Western countries have not supported most of the sanctions imposed by Ukraine. The confusion stems from a lack of clarity on the criteria used for imposing these sanctions—a sentiment echoed both in Ukraine and the West.
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine issues sanctions lists based on classified reports from security agencies. The contents and criteria of these reports are a mystery to both Ukrainian society and Western allies, fueling suspicions of possible corruption.
Curiously, key figures like Vladimir Sivkovich, accused of high treason and aiding Russia with occupation of Ukraine, don't feature on the sanctions list.
Legal manipulations have also hindered the confiscation of assets belonging to former Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko. After the beginning of the full-scale invasion he offered local elites to surrender to Russians in exchange for a ‘secure’ future.
All this suggests that the sanctions process needs an urgent overhaul.
Firstly, it must be more transparent to eliminate any hint of potential corruption. A public register of assets with Russian beneficiaries, if sanctions are imposed for links to them, as well as clear sanctions plan and countermeasures to prevent circumvention of restrictions, must be compiled. This is the case, for example, with Yanukovych's entourage, which openly works for Moscow and helps destroy our country.
Public discussions on high-profile sanction cases and explanations from the agencies responsible for drafting the lists, of which there are only five as per the law, would also be beneficial. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is under pressure from Western partners to reform, plays a key role.
Finally, a mechanism to appeal sanctions must be established. Currently, such a mechanism does not exist, despite instances of unjust or erroneous imposition of sanctions. And those affected cannot do anything about it.
Ukraine's sanctions policy must be based on unequivocal trust and follow the logic. The surprising removal of Greek and Hungarian companies, including OTP Bank, from the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption's (NAZK) list of "international sponsors of war" raises questions. On what grounds are they no longer sponsors of the war?
The government may be recognizing that an indiscriminate "one-size-fits-all" sanctions policy can boomerang, harming the nation and raising corruption suspicions.
If so, it is urgent to establish cooperation on sanctions and coordinate them with Western partners to ensure that sanctions are applied jointly, because this is not the case now either.
The reform of the sanctions mechanism is a potential beacon, signaling to the West the initiation of tangible reforms—the very reforms that the West is now explicitly demanding—rather than mere promises of governmental transparency.