New York Times: Ukraine Cuts Off All Trade With Separatist Regions
MOSCOW — The Ukrainian authorities halted all trade with two Russian-controlled separatist enclaves in the country’s east on Wednesday, using an economic weapon to strike at what has been a long-festering military problem.
The decision to block all but humanitarian trade dealt another blow to the much-beleaguered Minsk peace process and raised tensions not just with the separatists but with their patrons in Moscow, who could be called upon to provide aid and markets to the breakaway regions.
President Petro O. Poroshenko has been reluctant to isolate the breakaway areas, in a region known as the Donbas, fearing that would implicitly recognize their independence and be a first step toward the country’s partition.
But the idea of halting trade has long animated Ukrainian nationalists as a way to shift the cost of sustaining the approximately three million people in the eastern region onto Russia’s already weakened economy. In recent weeks armed bands of men in tattered camouflage had begun doing exactly that, blockading rail shipments from the east, mostly coal trains.
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WNU Editor: This blockade on the separatist regions is going to backfire. Eastern Ukraine is primarily Russian .... and families are living on both sides of the front-lines. This punitive measure is not only going to harden pro-separatist feelings in the break-away regions, but it will also harden the sentiment of Russian-Ukrainians in Ukraine controlled regions who will feel even more targeted because of their Russian background. Ukraine is also dependent on this economic trade to meet the conditions of its IMF loan .... imposing sanctions will raise questions that the current IMF loan will need to be renegotiated .... a costly measure for Kiev if this is pursued. Sanctioning these 5 Russian banks in Ukraine is also going to have a devastating impact on families who are dependent on remittances from relatives who are working in Russia and who are using these banks to send money back to their families in Ukraine. Some of my family members are doing this .... and now they are going to be forced to look for a foreign bank that has branches in both Russia and Ukraine. Russia is Ukraine's top trade partner .... Despite war, Russia remained Ukraine’s top trade partner in 2016 (Kyiv Post). Sanctioning these banks will impact trade between the two countries enormously.
More News On Ukraine Imposing Sanctions On Russian Banks And An Economic Blockade On Rebel Held Eastern Ukraine
Ukraine bans all trade with rebel-held territory, as separatists seize assets -- Reuters
Ukraine announces economic blockade of rebel-held territory -- AP
Ukraine imposes cargo blockade on breakaway east -- Financial Times
Ukraine orders blockade on rebel-held east -- DW
Ukraine announces economic blockade of rebel-held areas -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine sanctions five Russian banks -- UPI
Ukraine Slaps New Sanctions on Russian State-owned Banks -- VOA
Ukraine imposes sanctions on Russian state-owned banks -- AFP
The Bizarre Reason Ukraine Could Be Facing a Legitimacy Crisis -- Nicolai N. Petro & Josh Cohen, National Interest