The United States has put forward strict demands to Ukraine: without their implementation there will be no further support
The United States has provided Ukraine with a list of priority reforms that it expects Kyiv to implement in exchange for further assistance. The publication told in more detail DW.
“This list was provided as a basis for consultation with the Government of Ukraine and key partners as part of our continued support for Ukraine and its efforts to integrate into Europe, a goal that the United States strongly supports,” the US Embassy in Ukraine said in a statement.
Specific requirements with strict deadlines
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Mike Pyle sent a letter to the Donor Coordination Platform. The letter, which, according to media reports, was also received by the Prime Minister of Ukraine and the Office of the President, contains a list of priority reforms that Kyiv must implement. The letter sets out a clear time frame for the implementation of reforms and their priority. At the same time, the publication notes that the letter is a preliminary working draft and is subject to review.
The most urgent changes include strengthening the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) and a number of steps to strengthen the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), which include, for example, increasing its staff to 300 people, strengthening NABU's criminal capacity and maintaining its independence. Three months are given to implement these changes.
During these three months, the requirement for disclosure of information on assets and financial statements should be restored, an independent, transparent selection of the new head of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACP) should be carried out, and the relaunch of the High Council of Justice should be completed. The reform of the judicial branch of government, the Ministry of Defense and all law enforcement agencies is given from three months to a year and a half.
In addition, the list contains requirements for reforming the work of the supervisory boards of state-owned enterprises Ukrenergo and Naftogaz, the creation of a supervisory board for the new Ukroboronprom, and the corporatization of Energoatom.
Time limits are strict, but you can meet the deadlines
“Knowing the habit of the Ukrainian authorities to delay the implementation of reforms until the last moment, now the deadlines are very clear and tied to specific areas,” said First Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy Yaroslav Yurchyshyn. In his opinion, despite the strict time limits, all reforms from the list transferred to the United States can be completed on time.
“If the Ukrainian authorities stop making the same mistakes and immediately do everything right, as our partners demand, and offer solutions that can be qualified as complying with the recommendations, then we can meet the deadlines. It’s not easy, but it’s possible,” Yurchyshyn is convinced.
He notes that of all the reforms that Ukraine needs to complete within three months, the Verkhovna Rada already has bills that only need to be voted on.
Reforms in exchange for weapons
The US letter with a list of reforms sparked heated debate in Ukraine. Although the letter does not specify what kind of US assistance is conditional on Ukraine's implementation of reforms, some have interpreted it as "reforms in exchange for weapons."
“Yes, we need to reform. And the United States may well demand reforms in exchange for financing the Ukrainian budget, humanitarian aid, and funding programs. But not with regard to the supply of weapons, because no one steals shells and tanks from us and does not sell them at bazaars. They are giving us very vague hints: reform or die,” journalist Larisa Voloshina does not hide her emotions.
Former acting Prosecutor General of Ukraine, deputy of several previous convocations of the Verkhovna Rada, Viktor Chumak, focuses on the fact that the US demands for reforms are not new for Ukraine, international partners have been talking about them since 2014, but during this time the Ukrainian authorities have not implemented them.
Director of the New Europe Center Alena Getmanchuk in her column on Ukrayinska Pravda writes that the publication of a list of clear demands indicates that internal levers of influence on the Ukrainian government are no longer enough, and this is alarming.
“The last thing I would like is for our relations with the United States to be reduced to an exchange of lists: on our side - weapons, on theirs - reforms. Moreover, both of these lists would be carried out very formally. We would ask them uncomfortable questions regarding the needs for the front, they would ask us even more questions regarding corruption and those who are associated with it in power,” Getmanchuk notes.
Meanwhile, as reported by Voice of America, Washington said that “the draft list of priority reforms that the United States submitted for discussion and feedback at a recent meeting is not a condition for future military assistance.”
This time Ukraine needs to take US demands seriously
Deputy Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” Serhiy Gerasimchuk believes that the appearance of such a letter with a list of priority reforms with clear deadlines is due to the election struggle in the United States.
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“There is a group of congressmen who are critical of providing assistance to Ukraine and are capitalizing on this in the presidential election campaign. The appearance of such a list is intended to reassure voters and demonstrate that spending American taxpayers’ money is accompanied by certain conditions, and therefore is not wasteful on the part of the Joe Biden administration,” Gerasimchuk commented.
According to the director of the Penta Center for Political Research, Vladimir Fesenko, the US demand to strengthen public control over the activities of Ukrainian government institutions will contribute to the development of democracy in Ukraine, especially in times of war. In his column, he writes that this was a consequence of problems with both government procurement and the budget process in some Ukrainian departments.
“In the end, all this is in our interests,” says Fesenko. “That is why in this case we are not talking about some “whims” of our partners, or about “betrayal.” We have had similar situations and similar advice from partners before, for example, when anti-corruption legislation was adopted, new anti-corruption institutions were created, and later an anti-corruption court.”
At the same time, Fesenko noted that this time the Ukrainian authorities need to take the US demands seriously.
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