As massive protests continue in Ukraine and many of the nation’s people call for huge reforms in government, the United States and the European Union are preparing an aid package for the state. It is seen as a counter to Russia’s promise of 5 billion to the nation, of which billion has been paid out.
In what former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is calling “the first geopolitical revolution of the 21st century,” the U.S. and European states are beginning to play a political game of tug of war with Russia. The prize? Economic and political ties to Ukraine and its 46 million residents.
Yet even though the EU could provide the shiny promise of a more democratic and market driven nation to the people of Ukraine, it is politically irresponsible to do so. They do not seem nearly as willing to provide financial packages to the shattered nation as Russia does.
To counter the protests, the Russian government offered Ukraine 5 billion, money that, as The New York Times columnist David M. Herszenhorn reports, Ukraine “desperately needs to cover basic expenses.” Those funds have been withheld by Russia now. As Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has less power over his nation’s people every day, it is assumed that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see changes in favor of the current regime before the funding continues.
The U.S. and EU are now preparing to offer Ukraine an aid package to help facilitate the transition the cash-strapped country is currently experiencing. The EU claimed, however, that it will not engage in a “bidding war” with Russia over Ukraine’s economic loyalty.
Last year, the EU offered Ukraine a small loan of 34 million as an incentive to sign the EU trade pact. Yanukovych spurned the deal, and his decision was what began the massive protests and demands for reform.
If Yanukovych did agree to the pact, it would have meant that Putin would have probably cut many of the lifelines Moscow throws to Kiev, retracting resources worth far more than 34 million to the country’s economy.
It is reckless for Western nations to facilitate the end of the current regime and call for new elections while they fold their arms and refuse to seriously commit to economically rehabilitating Ukraine. Although a notable portion of the country prefers closer ties with Russia, the majority of people see the West as the better of the superpowers to align themselves with in the 21st century.
New elections would most likely reflect this. Putin knows this, and the EU knows this.
Even though a new, European-influenced regime would most likely come to power, Ukraine’s economy could crumble without the kind of support that only Russia, as of now, has been willing to provide.
Russia certainly wants to continue to hold Ukraine in its sphere of influence, and Russian leadership is willing to provide the struggling nation with funds vital to its survival. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, when agencies dropped Ukraine’s credit rating far below what is considered investment worthy, it was essentially “locked out” of the bonds market – a huge blow to any nation – until Russia stepped in with aid.
If the EU cannot offer sufficient aid not only now but also in the ensuing months and years, it may be best for Kiev to side with Moscow.