Eduard PRYS, PhD
UKRAINE AFTER THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION AND UKRAINE’S MOVEMENT TOWARDS EU AND NATO
In 1991, Ukraine, as many other countries of former socialist camp, declared independence and the will to join Euro-Atlantic course of foreign policy. As it is known the processes of political transition which took place in post-communist countries were very similar but not the same. First of all, it is worth to mention that almost all countries which were part of the USSR declared independence in 1991, but political environment of Ukraine was much different from, for example, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These five countries (two of them were not a part of the Soviet Union) were incorporated to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization at the very beginning of 2000s.1
Nevertheless, we should pay particular attention to historical background of these post-communist states. Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states were occupied in 1939 and 1940 respectively.
It shows that timeline of Soviet occupation in these countries was shorter than in case of Ukraine. As for Ukraine, it was annexed by Bolsheviks in 1921 what allowed Soviet authorities to destroy previous elites, create more political and law enforcement institutions.
IT MADE POSSIBLE RETAINING POLITICAL POWER TILL THE 1990s
Cold War exhaustion, arms race and the chain of other geopolitical events caused crisis inside of the Soviet Union what lead to the crisis inside socialist camp. In order to explain it better, we will highlight such events as Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the fall of the Berlin wall and, of course, the 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt what was a catalyst that launched the process of disintegration of the USSR.2
Taking into account, that Soviet occupation of Ukraine was longer than in other states, it had significant influence on political transition, lustration and transitional justice processes in Ukraine’s post-communist political system. Ukrainian communists were not interested in independence according to the classical theory of a sovereign state. Post-communist policy makers in Ukraine wanted to be independent from the orders of Moscow apparatchiks who held all political power in the state existence of which was close to the end.
The main reason why Ukraine stuck in the past was the lack of reforms and lustration of former party cadres who won democratic elections or joined newly created political parties inside a multi-party system.
As a result, new elites who were followers of democratic reforms, did not get enough political power to launch all necessary steps aimed on real political transition but not only cosmetic regime-change.
First attempts to rupture with Sovietism, resulting from the Orange Revolution and presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, were made in 2004. Unfortunately, the then government has not made enough efforts to reduce pro-Soviet and pro-Russian sentiments among Ukrainian politicians what logically led to the victory of Viktor Yanukovych who has been Russian-oriented candidate in 2004 and 2010 respectively.3
Despite all previous Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU and NATO some progress was made in 2013. Ukraine negotiated with the European Union about signing EU-Ukraine Association Agreement accompanied by raising political pressure of Russia and its threats to stop all economic ties between Kyiv and Moscow.
master’s degree and higher level – doctorate at the Warsaw higher educational institution – the Academy of Military Art
1 “Seven new members join NATO”, nato.int, https://www.nato.int/docu/update/2004/03-march/e0 329a.htm, (Accessed December 4, 2021)
2 “The end of the Cold War”, BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/z8k9q6f/articles/zvgptrd, (Accessed December 4, 2021)