Sunday, December 23

Ukrainians don't need enemies with friends like NATO and the EU

Music to read reports on Ukraine by:

The following three reports are published by RT, a Russian government news internet site, but there are very few English-language sites giving anything near the straight story on what's been going on Ukraine, and RT is one of them. 

I do have a quibble; from the third RT report I feature, President Putin observed that the burden of repaying the newest IMF loan would fall on future generations of Ukrainians. True, but the last sentence in the second RT report makes it clear that IMF conditions for the loan are placing an unacceptably large financial burden on the present generation of Ukrainians:
In October, the Ukrainian government announced a rise in household gas tariffs by more than 23.5 percent to unlock multi-billion-dollar loans from the IMF.
This rise is on top of the outlandishly high percentage of food costs for Ukrainians. (See first RT report, below.)  

More than a Russia problem, Ukrainians have a corruption problem. But I don't see how they can deal with what is institutionalized corruption while their politicians know they can steal as much as they want, provided they keep NATO and the EU placated. 

So from where I sit: with friends like NATO and the EU, Ukrainians don't need enemies.    
If you think basic items are costing you too much, take a look at this year’s research by RIA Novosti, which shows how much people in European countries spend on food, alcohol and leisure.
By far the highest expense for households in Ukraine is food, according to statistics revealing the spending habits of average families in 40 European countries. Ukrainians spend more than half their income – 50.9 percent – buying groceries, the study found. And few can afford to visit restaurants and hotels, where only 2.8 percent of their budget is spent.
Ukraine’s place in the ratings has not changed in two years, as similar research in 2016 also put the country at the bottom of the list. Back then, 54 percent of its citizens’ incomes were spent on food.
[report continues with description of food expenditures in some other countries]
12/12/18: Cost of independence: Ukraine pays record high price for ‘European’ gas
Prices for gas imported by Ukraine from European countries hit a record high in November, according to data published by the country’s State Fiscal Service. The gas is most likely Russian in origin resold to Kiev at a [whopping] premium.
The State Fiscal Service of Ukraine calculated an average cost of imported natural gas that formed during its customs clearance when it enters the territory of Ukraine.
“The price totaled some 9,472 hryvnia ($339.2) per thousand cubic meters of the fuel,” the statement said, as quoted by the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency UNIAN.
In October, Kiev reportedly bought the vital fuel at $323.44 per thousand cubic meters, while the September price amounted to $304.36, compared to $261.1 paid in February.
Ukraine is paying an excessive price for gas with the numbers revealed by the government being “self-incriminating,” according to the head of the National Energy Security Foundation, Konstantin Simonov.
“The price is very high. It is necessary to take into account Russia’s proximity. Ukraine is very close to Russia logistically, and could get gas at lower prices compared to European consumers,” Simonov said in an interview with RT.
The analyst highlighted Kiev’s groundless pride over the fact that Ukraine doesn’t have any commercial contacts with “dangerous Russia.”
“However, Kiev still insists on transits of the fuel from Russia to Europe,” he said. “Due to its own stubborn streak, Ukraine has lost colossal amounts of cash.”
[Pundita note: I wouldn't say that being an American colony reflects a "stubborn streak."
Earlier, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Kiev halted purchases of Russian natural gas as early as in 2015. However, Ukraine reportedly continues buying reverse supplies of Russian gas at the higher price from European nations. The minister stressed that it’s not vital for Russia, as actual volume of exports and export revenues remain the same.
Earlier this year, Ukraine’s Naftogaz Commercial Director Yuriy Vitrenko said the average price of gas from European suppliers exceeded the price of gas from Gazprom by almost 34 percent.
In October, the Ukrainian government announced a rise in household gas tariffs by more than 23.5 percent to unlock multi-billion-dollar loans from the IMF.
12/21/18 Burden of repaying IMF loans will fall on future generations of Ukrainians, warns Putin
The IMF’s approval of a new $3.9 billion loan for Ukraine has already been hailed as a victory in Kiev. It’s just enough to cover some pension payments but will take a long time to pay off, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) greenlighted a new 14-month loan package, the so-called Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), for an already debt-laden Ukraine on Tuesday.
Ukraine’s Finance Ministry was quick to laud the decision and call it a “victory” as it expects to receive the first installment of $1.4 billion by Christmas. Other tranches will come after completion of semi-annual reviews, the IMF said.
While the fund says the loan deal would preserve recent economic gains and pave the way for higher sustainable growth, it might backfire on the Ukrainian people, said Putin during his annual Q&A session on Thursday.
“We realize what the IMF tranche is – it is just to pay pensions and salaries in the social sphere, and then future generations will have to pay,” said Putin, answering RT’s question on citizenship for Ukrainians.
The president added that Moscow does not want to play into the hands of those who want to split the peoples of the two historically-linked nations, a goal that the current government in Kiev made its policy.
The IMF financial package, which replaces the previous four-year financial aid for Ukraine, had been ready in mid-October but the IMF board was waiting for the Ukrainian government to issue the 2019 budget with a deficit of $3.2 billion or 2.3 percent of GDP.
Ukrainian authorities were also to complete a series of economic reforms before the aid was approved by the IMF. These included unpopular measures such as raising gas and heating rates and are considered to be a huge blow to Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko’s support in the upcoming elections.
[Pundita note: "Unpopular?" Well yes a ruinous rate of increase in personal energy rates would be unpopular.]
The country’s national debt stands at more than $75 billion as of October this year, this includes an external debt of $47.65 billion.

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