate in our domestic policy good tempo, real changes and so on. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening.”
“The West is terribly afraid of a repetition of the situation of 2005 when such dissension led to the loss of all the achievements of the Maidan. Alas, this too influences the attitude of the West toward Russia, which has not missed a chance to cover Ukraine with dirt, to say that we are failures and incapable of living without administration from the outside.”
Moscow, of course, “wants this external administration to come from Moscow and not Washington or Brussels,” Ohryzko adds. But both because of Ukrainian slowness and Moscow’s propaganda effort, “pessimism about the future possibilities of Ukraine is growing in the West,” and thus more questions are being raised about lifting sanctions against Russia.
“If Ukraine itself does not want to take a tough line, then the question logically arises in the West as to why it should be more Catholic than the pope and do everything for [Ukrainians],” the Kyiv diplomat says. “Alas, this tendency is appearing ever more clearly in recent times.”
But he concludes on a more optimistic note saying that sanctions will continue for a time; but “this extension cannot be infinite without active moves by Ukraine. If reforms, the struggle with corruption and genuine Ukrainian sanctions against Russia don’t occur, then the currently expected extension of sanctions may be the last.”