This main focus of the article is an analysis of Ukraine two decades after it became an independent state through ten factors that have remained constant features of Ukrainian life. The first factor is low public trust in state institutions and the wide gulf between elites and state on the one hand and the public on the other. A second factor is the striving by political forces to monopolize political and economic power for the sake of power and self-enrichment – not for the conducting of reforms. The third factor is threats to democracy under eastern Ukrainian Presidents Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yanukovych. The fourth factor is the low quality and ideological amorphousness of political parties. The fifth factor is the absence of political will and re-occurrence of missed opportunities; a prominent example of which is the Viktor Yushchenko presidency. The sixth factor is the domination of elite greed and rapaciousness over pursuit of the national interest and national security. The most egregious example of this corruption is in the energy sector which western Ukrainians have dominated (It’s a Gas: Funny business in the Turkmen-Ukraine Gas Trade, 2006). A seventh constant factor is the prevalence of virtual over actual policies and the non-fulfillment of domestic obligations which leads to low public trust in state institutions. The eighth factor is an imitation of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures because virtual policies lead to inconsistent and multi-vector foreign policies. Virtual policies make it difficult for European and American governments to engage with the Ukrainian authorities because they rarely fulfill their obligations. The ninth factor is eastern Ukrainian naivety about Russia, regardless of whether it is democratic or authoritarian, that pursues hard-nosed geopolitical goals, a naivety that applies to Kuchma in 1994 as much as to Yanukovych in 2010. The tenth factor, the Russia factor, is Russia’s inability to accept Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity. Both eastern and western Ukrainian have been unable to fashion responsive policies to deal with Russia’s un-acceptance of Ukraine and its hard-nosed geopolitical goals.

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