The economic battleground
Gas and chocolate
Supporting Ukraine's economy will not be easy or cheap
THE Ukrainian economy is a mess.
Its currency, the hryvnia, has lost almost 20% of its value in the past month.
Foreign-exchange reserves have tumbled to $15 billion, despite the imposition of capital controls.
Bank deposits fell by more than 3% in the first half of February and, since the revolution, the government has imposed limits on further withdrawals.
Tax revenues have collapsed and pension payments have been delayed.
The country was in poor-enough economic shape before all this: it was one of the reasons why Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president, chose $15 billion in Russian loans over a deal with the European Union—the decision that led to his downfall.
Having propped up the Ukrainian economy, Russia seems to have the power, as energy provider, trading partner and creditor, to cripple it.
作为乌克兰的能源供应商, 贸易伙伴和债权人，俄罗斯支持过乌克兰的经济, 俄罗斯似乎也有能力削弱它。
The most obvious economic attack would be to cut off the Ukraine's gas.
That need not have huge effects either on western customers whose gas comes via Ukraine or on Russian gas earnings.
Other Russian pipelines could handle much of the gas.
But it would still be a costly tactic, and one to which the Ukrainians are not as vulnerable as they might seem.
They have large gas-storage facilities conveniently situated in the west of the country. How much gas the stores contain is unclear, and its ownership is murky—but after a mild winter there is probably a buffer of several months.
Moreover, Ukraine should be able to import gas from Slovakia, reversing the flow of a main east-west pipeline.
It has twice done this on smaller pipelines during previous disputes with Russia.
Trade is also a weapon which imposes costs on the aggressor, but an easier one to wield with precision.
A quarter of Ukraine's exports head east and Vladimir Putin is not shy about messing with them; Russian restrictions, like those placed on Ukrainian chocolate last year, could cost the country billions, with the losses targeted on particular sectors, even particular oligarchs.
This week Russia banned pork from Ukraine, saying political instability had undermined safety inspections.
Though Mr Putin says he wants to strengthen trade, instability is unlikely to be in short supply over the coming months.
As a creditor, Russia has given itself room for mischievous manoeuvre.
The way its bail-out to Mr Yanukovych, $3 billion of which was delivered before the revolution, was structured gives Mr Putin leverage that could scupper any attempts to reach agreements with other creditors in advance of forthcoming payments.
And some fine print stipulates that if Ukraine's debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 60% it would automatically be in default.
一些细则规定, 如果乌克兰的债务占国民生产总值的比率超过60%, 俄罗斯可以不履行协议。
Russia's legal poison pills could make dealing with Ukraine's debts harder at a time when they are sure to grow; without loans from the West the government will run out of money.
If Ukraine had sensible economic policies such loans would be easily made, since the country's current debt burden, at 47% of GDP, is not excessive.
如果乌克兰有明智的经济政策, 这种贷款会很容易, 因为这个国家目前的债务负担占GDP的47%, 并不过多。
But Ukraine has almost never had sensible policies; it has profligate ones, and the investors who used to support that profligacy when Ukraine offered high interest rates and a stable currency are now nowhere to be seen.
但乌克兰几乎从来没有明智的政策, 挥霍无度，曾经支持 挥霍的投资者们所支持乌克兰的高利率和稳定的货币政策现在也不可行了。
Time for the IMF, which has ample experience with this kind of balance-of-payments crisis.
The standard remedy includes tough reforms—in Ukraine's case, a large depreciation, slashed energy subsidies and big budget cuts—in return for funds to tide the country over until it can once again borrow from private markets.
规范的补救措施包括艰难的改革，对于乌克兰的这种情况, 需要一次货币大贬值, 削减能源补贴和大幅削减财政预算来换取资金,直到这个国家渡过难关, 直到能再一次实行私人市场。
Ukraine probably needs $3 billion to $4 billion in budgetary finance to last until after the May election.
A larger loan of $15 billion would allow it to meet its external financial obligations for the next year.
America is keen for the IMF to negotiate a big package of loans and reforms as soon as possible, arguing that Ukraine's transitional government not only needs the support, but also can make progress where others have failed.
美国希望国际货币基金组织协商尽快提供大的贷款和改革方案, 认为乌克兰的过渡政府不仅需要支持, 也可以在别人失败的地方取得进展。
Alexander Turchinov, the interim president, has already said he would accept all the IMF's terms, including draconian spending cuts.
Alexander Turchinov临时总统已经表示, 他将接受所有国际货币基金组织的条件, 包括严厉的削减开支。
But many of the IMF's technocrats, and its member countries, dislike the idea of America using the fund as a geopolitical tool—worries given a bitter edge by the fact that America's Congress recently refused to approve an expansion of the fund's coffers.
They would prefer that the IMF chip in $1 billion, with few strings attached, under its Rapid Financing Instrument.
Other short-term help is available.
On March 5th the EU offered 1.6 billion in short-term macroeconomic assistance, as well as a lot of development aid in the longer term.
Add in the $1 billion loan guarantee announced by John Kerry this week and Ukraine can probably stumble along until May, at which point a newly elected government could negotiate a long-term package.
约翰克里在本周宣布了10亿美元贷款担保，到5月乌克兰可能会踉跄前行 , 那时新当选的政府可以协商一个长期计划。
The politics of the rescue may get harder when it becomes clear where some of the money will end up.
Using Western taxpayer's money to pay off Mr Putin or the hedge funds that bought high-yielding Ukrainian debt is an ugly prospect.
So Ukraine may try to renegotiate terms with its bondholders, which would be where Mr Putin's leverage could come into play.
But it would also be where a reform plan with solid Western support would yield dividends.
If Ukraine's economy is being transformed and the IMF is satisfied, Russian bloody-mindedness need not slow the country's return to the market, even if it forces a form of default.
如果乌克兰的经济转变了, 国际货币基金组织对其满意, 需要俄罗斯不找茬阻碍乌克兰重返市场, 即便是它迫使违约。
But if Ukraine's reform commitment wobbles, Russia has room to cause yet more trouble.