“We are sliding back,” the Ukrainian journalist turned parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko warned a year ago about the arc of political reform in his country. At the time, his assessment sounded alarmist, but it rings true today. Since the 2014 Euromaidan revolution, reformers in and out of Ukraine’s government have tried to remake a fiscally troubled and deeply corrupt country into a Western-oriented, rules-based one, but have only partially succeeded.
Ukraine’s future as an independent and sovereign state will depend as much on winning its internal war on corruptionand fixing its broken government as on keeping Russia contained in the east. If Kiev emerges as a reformist success story, its example will send shock waves through the post-Soviet space and signal that the Kremlin’s neoimperial and rule-breaking project of maintaining control over its former colonial satellites is not sustainable. If it fails, however, the EU-border state may collapse, creating a major security threat for Europe and beyond.