As part of its article dedicated to the Marshal Plan for Ukraine, which was initiated by us, the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail cites an article by Michael Carpenter, Adviser to former US Vice President Joe Biden, where he praises our initiative. I was thus impelled to get a hold of the entire article by Carpenter. The article was published in the final issue of Foreign Policy, one of the most influential magazines worldwide and one that is most widely read by foreign policy experts.
I was surprised by the in-depth and fundamental understanding with which the author approaches our initiative. He maintains that in order for Ukraine not to forget to keep up the pace of reforms and fight against corruption, as the elections are drawing close, the West, which are so far unable to offer the prospect of EU and NATO memberships to the Ukrainians, have to offer an investment package (fund) instead that would be coupled with further implementation of reforms. This is an essential condition in ensuring that Putin does not defeat Ukraine in either the military or hybrid warfare or the warfare against corruption:
“Finally, the United States must also think bigger. In addition to applying leverage to encourage anti-corruption reforms and expanding its military footprint, Washington should press its European partners and allies to step up. This means encouraging NATO countries to follow the U.S. lead by providing weapons to Ukraine. It also means beginning serious discussions with the EU on a Western-managed investment fund as a means to encourage deeper anti-corruption reforms.
Lithuania’s former Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius, is one of a growing number of European leaders who have proposed creating such a fund. Because Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU is not realistic in the near future, the political incentives are not currently strong enough for Ukrainian party leaders to back difficult reforms and cut off the vested interests that finance their re-election campaigns. A Western-managed investment fund would serve as a bridging mechanism to spur reforms and good governance until a realistic Euro-Atlantic perspective emerges in the future.
Ukraine has many brilliant reformers in senior government positions who are impatient to implement the various plans they have drawn up. They now need to be empowered to put in place these reforms, free from the interference of vested interests. Western investments into Ukraine’s real economy would finally offer the right mix of political incentives to drive reforms forward, and investments would come in tranches that would be conditioned on strict anti-corruption benchmarks. The amount of capital required to stand up this investment fund — somewhere on the order of $6 billion annually — is quite modest in comparison with the EU’s $378 billion European Fund for Strategic Investments.
Some will ask whether this amounts to throwing good money after bad. The answer is that it depends on whether Europe and the United States are willing to take a proactive, hands-on approach to helping Ukraine fight corruption. If structured the right way and backed by the EU’s political clout, a Ukraine Investment Fund has the power to drive change in ways no outside actor can match. The mechanisms of the market provide the most powerful incentives for reform, particularly when augmented by political conditionality. The precedents can be found in Ukraine’s own neighbourhood, in countries like Poland, Romania, and Lithuania.”
Last year, I spent a lot of time traveling across Ukraine and the near and far West trying to persuade everyone that as Ukraine attempts to implement the complicated reforms, it needs not only military support but also the support brought by the Marshal Plan. Many experts of the West have increasingly become more vocal about our initiative. We are seeking a decision by the G7, the helm of which is currently held by Canada, to be taken in June 2018. Until then, there is still a lot of meticulous and invisible work to be done, many trips to the West to be made and intensive cooperation with their policy leaders and experts to go through.
The success of Ukraine is the key to a different Russia and Russia’s inevitable transformation. This will be the kind of Russia that will not require “establishing contacts with” because we will live in a friendly neighbourhood, just like the small Denmark next to the large and powerful Germany does.
Today, the prospect of a friendly Russia and a friendly region as a whole may seem naïve and hardly achievable. However, I do have faith in it. And for that reason, I strive to see the Marshal Plan for Ukraine implemented. This is far more productive than wasting time with useless arguments over the benefits of “established contacts”.
Andrius Kubilius is a member of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat Political Group of the Seimas