Ukrainian Political Opinion

Publication The Globe and Mail
Title Open For Business
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 27 December 2019
Re Republicans’ Impeachment Deflections Are Bad For Ukrainian Business (Report on Business, Dec. 20): Contributor Michael Bociurkiw plays down corruption in Ukraine, noting that it ranked 120 out of 180 countries in the corruption-perceptions index by Transparency International. However, a top Ukraine foreign-policy goal is to join the European Union. In the same index, the lowest ranking EU country is Bulgaria at 77. For Ukraine to realistically have a chance at EU membership, it needs to address corruption.
This year, Ukraine has heard not just from U.S. politicians about corruption in its borders. Its own citizens spoke loudly about it in this year’s presidential election when Petro Poroshenko lost overwhelmingly to Volodymyr Zelensky, who had no political experience but was viewed as non-corrupt.
Publication Financial Times
Title Nothing has changed in Ukraine even after two revolutions
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 28 April 2019
It was noted in your report that the recent election of Volodymyr Zelensky as its president was another "great day for Ukrainian democracy" (“Poroshenko leaves mixed legacy as he hands over power in Ukraine”, April 24). The question, however can be asked: is democracy still futile in Ukraine? The country has rampant corruption and the economy is in the hands of a few oligarchs. This defines a dictatorship. When Ukrainians have voted in “free and fair” elections their only choice on the ballot was the preservation of this system.
Ukraine has now experienced two revolutions in the last two decades. Both led to an election of a President promising great change. Both of these Presidents, however, have now left office - democratically, but widely disgraced because the corrupt system has remained.
If Mr Zelensky fails in tackling corruption and becomes unpopular for this failure, waiting in the wings is an oligarch, who in five years' time, promises to “save” Ukraine. Mr. Poroshenko has vowed to run again for President in the next election.
Publication Wall Street Journal
Title Why Ukraine Must Have Nuclear Deterrence
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 3 January 2017
Victor Pinchuk's assessment that "Ukraine must make painful compromises for Peace with Russia," Dec 29, reflects the reality that today Ukraine is negotiating from a position of weakness. This happens to countries that lose territory in military conflicts. Ukraine lost the Crimea and parts of Donbas. The peace solution for the end of the conflict in Donbas, through the Minsk agreements, is being imposed on the weak party, in unfavorable terms.
During the dismemberment of Ukraine in 2014, it had no military treaties with a nation or bloc that would guarantee its security. As a result no nation intervened militarily on Ukraine’s behalf. Today Ukraine is still subject to the same threats of further partition. Russian troops are amassed in large numbers on Ukraine’s border. With no nation still required militarily to come to Ukraine’s aid, the only manner Ukraine can reverse a future violation of its territorial integrity is to acquire a position of strength. This can only occur today when Ukraine becomes a nuclear state. The possession of a nuclear deterrence would give Ukraine the breathing space it needs to build up its war torn economy, without the threat of further Russian incursions.
All nations have the right to self defense. Ukraine’s only plausible defense against a much large adversary is a nuclear deterrent.
Publication Financial Times
Title Why not ask what Ukrainians can do
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 26 November 2013
Mr Yushchenko is viewed as a disappointing president by the west. He failed to enact fundamental changes in the political, economic and judicial spheres in Ukraine, for which the Orange Revolution provided an opportunity. Instead he interpreted the revolution as earning Ukraine the right to receive substantial EU support. That policy, similar to what he calls for today, resulted in no substantial change in Ukraine. This is evidenced by the act of the present Ukrainian government.
Publication New York Times
Title A Chance for Change in Ukraine
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 1 April 2013
Regarding "Ukraine can't have it both ways" (Views, March 29) by John Herbst: A fear expressed in the denial of an association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine is that it could push President Viktor Yanukovich to join a customs union with Russia. Such action, however, could also be a catalyst for reform in Ukraine.
As noted in Herbst’s article, only a minority wishes to join the customs union with Russia. The majority would be galvanized against it and likely engage in national protests to force an early presidential election. This change could lead to the signing of the association agreement with the European Union.
The issue that would promote such moves would be to make the immediate release of Yulia Tymoshenko a requirement for the signing of an E.U.-Ukraine Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November. Yanukovich could not accept this. After November, with no prospect of an accord with Europe, Yanukovich would be isolated from the West. The European Union would then wait for internal Ukrainian events to bring forth positive change.
Publication Wall Street Journal
Title As a Bridge, Ukraine Is Stronger to the West
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 23 February 2010
With the election of Viktor Yanukovych, the debate about which direction the new Ukrainian president will take his country has begun, such as with Mr. Yanukovych's own oped "Ukraine Will Be a Bridge Between East and West," Feb. 17. The opposite question also needs to be asked. In what direction will Ukraine make Mr. Yanukovych turn?
A place to look for this answer is the issue of Ukraine joining a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Mr. Yanukovych had indicated interest in joining such a union during his campaign, but could Ukraine today realistically do so? Ukraine has become a member of the World Trade Organization. All the existing members of this other union are not. In disputes within the union, the existing members could engage in any actions they wished, including protectionism. Ukraine would be held to the rules of the WTO, barring it from taking the same actions as Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan could. Ukraine would then be at a disadvantage.
The political realities of Ukraine will also have an influence on how Mr. Yanukovych governs in Kiev. Ukraine today is a genuine democracy. It has moved politically away from countries that still are a one-person states. Mr. Yanukovych will not be able to use the same tactics that politicians in such states do. He has to deal with an open and free media that he cannot attempt to silence. Ukraine is becoming a very different society than the other countries in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Yanukovych will have to govern by these new rules.
Mr. Yanukovych says that Ukraine will be a bridge between East and West. For a bridge to be strong, its pillars must also be. Today, as a bridge, Ukraine would be attached in the West to a pillar that is robust in terms of individual freedoms and democratic rule, the same foundation that Ukraine is being built on. In the East it would be attached to a pillar that remains weak in these attributes. A bridge with a weak support could collapse Mr. Yanukovych's vision.
Publication Financial Times
Title Victory a wake-up call for Brussels
Author Bohdan Skrobach
Published Date 10 February 2010
Sir, Gideon Rachman indicates that last weekend’s presidential election has set back Ukraine's joining the wider European community ("Oranges and lemons in Ukraine", February 8). Although Viktor Yanukovich’s apparent victory will create the headline that Ukraine will move away from Europe and towards Russia, the result may have the opposite effect. His victory can be a wake-up call for the European Union regarding membership for Ukraine
There will be concerns and some fear in Europe about the potential consequences of Mr Yanukovich’s victory. After the Orange revolution the EU dragged its feet about Ukrainian membership. It indicated either that Ukraine still was not ready or that it was not ready for the acceptance of Ukraine. There is nothing like fear to cause action. The Yanukovich victory could be the catalyst for the EU to feel a need to act at last on Ukrainian membership, out of concern over the alternative.