Thursday, 22nd May 2014
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
Source: Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists
After a failed effort to violently disperse pro-European Union protests, the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych collapsed on February 21, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament approved a new pro-reform, pro-Western government on February 27. New presidential elections are scheduled for May 25. Russia has condemned the new government in Kyiv as illegitimate and responded by sending troops to seize Ukraine’s Crimea region. Ignoring international condemnation, Russia annexed Crimea on March 18. In April and May 2014, armed men seized government buildings in several cities in eastern Ukraine, mainly in the Donbas region. On May 11, the separatists held “referendums” on self-rule, after which they proclaimed their independence from Ukraine. U.S. and Ukrainian officials charge that Russian intelligence officers in Ukraine are coordinating the unrest. U.S. officials have expressed concern that Russia’s efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine may be the prelude to an invasion by an estimated 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.
Ukraine’s new government faces serious economic problems. Ukraine has long-standing problems in attracting foreign investment, in part due to rampant corruption and other shortcomings in the rule of law. In the near term, the government’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves raised the prospect of a default on sovereign debt. The United States is working with the EU, the IMF, and other international financial organizations to support a new Ukrainian government committed to reforms. In May 2014, the Ukrainian government received the first installment of a $17 billion IMF loan. The European Union has unveiled an 11.175 billion Euro (about $15.5 billion) aid package for Ukraine. The EU has also imposed sanctions on 61 persons from Ukraine and Russia held responsible for undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as two Crimean companies.
The Administration requested and received funding from Congress for $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine. Other U.S. aid will also help Ukraine stabilize its finances and hold free and fair presidential and local elections on May 25.
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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.
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