As his predecessors have done, on June 16 Ukrainian prime minister Volodymyr Groysman visited the US to meet officials and representatives of international organisations and institutions in Washington, DC – despite the Obama Administration’s concern that Ukraine is running out of time to establish a prosperous, Europe-facing democratic republic.

Mr Groysman’s talks with American officials centered on the political situation in Ukraine, including relations with Russia, which occupies the Crimean Peninsula, part of eastern Ukraine. The prime minister received a pledge from US Vice-President Joe Biden on behalf of the US for $220m in new economic assistance, pending Congressional approval, to support Ukraine’s economic, political and energy reforms. 

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During an interview at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Mr Groysman called for continued economic sanctions against Russia until Crimea is returned to Ukrainian control. He stressed that economic reform and Ukraine’s ability to attract foreign direct investment must be tied to ending corruption. “We can only assume stability if we attract FDI,” he said.

The fight against corruption

Mr Groysman also mentioned a new Anti-Corruption Bureau, which he worked on while speaker of Ukraine’s parliament. “From August 15, we will start the new electronic declaration of property registration and open the real property registry to display the properties of officials,” he said. “We have also launched reforms for access to public procurement and deregulations of the energy sector that enables investment.”

He expects imminent parliamentary approval of large-scale judicial reforms. “We are also going to reform the courts because they are the weakest link in the fight against corruption,” he added.

Other reforms include easing the national bank’s currency restrictions and overhauling Ukraine’s customs service. Mr Groysman announced that that before July 1, the government will eliminate unnecessary customs inspections. “This will improve import and export operations,” he stressed.  

Mr Groysman, an ally of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, came to power in April and replaced Arseniy Yatsenyuk who resigned after coming under fire amid Ukraine’s worsening economy, slow pace of reforms and stalling International Monetary Fund aid. Mr Groysman is 38 years old and Ukraine’s 16th prime minister since the country achieved independence in 1991.