Ukraine Still Doesn't Have A Government, And Its Economy Is Slipping Out Of Control
Ukraine was still without a government Tuesday, and interim leader Oleksandr V. Turchynov announced the creation of a new Ukrainian administration had been pushed back to at least Thursday. Parliament speaker Turchynov was appointed interim leader after ousted President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday night. Yanukovych's whereabouts are still unknown.
In his address to Parliament Tuesday, Turchynov said that he was seriously concerned about the threat of separatism in predominantly Russian-speaking regions. He plans to meet with law enforcement officials to discuss the issue, he noted, before a new government is formed.
Ukrainian law enforcement officials have issued a warrant for Yanukovych's arrest, charging him with the "mass murder of peaceful citizens," according to a post on acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the dire financial situation in Ukraine — thought to be one of the reasons why Yanukovych declined the EU deal and accepted Russia's offer of investment in the first place — is going from bad to worse. In an open letter to the people of Ukraine on Monday, Turchynov warned that "Ukraine is now in a pre-default condition and sliding into the abyss."
The $15 billion promised to Ukraine by Russia is now in jeopardy, as the Kremlin put an indefinite hold on the deal until the political situation stabilizes. According to the AP, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev is strongly questioning the legitimacy of the Ukrainian interim government.
"'If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government," Medvedev said.
Stepan Kubiv, the new head of the Ukrainian National Bank — appointed following the resignation of former chief Ihor Sorkin — said he would make securing aid from the International Monetary Fund a top priority.
In a Q&A session at the end of a G-20 meeting, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that, as an IMF member, Ukraine is entitled to request IMF support. "The IMF is here to serve the entire membership, so if the Ukrainian authorities were to ask for IMF support, whether it's policy advice, whether it's financial support together with economic reform discussion, obviously we stand ready to do that," she said.
Monetary support from the IMF does, of course, come with conditions to which Ukraine would have to adhere, and the country cannot submit a formal request for assistance until a government is established.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday that the Obama administration would be willing to offer financial support in conjunction with the IMF.
"This support can complement an IMF program by helping to make reforms easier and by putting Ukraine in a position to invest more in health and education, to help develop Ukraine’s human capital and strengthen its social safety net," Carney said. "So we would be working with international partners to complement an IMF program going forward."
There are, of course, fears that the unstable situation in Ukraine could turn into a tug-of-war between Russia and the West. In a news conference on Tuesday in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that both sides should refrain from "seek[ing] to achieve unilateral advantages" in the country, according to Reuters.
"It is dangerous and counterproductive to try to force upon Ukraine a choice on the principle: 'You are either with us or against us,'" Lavrov said.
The near future for Ukraine is still filled with agonizing uncertainty, but there's hope that this week will bring a new government — and, with it, the potential for a path toward recovery.