Back in 1991, the Ukrainian Parliament declared independence from the U.S.S.R. A level of tension has existed between Russia and Ukraine fueling a variety of conflicts in time since.
February 2014 marks one of the most violent months in the past 70 years, with 88 killed in Kiev during a protest. The next month President Obama urged Russia to withdraw, making the conflict truly a global affair after Crimea annexed to Russia.
Fast-forward to April of this year and the STAND for Ukraine Act is introduced to deter Russian aggression and help Ukraine transition into a more democratic government process. STAND, is an acronym meaning Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act and is sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY. STAND for Ukraine has now become law and now the United States is providing Ukraine with weapons to deter continued interference from Russia.
While Ukraine has activists on both sides at this point, the country is actively moving toward self-betterment and real independence. The goal now is to empower Ukraine into choosing its future that benefits the people living there instead of what benefits Russia.
Since 2014, Ukraine has made economic progress despite the circumstances, with the country’s GDP expected to grow 1.5 percent this year. Aid in the form of $25 billion has fueled what Natalie Jaresko, a Ukrainian investment banker, has called Ukraine’s “longest and most successful reform process.”
While many factors such as vested interests and populism present obstacles to progress, more donors are willing to back Ukraine and ensure a fair election process and optimized wellbeing. Current issues needing support include modernizing educational facilities and hospitals, upgrading technology used by governmental organizations, as well as general updating of all urban infrastructure.
As recently as 2009, Ukraine’s multitude of political and foreign policy issues also led to a sharp 15 percent decline in Ukraine’s GDP. This economic comeback is truly a triumph of foreign aid and STAND for Ukraine as well as those that supported its plan to assist Ukraine’s path further out of semi-periphery.
– Aaron Walsh