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macrohistory & world report

Ukraine

Map of the xxx

Ukraine (capital Kiev) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence in August 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements and 100% of its nuclear fuel needs. After a two-week dispute that saw gas supplies cutoff to Europe, Ukraine agreed to 10-year gas supply and transit contracts with Russia in January 2009 that brought gas prices to "world" levels. The strict terms of the contracts have further hobbled Ukraine's cash-strapped state gas company, Naftohaz. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms to foster economic growth. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports in exchange for extending Russia's lease on its naval base in Crimea. Movement toward an Association Agreement with the European Union, which would commit Ukraine to economic and financial reforms in exchange for preferential access to EU markets, was curtailed by the November 2013 decision of President YANUKOVYCH against signing this treaty. In response, on 17 December 2013 President YANUKOVYCH and President PUTIN concluded a financial assistance package containing $15 billion in loans and lower gas prices. However, the end of the YANUKOVYCH government in February 2014 caused Russia to halt further funding. With the formation of an interim government in late February 2014, the international community began efforts to stabilize the Ukrainian economy, including a 27 March 2014 IMF assistance package of $14-18 billion."

Economic growth rate
2013: 0.4%
2012: 0.2%
2011: 5.2%
2010: 4.2%
2009: minus 14.5%

Labor force in agriculture
2013: 9.9%
2008: 15.8%

Unemployment rate:
2013: 8%
2011: 7.9%

Export partners

2012: Russia 25.6%, Turkey 5.4%, Egypt 4.2%
2010: Russia 24.1%, Turkey 5.9%, Italy 4.7%

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Export commodities
Ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products

Ukraine is dependent on Russia for its energy supplies. Ukraine provides the Soviet Union with a good amount of agricultural products – grain, meat, milk and vegetables.

Public debt

2013: 40.6% of GDP
2012: 36.6% of GDP

Health expenditures
2009: 7% of GDP

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 69%
2008: 68%

Net migration rate
2012: Net loss of 0.08% per 1,000 population per year

Although only slightly smaller than Texas, the Ukraine has about twice its population of 47.4 million. Estimated for 2005 it has 78.5 persons per square kilometer

A Russian minority has remained in Ukraine after independence, the Russians a little more than 17.3 percent of Ukraine 's population.

Ethnic groups
2001 census: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8%

Religions
2006: Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2%

Geography

Eastern Europe. 2,782 kilometers along the northern coastline of the Black Sea. Includes the Crimean Peninsula. South of Belarus. Southwest and west of Russia. In the west, borders Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. On its southwestern border is Romania. Slightly smaller than Texas.

Government

President as chief of state, a prime minister in a parliamentary democracy. Ukraine is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, former republics within the Soviet Union that today are closely associated with Russia economically, in defense and foreign policy. Capital: Kiev.  

Recent History

In May 1944, the Stalin regime exiled people of Crimea, Tatars, en mass to Central Asia as punishment for collaborating with the Nazi occupation forces. According to Wikipedia an estimated 46% of the deportees died from hunger and disease.

In 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, transferred the Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. From the Middle Ages the Crimea was populated by Tatars.

Ukraine acquired independence in 1991 with the break up of the Soviet Union.

Structural transition in the economy since independence in 1991 has been other than smooth. By 1999, Ukraine had less than 40 percent of the output it had in 1991. Privatization has been slow, state regulations clunky and, it is said, corruption extensive and civil liberties occasionally wanting.

Yushchenko has been promising an investigation of the illegal sales of state assets and the murder, in the year 2000, of a "muckraking" journalist, Georgy Gognadze, whose headless body was found in a forest near Kiev. Tape recordings implicated Ukraine 's president, Leonid Kuchma, who then lost support in parliament. The government refused to investigate Gognadze's murder and was accused of suppressing journalist's investigations. Kuchma chose not to run for re-election, and he is supporting his prime minister, Victor Yanukovych, who is known to have made threatening comments in private about journalists who did not toe the line.  

Ukraine has been a dangerous place for journalist. In July 2001, a television journalist, Igor Aleksandrov, was attacked and murdered with baseball bats as he entered his place of work. In 1998, prosecutors had made a criminal case against Aleksandrov for insulting "the honor and dignity" of a deputy of parliament.

A big issue is whether Ukraine is to be oriented toward the West or toward Russia. The Russians have been unhappy about NATO's expansion eastward. There has been talk of integrating Belarus and the Ukraine with Russia. (Talks about integrating Belarus with Russia broke down over the question of political power for the current president of Belarus.) In Ukraine, 22 percent of the population is Russian. And Kiev, the capital, is the birthplace of what became Eastern Orthodox Russia.

According to MSNBC, "Yanukovych has the support of the country's powerful business clans and the security forces, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin."

November 23, 2004: Victor Yushchenko, running against the current prime minister, Victor Yanukovych, was poisoned recently with a high-tech chemical not understood by the medical community. Yushchenko was hospitalized in Vienna, recovered and returned to campaigning for president. Here are before and after photos from Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.   

In late December, 2004, Ukrainians elected as their president, Victor Yushchenko, a reform candidate and hero for what is called the Orange Revolution.

2009 The government has been quarreling internally and has failed to deal with the country's corruption problem. The financial meltdown has aggravated public opinion.

2010 Ukraine has elected as president Yushchenko's former political opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, who takes office on February 25.. The election of Yanukovych, it is said, will be a victory for "crony capitalism."  (For a definition of crony capitalism see Wikipedia.)

The Communist Party in Ukraine is on the sidelines. It has had support of about 20 percent of the electorate and about 15 percent of the seats in parliament.  

November 27, 2010: People in the Eastern half of Ukraine, which voted mostly for Yanukovych, speak more Russian than the do Ukrainian, at least in the cities, where most people reside. Until recently, Yanukovich did not speak Ukrainian but has been trying to learn the language. The Western side of the Ukraine speaks Ukrainian, the language of Yushchenko. There is also a religious divide between East and West. The East is more Russian Eastern Orthodox, the West is more Catholic. The West was more anti-Soviet, and those who turned to the Germans when the Germans invaded in 1941 were, it is said, from the West. That was 63 years ago, but today Yanukovich supporters are complaining about the possibility of Yushchenko being too soft on those who committed treason during World War II.  They are also critical of Yushchenko for being too nationalistic - too zealously Ukrainian.

Oct 11, 2011: Yulia Tymoshenko, prime minister from 18 December 2007 to 4 March 2010, is sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of abuse of office during a 2009 gas dispute with Russia. Foreign reactions. United States and European Union officials have called the persecution "selective prosecution of political opponents."

SOURCES:
The World Factbook
BBC News

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.