The Geopolitical Divorce of the Century: Why Putin Cannot Afford to Let Ukraine Go
BY PETER DICKINSON
Next month, Europe’s leading budget airline will begin regular flights from Ukraine to a host of EU destinations. This is the latest milestone in a Ukrainian aviation boom that is seeing additional routes announced on a weekly basis and record passenger numbers at airports across the country. Each new flight serves to broaden Ukrainian horizons and anchor the country more firmly within the wider international community. Meanwhile, there has not been a single direct flight between Ukraine and Russia since October 2015.
The changes in Ukraine’s air travel industry are just one of the many ways in which the country has turned away from Russia and gone global since the climax of the Euromaidan Revolution in early 2014 and the start of Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war. Since then, Russia’s share of Ukrainian exports has tumbled from 24 percent to around 9 percent, while Russian imports to Ukraine have halved. As economic ties between Kyiv and Moscow loosen, Ukrainian businesses have begun to discover life after Russia. In 2017 alone, Ukraine-EU trade grew by almost a quarter and India emerged as the largest international market for Ukrainian agricultural exports. On the domestic front, American companies are replacing longstanding Russian partners. The first General Electric locomotive engines recently arrived in Ukraine, while the country’s Soviet era aviation flagship Antonov is now working with Boeing.