News | March 26, 2014

Updates and Analysis on Ukraine Crisis - March 26, 2014

EWI offers a daily situation report on Ukraine's unfolding crisis, featuring key developments and links to analytical pieces from foreign policy experts around the world.  

Key Developments

  • At a news conference following a meeting with European leaders, President Obama stressed that all European member nations have the responsibility to contribute to NATO in order to ensure its ability to deter an expansionist Russia. He also expressed concern about some members’ declining defense budgets.
  • During meetings in Brussels, President Obama and European leaders have stressed the importance of Europe becoming energy independent  as a means of isolating Russia. While European leaders pressed the president to reduce trade restrictions and increase U.S. gas exports, he emphasized that Europe should work to develop its own energy resources.
    • Officials from the U.S. and Europe will meet next week to continue discussions on how to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies; discussions also will cover negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
    • Ukraine has also begun efforts to reduce dependency on Russian energy, through negotiations to import natural gas from the European Union.
  • Talks between Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are winding down today, as the IMF is expected to offer an economic reform and aid program soon. Ukraine has asked for a loan of $15 to $20 billion. Any agreement would only be a preliminary deal and will likely include smaller amounts and requirements of “strong prior actions” to be implemented in Ukraine before any funds would be released, due to previously failed loan attempts last year.
  • The Swiss government, which holds the rotating chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), released a statement condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea. Switzerland will not adopt the sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union, although it may impose similar measures in the future. The statement also announced that Switzerland will take measures to prevent Russians and Ukrainians from using Swiss territory to circumvent the current sanctions.
  • Congress is likely to pass the U.S. aid package to Ukraine by Thursday, according to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.
    • Senate Democrats conceded to House Republicans to drop the proposed reforms to the IMF from the Ukrainian aid package. President Obama supported the reforms, as the U.S. is only nation among those he is meeting with in Europe that has not ratified the changes.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that if Russia invades Eastern Ukraine, the EU is ready to impose sanctions targeting EU-Russian trade and Russia’s energy, financial services and arms sectors.

Government Statements

“Transcript: Obama addresses NATO strength at March 26 news conference in Brussels:”

Articles and Analysis

Carol E. Lee and Matthew Dalton, “U.S., EU Aim to Cut Europe's Reliance on Russian Energy,” The Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2014.

Daryna Krasnolutska, “Ukraine Nears End of IMF Aid Talks as Obama Warns Russia,” Bloomberg, 26 March 2014.

Darya Korsunskaya, “Crimea Only a Temporary Distraction from Russia's Economic Woes, Expert Says,” Reuters, 26 March 2014.

Mike Dorning and Julianna Goldman, “Obama Deflecting Criticism Calls Russia a Regional Power,” BloombergBusinessweek, 26 March 2014.

Associated Press, “Congress on Track to Pass Ukraine Aid Bill,” The Washington Post, 26 March 2014.

Ayesha Rascoe, “U.S. lawmakers mull speedier gas exports to help Ukraine, Europe,” Reuters, 25 March 2014.

Luke Harding, “Shooting of Far-Right Leader Threatens to Raise Tensions in Ukraine,” The Guardian, 25 March 2014.

Peter Spiegel  and Neil Buckley, “IMF Rushes through $15bn Ukraine Bailout,” Financial Times, 26 March 2014.

Reuters, “China Says Supports International Financial Aid for Ukraine,” Reuters, 26 March 2014

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “The War of Words over Ukraine Plays into Putin’s Hands,” The Washington Post, 25 March.

Michael A. Levi and David M. Rubenstein, “Hot Air About American Gas Will Not Scare Putin,” Council on Foreign Relations, 25 March 2014.