The West is flagging in what should be clear to all is an existential threat from Putin to our very system of government.

Our leaders need to wake up.

But with US support for Ukraine stuck in Congress and now complications emerging around European support for Ukraine, a few things are worth highlighting here:

First, perhaps more important than the money is the EU accession anchor for Ukraine. It has not developed over the past thirty odd years of independence, unlike the likes of Poland, the Czech Republic, et al as it lacked that anchor. It’s key to provide the blueprint for reform and KPIs linked to delivery on acquis. Reform in Ukraine will not happen unless the country is given real EU accession perspective.

Second, on the money, well I have long argued that the Western taxpayer will not pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction. So where will the money come from? If a) This project is the number one strategic project for the West, post 91’ - it is, or should be - we have to find the money. b) The Western taxpayer won’t pay - see above; c) See point b, but then if this is a public good for the West - it is - the private sector won’t pay.

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Net net all this returns to the point that the only source of funds for supporting Ukraine’s victory in the war and post war reconstruction is tapping frozen Russian assets.

Third, actually on the private sector involvement, if it is going to step up I think we need still to go back to creating the right institutional framework around recovery and reconstruction. And it’s still not there. There needs to be a specific institution to plan, manage, coordinate and finance Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction. The private sector would partner up with such an entity and fund its activity if it was seen as a credible institution backed long term by Western shareholders.

Poland and Ukraine Sign Security Agreement
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Poland and Ukraine Sign Security Agreement

Intriguingly, the agreement refers to “cooperation in shooting down and countering air attacks” from Russia heading towards Poland. Will this help protect the skies over western Ukraine?

Fourth, related to three perhaps is the lack of real leadership in the West now on Ukraine is simply shocking. And this affirms my view that there needs to be a financial Ramstein - and an Agency for Ukrainian Reconstruction and Accession (AURA) to the EU.

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It’s like banging one’s head against a wall on all issues related to Ukraine - frozen Russian assets, institutional framework around recovery and reconstruction.

Across the board the West has been too slow, too timid in its approach to Putin’s war on Ukraine, whether that is in the supply of arms to sanctions, utilising frozen Russian assets, to creating the right institutional setting around recovery and reconstruction. It’s always been last minute, drip feed support for Ukraine and a failure to see the big strategic picture - what happens if Putin wins in Ukraine? Think through that and what that would mean for Western security.

We need better leadership here. We need AURA as above and a leaders of such an entity with a real aura and a political heavy weight to champion this cause - Ukraine’s cause. I would have said a Tony Blair style character if he had not been destroyed by his Iraq war debacle. But maybe a Mario Draghi, David Lipton, Carl Bildt - people who know how the Western corridors of power work, and know finance.

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In all this we need that someone not only to lead the Ukraine support effort and to champion the cause but to spell out why a Ukrainian victory is so important. And I would argue two points here.

First, Putin and Russia are an existential threat to our very system of government. If he wins not only will European security be at risk - where will Russian tanks head next - and defence spending will have to massively increase. But our system of Western Liberal Market Democracy will be at threat from within (from Russian agents) and without - a resurgent Russia and a China which will see weakness and opportunity.

Second, what does a Ukrainian defeat look like? Think mass - tens of millions - of migrant flows to Europe, a failed state in Ukraine which is now the best armed country in Europe, barring Russia. People and arms will flood into the rest of Europe. And that is a recipe for broader regional instability and insecurity and a breeding ground for populism, again.

Reprinted from @tashecon blog. See the original here.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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