OAKLAND, United States – At the same time as the United States, Canada and the European Union announced a set of new sanctions against Russia in mid-December last year, Ukraine received US$350 million in US military aid, coming on top of a $1 billion aid package approved by the US Congress in March 2014.
Western governments’ further involvement in the Ukraine conflict signals their confidence in the cabinet appointed by the new government earlier in December 2014. This new government is unique given that three of its most important ministries were granted to foreign-born individuals who received Ukrainian citizenship just hours before their appointment.
The Ministry of Finance went to Natalie Jaresko, a US-born and educated businesswoman who has been working in Ukraine since the mid-1990s, overseeing a private equity fund established by the US government to invest in the country. Jaresko is also the CEO of Horizon Capital, an investment firm that administers various Western investments in the country.
As unusual as it may seem, this appointment is consistent with what looks more like a takeover of the Ukrainian economy by Western interests. In two reports – “The Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture” and “Walking on the West Side: The World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict” – the Oakland Institute has documented this takeover, particularly in the agricultural sector.
A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually to president Viktor Yanukovych’s removal from office in February 2014 was his rejection of a European Union Association agreement aimed at expanding trade and integrating Ukraine with the EU – an agreement that was tied to a US$17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
After the president’s departure and the installation of a pro-Western government, the IMF initiated a reform program that was a condition of its loan with the goal of increasing private investment in the country.
The package of measures includes reforming the public provision of water and energy, and, more important, attempts to address what the World Bank identified as the “structural roots” of the current economic crisis in Ukraine, notably the high cost of doing business in the country.
The Ukrainian agricultural sector has been a prime target for foreign private investment and is logically seen by the IMF and World Bank as a priority sector for reform. Both institutions praise the new government’s readiness to follow their advice.
Full article: West’s agri-giants snap up Ukraine (Asia Times)