Ukraine has become a different country over the past decade. Compared to the closed post-Soviet oligarchy that it was before the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine is now an open society governed as a vibrant democracy that responds to a deep-seated public mandate to chart a European future unencumbered by domestic corruption or Russian imperialism. In collaboration with civil society and with firm support from foreign partners, the Ukrainian government has built a politically independent suite of specialized anti-corruption agencies, with separate bodies responsible for preventing, investigating, prosecuting, and ruling on cases of grand corruption. Kyiv also decentralized governance to empower local communities, restructured entire sectors of the economy plagued by corruption, and instituted world-leading systems of transparency across the political-economic system. Just as much reform still needs to be accomplished over the next decade, as Ukraine was only halfway through a generational process of permanently uprooting oligarchy when Russia sought to put an end to the progress Ukrainian democracy was making by fully invading the country in February 2022.
While impressing the world with its ability to mobilize forces capable of fending off Russia’s far larger military, Kyiv has at the same time continued its anti-corruption journey—notwithstanding some notable setbacks to public transparency under martial law. The Ukrainian government has channeled the reform dynamism of the past decade into planning for a transparent and accountable process of recovery and reconstruction.
In preparation for the influx of the hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid needed to rebuild Ukraine—the price tag driven up by the Russian war
crime of targeting civilian infrastructure—Ukraine has undertaken a sweeping reorganization of the departments and agencies responsible for restoring national infrastructure. To support accountability and coordination, several existing institutions have been merged and reorganized into new bodies:
- The Ministry for Restoration, led by Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, represents a merger of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development. It oversees national restoration and major recovery projects, from setting strategic plans to maintaining key data ecosystems.
- The Agency for Restoration, headed by Mustafa Nayyem, is a reorganized form of the State Road Agency, or Ukravtodor, which in the past had been coordinated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and is now coordinated by the Ministry for Restoration. It is the key implementation agency for reconstruction projects and is responsible for organizing and procuring materials and supplies for restoration works.
To organize itself for a modern Marshall Plan, Ukrainian government authorities also established new positions for a deputy prime minister, deputy minister, and deputy oblast heads to enhance coordination and cooperation among other essential ministries—economy, finance, digital, environment, and others—as well as the newly created institutions, regional administrations, the Cabinet of Ministers,
and the President’s Office. Some 15 oversight and enforcement bodies will contribute to accountability in recovery and reconstruction, with none more vital for safeguarding the process from corruption than the specialized anti-corruption agencies. The rebuilding of Ukraine could also feature unprecedented transparency if the authorities and donors insist on widespread usage of a new information platform co-designed by Ukrainian civil society and the Ministry for Restoration to manage reconstruction projects and match donors with beneficiaries: the Digital Restoration Ecosystem for Accountable Management, or DREAM. Ukraine is also developing other transparent IT solutions, such as the Register of Damaged and Destroyed Properties.
Ukraine is off to a running start in mobilizing its governing capacities for a transparent and accountable recovery and reconstruction process. This should tee up strong Ukrainian ownership over the process, which is both the right thing—because it is their country—and the key to using rebuilding as a strategic opportunity to deepen critical institutional capacities.
At the same time, Ukraine will require a great deal of international assistance, which should be conditioned upon its continuing to deliver governance reform milestones, starting with the anti-corruption and rule of law benchmarks the EU, IMF, and G7 set over the past fifteen months. In the year ahead, policy priorities for Ukraine and international donors should focus on three areas:
- Governance Capacity: Donors should work with Ukraine to develop shared reconstruction strategies and plans, and aid in their implementation where they are already developed. Opportunities for corruption that come with such a large concentration of spending will impose a heavy burden on the specialized anti-corruption agencies, which require additional resources and authorities.
- Transparency: Donors should insist on usage of the DREAM ecosystem and integrate their own procurement data into this and other transparency infrastructure that is already in place or is currently being developed by Ukrainians. Donors should start this now while DREAM is still being finalized and there is still time to modify parameters to maximize international compatibility. Ukraine should reimpose the transparency requirements that went into moratorium under martial law.
- Accountability: External audit, control, and investigation authorities such as inspectors general at donor agencies need to coordinate international efforts on the ground in Kyiv and deepen collaboration with Ukrainian bodies such as the specialized anti-corruption agencies.
The kind of Ukraine that emerges from this war—the extent to which it will be a robust democracy grounded in the rule of law and ready for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions—will depend greatly on the way Kyiv and its international partners rebuild the country. Getting this process right will require Ukraine and its foreign partners to build on the solid momentum in Kyiv to deepen governing capacities and ensure transparency and accountability.
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