Ukrainian Political, Economic Challenges Put Country on Brink

Military operations designed to regain lost territory in eastern Ukraine failed on Wednesday. The much-publicized effort had seen Ukraine send columns of armored vehicles to cities that had been overtaken by pro-Russia separatist forces, but has thus far been an abject failure. Reported emerged that one column of armored vehicles were abandoned and subsequently seized by separatist forces, while another column was blocked by hordes of unarmed protestors.

Dysfunction has marred the new Ukrainian government, which, having recently seen its defense minister resign over reports of indecision and overall inability, was expected to react to separatist movements with a more concentrated act of force. The reality, however, has been ripe with ultimatums and threats, but lacking in action. Russian forces have continued to mass along eastern Ukraine’s borders, and anti-government protests are projected to spread into nearby Odessa in the near future.

Clashes between Ukrainian military and pro-Russia separatists are now increasingly likely, as is the overall collapse of the Ukranian economy. Ukraine’s interim government had prioritized curbing inflation and protecting the value of its currency, the hryvnia, setting into motion increases in the national interest rate. The increase, however, is likely to exacerbate a stagnate economy that is projected to shrink three percent in 2014. The country’s energy and debt issues are only expected to graven as ties with Russia evaporate, and pledges of financial support from the United States and Europe have, until the present, been meager.

News Briefs: 

  • The Iranian parliament voted to hold further discussions on whether or not to make vasectomies illegal, and penalize the distribution of contraceptives. The vote coincides with criticism from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei of the country’s birth control laws, which he considers too similar to “those of the West.” The ayatollah has also stated that he wishes to grow Iran’s population from 77 million to 150 million and inject the country’s aging population with youth.
  • The Uzbek agricultural sector has begun to recover from an unusually cold April. The country’s crops of apricot, almond and apple trees had all suffered as a result of cold April temperatures, though farmers have issued of assurances of increased conditions, and have further added that crops of onions, potatoes and carrots were left unaffected by the drop in temperature. The majority of Uzbekistan’s agricultural sector is found in the proinvices of Jizzakh and Sordaryo, near the center of the country.
  • A Kashmiri militant hideout was raided by local authorities near the Bandipora district in Kashmir. Authorities claim to have seized many Chinese-made munitions and firearms, as well as GPS and telecommunications equipment.
  • The Tajik capital of Dushanbe recently played host to a day-long seminar that centered on best practices in textile development. The initiative was sponsored in part by the International Trade Center, and consisted of workshops that coincided with Tajikistan’s own development campaign, which seeks to benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs). New systems of quality management in textiles were introduced, and presentations covering increasing competitiveness in the global textile market were given. Cotton-sowing campaigns within Tajikistan have been met with great success, as more than 71,100 hectares have been planted in Khatlon province, with another 5,800 having been planted in Sughd province.
  • Opium production in Afghanistan has risen by close to 50 percent in the last year, and shows no signs of slowing. Existing programs to stop the spread of opium into countries surrounding Afghanistan have been unsuccessful, and will likely continue to be as international coalitions plan to leave the country at the end of this year.
  • Russian security forces killed four alleged militants in the North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan. The incident marks but the latest in a continuing conflict between Russian forces and separatist groups within Dagestan.
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