Devolution or decapitation? Decentralization during conflict in Ukraine

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Decentralization in Ukraine is lauded as the most successful of the country’s reforms. The devolution of power to local government has not been without controversy; however, as decentralization proceeded during the war in Donbas. This article critiques Ukrainian’s decentralization based on two promises of this reform: the weakening of oligarchic power and the empowerment of Ukrainians. Utilizing a feminist political economy framework, with relational ontological commitments, this paper argues that decentralization has, rather, empowered Ukrainian elites while marginalizing vulnerable groups during the war. To address political disempowerment and/or economic inequality, this paper concludes, decentralization must address the totality that structures social relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-38
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • decentralization
  • feminist
  • political economy
  • relational
  • Ukraine

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