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How Western Anticorruption Policy Is Failing Ukraine

It Should Focus on Institutions, Not Individuals

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Kiev, Ukraine, April 2018.  Valentyn Ogirenko / REUTERS

Western aid programs designed to attack corruption in Ukraine are failing. Instead of acknowledging the significant degree to which Ukraine has changed for the better, Western-backed approaches misrepresent ongoing reforms as woefully inadequate. In so doing, they discredit the reforms, polarizing the country’s elites, promoting mass mobilization, encouraging left- and right-wing populism, weakening Ukraine at a time of war and Russian occupation, and contributing to the country’s instability.

Ukraine is a pivotal country on the frontline of an aggressive Russian state. Its success in countering Russia is a crucial part of the West’s effort to contain and push back against President Vladimir Putin. But as a country under constant Russian pressure, Ukraine can benefit from a more comprehensive reform approach. More specifically, it needs a pragmatic anticorruption and reform policy, carefully designed to enable Ukraine to progress without reinforcing Russian efforts to undermine the state and create

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