Ukraine Is Offering Europe Unique Combat and Technological Experience

emerging europe ukraine

Read the Outlook on Ukraine special report

Ukraine in 2015

Fact box

Population 42.7 million

GDP per capita $2,038

GDP $87 billion

Economic growth -9.9%

Consumption -20.2%

Investment -9.3%

Industrial production -13.0

Retail sales -21.0

Fiscal balance -1.6 of GDP

Bublic debt 79.4 of GDP

Inflation PPI 36%

Exchange rate vs USD 24.03

Exports $35.4 billion

Imports $38.7 billion

External debt 137% of GDP

source: FocusEconomics

Since it obtained full sovereignty from the Soviet Union, in 1991, Ukraine has remained suspended somewhere between the East and the West, being pulled closer to one or the other by various administrations. Now, paradoxically, an important stimulus for defining the future identity of this country of over 40 million has come, with the Russian occupation of the eastern part of Ukraine in 2014.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, spoke to Nikodem Chinowski about the prospects for integration with NATO and the European Union and about the development of the Ukrainian economy, a few days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the country’s independence.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)

Let me start with a very general question — what are the main goals for Ukraine’s current government, in terms of international relations?

Well, I would say that EU and NATO membership is the top objective for the current government but Ukraine’s foreign policy is guided by a number of key priorities.

The strategic goals of Ukraine’s foreign policy include: European and Euro-Atlantic integration; strategic partnerships with the United States of America and the European Union; cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States and the member-states of GUAM (the Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova); active engagement with the UN and other international organisations; an effective participation in the global economy with the maximum protection of national interests and the transformation of Ukraine into a regional power. 

You have named EU and NATO membership as top priorities. Which of those two seems more important for Ukraine? Can one say that military cooperation with the West is currently more important than economic issues and cooperation with the EU?

There is no competition between the European and Euro-Atlantic dimensions of Ukraine’s strategic course towards Europe, that is, as we move towards the choice of a Westernised civilisation as averse to historical Russian values. 

The highest priority remains the ratification and full entry into force of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. At the same time, the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership is an inalienable part of Ukraine’s strategic course towards EU membership and it is an essential element for security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.

The strategic nature of NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership has framed relations and the practical cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, and will continue to do so. Right from the very beginning of the Russian aggression, NATO expressed its firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, at the same time condemning Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea and the ensuing violence and insecurity that Russian and Russian-backed separatists caused in eastern Ukraine. 

Remember that Ukraine, NATO and the EU work together actively in order to bring their people closer to each other, to protect human rights and freedoms and to preserve peace and stability in the common Euro-Atlantic home.

But coming back to your question, I must say that both — economic and military cooperation — are equally important for Ukraine’s people. It’s our fight against Russia’s intervention and domestic democratic reforms.

Let’s now imagine Ukraine as a member state of the European Union — how far into the future must one go to see this image become reality? When can Ukraine expect to be recognised as a candidate for future membership of the European Union? President Petro Poroshenko set the year 2020 as the target for the EU membership application. Do you see this possible or does it seem too optimistic?

Well, on the 27th of February, 2014 the European Parliament passed a resolution that recognised Ukraine’s right to “apply to become a Member of the Union, provided that it adheres to the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law”.

The European Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker said recently that Ukraine would not be part of the European Union for the “next 20 or 25 years”, ahead of a Dutch vote on whether or not Ukraine should be granted an EU association agreement.

The EU leadership has praised the Ukrainian authorities’ efforts to implement constitutional reform, anti-corruption legislation and deregulation reform. Ukraine will carry out the required reforms in order to apply for EU membership. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman predicts that our country will join the EU within the next ten years.

How would you define the biggest obstacles on the way to join the EU? Is a free-trade agreement still any key issue that may block further negotiations?

I would say that some things that could continue to complicate Ukraine’s membership to multinational unions, however, are the presence of pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east and Russia’s control over the peninsula of Crimea. 

Russia is doing its utmost to stop the expansion of the EU’s influence into the east and, hence the promotion of democracy and the principles of a rule-of-law state. Ukraine is still a long way from becoming an EU member but it is already making very significant steps in the right direction, including a long list of internal reforms. Only a major disaster can prevent Ukraine from joining the EU in the coming years.

Now the same as far as NATO is concerned — what is a time-line for Ukraine joining NATO? 

Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and since then they have developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships.  A sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine which is firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law is key to Euro-Atlantic security.

Since 2014, and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, cooperation had been intensified in critical areas. Priority is being given to supports for comprehensive reform in the security and defence area, which is vital for Ukraine’s democratic development and for strengthening its ability to defend itself. In response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO has reinforced its support for capability development and capacity building in Ukraine. 

NATO membership is a strategic goal for Ukraine. Ukraine welcomes NATO’s open-door policy and NATO’s 2008 Bucharest summit’s decision was that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance. We expect that NATO’s door will remain open to “European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership” as it is described in official NATO documents.  We also expect that decisions about enlargement are for NATO itself to make. 

Preparation for a future NATO membership is an important direction for Ukraine’s foreign and domestic policies. The long-term goal of Ukraine is to achieve complete compatibility with NATO and the armed forces of its member states. 

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)

Is there any particular date set by Ukraine’s government?  

There is no timeline established for Ukraine’s plans to join the Alliance. Our first priority is a deep and profound reformation of the country, the institution of European democratic values and the security of the nation.

Why do the EU and NATO need Ukraine in their structures? What are the main profits that Ukraine can offer those organisations? 

NATO and the EU are interested in a democratic, free and independent Ukraine, which is a key factor for Euro-Atlantic security. This is also in the core interests of the Ukrainian people.

It is about not only about what NATO or the EU can do for Ukraine, but also what Ukraine can and already does for Europe. It is important to note that Ukraine has the unique experience of having fought the largest army in Europe. No single European state has yet fought a modernised Russian army. Ukraine has had a successful experience of countering Russian hybrid warfare tactics for the past two years.

We do not expect NATO forces to fight for us. Ukrainian troops are able to defend Ukrainian sovereignty and we have contingency plans for different scenarios in the conflict. However, Ukraine and NATO could be a strong defender of the eastern flank of Europe, together.

We already have a history of successful cooperation in NATO-like joint military exercises. Let me give you the example of the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade that participated in the largest war-games in Poland Anaconda in 2016. We must intensify and develop this combat experience, over both urban and rural terrain, further. The Donbass front (otherwise known as the “ATO”) combines military and police operations; this is different to what NATO armies are trained for. Ukraine can contribute to NATO’s collective security with the combined experience of the Ukrainian troops, security service and military intelligence.

Ukraine is already contributing to NATO and the EU defence. Despite the Russian aggression, we are participating in NATO-led operations such as “Resolute Support” in Afghanistan and KFOR in Kosovo. Ukraine also contributes to the NATO Response Force and to the EU Battlegroups, the Visegrad Battlegroup and the Balkan Battlegroup.

So Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU is aligned with the core interests of Europeans.

So let’s now move to the Ukrainian economy for a moment. At what stage of economic cycle is your economy, in the second half of 2016? Can we expect any rise or decline in terms of GDP? 

Despite the large scale economic crisis, all our efforts in macro financial stabilisation and the development of a good business environment are already producing moderate forecasts for economic growth. We are hoping for at least 1 per cent GDP growth by the end of the year. The forecasts for the next year are brighter. 

I believe that our economy will benefit, already as early as this autumn, from our efforts at reform in the financial sector and our improvements in the business environment. All these efforts to ensuring better conditions will be reflected in next year’s WB Doing Business rating, as a number of legal measures have also been adopted in 2016.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (courtesy of Ukrainian Government)

What is the Ukrainian government’s policy relative to your currency, the hryvnia? What will you do to keep it stable compared to the euro and dollar?

The National Bank of Ukraine is the body responsible for this issue and it has undertaken some extremely ambitious reforms of monetary policy. The bank is moving its policy from controlling the exchange rate to inflation targeting. After the devaluation in 2014-2015 the hryvnia exchange rate has stabilised. I believe that external geopolitical and geo-economics issues today may present the biggest challenges to stability of the currency. 

The stabilisation of the local currency is a key factor in attracting foreign direct investment. How else would you attract FDI to Ukraine? 

The implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), which is part of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, is one of the most important ways to attract foreign direct investment into Ukraine. We are seeing that even just the fact an Association Agreement existing between Ukraine and the EU is drawing interested foreign investors here. 

Another very important issue which I should stress is that our government is working on the creation of Foreign Investment Support Office to help investments from the very beginning up to their successful placement. It is important that we provide macro financial stability and we are in the process of implementing anticorruption and judiciary reform. 

Which sectors might foreign companies find attractive in Ukraine?

I think that almost everybody knows that the most attractive sector of the Ukrainian economy is agriculture. However, we believe that more important features of Ukraine are its creativity and the intellectual capacity of our people. Here, we are talking not only about IT industry but also about science and technologies. 


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Ukraine’s Pro-change Atmosphere Says “Welcome!”

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The Reality in Romania Exposes False Perceptions Of The Country

All for One, and One for All


Anti-corruption Efforts Are the Starting Point for Further Reforms

HSBC Reports CEE Growth Surge in Q3

romania national bank

Ukraine to Restart Privatisation to Realise Profits

Pricatisation electricity ukraine

Office Space Remains Available in Kyiv

Moody’s: CEE Creditworthiness Holding Up

Man's hand holding pen and checking spreadsheet

Protecting Intellectual Property to Encourage Business Confidence

Moldovan Government Hails Business-Friendly Legal Reforms; NGOs Remain Cool

Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, Eastern Europe, 29th June 2017: view to the Parliament Building in Chisinau, Moldova

Czech Land Prices Continue to Increase

farm land

Latvia Urged Not to Increase Expenditure As Economy Grows

Riga, Latvia - August, 2010: Panorama view from Riga cathedral on old town of Riga, Latvia

Global Players Dash for Tempting CEE

dollar pound euro coin on euro background.

Romania’s PM Resigns

BUCHAREST ROMANIA - June 29 2017: Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose during a swearing-in ceremony at Cotroceni palace in Bucharest capital of Romania June 29 2017.

Ukraine’s Gas Industry Risks Stagnation Without Investment

21st century Manufacturing Arrives at Great Stone

Great stone

Europe’s Breadbasket Offers Opportunities for Investment and Diversification

Air Passenger Volumes Reach Record High in the Baltics


Ukraine’s Talented Students Are Well Served by Its Diversified Business Relevant Education

ukraine IT

Serbia, Belarus and Ukraine Ranked Lowly by Wharton Business School

Kyiv Ukraine - April 172017: The postal square in Kiev on Podol the Dnipro river. view of the square from the river panorama

Estonia: Europe’s Little Technological Giant

The Political Economy of Independent Ukraine: Late Starts, False Starts, and Last Chance?

Slovenia: Emerging Europe’s Hidden Giant

ljubljana slovenia

Poland’s New PM Defends Attacks on Justice System

warsaw supreme court

Changes Are Needed in Ukraine’s Economy and Business to Catch up with CEE Growth

UK Economic Growth Slows as Brexit Uncertainty Bites

flags of UK and EU combined over icons of London - Brexit concept

European Commission Withholds 600 Million Euros from Ukraine

kyiv, kiev, ukraine

Belarus Refinery Boss Upbeat Despite Challenges

oil refinery

Steps to Stability Marred by a Failure to Attract FDI

Czech Election Result Could Delay Euro Adoption Until 2025

czech banknotes nominal value two and five thousand crowns on white background. 300 000 Kc is approximately 12 450 US dollars (USD) or 11 100 Euro (EUR)

IMF Urges Croatia to Speed Up Reform


Sarajevo Stock Exchange Connected to SEE Link

sarajevo stock exchange

Škoda too Strong for VW Group

MLADA BOLESLAV CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 30: Skoda Octavia on conveyor line during Doors Open Day at Skoda Auto a.s. factory. Skoda auto celebrated 120 years since its founding on May 30 2015 in Mlada Boleslav.

Erste Group: Public Debt Falling Across CEE

erste group

Estonia Leads Baltics in Cutting Sugar in Food and Drink

PE and VC Investment In CEE Is At an Eight-Year High

venture capital

Bulgarian PM Sets Out Priorities at EPP Group Debate

Prague Czech Republic - February 15 2016: The Prime Ministers of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov is speaking during a press conference after meeting of The Visegrad Group (V4) in Prague Czech Republic.

Toyota Announces 400 Million Zloty Polish Investment


Governmental Support is Vital to Fight Corruption

Why the Baltic States Should Reject the Nanny State

man smoking a cigarette Cigarette smoking Cigarette with smoke

Between the East and West, Geographically and Politically

Changes Are Making Ukrainian Banking More Aligned with International Standards

CEE Nation Brands Still Behind Western Counterparts

TALLINN ESTONIA- JUNE 17: View of the modern high rise buildings on border with an old part of the city on June 17 2012 in Tallinn Estonia

EU Triggers Article 7 Against Poland

CRACOW POLAND - JULY 23 2017: Another day in Cracow thousands of people protest against violation the constitutional law in Poland. Defense of the triad of division of power free election and independence of the highest court in Poland

Ask for Georgian Campaign Set to Expand Abroad

Traditional Georgian carpet. Carpets with typical geometrical patterns are among the most famous products of Georgia.

WEF: Emerging Europe Ready for the Future

robotic machine tool in industrial manufacture plant,Smart factory industry 4.0 concept.

History as Destiny? Institutional Erosion in Ukraine and Poland

Nadiya Savchenko: I Dream of a Great Ukraine

Panorama of the top part of the Andrew's Descent from Castle Hill in springtime in Kiev Ukraine.

EU Membership and Transition into Market Economies Have Helped CEE Achieve Social Progress

Bulgaria and Romania Get EBRD SME Boost

Startup Diversity Teamwork Brainstorming Meeting Concept

Ex-Banker to Become Poland’s Next Prime Minister

Lviv Is the Pearl and the Soul of Ukraine

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey Launch New ‘Silk Rail’ Link

Estonia Posts EU’s Highest Inflation Rate in November

Rising food and grocery store prices is estonia and cost of living concept. Man counting food and consumer goods money with pen, paper and calculator at home. Budget of disadvantaged and low income family.

Emerging Europe Internet Speeds: Could Do Better

3d rendering internet speed meter close up

Poland’s Q2 2017 Growth Is Stronger Than Expected

WARSAW, POLAND - MAY 07, 2016: Building Palace of Culture and Science among the modern buildings of the city

More Brexit Fears As the UK Proves To Be A Needed Member

City of London view from Waterloo Bridge. This view includes: St. Paul`s Cathedral The Gherkin Tower 42 and Blackfriars Bridge.

Why Emerging Europe is the New Darling of Outsourcing

outsourcing Developing programming and coding technologies. Website design. Cyber space concept.

Maidan Three Years On—What Has Changed for Ukraine?

Romanian National Bank Hikes Interest Rates

BUCHAREST ROMANIA - MAY 25 2014: The National Bank of Romania (BNR) building palace designed by Albert Galleron and Cassien Bernard.

Romanians Take to the Streets in New Mass Protest

Mayor: Armenia And Its Capital Yerevan Offer Safe Investment And Tourism To a Growing World

What Went Wrong in Ukraine – And When?

IMF Wants Banking Sector Reform in Western Balkans

croatia national bank

Poland Fails to Spend Billions of Euros in EU Funds

euro banknotes

Non-Financial Reporting No Longer a Secondary Consideration in CEE

Poland’s Flying Circus

airport poland

Romanian Cyber Security Firm Valued at 600 million US dollars in Private Equity Swoop

cyber security

Romania’s Budget Deficit ‘Should Start Alarm Bells Ringing’

BUCHAREST ROMANIA - June 29 2017: Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose during a swearing-in ceremony at Cotroceni palace in Bucharest capital of Romania June 29 2017.

Wizz Air in Huge Polish & Ukrainian Expansion

wizz air a320

Why Was Zapad-2017 So Important?

russian tank belarus zapad

Jadranka Joksimović: Serbia Takes Its Candidacy of the EU Seriously


New Political Crisis Hits Moldova


Fitch And the World Bank: Economic Growth To Remain Solid Within CEE In 2016

TV Still a Star for CME

IMF: Institutions Key to Sustainable Growth


Naftogaz: A Good Start Has Slowed But Optimism Remains High

Closeup of pressure meter on natural gas pipeline with people on the background

Bulgaria Keen on Euro Adoption

FRANKFURT GERMANY - MAY 16 2014: Euro Sign. European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the euro and administers the monetary policy of the Eurozone in Frankfurt Germany.

CEE: Innovate or Get Eaten


HSBC Opens Warsaw China Desk

Romania Warned Again by European Council Over Budget Deficit

romania finance ministry

A Risky Evaluation of Croatia’s Economy?

ZAGREB, CROATIA - JULY 17, 2017: Square Ban Josip Jelacic with tourists and trams on a summer day in Zagreb. City of Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

Business Standards Are High in SEE But Vary Widely

Aerial view of The Cathedral of the Assumption in Varna

Georgian PM Reshapes and Reshuffles Cabinet

Giorgi Kvirikashvili

Effective Policies Have Strengthened the Georgian Economy

TBILISI GEORGIA Jul. 18 2017: Bridge of Peace is a bow-shaped pedestrian bridge a steel and glass construction over the Kura River in downtown Tbilisi capital of Georgia

Belarus Foreign Minister Hails Success of Visa-Free Travel Programme

Great noble deer surrounded by herd.Portrait of a deer, while looking at you.Adult deer with big beautiful horns on snowy field on forest background.

More EU Help for Belarus SMEs

GRODNO BELARUS - DECEMBER 13 2013: Seamstress in textile factory sewing with a industrial sewing machine .

EY: Belarus’ IT Scene Is Thriving

High tech park minsk

Kosovo: A Population of Talented Young Entrepreneurs Waits at Europe’s Door

Mobilising Private Sector Investment in Belarus, Moldova & Ukraine


The Innovation District IT Park Will Help Lviv Become CEE’s IT Hub

IT park lviv ukraine

Economic Confidence Rises Across Eurozone

Leszek Balcerowicz: Ukraine Can Learn from Poland’s Economic History

Romanian Economy Grows Fast in 2017

Brasov cityscape panoramic and aerial view over medieval architecture of Brasov town, in Transylvania Romania

Larisa Manastirli: Where is Bulgaria After Ten Years in the EU?

Longstanding Early Investors Say Ukraine Offers Foreign Manufacturers Great Prospects

ukraine manufacturing

Energy Tariff Reform in Ukraine: Estimated Effects and Policy Options

Growth Continues for State-Owned Azerbaijan Airlines

Azerbaijan Baku - September 16 2015: View of the Heydar Aliyev International Airport sign in Baku Azerbaijan. The airport is the home of Azerbaijan Airlines the national flag carrier.

Armenia Opens New Free Economic Zone on Iranian Border

Bags headgear boxes made of traditional fabrics of Armenian patterns and colors lying on the stalls at the Yerevan market in Armenia

Outsourcing Sector Driving CEE Office & Graduate Demand

wroclaw office

Ukraine Returns to the Fold

LVOV UKRAINE - APRIL 25: Workers masons laid paving stones in the repair of the main street on April 25 2013 in Lviv Ukraine

Lviv Region in Double Logistics Boost

goods train logistics

Chris Lowney — What Jesuit Spirituality Can Teach Us About Global Leadership

Investigations Into the Corrupt Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Sectors

Ukrainian money hryvnia. The national currency. Corruption in Ukraine

Kraków: Officially Emerging Europe’s Most Elegant City

Krakow. Image of Krakow Market square, Poland during sunrise.

Bulgaria Ski Resort Plans Concern WWF

Bansko, Bulgaria - December, 6, 2015: Two Bansko cable car cabins and snow mountains peaks

Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Highlights Riga’s Potential


Business Moving Forward with Cautious Optimism — Can Investors Win the Confidence Game?

Denmark in Ukraine: Fostering a Better Business Climate for Both Sides

‘Viking’ is Yet Another Way to Annoy Ukraine

Croatian Salaries Are Growing in Line With Other CEE Countries

Dubrovnik Croatia emerging europe

Ukraine and Canada: A History of Settlement and a Future for Investment

Hungary Seen as Riskiest Country in CEE


Doing Business Across Eurasia Could Be Easier

Eurasia emerging europe schneider group

Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Boss Survives, For Now

Artem Sytnyk

Trans Adriatic Pipeline Will Fuel Albanian Growth

Xanthi. Greece - July 30 2017: aerial view of construction of gas pipeline Trans Adriatic Pipeline - TAP in north Greece. The pipeline starts from the Caspian sea and reaches the coast of southern Italy

Economy Minister: Internationalisation Is the Key To the Slovenian Economy

Poland Is Set To Become a Large Economic Zone

Aerial view over the building materials processing factory. View from above.

Polish Government in Climbdown on Social Contribution Hike

Poles Still Keen on German Jobs

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in Germany. The Brandenburg Gate is a triumphal arch a city gate in the center of Berlin. It is one of the most known sites in Berlin.

Baltics Seek Lockstep With High Tech States

Euro money: Macro view of euro coin and bill. Suitable for financial, monetary, euro or European Union concepts and ideas

Estcoin: Estonia’s Own Digital Currency?

1 euro coin money (EUR) currency of European Union Estonia over blue background

Romania Cuts Income Tax, Introduces Solidarity Tax

CLUJ NAPOKA ROMANIA - OCT 2 2016: People on the central street of Cluj Napoka - the unofficial capital of Transylvania.

Czech Real Estate Market Is Top CEE Performer

Prague skyscrapers in blue hour with purple sky. Modern building architecture after sunset. Office center in capital city. Czech republic lighting buildings.

Past Troubles Belie the Opportunities for Investment

EU: Consumption Still Driving Growth

  1. A purge of all corrupt practices within government bureaucracy should long ago have been conducted. It is this failure that holds the economy from realizing its true potential. Well the Ukraine slept Poland sent its financial ministers to every capital of the world. There is no excuse for such lapse in planning. Now that Ukraine has hit the jack pot with little green men invading its borders and the people of this great nation must stand firm & unite. The west will not abandon you!

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