Ukraine’s Road Ahead: Three Things to Know

Ukraine’s Road Ahead: Three Things to Know

February 28, 2014 3:58 pm (EST)

Ukraine’s Road Ahead: Three Things to Know
Explainer Video
from Video

More on:

Ukraine

Political Movements

Ukraine’s new government faces several challenges in the coming weeks. However, a successful and careful transition could usher in a new era for the country, bringing in political and economic reforms that afford it more autonomy away from Russia’s sphere of influence. Charles Kupchan, CFR’s Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow, highlights three things to know about Ukraine’s way forward:

  • A Divided Nation: The country is beset by an ethnic and political divide dating back several centuries. Western parts of Ukraine are oriented toward Europe, and the population is largely made up of ethnic Ukrainians. But the eastern part of the country identifies with Russia, and most of the population speaks Russian. As such, "trying to find policies to bring the country into some kind of national unity is going to be very difficult," Kupchan says.
  • Fiscal Fragility: Despite President Viktor Yanukovich’s swift fall from power, "there is much hard work ahead," Kupchan warns. Weak institutional infrastructure and the threat of default loom over the country, and it is unknown when foreign powers could come forward with financial aid. "It’s not clear whether Ukraine will be able to make the political and economic reforms necessary to get the loans to keep the country fiscally afloat," Kupchan says.
  • A Balancing Act: Delicate geopolitics in the region will continue to factor into the new government’s decisions, Kupchan says. Yanukovich’s fall from power indicates a political loss for Russia, which has viewed Ukraine as a junior partner in the world. Balancing ties between Europe and Russia will be crucial if Ukraine wants to gain more autonomy, move away from the Russian sphere of influence, and "chart a course toward rule of law and liberal democracy," Kupchan says.

More on:

Ukraine

Political Movements

Close

Top Stories on CFR

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

Russian leaders have watched with mounting resentment as the transatlantic alliance has nearly doubled its membership since the end of the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin has drawn a red line in Ukraine.

United States

Temporary protected status has long been used as a humanitarian solution for migrants who are unable to return home safely, but efforts to end the program have reignited the debate around U.S. immigration policy.  

China

Questions of how the United States should address the issue of China and Taiwan have moved to the center of the U.S. foreign policy debate.