Just when global financial markets had shrugged off Ukraine as yet another ‘storm in a teacup’, it appears events are escalating rapidly once again. This morning saw European Parliament’s Vice President Saryusz-Wolski warn “Russia’s pressure on Ukraine is mounting high, further war imminent,” to which Ukraine’s President Poroshenko rapidly responded (via Twitter) rather ominously that a “third world war does not scare us,” having noted earlier than Ukraine needs to achieve NATO membership. This then prompted NATO’s top military commander to warn, he is “very concerned” that Russia’s military build-up in the annexed Crimean region could be used as a launchpad for attacks across the whole Black Sea region; leaving the alliance confirming that NATO plans to deploy tanks in Eastern Europe..
With Ukraine, according to President Poroshenko, on the verge of World War III, it appears the people of the divided nation face another all too familiar war… on their living standards. As Hyrvnia continues to collapse to record-er lows, Ukraine’s Central Bank warns of further stress and FX (think USDollar or EUR) demand because the “population is in panic.” With a 19.8% inflation rate last month and a 48% devaluation in the currency this year, Bloomberg reports the costs of imported goods from gasoline to fruit and from medicine to meat is soaring. One store-owner reflected that she “feels the hryvnia devaluation everywhere,” and another noted “I can’t imagine how people survive on a single pension. We can’t even go to the drug store. We try to use herbs instead.” The Central bank expects inflation to keep rising (having previously peaked at 10,256% in 1993 as the Soviet economy was dismantled). “Inflation is the same as the war,” warns one analyst, “it may lead to protests if people blame the authorities for failing to conduct proper policies.”