Political activity, political impact of social problems and wareffects (03.04-10.04 )
Statistical data indicate that Ukrainian economic situation, which was in an unsatisfactory condition before the war, has dramatically deteriorated.
World Bank’s recent report assets that the hostilities are making a desastrous economic and social impact. Energy infrastructure in eastern and southern Ukraine, where active combat is concentrated, has been severely damaged and its renovation will require significant expenses. Civilian casualties continue to rise, and over a third of the population has been displaced. According to World Bank, due to the war impact on the economy activity contracted by approximately 30 percent in 2022, a large swathe of the country’s capital stock has been destroyed, and poverty has been growing. Thanks to substantial external support, the Ukrainian authorities have managed to maintain overall macroeconomic and financial stability, but it remains fragile and doesn’t provide conditions that can foster economic growth. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2023/04/06/russian-invasion-of-ukraine-and-cost-of-living-crisis-dim-growth-prospects-in-emerging-europe-and-central-asia
Though Ukraine’s economy is expected to grow by 0.5% in 2023, it should be considered that it is almost sixty times less than its contraction in 2022. So there can be no anticipations even of a slight improvement of everyday life of common Ukrainian citizens. Meanwhile numerous hardships that are experienced by middle and low-income families, are starting to exhaust the willingness of the Ukrainian society to endure the effects of the war.
It can be expected that the political consequences of the economic damages caused by the war, will become more intense after the cessation of hostilities, when it becomes obvious for the Ukrainian public that the government does not have resources to rebuild industry and destroyed infrastructure.
According to World Bank estimates, the cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine has now grown to 411 billion USD, which is more than two times exceeds the size of Ukraine’s pre-war economy in 2021.
IMF Executive Board has approved 15.6 billion USD tranche as part of a 115 billion USD Overall Support Package. But it was stressed in IMF statement that “in view of the exceptionally high uncertainty faced by Ukraine”, the financial assistance is going to be provided under very strict conditions, which include implementing a robust budget for 2023 and avoiding new measures that might erode tax revenues.
The authorities are also supposed to strengthen governance and anti-corruption frameworks, including through legislative changes. After these goals are achieved focus will shifted to structural reforms which will be aimed at preserving long-term macroeconomic stability and boosting competitiveness. https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2023/03/31/pr23101-ukraine-imf-executive-board-approves-usd-billion-new-eff-part-of-overall-support-package
The Ukrainian authorities has committed themselves to obligations imposed by IMF. But they will not be able to carry them out, especially in post-war period, without facing high political risk.
Under such circumstances the Ukrainian government may try to escape economic and financial problems by joining the confederacy with Poland which is endeavoring to increase its geopolitical influence.
Relevant plans were made public during Zelenskiy’s visit to Poland on April 5. On that day one of the most influential polish political newspapers Rzeczpospolita published an article by political expert Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, who suggested to form confederacy of Poland and Ukraine in order to end the war and “stop the Muscovites“.
It is notable that the name of the newspaper, which published this article, corresponds with the name of the state, – Rzeczpospolita, the Union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which is supposed to be the historic model for the junction of modern Poland and Ukraine.
Grosse argues that the formation of confederacy will be the most positive scenario for Ukraine, which will obtain an opportunity to preserve its territorial integrity. Furthermore the emergence of the new state will help to strengthen the so-called eastern flank of NATO, which as the polish expert suggests, is “the most threatened by Muscovite imperialism“. Thus the problem of Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO would be solved without any arguments or disagreements between the EU states. https://www.rp.pl/opinie-polityczno-spoleczne/art38274791-tomasz-grzegorz-grosse-odbudujmy-rzeczpospolita-tym-razem-z-ukraina
The revelation of the project of restoration of Rzeczpospolita was preceded by the article “It’s Time to Bring Back the Polish-Lithuanian Union” appeared a few days before the visit in Foreign policy, in which the same idea was expressed in more vague terms.
The main message of that article completely corresponds with the message Rzeczpospolita. The unification of Poland and Ukraine will allow Kyiv to escape long struggle to join the EU, and will prevent Russian and Chinese interference in the Ukrainian economic and processes. The Polish-Ukrainian Union would become the second-largest country in the EU and will have significant military power. The new Union will also provide a counterweight to the Franco-German tandem—which wil be useful for the United States interests. Russia will have to share common border with a military powerful state and a close US ally. Because of that the U.S. administration must support Warsaw and Kyiv in their attempt to “solve the Eastern European problem once and for all”.
In the article published by The New-York times on April 4 it is Poland’s aspirations to play a greater role in European foreign policy are explained by the desire of Polish government to diminish the German influence in Europe. The PiS party wants Poland to emerge as a political and moral leader in Europe and in the Western military alliance, expecting that it will help to restore Polish access to EU financial assistance which Poland lost because of the conflict with the EU leadership. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/04/magazine/poland-eu-ukraine-war.html
It can be supposed that Zelenskiy has supported the Polish project of the unification. During his visit to Poland he declared that after the victory is achieved there will be no borders between Poland and Ukraine. Zelenskiy did not mention that Ukraine will join the EU in order to have an open border with Poland. So he might assume that the two countries will form a single entity.
Inside the country, the Ukrainian authorities are trying to create an “internal enemy” out of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in order to depict the banning of its activity as a government achievement. The temples than belong to the UOC have been handed over to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine which supported by the government.
It was reported that the process of transition of the Church of St. George in Lviv, was accompanied by skirmishes.
The UOC was forced to give up its churches in Ternopil Oblast, Volyn Oblast. Khmelnytskyi Oblast. https://24tv.ua/ru/protesty-protiv-upc-mp-proshli-eshhe-dvuh-gorodah-ternopole-vladimire_n2291365
But not all representatives of the Ukrainian political elite share this position, for example, Viktor Medvedchuk believes that Zelensky declared a holy war on himself by trying to destroy canonical Orthodoxy. But, unfortunately, this does not stop him, since he supports Western partners, pretends that they do not notice this infrequent case of rights.
On April 2, Khmelnytskyi Regional Council Russian banned the UOC in the region and proposed to terminate ROC’s right to use local religious buildings and sites. https://english.nv.ua/nation/russian-orthodox-church-banned-in-ukraine-s-khmelnytskyi-oblast-news-50315577.html
Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Danilov called the clergy of the UOC the Russian spied and promised that there will no religious institutions connected with Moscow on the territory of Ukraine. It should be noted that the UOC terminated all the relations with Moscow in May 2022. Danilov also revealed that the government is going to exchange representatives of the UOC for the Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The exchange of the Ukrainian citizens who were not convicted by court, for the prisoners of war is another manifestation of the violation of basic general principles of law by the Ukrainian government and should be regarded as a sign of dangerous involution of the Ukrainian political system.
The forecast for potential development of current trends:
- If hostilities continue, the economic situation in Ukraine will deteriorate to such an extent that the restoration of economic stability in the post-war period will become even theoretically impossible. Ukraine’s future and development prospects directly depend on the achievement of an immediate truce.
- The Ukrainian government, trying to reduce the risk of increasing of social discontent as a result of the growth of economic problems in the post-war period, will support the projects aimed at preserving tension in Eastern Europe, which thus allow to demand the continuation of financial support, not limited by strict conditions.
- The banning of the Orthodox Church will pose a risk of the appearance of new inter-regional conflicts in the post-war period.
Recommendation for the European institutions and organizations:
- It is important to demonstrate that Ukraine’s accession to the EU is conditional on Ukraine’s readiness to de-escalate the conflict and is contradictory with any actions aimed at maintaining tension and preserving the threat of resumption of hostilities.
- The EU political structures should express their disapproval of the banning of the UOC and the violation of the legal principles.
- It should be considered that the attempts to form confederacy .of Poland and Ukraine can be made in the near future. The successful achievement of this goal will inevitably undermine the EU unity and increase the competition between the EU states.