A Decisive Year for Ukraine

18 January 2022, 11:11 AM

The successes of 2022 – from vaccinations to the continuation of reforms – will determine the future of the Ukrainian nation.

This article was originally published in a special issue of NV magazine World Ahead 2022, under an exclusive license from The Economist. Re-publication is strictly prohibited.

Fatigue is a feeling that has become very prominent in our society. The fatigue felt by our healthcare workers has reached extreme levels, especially when the same example is repeated over and over again: that only after being admitted to intensive care, do people agree that they should be vaccinated.

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Add to that the fatigue felt as a result of quarantine restrictions, not only here in Ukraine, but in any other nation that is takes care of its citizens. The further up one must rise – whether that be a person, a business, or the country as a whole – the greater the fatigue experienced as a result of economic issues.

And this is multiplied by the exhaustion incurred from dirty and artificial political confrontations, which cause “pollution” not as part of a democratic process, but because our democracy is being used for the sake of selfish interests by those who have a great deal of money and see Ukraine as a “mine” for the extraction of wealth.

No one can and should endure this fatigue for long. That is a path to burnout, discouragement, and a loss of hope. Therefore, the government must offer solutions that can protect society from these feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. From this point of view, 2022 is a decisive year for Ukraine.

It’s unlikely that there’s anyone that can pinpoint exactly how many more pandemic waves we will have to endure before we can say that COVID-19 is defeated.

However, one thing is obvious to everyone: the ability to forget about the quarantine can only come about as a result of a full vaccination cycle for the absolute majority of people. Ukraine has offered its citizens a variety of vaccines to choose from. Not all states can boast of this.

Ukrainians have access to vaccines manufactured by U.S., European, and Chinese companies – all of them are reliable. Our ability to provide booster shots will also be entirely sufficient. We will also provide the most effective medications for the treatment of COVID-19 – all recognized worldwide.

 A trend for 2022 that has already been noticed in economically developed states suggests that societies that lag behind in vaccinations will also lag behind in economic development.

However, the government cannot influence how conscientious people are - to protect themselves and their loved ones, to get the shot.

Therefore, it is imperative for the owners of Ukrainian companies, opinion leaders, leaders of religious communities and just for everyone who is responsible for the well-being of their family to promote vaccination.

 Another area that will require particular effort and, probably, a collaborative defense, is the already-initiated judicial reform – the most courageous effort since independence. This reform is similar to a vaccination, but against corruption and judicial bias. It is already clear: there will be incredible resistance to cleaning out the courts, and more, just starting with dragging out the slightest procedures in an attempt to break the reform through the Constitutional Court. It is very important that society has its say if the time comes for that as well.

 The inevitability of change

 Of course, 2022 will show even greater progress in the transformation of government, in strengthening the financial sector, the National Bank of Ukraine, and anti-graft institutions. The launch of the second tier of the pension system and a genuine stock market, the anti-bureaucratic reforms which over 10 million Ukrainians using the Diia mobile app are already benefiting from, will continue. I think that in a few years, citizens will be able to contact the government without bureaucracy – this is unprecedented for Ukraine and most other countries.

Infrastructure reform is the most ambitious renovation, in the last 50 years, of the entire country. We will not only continue this reform, but also expand it, in particular, to (national railway company) Ukrzaliznytsia. It’s true, however, that the long-term economic effects of the government’s transformation will only be achieved once it’s consolidated by the results of judicial reform.

And the clearest red line will be seen in May 2022 – for those who have believed since the 1990s that the state is their personal property. The anti-oligarch law will come into force. This is the most powerful step in the effort to shine a light on the shadow economy and shadow political relations in Ukraine.

This step has already been taken and it cannot taken back, no matter what the oligarchs do. One can unite in business, but people will no longer forgive any conspiracies and schemes to “sell” the state, and buying politicians in order to hammer out economic privileges for yourself will no longer be tolerated. The law is the same for everyone.

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It is impossible to list in a column all the areas on which the government will focus its attention and efforts. But those already listed demonstrate the main goal – the inevitability of change, so that Ukrainians always have the ability to respond to any blow, whether internal or external. Ukraine’s future depends on the success of 2022.

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