What is the real cost of «patriotism»?What is the real cost of «patriotism»?What is the real cost of «patriotism»?

What is the real cost of «patriotism»?

Andriy Manchuk
What is the real cost of «patriotism»?
But it gets worse – because incomes are still falling, and the losses will increase many times in the next year


There has been a truce in Donbass for over a month, which finally settled a long-standing status quo here. Weapons are gradually withdrawn from the front line, and, despite the recurrent attacks, it is obvious that the conflict moved toward a reduction in intensity. In Ukraine they talk about peace – nationalist politicians, who consider calls to end war betrayal, talk of that with anger – but the vast majority of citizens already realize that the cessation of hostilities is a necessary condition to end systemic crisis, which is sinking our country deeper. Journalist and blogger Ruslan Kotsaba is still in prison – but the anti-war statements and critical remarks against the authorities, for which he was put in prison, are gradually becoming a common topic of conversation during office smoke breaks and on internet forums.

When the guns fall silent, the murmur of the people become audible – they in stronger voice complain about their situation and see in future no prospects for themselves. The «Fog of War» about which Carl von Clausewitz once wrote, is gone – and Ukrainians now see the ugly reality which was hidden behind militaristic hysteria and patriotic propaganda in the media. This ruined state, which firmly cemented its status of the poorest country in Europe, the collapsed economy, people, impoverished by inflation, unemployment, rising prices and tariffs, total corruption and ineffectiveness of the new government, who have long surpassed by these indicators the previous regime: it opens a shocking picture even to the foreign patrons of the Kiev government. «Left without the much-used cover of a war, the internal divisions and dysfunctional core of the Ukrainian political elite didn't take long to reveal itself. Rather than the democratic hope it might have become after last year's «Revolution of Dignity», Ukraine now looks like just another incompetent and corrupt post-Soviet regime. It's no wonder cracks are appearing in Kiev's all-important relationship with the West» – wrote an influential writer of «Bloomberg», in an article under the characteristic title: «Ukraine Is in Danger of Becoming a Failed State», the «in danger» likely added simply for diplomatic tact.

As it turned out, the main enemy of the Ukrainian authorities is precisely peace. Because it does not allow them to make profits on war, while writing off on it all of the catastrophic problems in the economy, for which it would be so simple and convenient to blame the aggressors and terrorists –silencing the disgruntled with political persecution and censorship. Now the Ukrainian politicians are finding it much more difficult to justify the crisis by «complex situation of war». But most importantly, society isstartingask them about their unrealistic promises of past, as well as asking for what was this war, and who will be responsible for its consequences for the country?

Ukrainians have yet to understand the magnitude of the losses from the war in Donbass – the more so because, despite the shaky truce, these losses continue to grow, and they need more time to properly assess them. However, it is already clear that these losses are huge – as well as the profits of those who earned money from the conflict, and continues to earn it now. «Every day of the war in the Donbass costs us about five million US dollars we could have invested in sustainable development», – Petro Poroshenko said recently speaking at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in New York. At the same time, the profits of the «International Investment Bank» controlled by Poroshenko increased by 52.5% over the past year of war, while revenues of the flagship factory of the presidential corporation «Roshen» grew by 9 times – a record.

At the same time, in the second quarter of 2015, the real income of the population of Ukraine decreased by 34% compared to the same period of 2014. Businessmen close to government, politicians and officials from the ruling coalition, experts and journalists paid through foreign grants, marauding «military volunteers» and swindlers «volunteers helping army» – they made slaughter of the war a profitable business. And millions of Ukrainians have to pay for that from their own pockets – in accordance with the decisions of the cabinet – all workers continue to have 1.5% of their salary deducted for the war effort. In total, this amounts to $124 million monthly – and public money pour into a bottomless pit of the «Anti-Terrorist Operation», allowing cronies of government officials, including the President, to make massive profitson government military spending.

The government treasury is practically empty – as a result of a collapse of industrial production, which fell 18.1 to 21.7% this year, compared to 10.7% in 2014. Industrial decline leads to decrease in exports, which then in turn also has a negative impact on production. According to Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine Natalia Nikolskaya, the main causes of the export downturnare fighting in the east of the country and the exclusion of the economy of Donbass. As a result, the country lost $5.7 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 – and just stopping of production facilities in the conflict zone from the beginning of the war costed over a billion of US dollars. Another important factor of the crisis was the loss of the Russian market and limiting of the supply of Ukrainian goods to the market of the Customs Union. This year, exports to the CU countries decreased compared with last year by $4.63 billion. And this completely paralysed work ofthe engineering companies working for this market in the country. Most of them suspended their work – including the world famous «Pivdenmash», which is now formally working only one day a week just so the government does not have to hang the locks on its doors.

Not surprisingly, in late October, the International Monetary Fund downgraded the forecast again for the fall of Ukraine's economy in 2015, lowering it to 11% from the 9% predicted in July. For 2014, the fall of the country's GDP was 6.7%. Ukraine finishes 2015 with disastrous social-economic indicators that could have come from a war, coupled with the anti-social policy of overtly predatory «reforms». According to forecasts of the Ministry of Economic Development and the National Bank, inflation will be at 44-45% by the end of this year – but the IMF experts predict a rise in inflation to 50%. Moreover, this level of inflation is the highest recorded in twenty years after the crisis period of 1992-1995. The real wages of the population decreased by 17.3%. However, majority of enterprises and firms pay wages in unreportedcash, so, having with this in mind, experts believe that the overall level of real wages could have fallen by 25%, note, compared to after-Maidan year 2014.

However, even those who have much smaller wages have reasons to be happy if the wagesare been paid on time. Mass lay-offs and transfer of employees to part-time jobs are going now all over the country. According to forecasts of the Ministry of Social Policy, the growth in unemployment for 2015 will be officially around 11% – and considering the «hidden» unemployment, this can be considered very low. According to Deputy Minister Valeriy Yaroshenko, 23% of young people are unemployed. «The situation in the east had led to an enormous loss of jobs – 800 000 jobs were lost only in the Donetsk region. Overall, employment in industry has decreased by 18% in 2014» – says experts of the Ministry of Social Policy. And obviously, these figures will only get worse over the year - not to mention the fact that the right-wing «Maidan» coalition is pushing through parliament  an anti-worker Labour Code, which will severely restrict the labour rights of Ukrainians in favour of the employers.

At the same time, life in the country is getting more expensive. The price of natural gas increased by 453% since the start of the year and the increase in the cost of electricity for the first 9 months of this year amounted to nearly 70%, while consumer prices for goods and services increased in the first nine months of 2015 by 41.4%. In particular, the price of bread has risen by 40.3%, meat products – by 23.5%, fish - by 43.9%, sunflower oil – by 60.5%, pasta products – by 43.2%, sugar – 38.1%. The cost of fruits increased during the year by 50%, the cost of vegetables, alcohol and tobacco products increased by more than a quarter, clothes and shoes have become 30% more expensive than last year. The fuel increased in price by 14.4%, medicines – by 32.3%, transportation tariffs increased by 20.6%, payment for water supply – by almost 30%, and the cost of education has increased by 32%. Even optimistic experts cannot say how pensioners and low-income citizens will survive with such prices and tariffs. Especially given the fact that pensions are indexed only symbolically, and social benefits to all categories of the population have been actively reduced by the neoliberal cabinet, which believes that fastand hard introducing of austerity policies is their main task – and even does not hide this from the robbed population.

But it gets worse – because incomes are still falling, and the losses will increase many times in the next year. For example, even if the war ends, the reconstruction of destroyed housing and repair of damaged infrastructure will cost the budget astronomical sums. According to Vladimir Groisman, 35 cities in 21 districts are completely destroyed in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. According to the report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, «during the conflict at least 1969 sites were damaged, including 659 public buildings, 1230 private houses and 178 offices, what caused damage of 440 million dollars». Only the restoration of roads in the Donetsk region will cost over a billion dollars, and will take at least ten years to complete. The cost of reconstruction of housing, along with schools, kindergartens and hospitals is estimated at $28 million, and the repair of the power supply system will cost $40 million. In addition, the war stopped work of 600 enterprises - that is approximately 75% of all industrial capacity in Donbass, which was in the past considered the main industrial centrer of the country.

We can talk about the damages of the war for a very long time – its negative impact deeply affected all aspects of social, economic and public life in Ukraine in the field of education, healthcare, culture, and literally everywhere. Even the terminationof the flights between Russia and Ukraine will bring our economy an annual loss of $35 million. But the main damage from the conflict is much worse, because it cannot always be measured in concrete figures and expressed in statistical indicators. This damage consists of thousands of people dead and tens of thousands wounded, more than a million refugees from the conflict zone, young people and skilled professionals who are leaving Ukraine in search of salvation from the forced mobilization, hopelessness and poverty. It also includes a loss of national sovereignty, hopeless debt slavery to the international financial institutions and the transition of the country under external management. «Americans are highly visible in the Ukrainian political process. The U.S. embassy in Kiev is a centrer of power, and Ukrainian politicians openly talk of appointments and dismissals being vetted by U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and even U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. «Pyatt and the U.S. administration have more influence than ever in the history of independent Ukraine» Leschenko wrote», – says the same Bloomberg article. This elimination of freedom of speech and harassment of the opposition and the government policy of militant anti-communism – an attempt to completely «cleanse» Ukraine from the left, so that no one could offer Ukraine an alternative to the current course. Unprecedented anywhere in the post-war Europe, is the rise of the nationalist and Nazi movement. After tasting blood in this war, it has grown as a vampire – and has now massively infiltrated the parliament and the executive power, the army, police, security services, business and the media. This is combined with a drop in the level of education and culture, which are now the most shamefully used to foment hatred and war. This mass madness that engulfed our society, manifesting itself through the domination of xenophobia, racism and social medieval obscurantism, attacks on dissidents and goes with the destruction of monuments, patriotic colouring of fences and worship of the «Holy Face of Christ», «mysteriously emerged» on a window glass.

So, isn't the price of the war in Donbass too high? When answering this question, we need to ask ourselves – what can we do now to stop this devastating conflict? So that we must not pay even more.

Andriy Manchuk


Translation by Peter Menko

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