6 things to know about Ukraine

While all eyes are on Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet bloc country, here are six things you need to know about the country.

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1. Ukraine is a democracy, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not see it that way. Putin considers the rejection of former President Viktor Yanukovych a coup d’etat, The Washington Post reported.

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Current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected in April 2019.

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But it does technically qualify as a democracy as the country’s president is chosen by popular election. There is a legislature that is made up of single-seat and popular representation with the prime minister chosen from the legislative majority. The prime minister is the government’s head. There is also a Supreme Court which is appointed by the president after being nominated by the Supreme Council of Justice, the Post reported.

Freedom House, a nonpartisan think tank, calls Ukraine a “traditional or hybrid regime” and “partly free,” the Post reported.

Ukraine is more of a democracy than Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. But it is not as much of a democracy as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are members of the European Union, the Post reported.

2. Ukraine had a population of 44 million in 2020, according to the World Bank, which the country joined in 1992. That makes it about half the population of Germany and larger than that of Poland.

It had a gross domestic product of $155.5 billion in 2020.

3. The country has had economic challenges since the first uprising in February 2014. The government responded by introducing reforms such as consolidation of money, creating a flexible exchange rate, reforming of energy tariffs and transparency in how it operates. One of the biggest challenges remains the public’s trust of the government

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4. Ukraine was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said to avoid travel to the region because of the pandemic, saying that it had a “very high level of COVID-19.”

Reuters reported that it had 388 infections per 100,000 people in the last seven days with the number of cases falling. The country had seen more than 4.8 million infections with 105,505 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Ukraine had dispensed at least 31.683 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, estimating that about 35.7% of the population has received two doses of shot.

5. The worldwide pandemic hit the country hard when it comes to jobs. The first quarter of 2021 had seen an unemployment rate of over 10%, but it did start to rebound through the year, according to the World Bank and Trading Economics.

Inflation had remained flat at 10.2% year to year as of August 2021, but that was double the 5% target, with food and gas prices the main cause. The country also saw a 27% minimum wage increase. Inflation had started to ease due to a stronger currency and adjustments of financial rates by the central bank.

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6. The U.S. State Department has issued a “do not travel” advisory for Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. Officials said that any U.S. citizen in the country should leave as soon as they are able to by any means available. The Department of State had ordered the departure of employees from the embassy in Kyiv earlier this month.

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