Briefing Paper

Briefing Paper 54 (2010)   ISBN 978-951-769-253-3

The morning after:
Where is Ukraine headed under president Yanukovich?

Published 18.2.2010

Igor Torbakov
Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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The past five tumultuous years of the Viktor Yushchenko presidency laid bare Ukraine’s gravest problem—its seeming inability to govern itself properly. 

Following the victory at the polls, the new Ukrainian leadership will inevitably be seeking to consolidate power, correct the country’s flawed constitutional design and establish a strong government. This is a tall order indeed, given the anarchic state of Ukraine’s political system and the weakness of most of its public institutions. 

Ukraine’s dismal economic situation and the limited set of international options will severely constrain the president-elect in pursuing domestic and foreign policies. For the new leader, the job ahead will be a balancing act, at home and abroad.

To see Kiev succeed in its attempts at stabilization and reform, the European Union needs to re-engage Ukraine. Disillusionment and frustration should give way to patience and perseverance. Focusing on step-by-step integration will be a good way to revitalize the troubled relationship.