8 Facts: Assessing Ukraine’s Options
Realism needs to prevail in Kiev, but the prospects aren’t that dim.
- The loss of Crimea is irrelevant since much of the peninsula was already leased to Russia.
- Losing the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine has serious economic implications for both Russia and Ukraine.
- It is unlikely that EU membership will be on the cards for Ukraine.
- With EU membership looking unlikely for Ukraine, an EU association agreement is the next best thing.
1. The loss of Crimea is irrelevant since much of the peninsula was already leased to Russia and was never part of Ukrainian territory until 1954.
2. Losing the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine is more serious for the Kiev government since it is one the country’s main industrial regions.
3. Normal economic relationships between eastern Ukraine and the rest of the country could soon be re-established.
4. Russia needs to sell Donbass coal and steel — just as much as Ukraine needs to buy it.
5. Since the profits from these activities in the past were mostly misappropriated by corrupt officials and oligarchs, it will make no real difference to Ukraine if these profits are now stolen by pro-Russia rebels.
6. Ukraine is unlikely to ever be admitted to either the EU or NATO. This is due to opposition in Germany and France as well as in Russia.
7. For Ukraine, an EU association agreement, similar to Turkey’s, could help reduce corruption and encourage economic changes.
8. Ultimately, a dual trading relationship with both Europe and Russia offers Ukraine the only possible route to economic viability.
Source: The Outlook on a Ukraine Stalemate by Anatole Kaletsky (New York Times, December 12, 2014)