The economic significance of Ukraine has been limited so far to exporting cheap low-skilled labour force to the Central European countries, and to emigration of its scientists and researchers to the U.S., Western Europe and Israel. According to some estimates, almost one tenth of the total populace has left the country.
To this day, Ukraine has been akin to Russia without oil and without gas, but under much heavier influence of oligarchical groups.
There are many of them in the country. Unofficially, they carry names such as the Donbas group, Dnepropetrovsk group, Presidential clan, Kiev group, Rinat Akhmetov clan, Kharkov group, Igor Kolomoysky clan, Poroshenko group, Alexander Volkov clan, et cetera. These groups are directly influencing the government and are deeply involved in politics.
Rule of law in the Western sense has been very weak. In the Corruption Perception Index according to Transparency International, Ukraine ranked 122nd together with, e.g., Sudan, Niger or Bolivia. Hence it is no surprise that foreign investors have shunned the country. Adventure seekers have ended miserably: with heavy financial losses caused by fraudulent practices or exorbitant demands by organised crime groups or clans. In this sense, Ukraine has gained a reputation that is even worse than that of Russia.
Perhaps needless to say, my former employer decided to eschew investing in Ukraine. This decision has probably saved him billions.
Now, there's the question what to do with Ukraine. Honestly: I don't know – and I'm quite happy I haven't covered Eastern Europe since 2007. And no, I don't believe the EU can save Ukraine; the EU has enough troubles with itself.