Ukraine's Missing Will

KIEV: Today Russia and Ukraine are on parallel courses of economic reform. Both achieved financial stabilization during 1996, but each country is still experiencing considerable declines in economic output.

Russia and Ukraine make a good pair for the purpose of comparison, as their preconditions were quite similar. They are both large countries with predominantly Slavic populations, arising out of the Soviet Union. Originally, Ukraine had a slightly higher output per capita at the beginning of the transition; Russia has more natural resources. The big difference between the two is that Russia launched its economic reforms in 1992, while Ukraine did so almost three years later.

Reform started later in Ukraine for several reasons. A fundamental cause was political leadership. Independent Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, cared little for economic reform, while Russian President Boris Yeltsin believed in, and pushed for, radical economic reform, even if he soon were to hesitate. Russia at the outset of the reform process possessed a strong group of economic reformers; too few in Ukraine understood the need for radical economic reform. Instead, many Ukrainians saw Russia's exploitation of Ukraine as the main problem facing their country. Russians had little but communism to blame for their plight.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.