Rostislav Ishchenko: The West Offers Ukraine to Live Without Any Money

Translated by Ollie Richardson


The German “Bild” published an article the other day in which it is claimed that the European Union and the federal authorities of Germany threaten Poroshenko with the termination of financial assistance. It’s not the author’s reflections on this specific topic. The article is more similar to a report. And the report is ordered and organised by the authorities themselves.

In confirmation of its position the newspaper quotes Norbert Röttgen (one of heads of the CDU, the Chairman of the Committee of the Bundestag on foreign policy, in 2009-2012 a minister of the federal government), the European Commissioner Johannes Khan (the curator of Ukraine from the EU) and the former Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok, who in 2013-2014 spent just as much time in Kiev than in Brussels battling for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko in the beginning, and then for the Euromaidan victory.

Moreover, Bild claims that the position of these politicians is shared by the federal chancellor Angela Merkel. And this statement is difficult to not believe, since an influential and respected publication wouldn’t begin to run into a denial from Merkel, who is in the process of forming a coalition and can’t afford to attribute herself to non-existent foreign policy initiatives.

And the position sounded by Röttgen/Khan/Brok is extremely unpleasant for Ukraine. They claim that Brussels and Berlin are on the threshold of an official refusal to provide any financial aid to Kiev. According to Bild, next week the delegation of representatives of Germany and the EU has to visit Kiev to inform Poroshenko about the final warning.

Again, it’s not in the rules of serious publications to risk their reputation and, without having absolute confidence (which only a “state order” can give), to report about the preparation of such visits. In seven-ten days the publication won’t have the time to be forgotten. In fact, with the help of the publication in Bold, the EU and Germany send a signal in advance to Poroshenko. By the time of the arrival of the “auditors”, he should be ready to report. Promises aren’t required from him, but actions are. It’s no coincidence that the situation was commented on by the most pro-Ukrainian representatives of the European establishment. If they make a final warning, then it means that the European elite’s patience has finally run low.

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It is also characteristic that the pretensions were addressed specifically to Poroshenko. And things are called by their names — very fully and transparently. The President of Ukraine is accused of corruption (expanding his business, but hasn’t sold it as promised), countering reforms (attempts to limit the independence of the National anti-corruption agency), preservation of the opaque system of concluding government contracts, and the sale of State property.

Poroshenko is suggested to choose whether he wants to be a President or an oligarch, and in extremely rigid (“country or business”) form.

The fact that everything is very serious is evidenced by the actions of the EU, which already stopped the program of financial aid to Ukraine. If earlier Poroshenko was threatened with the freezing of financing for bad behavior, then now it is made clear to him that only the utmost obedience and instant responses to the demands of the EU can unfreeze financing.

The EU doesn’t act alone. The IMF stopped financing Ukraine even earlier. And the US begun to encroach on the spent money that already came into the treasury long ago. As always happens in such cases, the actions of Washington are given the form of a private initiative. Suddenly the “quiet American” of Ukrainian origin Sam Kislin was bothered by the fact that $20 million (allegedly “Yanukovych’s money”) was illegally written-off almost a year ago by his offshore firm, and begun a lawsuit against Kiev.

Experts consider that Ukraine stands no chance of proving the legality of the write-off. And this means that all the “one and a half billion of Yanukovych” will be claimed by the offended Americans and Europeans.

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As a result, the following situation appears. Firstly, Ukraine is separated from external financial aid. Secondly, it is deprived of the rather cheap loans of the IMF and an opportunity to raise funds in the international financial markets under low interest. Thirdly, next year very heavy payments on the external debt (at least $3.5 billion) await Kiev. If there is an additional need to return the 1.5 billion of “Yanukovych’s money”, the three billion debt of Russia, and the debt to Gazprom (so far the court didn’t determine the final sum, but it will be estimated anyway in the billions), then the start of hyperinflation that will make Zimbabwean “wallets” in the form of wheelbarrows (for small purchases) and dump trucks (for large ones) look like tidy plastic cards will be the only way out. And in 2019-2022 (which, however, there is still a need to live up to) the sums of payments on the external debt will increase up to $4.5-6 billion.

At the same time it is unlikely that the West is so naive to assume that Poroshenko or anyone else among Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs laying claim to power will be able to fulfil the imposed demands. It is like suggesting to a hyena to eat cabbage, convincing it of the extreme usefulness and vitamin content of this vegetable.

All of this is similar to the creation of an informational and legal pretext for the final finishing-off of Ukraine and the marauding of its corpse. The West tries to pull out as much money as possible in advance under the specious excuse of the country’s default. It’s no coincidence that from the current year Ukraine’s payments to the IMF almost exceeded the financing from the Fund by one and a half times. In accordance with the stoppage of all European aid programs and credit lines, a similar situation was observed in other directions of financing. And next year the West will prepare the full stripping of Kiev, without even a semblance of support. Indeed, who spends money to help the bankrupt? This is absolutely not the capitalist way.

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All of this isn’t new. Argentina was also once stripped, and Greece continues to be stripped. It’s just that Athens doesn’t finish it off, as the destruction of the financial system of the integrated into the EU Greece will hit all the European Union, and Argentina, which is ready to be finished-off, has stronger statehood than Ukraine, and, having endured a sequence of national revolts, Buenos Aires climbed out of the political crisis and began economic revival, being extremely cautious about western “help”, directly calling it a mousetrap.

Space for manoeuvre is absent in Kiev – struck by the virus of radical nationalism and the no less radical russophobia. Ukraine, of course, can hope for sudden favour of the West, but is more practical to cook the obituary.

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