NEWSWATCH: “New Fears in Ukraine’s Coal Country; A factory and its workers face economic hardship from conflict and blockades” – U.S. News/Katherine Jacobsen

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… Two years later a blockade in eastern Ukraine now threatens the future of the Avdiivka plant and the health of Ukraine’s already shaky economy. Activists, with the support of some politicians, initiated the blockade in January with the intention of halting trade between businesses in Ukrainian and separatist-held territories. In mid-March the government in Kiev joined in, reversing itself and announcing a full transportation blockade of rebel-held areas, a move that shows little sign of abating …. The stakes are high for Avdiivka, the surrounding Donbas region and for Ukraine. Economic uncertainty from the halt in trade has prompted the International Monetary Fund to delay delivery of the next installment of its aid package …. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman estimates that Ukraine will lose 75,000 jobs and at least $3.5 billion in foreign-exchange earnings by year’s end. The country’s central bank estimates economic growth could be halved if the blockade does not lift …. * * *  In Kiev, support for the blockade was initially split between competing factions, with Groysman referring to the protesters’ encampment as ‘populist PR.’ However, shortly after state security services forcefully dispersed one encampment and rebels seized companies owned by Akhmetov on separatist-held territories, Groysman’s ruling coalition flipped their position. The blockade, they say, will stay in place until businesses the rebels seized are returned, including the ones owned by Akhmetov, considered Ukraine’s richest person. …”

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