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Ukraine

EU Or Russia? Ukraine's Future Can Lead One Way, Or The Other

The first question in European capitals remains: freedom for Yulia Tymoshenko

The Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev
The Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev
Maksim Yusin

KIEV - Ukraine is being pulled in two directions -- on the one hand, towards Russia and its so-called Customs Unions, on the other towards the European Union. Time is running out for Kiev to decide which path to take.

According to Christopher Weil, the German ambassador in Ukraine, freeing Yulia Tymoshenko would be extremely welcome to EU members, and would likely be a major step towards an agreement between Brussels and Kiev -- a precursor to Ukraine’s integration into the European Union.

Weil said that if Tymoshenko is released, an agreement could be signed as soon as November, during a planned summit of the “Eastern Partnership,” an organization of former Soviet-block countries that are potential candidates for EU members.

This would only be the first step in a long process towards membership in the European Union. It’s not clear how many years, or decades, eventual membership might take for Ukraine. Right now, Europe is only offering initial observer status, rather than full participation in the elite club, and with uncertainty about the longterm conditions of joining. On the other hand, if Ukraine were to sign on to Russia's trade pact, it would immediately have the same rights and standing as all of the other members.

It might seem natural to opt for the latter, but there are good arguments in favor of Europe, starting with the fact that the total market of the EU is nearly ten times as large as that of the Customs Union, which is made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Still, there is no existing market for Ukrainian goods in the European market, and the country’s large agricultural sector would likely come under strict control, while there are still economic connections that date back to Soviet times between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Finally, Russia has made it very clear that entering its Customs Union is absolutely necessary if Ukraine wants lower gas prices.

While all this is going on, the country’s economic situation grows desperate. Although politicians strike an optimistic tone in public, in conversations with Kommersant, local and national leaders all admitted the dire situation.

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Coronavirus

The Main COVID Risk Now: Long COVID

Death rates are down, masks are off, but many who have been infected by COVID have still not recovered. Long COVID continues to be hard to diagnose and treatments are still in the developmental stage.

Long COVID feels like a never-ending nightmare for those who suffer from it.

Jessica Berthereau

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“I’m a fighter, you know, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, I’ve been around the world twice… I’m not saying this to brag, but to tell you my background," says the 40-year-old. "These days, I’m exhausted, I’m not hungry, I no longer drive, I can’t work anymore, I have restless legs syndrome.” She pauses before adding sadly: “I can’t read anymore either.”

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