Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its partners have provided billions of dollars of financial aid to Ukraine. But Ukraine doesn’t need more money from the United States. It’s a wealthy country. What Ukraine needs is America’s assistance in unleashing its own natural wealth, much of which is currently locked up in the country’s land.
Ukraine remains one of six nations in the world where selling land is forbidden. It shares this dubious distinction with North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Tajikistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As newly inaugurated President Volodymyr Zelensky identifies priorities for his administration, the United States has an opportunity to support reforming Ukraine’s land ownership system. In addition to being valuable to Ukraine, doing so would be consistent with the Trump administration’s foreign assistance and development philosophy—rather than providing direct financial aid, the administration seeks to support U.S. partners in unshackling their own economies, making them both more self-sufficient and more prosperous.
The World Bank estimates that lifting the moratorium on land sales in Ukraine would add some $15 billion to Ukraine’s economy, more than 10 percent of the country’s annual GDP. Others estimate that effective land reform could generate up to $100 billion in foreign investment within years.
Once its potential is unleashed, Ukraine could become an agricultural superpower and a partner for the United States in ensuring global food security, while simultaneously earning Ukraine massive export revenues, creating new jobs, and attracting large amounts of foreign investment.
All of this potential raises the question: Why hasn’t Ukraine unleashed its agricultural potential, and why should the Trump administration act now to support land reform in Ukraine?