Reports from Kiev say opposition party headquarters have been raided by government troops and independent media outlets taken off the air. Meanwhile, in what looked like a conciliatory move, President Viktor Yanukovich said he would meet three former presidents on Tuesday to find a compromise to Ukraine’s rapidly-deteriorating political crisis.
It looks like a high-stakes version of muddle-through, the strategy that has kept Yanukovich in power as Ukraine’s economy has sunk into recession. But how long can the president last? Continue reading »
Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich met Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, at the Winter Olympic resort of Sochi on Friday to discuss “trade-economic cooperation in different economic spheres and preparation to the future Strategic Partnership Agreement,” according to Yanukovich’s website.
A strategic partnership agreement? Really? Yanukovich and his lieutenants have been claiming imminent deals with Russia, China and the European Union for the past few days (our photo shows him in China with premier Li Keqiang before leaving for Sochi). But so far there is no sign of the cash injection Ukraine needs if it is to stave off what some analysts fear is now an imminent threat of a balance of payments crisis and even default. Continue reading »
FT eastern Europe editor Neil Buckley reports from Kiev on the unpredictable political situation following violent clashes between protestors and police at the weekend, the impact of economic recession on the country and the response of Russia and the west.
By Timothy Ash of Standard Bank
For the casual/neutral observer of Ukraine, perhaps based in the EU, the story perhaps looks quite straitforward: the EU/IMF/west needs to pull its finger out and provide enough financing for Ukraine to offset the impact of potential economic sanctions from Russia.
Opinion polls show that a great majority of the Ukrainian people now favour EU integration – 57:14, according to one recent poll – as opposed to hooking back up with Russia in the CIS Customs/Eurasian Union. Ukrainians are braving the elements in street demonstrations in favour of signing with the EU. Surely this should be supported? After all, the sums needed by Ukraine ($15bn-$20bn), appear small change relative to the size and strategic energy importance of Ukraine, compared to the huge size of Euro-periphery bail-outs.
If only things were that simple. Continue reading »
In an opinion piece for the FT, Viktor Yushchenko, former president of Ukraine, argues that the EU has the ability to help Kiev avoid an imperialist nightmare.
The outcome of this week’s Vilnius Summit became known, unfortunately, a week ahead of schedule. The Ukrainian government decided to suspend the five-year old negotiations to secure an ambitious Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. Along with the Ukrainian parliament, the Kiev government has engaged in a dangerous, uncivilised and dishonest political game. Continue reading »
In response to Ukraine suspending talks over a trade and political agreement with the EU, jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has written a letter to president Viktor Yanukovich. Here it is in full.
Dear Viktor Fedorovych,
Today, I can write you a letter with no particular worries.
Viktor Fedorovych, I advise you to convene the National Security and Defense Council as soon as possible, to listen with fatherly attention to all doubts of your government concerning complications in the relations with Russia, to admit that you understand their sincere worries and immediately, at an extraordinary NSDC meeting to take the decision about signing the Agreement.
This is the only chance for you to survive as a politician, because now, when you are killing the Agreement you are making the biggest mistake of your life. Continue reading »
Pointing that way
The jury is still out on how history books will look back at Viktor Yanukovich, the towering 63-year old who rose up from a troubled Soviet childhood in Ukraine’s tough eastern industrial heartland to eventually become president of this independent country of 46m.
His greatest legacy may turn out not to be domestic, but in helping Russian president Vladimir Putin restrict the EU’s eastern border at Poland, leaving much of the eastern edge of Europe within a competing Eurasian Union. Some fear it would be ‘USSR 2.0′. Continue reading »
By Ievgen Vorobiov of the Polish Institute of International Affairs
Ukraine’s decision to “suspend preparations” for signing an Association Agreement with the EU will backfire after the Vilnius summit. The announcement was met with palpable disappointment in the EU and placid lack of surprise in Moscow.
Given the dire economic situation in Ukraine, a lack of agreement with the EU augurs ill for Ukraine’s investment climate and energy diversification. Although the government declared its intention to repair ties with Russia, Ukraine’s exporters cannot discard the challenges of weak demand in Russia, which might unleash a new round of trade wars. Continue reading »
Ukraine has stepped back from the brink of another gas war with Russia and resumed gas imports from its powerful neighbour after a one week lull.
It’s a relief for the EU that relies on Ukraine as a transit hub for most of its Russian imports. But reconciliation of the latest gas spat could be part of a poker game that Moscow and Kiev are playing in the run up to the EU summit in Vilnius. Continue reading »
Time will tell whether Franklin Templeton’s bold $5bn bet on Ukrainian sovereign debt will pay off as handsomely as the US money manager’s play on Ireland in prior years.
We may not have to wait long to find out, judging by the rate at which Ukraine’s central bank reserves and economy at large are deteriorating. Continue reading »
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich sounded deadly serious during a passionate speech he gave on his administration’s commitment to fighting corruption on Wednesday.
Himself accused of corrupt practices for the way he managed to occupy a lavish estate in a Kiev suburb, it was delivered at a World Economic Forum event in Kiev, a gathering to discuss the nation’s future as the EU summit nears in later this month in Vilnius. But hang on: wasn’t the EBRD supposed to be in town to sign a new anti-corruption Continue reading »
The Kremlin, and Russian gas giant Gazprom, must be watching events in Ukraine with a bit of concern.
Not only is Kiev calmly defying Russia’s bullying, steadily moving closer to breaking free of its eastwards geopolitical pull by looking to sign historic free trade and association agreements with the EU in late November, but it is also pushing two new energy deals which could cut sharply the reliance on imports of Gazprom’s gas. Continue reading »
This has been a good week for Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader, and for the country’s chances for forging closer ties with the EU. But it was yet another bad one for investors and businesses on the ground, with Kiev’s cash-crunched central bank imposing fresh controls on foreign currency inflows.
But first the good news. Continue reading »
Sergey Glazyev piles on the pressure
An advisor to Russia’s president warned that Ukraine’s already troubled economy would need a €35bn bailout to avoid default if it signs a free trade and association pact with the EU this November, in a clear sign of fresh pressure on Kiev to back away from western integration and instead join a Moscow-led customs union of former Soviet republics. Continue reading »