The Ukrainian economy has struggled to reach its full potential, with a GDP per capita of $3,866 thousands in 2012. Despite recent developments, such as the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukraine's economy remains far behind that of its neighbors, including Russia.
A look at the historical GDP data for Ukraine reveals a pattern of underperformance compared to Russia. Despite being a relatively large country, Ukraine has consistently had a GDP per capita that is about one-tenth of Russia's, with a difference of three to four times in terms of GDP terms per capita.
The reasons for this underperformance are numerous and complex, but it is clear that Ukraine's economy has been closely tied to Russia's, with a sharp decline in GDP per capita during the Russian financial crisis of 1998. The Ukrainian economy was also severely impacted by the global economic crisis of 2008-2009, which resulted in a significant decrease in GDP per capita.
However, recent events, including the annexation of Crimea by Russia and separatist movements in Eastern Ukraine, have prompted Ukraine to look towards the West and integrate its economy with European markets. This shift could lead to a significant improvement in the country's economy, but it will require significant foreign investment, which may not be readily available.
According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts, Ukraine's GDP per capita is expected to reach $5,301 by 2018. This would represent a significant improvement from its current levels, but it is still a relatively modest increase compared to the 30 years that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
One of the biggest challenges facing Ukraine is the mindset of its citizens, who have been waiting for external help for the past 25 years. However, it is important to note that ordinary citizens are not solely responsible for this situation, as they are often used as pawns in mass demonstrations.
For those interested in exploring the Ukrainian economy further, a comparison of GDP in Ukraine vs. Poland may provide additional insights.