It appears that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's time has almost run out: Kiev has failed to deliver on its promises to fight against corruption, an influential Brussels-based think tank, the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS), says.
"Almost three years after the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine's leadership has fallen woefully short in delivering on its promises to fight against corruption within the judiciary, clean up political party financing and decentralize government functions," Hrant Kostanyan of CEPS wrote.
The scholar called attention to the fact that Ukrainian oligarchs have been playing first fiddle since the so-called Euromaidan revolution. They have managed to obstruct the implementation of crucial reforms, he argues.
"The lesson for the EU is clear. Progress on paper in Ukraine should not be rewarded. Having a government that calls itself pro-European is not an excuse for leniency on corruption," he stressed.
The scholar drew parallels between Ukraine and Moldova, insisting that Brussels "ought to do everything in its power to avoid a repeat in Ukraine of the sad saga that played out in Moldova."
According to Kostanyan, although Moldova has long been supported by the EU, Chisinau failed to end corruption and, as a result, "damaged not only its own credibility but that of the EU as well."
Indeed, the Moldovan presidential election in November 2016 resulted in the victory of Igor Dodon, who promoted re-establishing closer relations with Russia.
Speaking to Sputnik last Wednesday Moldovan President Dodon underscored that the EU Association agreement has not improved Moldovan positions in the bloc and that many Moldovans were "disappointed with the geopolitical vector of European integration."
"I told the same to our European friends and partners: over the past two years of the EU Association Agreement implementation the situation in Moldova has worsened by almost all economic indicators. Such conclusions could be made on the basis of the international structures' data and the Corruption Perceptions Index, according to which we lost 20 positions," Dodon told Sputnik.
According to Dodon, Moldova and the EAEU is due to ink the framework agreement in Chisinau in April. He specified that the agreement does not contradict other international deals signed previously by Moldova.
Needless to say, Brussels wants to evade a repeat of a Moldovan scenario in Ukraine at all costs.
"The EU's assistance should go to those who fight for a corruption-free European Ukraine and not to those who merely declare themselves as European but act as a 'wolf in a sheep's clothing'," Kostanyan highlighted in a clear reference to the Ukrainian elite.
"The EU should not accept the assertions of high-level Ukrainian officials that the country has made huge strides in the last three years, compared to the decades following independence," he wrote.
According to the scholar, the EU "must insist" that the Ukrainian elite shift their focus on fighting corruption, otherwise Brussels "should be ready to withdraw its support from Ukraine."
Speaking to RT Andrei Manoylo, a member of the scientific committee of the Security Council of Russia, suggested that CEPS' tough rhetoric may indicate that Brussels does not want to bear the burden of financing Ukraine instead of Washington.
"Under [Barack] Obama [Washington] supported Ukraine by sending tranches through the US-controlled International Monetary Fund. But [US President Donald] Trump has already announced that Ukraine is Europe's problem, not that of Washington. Now Europeans will have to seek money to fund Kiev from their own pocket," Manoylo explained.
The crux of the matter is that pumping funds into oligarch-controlled Ukraine is a waste of money, and Brussels knows it, the Russian expert remarked.
According to Manoylo, Brussels has become disenchanted with Poroshenko, whom it sees as yet another Ukrainian oligarch.
"It seems that the EU has begun casting for the role of the President of Ukraine, which could be completed by the end of spring," Manoylo said.