EU-Ukraine Summit assesses membership potential

New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will host European Union leaders in Kiev today for the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit. The Ukrainian

Ukraine

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New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will host European Union leaders in Kiev today for the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit.

The Ukrainian parliament amended the constitution in February to confirm the country’s goal of obtaining full EU and NATO membership—committing Kiev to submit a request for EU accession by 2023. Extensive reforms are crucial to achieving those goals; Brussels will review Kiev’s efforts today.

A key test of anti-corruption reforms will be how the president handles the powerful oligarchs that control most of the economy, own most major media outlets and influence parliament.

In particular, eyes will be on Zelensky’s handling of Igor Kolomoisky—a major supporter of the president throughout his election campaign. Mr Kolomoisky is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the government over the nationalisation of a bank he owned in 2016. Both sides are seeking damages against the other, and Kolomoisky wants back control of the bank.

Victory for Kolomoisky would endanger multi-billion dollar assistance for Ukraine from the IMF and other western backers. If Zelensky is seen to favour Kolomoisky in his case, EU-Ukraine relations will be strained under his presidency and EU/NATO accession would almost certainly be out of the question.

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