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    Ukrainian former interim prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov. File photo.

    Can Ukraine Carry Out Reforms Amid Civil War?

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    Ukrainian former interim prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov stated that struggle by Ukrainian authorities for reform is premature, as Kiev must first put an end to the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine.

    MOSCOW, February 2 (Sputnik) The struggle by Ukrainian authorities for reform is premature, as Kiev must first put an end to the armed conflict in southeastern Ukraine, the country's former interim prime minister, Serhiy Arbuzov, said Monday.

    "Reforms must not be the focus when people are being killed. … However, the Ukrainian government seems to have a different view — that future well-being is more important than people's lives today," Arbuzov told RIA Novosti.

    The former official added that Ukraine undoubtedly needs reform, but stressed that it "cannot be combined with military action."

    Kiev forces and pro-independence militias in the country's southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been engaged in an armed conflict since April 2014.

    Independence supporters refused to recognize Ukraine's pro-Western government that came to power in a February 2014 coup vowing to implement structural economic and legal reforms necessary for the country's European Union membership bid.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the Kiev government could have prevented violent conflict in eastern Ukraine but they failed to do so, Serhiy Arbuzov, who was Ukraine's interim prime minister before the February 2014 pro-Western coup, said Monday.

    "It is the president and the government that [could] prevent the escalation of the conflict and find a peaceful solution to the increasing tensions in eastern Ukraine and propose it to the citizens. But they have not done so. It is their fault," Arbuzov told RIA Novosti.

    He added that the country's current conflict will take more than just negotiations to settle.

    "Over the span of several days in January, the tensions in eastern Ukraine that arose in late 2014 turned into a violent conflict. I have no doubt that this conflict is protracted, and it will be difficult to settle it only via talks," Arbuzov said.

    He said that the situation should be understood correctly by the media, pointing out that it was Ukrainian citizens fighting for Donetsk and Luhansk, which highlights the necessity for dialogue without military confrontation.

    The state of emergency in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions, introduced by Kiev last week, is dishonest and is being used by authorities to evade public and media scrutiny of the country's ongoing conflict, Serhiy Arbuzov said Monday.

    "I believe this 'emergency situation' is an attempt to demonstrate the concern the prime minister, the government are showing to the population. In fact, this is PR, a guise," Arbuzov told RIA Novosti.

    The former official argued that by declaring a state of emergency, Ukrainian authorities are evading public and media control, creating an opportunity "to blame the authorities' unclear or unproductive decisions on the emergency situation."

    "In this regard, what is happening in the country now is imitation of activity, manipulation of the social conscience," Arbuzov concluded.

    The state of emergency in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions, introduced by Kiev last week, is dishonest and is being used by authorities to evade public and media scrutiny of the country's ongoing conflict, Arbuzov said.

    "I believe this 'emergency situation' is an attempt to demonstrate the concern the prime minister, the government are showing to the population. In fact, this is PR, a guise," Arbuzov told RIA Novosti.

    The former official argued that by declaring a state of emergency, Ukrainian authorities are evading public and media control, creating an opportunity "to blame the authorities' unclear or unproductive decisions on the emergency situation."

    "In this regard, what is happening in the country now is imitation of activity, manipulation of the social conscience," Arbuzov concluded.

    Ukraine lost around $6 billion in 2014 after suspending economic relations with Russia, Serhiy Arbuzov stated.

    "Ukraine lost about $6 billion last year, due to the fact the country's authorities do not attempt to restore or build new economic relations with Russia," Arbuzov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

    Arbuzov added that Russia is gradually withdrawing from the Ukrainian market with minimum losses, while Ukraine is losing solid foreign investment.

    According to the former interim prime minister, the Ukrainian economy will not be able to continue without foreign funding.

    "Given the suspension of relations between Russia and Ukraine, including […] retail, Ukraine has lost about one third of export that came from Russia, and export from Europe was able to replace these losses only by 20 percent," Arbuzov claimed.

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    Tags:
    reforms, ceasefire, Serhiy Arbuzov, Lugansk Region, Ukraine, Donetsk Region
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