Espreso. Global

No salaries without assistance. Vitaly Portnikov’s column

28 December, 2023 Thursday

Yulia Svyrydenko, the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy, warns that if timely Western aid does not arrive, the Ukrainian government may need to defer budget salary payments and possibly pensions. The decision on this will hinge on the prompt receipt of aid from the United States and the European Union

The decision regarding European Union aid, even if Hungary opposes it, could be made after the extraordinary European Union summit on February 1. At this summit, EU leaders will either agree unanimously to allocate a 50 billion euros financial claim to Ukraine or decide on the responsibility of each country if Hungary blocks the decision again.

The unfolding events in the American Congress are uncertain. Hopes rest on the US Senate passing a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine after the Christmas break. However, this hinges on Democrats and Republicans reaching an agreement on various decisions, primarily related to the situation on the US-Mexico border. If such a decision isn't reached, it could alter or indefinitely delay aid to Ukraine. The expectation is that American legislators recognize the crucial importance of this aid, not just for Ukraine's resistance to Russian aggression but also for the survival of Ukrainian statehood itself.

Now, with no Western aid, it's clear to every Ukrainian that the economy has been on life support since February 2022. Salaries for many state employees and pensioners propped up people's purchasing power, maintaining a semblance of normalcy. This relied heavily on funds from our Western allies. The purchasing power of one group of citizens supported another, sustaining services and businesses. A decline in the purchasing power of those on guaranteed budget incomes could lead to significant economic changes. This might affect job availability in the private sector (Ukraine already faces high unemployment), and pose challenges for Ukraine's security.

While the government pledges funds primarily for defense, it's crucial to note that salaries for Ukrainian military personnel come from the national budget. This salary, along with other defense expenses, relies on the taxes paid by Ukrainian citizens. If these taxes decrease, the state's capacity to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine diminishes, affecting both the military personnel and the military budget. It's worth remembering that Western aid includes military and technical assistance, essential not only for sustaining the Ukrainian economy but also for providing the weapons used by the Ukrainian army against the Russian forces.

Now, talking about the words of the Minister of Economy, it's crucial to acknowledge the reality we're facing. Many may not realize that Ukraine can resist Russia effectively only by aligning with the civilized world. The fight against Russian aggression is a joint effort with the European Union and the United States. Western politicians need to answer many questions in this situation, as the West is trying to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia. The current strategy of the West is for Ukrainians to defend their land on their own, without direct involvement of NATO countries' military personnel. Western leaders fear that such involvement could escalate into a destructive conflict with Russia, potentially leading to the use of strategic nuclear weapons and the rapid demise of a significant part of our civilization.

To prevent such a catastrophic disaster, which could result in the death of tens of millions in Europe and North America, it might be prudent for the West to consider providing aid to Ukraine. This assistance, which is not overly burdensome for the budgets of the United States or the European Union, could contribute to maintaining stability. This support is vital as Ukraine's resistance helps avert a potential conflict of civilizations with unknown consequences for the Western countries, not limited to the possibility of World War III.

We recognize that the leaders of Russia can avoid a nuclear conflict with the United States and other nations. We're discussing the expansion of conflicts, hybrid wars, and Russia's ambitions, which may escalate if Russia successfully defeats Ukraine without Western assistance, annexing the territory despised by Vladimir Putin into a new Russian empire.

Economic aid is as crucial as weapons in resisting the Russian invasion. Support in international organizations for Ukraine is as important as providing weapons and preparing Ukrainian soldiers for ongoing resistance against the Russian invasion, especially given President Vladimir Putin's fixation on a prolonged war of attrition. It's essential for Ukrainians and especially Western politicians to grasp the significance of Western aid for survival.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, the Shevchenko National Prize laureate 

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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