For those that do not know what is going on in Ukraine, it is quite simple.
Ukraine has been on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) lifeline for years and as of now, their debt is about $25 billion. In November, Ukraine seemed one step away from signing a trade agreement that would join them to the European Union. As a result, it would give them the benefits of the common market and giving Ukrainians the liberty of working outside Ukraine as many of them already do. But Putin had made sure President Viktor Yanukovych would walk away from that agreement by offering Ukraine’s government enough money to cover up their $9 billion debt obligations for 2014.
Since November of last year, there have been protests happening largely in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev. Yanukovych is the reason for the mess. What is at the core of the protests is the issue that the population of Ukraine want to join the EU and become full members. However, the government ran by Mr. Yanukovych, found that Vladimir Putin’s offer of 15 billion dollars bail-out for Ukraine was too good to be true. Since then the question has been a short term solution to a growing debt problem or long term stability. After months of protest, violence, even savage shootings in the capital, Viktor Yanukovyuch has fled to what is presumed to be Russia, with charges of mass murder looming over his head.
Ukraine now has a chance to get rid of the corrupt post-Soviet democracy, and in turn trade it for the more authentic kind.
The problem now is that tension is rising between Ukrainians who want the revolution and those that reject it. By no means is Ukraine not a part of Europe, in fact it borders four EU members. Therefore, Europe an obligation to help their fellow country out.
The first thing that must happen in Ukraine is that it needs a stable democratic, national government. The temporary leaders have placed into power for the time being, until May, by the parliament, who is known as the Rada. However, the reason why they need a legitimate government is that the Rada is just as corrupt as Yankovyuch, moreover, Yankovyuch acted as a puppet for the Rada. Protesters have pointed out the corruption within the Rada, which can partly be seen in their desire to accept Russia’s bail-out offer. Therefore, it’s important that the elections in May are not rigged, which would likely mean that the EU would have to track the polls to make sure it is a fair election. Ukraine will have to choose a side and stay, but intertwining between two different views will eventually lead to another outbreak by the population.
The crux of the issue is that the government and its people must be in sync, as obvious as that sounds.
The next important item on the list for Ukraine’s liberalisation is that they must obtain money. The aforementioned $25 billion dollar bail-out is what Ukraine needs to stay alive, and it would come in two doses. One to cover the country until its elections and the other in the form large multi-year package loan from the IMF. The multi-year package would have many conditions. A primary condition would be that they must eliminate corruption within the government itself. Other conditions may include Ukraine depreciating its overvalued currency, and reducing their energy subsidies. A perfect scenario would be for the temporary government to begin these reforms so that the load may be taken off the elected government. The EU may help too, by providing help and an incentive for Ukraine, perhaps with the prospect of full EU membership.
All of this should be done with the intent of achieving an end result that is mutually beneficial for all parties, rather than a solution that pokes a flustered Vladimir Putin with a stick. Russia is perhaps already preparing to annex Crimea, which was gifted to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954. Russian military bases are located around Crimea as it has easy access to the Black Sea. On February 27th, Russia seized control of the peninsula, not allowing any Ukrainians to leave or to come in. This may be a retaliation by Russia for the IMF had not allowed Russia to sell its natural gas at a cheaper price to the Ukrainians. Both countries benefited from the corruption within themselves to allow lower market trading, which gave Ukraine, who was already on a tight budget, cheaper gas. Russia would then buy the loyalty of Ukraine, separating them from the EU. Eventually building up to their idea of establishing the Eurasian Union. Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, is a fitting example of how he will not go down without a fight. He has made it clear that will do his utmost to make sure Ukraine does not become an independent democracy. It is even more imperative now for the EU and the West to help Ukraine out now. But the media has painted a division between those who believe they can have a better government, and those who are simply satisfied with a corrupt government is the best they can get. However, the situation is far from being black and white. It is distinctly grey. Despite all of the uncertainty, what is clear is that Ukraine must create an honest government devoted to its people, as cliché as that sounds. But first, we need to get them out of the no-man’s land.