Thursday, May 28, 2009

International Politics: Ukraine on The Brink

David J. Kramer and Damon Wilson write on Foreign Policy:

Russia has always had a knack for overshadowing its neighbors - and this time the West, focused on Moscow, is distracted from a crisis in Ukraine. As U.S. President Barack Obama gears up to "reset" Russia relations, Ukraine is in disarray. The country is teetering between economic collapse, Russian influence, and vague promises of Western support. It will take decisive moves from Washington to help pull Ukraine back from the edge. At the least, Obama should visit ailing Ukraine and prove that good relations with Russia don't meant forgetting the rest of the region.

Economic decline is largely to blame for Ukraine's perilous predicament. The country paid heavily for of its massive corporate foreign debt, failure to push through serious economic reform, and unwillingness to clean up a terribly corrupt energy sector. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank forecast an 8 to 9 percent drop in GDP this year, and that might be a conservative estimate; the economy has contracted some 30 percent in the first quarter alone. Ukraine's currency, the hryvnya, has fallen 40 percent against the dollar. Unemployment may reach 10 percent and mass protests are not out of the question -- especially in the troubled east.

More here.

Note: Actually, U.S. engagement in The Ukraine is more important than ever -- and given the fact that U.S. Cyber Security Policy is on everyone's lips these days, engagement with The Ukraine is more important than anyone actually realizes. Most of the egregious organized cyber crime is being conducted from The Ukraine, as well as their "business associates" in Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and several other former Soviet satelite states. -ferg


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