CHALLENGES FACING UKRAINE - YATSENIUK AT CHATHAM HOUSE

17.07.15


During a one-day visit to London on Wednesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with UK PM David Cameron before later speaking at Chatham House on “Transforming Ukraine: Successes and Obstacles on the Way to Reform”.

Yatseniuk told his audience that the Ukrainian economy needed austerity measures in order to become more robust.

The Ukrainian economy has taken a nosedive after three years of recession and more than a year of civil war.

The battle against corruption.

Yatseniuk said that although the country had not eliminated corruption, it had improved the transparency of its energy sector, which had “the most rampant corruption”.  This was done, he said, by eliminating the “middleman”, Dmytro Firtash, who is currently under FBI investigation and is expected to be extradited to the United States.

The government had also taken control of Ukrnafta and established an anti-corruption bureau which will have some 250 detectives ready to “launch large-scale investigations against high-profile officials”.

Energy

On the question of energy Yatsenyuk said that his government was aiming “to have Ukraine entirely energy independent” through more extraction and through the introduction of energy-efficiency programmes. 

For this to succeed, however, the country will “need an investment boost in drilling, in new wells and in energy-efficiency programmes”. 

He said that for too long Ukraine had been overly dependent on Russian gas. 

In 2013, the volume of gas purchased from the Russian Federation was about 90- 95%. This year Ukraine had acquired more than 70 per cent of its natural gas from the EU, thus launching “a reverse flow”. 

Reforms

Yatsenyuk gave an assurance that the current reform agenda will not be reversed. He told the meeting that even if the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill to halt the reforms, “the president will definitely veto it”.

War with Russia

Correcting a questioner on use of terminology, he said that “there are no separatists , there are just Russians and Russian-led terrorists” in Eastern Ukraine.

“Russia has stationed about 40,000 military boots on the ground, 10,000 of which are Russian regular army military boots. The only person who denies Russian presence in Ukraine is President Putin”. 

Ukraine has fully complied with the terms of the Minsk Agreement. Russia needs to be compelled to “implement and fulfil the deal.”

“What is the aim of Putin? His aim is to resume something that resembles the Soviet Union. His aim is to take over Ukraine. His aim is to dismantle Ukraine as a nation and as a country.” 

Yatsenyuk continued by saying that “Russia is the threat to global stability and security”. It either needs to change its policy “or we have to change [its] policy, and to get one united, strong policy towards Russia. The only language Putin understands is strength. So let’s be strong.” 

On today’s Ukraine

Asked about how today’s Ukrainian society compared to the divided Europe/Russia orientated Ukraine that existed when Yanukovych became president, Yatseniuk responded by saying:

“A lot has changed in my country. Before the revolution, we were just the people. After the revolution, we became the real nation. Before the revolution, one can say it was the territory. After the revolution, it became the country, the real, strong, one united country and one united nation. 

“I cannot name any country in the world that is confronting the challenges Ukraine has. 

“We are fighting on the military front with Russia, we are fighting against corruption and red tape, against insolvency. So too much on the table [but] if we build up a success story in Ukraine, this will be the right response to President Putin and to the Russian regime. 

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