As Kyiv Slashes Spending, the Economy’s Real Shrinkage This Year May Be 10, Not 6, PercentThe International Monetary Fund last month threw what looks like a much-improved financial lifeline to Ukraine—and indeed, the new loan program is welcome help for a desperate need. But a check on the math of one prominent IMF realist suggests that the cost of the overall aid package could be a Ukrainian economic shrinkage this year of an extremely painful 10 percent—much more than the IMF predicts publicly.
Putin’s War is Not Over Donbas, but a New Russian EmpireAccording to Vladimir Putin, Crimea and Ukraine are where the spiritual sources of Russia’s nationhood lie. And he “always saw the Russians and Ukrainians as a single people. I still think this way now.”
People observing the crisis triggered by Putin’s aggression against Ukraine therefore ought to understand what these words mean. Quite simply they mean that for Putin—and for much of Russia as well, even without the constant incitement of Kremlin propaganda—there is no such thing as a separate Ukrainian people, national identity, culture, or history. Seen through this Russian lens, the concept of a Ukrainian state independent of Russia is at best a legend or fantasy. At worst it incarnates a threat to the very existence of the Russian state. And obviously Moscow will meet that threat with violence.
“What is happening now is preparations for a renewed offensive from the east,” and this could take place following Orthodox Easter, on April 12, and “most probably” before VE Day on May 8, Clark said, citing multiple local sources he spoke with on a recent fact-finding mission to Ukraine.
“That’s what all the talking is about right now, preparing the cover for the next attack,” he said.
Finally, Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan Revolution was the trigger that led Putin to exploit that country’s post-revolutionary weakness by invading Crimea and eastern Ukraine in the hope of promoting Russia’s empire and consolidating his regime.
Dnipropetrovsk’s Kolomoyskyi: Patriotic, Corrupt, Threatening—Or All Three?Ukrainian billionaire politician Ihor Kolomoyskyi resigned today as governor of Ukraine’s strategically critical Dnipropetrovsk province after clashing with the central government and parliament over control of two state-owned oil-sector companies. In that clash, Kolomoyskyi last week sent troops of an armed militia he controls to occupy the Kyiv headquarters of Ukrtransnafta, the country’s main pipeline operator.
Kolomoyskyi has been both an asset and a risk for Ukraine’s government, spending his money and political capital to make his province a firm bulwark against the Russian-sponsored insurgency in neighboring Donetsk. But his power, which includes a bloc of deputies in parliament, extends far beyond his province and in some respects has rivaled that of the central government. Civic and pro-democracy activists have said he is a prominent source of political corruption.
Europeans do not want to undermine Minsk II, says analystEuropean Union leaders meeting in Brussels on March 19 are unlikely to either ramp up or lift sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, says Edward W. Walker, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.
“It’s very likely that the EU will decide on the 19th to kick the can down the road,” Walker said in an interview with the New Atlanticist.
“It does not want to undermine whatever chance the Minsk II agreement has of being implemented,” he added, referring to the ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels.
A Criminal Case Could Turn the City’s Political Strongman Back into a Kremlin Ally
In Russia’s campaign to re-assert control over Ukraine, a logical target for its “hybrid war” is Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and a center of its Russian-speaking population. And indeed, Russia has been working steadily to destabilize Kharkiv (just 25 miles from Russia’s border) as it has done the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, further south.
Russian-backed separatists have organized public demonstrations in favor of a pro-Russian “Kharkiv People’s Republic,” and dozens of bombs have exploded in the past year, often targeting groups working for Ukraine’s continued independence from Russia. The bombings have accelerated, with seven “terrorist attacks” in the city this year, according to Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine says it has arrested members of a group called the Kharkiv Partisans that officials say is backed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (or FSB, formerly the KGB secret police agency).
Kyiv Has Begun the Hard Steps of Reform; IMF and Allies Must Now Deliver Quickly
The dramatic plunge last month in the value of the hryvnia, Ukraine’s currency, sparked speculation about an immediate, national economic collapse. Despite the drama—the hryvnia lost more than half of its value against the dollar in February, hitting a record low of 33.75 before regaining (to 23 to the dollar)—a close look at Ukraine’s financial numbers shows that panic is unfounded.