Only Ukrainians Can Change Ukraine, West Can Only Help

December 15, 2017

On 11 December 2017, Chatham House, Razumkov Centre and the Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have held a joint event in the conference hall of the latter, where a report of the British think tank Chatham House was presented titled "The Struggle for Ukraine".

The Struggle for Ukraine report and the Ukrainian Forum started by Chatham House have two goals. Firstly, to fill the gap the West has, which is the lack of knowledge about Ukraine. Even today, there is not enough knowledge about Ukraine in the West, and those who do have this knowledge, need to refresh it, as most view Ukraine through the prism of Russia. Ukraine is a part of Western countries' Russian policy. Most leading Western experts are specialists in Russian issues. And even when they are not happy with Putin, Russia, and its foreign policy, they still mostly use Russian stereotypes about Russia's neighbours as guidance. In order to change this we, first, provide a platform for objective studies and meetings, as well as an information database on Ukraine. And second, we are trying to act as a mirror for Ukrainians themselves. This can be useful for solving your own internal issues. The report covers both these areas. In the past 20 years, I have spent a lot of time in Ukraine, so I believe I understand how Ukrainians think. Among other things, I am concerned that Ukrainians underestimate their potential.

Besides, you need to realise that Ukraine is able to accomplish the most daring tasks. The West can only help. If the country has no desire to transform and modernise its power institutions and government system, the West cannot do it for you. We treat Ukraine as an independent sovereign state, thus, we cannot manage it. We can only create conditions. For example, we can say: if you fail to reform customs, which is known for its corruption, we will not fund this or that programme. And then it is up to you. So, the Ukrainians that are saying: "Give us support so we can win the war, and then we will reform", in my opinion, fail to grasp the problem that the country is facing.

More information on the report can be found at:

James Sherr

Visiting Senior Fellow

2010–date: Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

2008–2010: Head, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

1995–2008: Fellow, Advanced Research & Assessment Group, UK Defence Academy

1986–2008: Lecturer in International Relations, Lincoln College Oxford

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