Far from the scandals of Hillary Clinton’s Emailgate and the hoopla surrounding Senate Republicans’ “Iran letter,” the crisis in Ukraine continues to boil. Yet even the most ardent news junkies could be forgiven for being under informed on the subject— precious few column inches and TV news segments are dedicated to a war being all but ignored in the West.
This week the International Monetary Fund finally agreed to offer Ukraine a much needed bailout. The $17.5 billion (or nearly 379 billion Ukrainian Hryvnia) loan package is part of a larger, $40 billion international bailout package, and is an enormous and much deserved vote of confidence for both Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk and Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko.
The IMF package is designed for immediate impact: $5 billion has reportedly already been delivered and an additional $5 billion will be provided over the course of the next few months. The infusion of cash will be coupled with significant debt restructuring and substantial belt-tightening in Ukraine for an “immediate economic stabilization,” according to the IMF’s Christiane Lagarde.
The IMF was surprisingly forthright about the move, admitting the package is a significant gamble— all the more so in light of developments in Greece, where an initial bailout did little to arrest the fall of that country’s economy. One statement from the IMF was acknowledged the elephant in the room: “The program is subject to exceptional risks, especially those arising from the conflict in the east.”
While the financial aid is a welcome and crucially important move, it will not be enough to save Ukraine from Russia. Russia continues to supply the separatists with arms, including substantial amounts of heavy weaponry. Without military aid, be it from America or elsewhere, Ukraine will not be able to defend against this Russian-supplied onslaught forever.
A key democratic ally is being bullied. If the West truly cares about helping Ukraine stand up for itself, an infusion of cash is not enough. What is needed, of course, is an infusion of military aid.
The besieged Ukrainian government has faced a surfeit of crises that are truly deserving of the word, with threats to territorial sovereignty in the form of the separatists, Russian forces, and maybe even the Ukrainian security services, which are reportedly deeply infiltrated by Russia.