Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko
Ukraine is a scary place. If President Obama held up a black light to the dirty sheets of Ukraine’s government, his hair would turn silver two years ahead of schedule. Trust me, I’ve lived there.
I had six, wide-eyed dreamy months post college bumming around Kyiv, the capital, and L’viv, an old city in the west. The people are beautiful — warm, hospitable to the extreme; they’ll teach you the ways of vodka, and stuff you like a turkey if you’re a guest in their home. The girls are drop dead gorgeous. This deserves repeating: I’m cute, but in Ukraine, I was Hilary Duff compared to these women.
What’s so scary about Ukraine? The economy was already a bad facelift to begin with. But now…? As the Christian Science Monitor reports:
“[Ukraine’s] financial system is in chaos and, some experts warn, facing imminent default. The bank accounts of millions of Ukrainians have been frozen, unemployment is spiraling, the hryvna has lost half its value since last summer, and the price the country has to pay for its main energy source, Russian gas, has just doubled.”
Crime goes up in desperate times and not just among the people – crime also rises among Ukrainian government officials.
These leaders are like Bernie Madoff without the double life. “The people are the shit we grow our money in,” is one famous Ukrainian saying attributed to the ruling oligarchs.
They’re already doing the things corrupt officials do, but now they’ll turn deeper into the terrorist trade. Just get a load of that Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, the Somali pirates jacked and just gave back for a $3.2 million ransom:
“The MV Faina was loaded with 33 Soviet-designed battle tanks and crates of small arms. In the past, diplomats in the region have said that the cargo was destined for southern Sudan, something the autonomous region has denied.”
Sudan, huh? Not surprised. All’s fair in business, especially when your country is, on a normal day in a good economy, worse off than a bankrupt Iceland. Imagine how bad it’s going to get now. And the sad thing is, as the old refrain goes, ‘Hillary Clinton doesn’t have time for no Ukriane.’
Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, awkward hugs with Putin, but Ukraine? “What’s their big thing again, they want to be let into Nato? Not an emergency.”
(Actually, Clinton claims to welcome Ukraine into Nato, and I just hope this is more than a 2008 campaign press release).
If Ukraine stays stuck in purgatory between mobster Russia and the overburdened E.U., it may have to make some bloodthirsty bedfellows to survive. It’s the country that gave us the nuclear reactor accident called Chernobyl, where children are still born deformed from all of the radiation where this nuclear plant exploded. They have more of this stuff, so does Russia. Russia is mean enough to sell it and Ukraine is starving enough to sell it, albeit quietly.
A collapsed Ukraine signals another Chernobyl, one that could explode here in downtown Manhattan, in Washington, DC, or maybe via a suitcase bomb in London.
But there’s hope. Ukraine, unlike Russia, yearns for change. The country wants to be part of the west, has a passionate and engaged electorate organizing the best it can against the Madoff Powers That Be. If the US denies Ukraine and doesn’t get some State Department bailout there quick, in the form of a Hillary Clinton swat-team, then use your unemployment money for a fallout shelter. It’s like that. It’s that serious. The dominos for the US all could start to fall with Ukraine.
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