President Obama is likely to sign off on new sanctions targeting oil and arms exports. Sanctions have helped drive down the ruble, which has lost half its value this year.
As the rouble fell off a cliff over the past two days, a new skit appeared on Russian state television. A popular talk-show host asks his iPhone's voice-recognition app, "Where shall I go on holidays next year?" "This year - nowhere," answers the app, dubbed "OK Rouble". "OK Rouble, what will the exchange rate be tomorrow?" continues the host. "Here are five recipes for making porridge," the app responds. Even as Russians were sharing the skit on social networks, Apple suspended its online store in Russia due to the rouble's volatility.
It's panic time in Moscow, as the deadly double whammy of collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions is knocking the Russian economy into recession. Nothing the government can do has been able to stem the accelerating selloff in Russian assets, and the meltdown has gone so far that average people increasingly understand that their economic futures are at risk.
Russia’s Prosecutor General has claimed to the Polish Open Dialogue Foundation that Crimean Ukrainians Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko are Russian citizens since they did not 'express any wish' to retain their Ukrainian citizenship. The statement is firstly, untrue, and secondly, immensely cynical since both men were arrested and then illegally taken to Moscow before the deadline had run out for officially 'expressing such a wish' in person at a restricted number of places in the Crimea.
LUHANSK -- It’s not easy getting to Luhansk nowadays. One must either cross an active frontline and risk getting shot at, if coming from the north, or take an eight-hour detour from the south through the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, which is under the control of pro-Russian separatists. I decide to opt for the latter and, after quickly fixing my papers with the de facto authorities in Donetsk, my companions and Iare on our way.
The West has been unable to develop a coherent strategic policy toward Russia. There is little agreement on what Russia is and how to deal with it, too much speculation about what President Vladimir Putin will or will not do.
Russia’s central bank waited until the early morning hours to raise its interest rate from 10.5% to a whopping 17.5% to encourage citizens to hold rubles and foreigners to buy rubles. Rather than building confidence, markets interpreted the move as panic. By late afternoon, it took an unprecedented 80 rubles to buy one dollar. Despite its vaunted reserves, the mighty Russia gives the appearance of a Latin American banana republic, dependent on one product, with a collapsing economy and declining living standards that can no longer support Vladimir Putin’s expensive foreign adventures or keep alive his social compact with the Russian people.
Even as Moscow appears to be reducing its military actions in southeastern Ukraine, a "reduction" that is at least in part a disinformation campaign, Putin is making Belarus into a base for attacking Kyiv. The appearance of more Russian "little green men" in Gomel last week prompted some Ukrainians to ask whether the Kremlin was planning to stage a Novorossiya-style move into Belarus, notes Natalya Radina, the editor of the independent Belarusian site Charter97.org.
As the ruble free-falls like a skydiver with a faulty pack two days ahead of President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference, it is clear that someone will have to pay.
Richard Haass, president at Council on Foreign Relations, talks about how the fall of the ruble may impact the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
The coalition's strategy for agricultural reform will change little and enable government officials to continue extracting rent for their personnal benefit. Without real reform in the agricultural sector growth will continue at a slow pace and the political groundwork will be laid to enable the return of politicians that support corruption and the authoritarian politics of the recent past. I would like to lay out for your consideration criticism, support and suggestions for improvement.
After the central bank dramatically raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points to 17 percent overnight, Russia has given up any pretence that it is not in the grip of a currency crisis. The ruble leapt nine percent versus the dollar in early Moscow trade but has since given up more than half those gains.
Putin’s propaganda machine is fighting a desperate PR battle—at home and abroad—for control of the narrative of its war against Ukraine. The Republican victory in the U.S. midterms has consolidated America’s anti-Russian narrative as evidenced by the Senate’s passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which supplies lethal weapons to Ukraine. Even more ominous is thefindings of the Levada Center that only 5-6 percent of Russians are prepared to sacrifice for Putin’s Ukraine ventures. Russians say, if anyone is to shoulder a burden, it should be Putin and company. These setbacks make the battle for German public opinion even more crucial, a battle that is now being conducted on the front pages of the German press.
A funny thing happened on the way to Vladimir Putin running strategic laps around the West. Russia's economy imploded. The latest news is that Russia's central bank raised interest rates from 10.5 to 17 percent at an emergency 1 a.m. meeting in an attempt to stop the ruble, which is down 50 percent on the year against the dollar, from falling any further.
Ukraine passed two milestones this month. The first was the inauguration of a new government; a reformist, pro-European administration that aims to reverse the country’s fortunes. The second was being named the most corrupt country in Europe.
Editor's Note: Kyiv public relations specialist Zhanna Kobylinska's “Good News Ukraine” blog sticks to uplifting news and steers clear of controversy. Readers can send news items to Kobylinska at email@example.com
The 2015 budget is of great interest to everyone in the country at this time. We are living through very difficult times. The war, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the declining economy, and many non-market practices implemented over the past 23 years pose an enormous challenge to the country's finances.
Editor's Note: This statement was prepared and signed by members of VoxUkraine editorial board, advisory board and its contributors.
SLOVYANOSERBSK and LOTVIKOVO, Luhansk region – When you look at people in Slovyanoserbskiy psycho-neurological boarding home and in Lotikovo, you start to understand just how badly humanitarian assistance is needed here.
Veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement Vedzhie Kashka turned 80 recently and should have been admitted to hospital on Dec 10 over a heart condition. She couldn't because she had been summonsed for questioning by the FSB [Russian Security Service].