Ukraine’s Unlikely Partnership with China

Guest Contributor:

Natalia Khyzhnyak

In July, the Financial Times reported the latest evidence of an unexpected new economic partnership. Ukraine is poised to become the largest exporter of corn to China – if it has not done so already — surpassing the United States, which traditionally has had a near monopoly those exports. (China, where meat consumption is increasing, uses the corn for as livestock feed for cattle). Ukraine’s growing role providing food for China, moreover, goes much further. According to Ukraine’s statistics, agricultural trade turnover between the two countries stood at 932 million dollars last year. This increase in trade has proceeded rapidly. Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 Ukraine has increased its agriculture trade with China by 56 percent. Ukraine, the breadbasket of Eastern Europe, has about 32 million hectares of arable land, about one-third as much as in the entire European Union.

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published 26 October 2015: Economics, Uncategorized

Ukraine Economic Report: Signs of Muddling Through

Guest Contributor:

Natalia Khyzhnyak

Returning to Kyiv after more than a year – my last visit was during the Maidan demonstrations but before Viktor Yanukovych was chased from power — I found a city transformed, in ways both good and bad. The city was gaily painted blue and yellow – the national colors – and inhabitants spoke Ukrainian to each other far more than before. But sadness and seriousness were now evident along with hope on the faces of many people. Coffee shops were empty and prices on most goods and services had doubled. The highlight of my visit – the kindergarten graduation of my niece — was filled with cheerful Ukrainian songs, but some children were concerned about the fate of their fathers and even mothers who left – who went to fight in the East of the country. Will Ukraine Muddle Through?

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published 6 August 2015: Democracy, Economics, EU, Europe, Reform, Russia

Putin’s Strategic Mistake: “Ukraine and Russia Are One People”

Guest Contributor:

By Nataliya Khyzhnyak

During his annual national call-in show on April 16 Russian President Putin tried to reassure Russians that there can never be a war between Ukraine and Russia. “We have no imperial ambitions,” he said. At the same time he stated that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. “I don’t make a difference between Ukrainians and Russians… It is one people, actually.” Putin’s views on Ukrainian identity are not new. During NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008 he told former U.S. President Bush, that “Ukraine is not even a state.” (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/877224). At that time Putin implied that Russia had the right to intervene militarily in what he considered “his” territories if Ukraine joined NATO. Putin’s views, moreover, are not unique. They have been shared by previous Russian leaders for centuries.

Fed by Kremlin disinformation and their own inattention, many Washington experts, policy makers, and journalists often have viewed the war in Ukraine simplistically: as one between pro-European Ukrainian-speakers living in the Western part of the country vs pro-Moscow Russian-speakers (even more inaccurately sometime called, “Russians”) in the east. They have assumed that Ukraine is a country that is culturally and religiously divided clearly between East and West. Finally, they sometimes accept Moscow’s line that Ukraine had little state history independent of Moscow. Such misunderstandings have made it easier to question Ukraine’s identity, its right to choose its own path, and hold back economic and military assistance. They also play into the Kremlin’s dubious claim that, since Russia is a great power, it needs a sphere of influence, a ring of weaker, subservient states around it. Therefore, Washington’s lack of knowledge of Ukraine (sometimes disguised as a “realist” approach to international affairs) reinforces Moscow’s ambitions.

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published 4 May 2015: Democracy, EU, Europe, History, Reform, Russia

Ukrainian Conflict Strengthens Ties between Warsaw and Kiev

Guest Contributor:

By Nataliya Khyzhnyak

The current partnership between Poland and Ukraine marks one of the most remarkable turnabouts in modern diplomatic history. In the two countries’ turbulent shared past, the 20th century alone was especially tragic and bloody. Between February 1943 and February 1944 units of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army are believed to have killed up to 100,000 Poles in Volyn and eastern Galicia, former Polish territories, now in western Ukraine. Around 20, 000 Ukrainians also died at the hands of Poles or other Ukrainians during the fighting. During the conflict Ukrainian nationalists herded Poles into churches and set them on fire. Hangings and decapitations were widespread.

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published 8 March 2015: Democracy, EU, Europe, History, Security