Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Ukrainian food prices are rising at a rate faster than in the ‘90s. But the Yatsenyuk government is still blaming the situation on the ignorance of the population and speculation by supermarket chains.
They used to blame currency exchangers, now they are blaming supermarket directors. However, you can’t feed the people with such tales.
The government’s “economy block” hastily summoned the director of the Ukrainian State Reserve Vladimir Zhukov. They demanded that he open the storehouses and fill the shelves with flour, sugar, canned meat, and buckwheat from its stores. In response the keeper of Motherland’s strategic stores revealed a terrible military secret to Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko: the storehouses are empty.
It could hardly have been news to the Prime Minister: already in January he ordered to open up the State Reserve, including its stores of medicines. However, already by then the medical stores amounted to only portable first aid kits and medicinal preparations and expired (dating back to the 1960s) bandages, cotton, hypodermics, which even African countries refused to accept even though Ukraine was giving them away for free.
In addition, once combat operations resumed the State Reserve sent to the front everything that it could: steel plates, spare parts, tents, heaters, mattresses. All of that was stored by the “Yanukovych band”, but the strategic reserve came in handy for the new government.
The last time the strategic reserve was cleaned out so thoroughly was during the Chernobyl disaster, when the reserve sent steel plates, diesel fuel, gas masks and protective equipment, medicine and food. Moreover, most of the goods were sent from Donetsk. The other storehouses, for example, in Kharkov, store four, or petroleum and diesel fuel, as in Chernigov region. However, all gasoline and kerosene from the state reserve was used up already six months ago.
Medicines were cleared out in January, supposedly as humanitarian aid to Donbass.
Now it’s the turn of food stores, in order to calm down the rioting Kievans and prevent hunger rebellions. But, alas. Last year’s entire harvest was sold abroad, the acreage for new sowing season was reduced by 30%. The storehouses are the only remaining hope.
For example, there is a large food storehouse on the outskirts of Kiev, which contains frozen mean, butter, canned meat, sugar. Incidentally, this storehouse has existed since before WW2, it was the first Kiev target struck by the Luftwaffe in order to destroy the strategic food stores.
The Ukrainian government did not need airstrikes: the food reserve is empty only one year after it took power, as a result of several changes among the management of the reserve, and the theft and sale of its contents. The proceeds, of course, were already split. No doubt even the top leadership of the country got its cut.
As a reminder, the former Prime Minister Azarov filled the Strategic Reserve with Chinese buckwheat, which earned him considerable criticism. One of the former managers of the agency, a Party of Regions official by the name of Lelyuk, carried out reforms, refurbished obsolescent factories, and filled the storehouses with flour, evaporated milk, canned meat and fish, sugar, and gasoline.
Now that the “H-Hour” is here, it turns out it's all gone: all the food has “gone to the front”, since the army is also being supplied partly by the State Reserve, since MOD and State Reserve storehouses have been merged.
Having learned of the empty shelves not only in the stores but also in the State Reserve, Poroshenko reportedly went into shock. He fumed and demanded the management to find something and throw a few crumbs to the Kievans.
Yatsenyuk maintained icy composure: he was better informed about the state of affairs, since the State Reserve is under his “patronage” as it is part of the Cabinet of Ministers.
It would seem Ukraine’s Black Hour is here.
J.Hawk's Comment: There indeed were earlier reports that the strategic reserve was being "unsealed" to support military operations on the Donbass. The army has to eat, after all, and maintaining several tens of thousands of soldiers for nearly a year is likely to make a dent. The second factor was the junta's desperate need to earn hard currency to somehow plug up the many budget holes opened up by its adoption of "European Choice" neoliberal economic policies. Therefore anything that could be sold, was sold, including Mariupol's huge grain reserves. Finally, there's the small matter of corruption. One gets the impression Ukraine is a giant organized style "bust-out" operation, whose objective is to stash as much loot in foreign accounts and then leave the mess for someone else to clean up. To say that the Kiev junta has some kind of a strategy would be giving them entirely too much credit. It's a collection of loosely coordinated individuals pursuing their own venal agendas and living hand-to-mouth, without any thought given to Ukraine's long-term prospects.