On Wednesday, the Ukrainian authorities struck again at corruption in their country. The target was, among others, one of the richest entrepreneurs in Ukraine and former supporter of President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, Ihor Kolomoiskij. The leadership of the customs authority was also fired.
That shows two things. First, that Ukraine still has a problem with corruption. And secondly, that the President doesn't want to wait until after the war to clean up. Among other things, because it is very important for Kyiv to reassure the West that the large amount of aid money that is currently flowing into the country is not ending up in dark channels.
In fact, Ukraine still struggles with the image of being a deeply corrupt country riddled with oligarchic interests. But these clichés hide the fact that the country has achieved a lot since 2014. The Maidan uprising of the population was not only driven by the desire to become part of the EU, but also a rebellion against the terrible corruption of the regime of then President Viktor Yanukovych.
"The Ukrainians realized that corruption is destroying the state and must end," writes Tymofiy Mylovanov, who, as economics minister, tried to push through necessary reforms and now directs the Kyiv School of Economics.
Despite resistance and setbacks, it has since been possible to introduce transparent procurement procedures for public contracts, to reform the banking sector and to set up a specialized anti-corruption authority. In addition, pressure from civil society remains high, with anti-corruption NGOs and journalists exposing shady dealings.
The current war has brought the problem even more into focus, writes Andrii Borovyk, who heads the Ukrainian office of Transparency International. "Russian aggression has exposed other challenges as well, particularly the need to move forward in fighting the internal enemy - corruption."
Of course, despite some successes, the state administration has not yet got where many Ukrainian citizens would like to see it, namely on a par with the better-governed countries of the EU. But there can be no doubt that the overall trend over the past few years is pointing in the right direction.
The professionalism of the newly rebuilt Ukrainian army is a testament to this, as is the heroic effort of all those public employees who work day after day to rescue injured citizens from homes bombed by Russia and to get destroyed critical infrastructure running again.
The recent corruption investigations should therefore not serve to revert to old stereotypes about Ukraine. Instead, the West should take them as a signal that President Zelenskyy is determined to create a better country. And that he also deserves Europe's support in this area in order to build a strong and sustainable Ukraine together.