Leonid Pasichnik, the acting Head of Lugansk People's Republic (LNR)has been in office for almost one year. With the state of his reforms in LNR, you want to judge him against leaders of countries at peace, not as one that just formed in the middle of a war four years ago.
For the last thirty years, Donbass was neglected in Ukraine. The infrastructure across Ukraine was bad, but in Donbass it was notorious. Key infrastructure like the water supply has been neglected since 1983.
Political Leaders and oligarchs from what would become LNR historically were only interested in what they could take out of the region. Donbass coal and industry historically provided the basis of Ukrainian wealth. No other region contributed as much and no one including Victor Yanukovych had any interest in investing any of that money back in the region to build it up.
Pasechnik is providing a marked difference. During what is still considered nation building, his interim administration is taking the economic and social problems in the newly formed republic head-on.
In the spring of 2018, his administration introduced their five-year socio-economic development plan called "Our Choice." His administration included input from 70,000 LNR residents to make sure people's concerns about the future are addressed as reforms go forward.LNR's Current Outlook
For the last four years, LNR has worked to build a lasting peace. Fulfilling their side of the Minsk Agreements LDNR (Lugansk &Donetsk People's Republics) negotiated with Poroshenko's regime has been a key part deciding what direction the republic is taking. Kiev hasn't attempted to fulfill any point agreed to and tries to use the agreement to beat Russia over the head within the US and the EU.
The often overlooked part of the Minsk agreement in the west is Ukraine is not negotiating with Russia. Russia is a guarantor for the agreement the same as the EU is, nothing more. If Poroshenko had any intention of reintegrating Donbass, Ukraine would negotiate in good faith and keep its word. This hasn't happened.
Because of this, Pasichnik's government recognizes the fact that until the government in Ukraine changes, real negotiation and progress remain impossible. For Ukraine to be taken seriously, decentralization in the form of federalization will have to take place. Ukraine will also have to start creating the conditions for building an economy in all its regions.
Even in view of this LNR has consistently fulfilled its part of the Minsk agreements.The West's Shortsighted Spectacle
Unfortunately, even recent history shows there is no reason to take any offer Ukrainian nationalists make or are part of negotiating seriously. Poroshenko is only after sound bites and not substance. Pravy Sektor nationalist leader Dimka Yarosh has announced he is pulling his troops away from the front line to monitor Ukrainian elections. Ultra-nationalists monitoring elections? Yeah, this should go well.
In a recent interview with Ukrainian "Novoye Vremya," Condoleezza Rice commented it was "bad" that the world was starting to believe Russia's version of what was going on in Donbass.
At the end of the day, world leaders still have to believe somebody. After four years of looking at the diplomatic and economic train wreck, Ukraine has evolved into, they have no reason to believe Ukraine.
Instead of becoming the promised European model they could all look to, Ukraine has taken away every safety net even marginal civilizations provide for their people. Manufacturing is gone and instead of working through internal issues, the new government attacked its powerhouse region in Donbass. LNR and DNR provided a lion's share of wealth because of the coal industry and manufacturing. The nation's most important engineering universities are ensconced in the capitals because of this.
That isn't something the EU or the rest of the world can take lightly. With no possibility of recovery in the near to mid future, Ukraine's only hope is to find work in Europe. Ukrainians making it to Europe are finding low paying bottom tier work as well as the illegal sex trade.
Under Donald Trump, there is no reason to believe the US would be willing to take in violent nationalists from a country that tried to destroy his candidacy and his presidency.