Last week scores of Russian media disseminated a statement by a Ukrainian member of parliament who claimed that Ukraine allegedly “lost half of its GDP because of Western sanctions against Russia.” There is no evidence for such a claim, neither Ukraine’s State Statistics Service nor World Bank data support this fake claim. International sanctions against Russia were introduced in response to the Kremlin’s armed aggression against Ukraine, which in turn had a significant impact on the state of the Ukrainian economy.
The fake story has its roots in a claim uttered by Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev on the NewsOne television channel. Murayev, a former member of the disgraced Regions Party of Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, is a staunchly pro-Russian politician and advocates the resumption of Ukraine’s trade with Russia to its pre-war level. Russia sanctions “first and foremost took away the incomes of our citizens. We lost half of our GDP, Russia lost 2%, Europe less than 1%, and we – half”, Murayev said.
RIA Novosti, NTV, Rossiyskaya gazeta,Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, Kommersant, Ukraina.RU, RT, Novorossiya, AntiMaidan, Rytm Evrazii, Baltnews, News Front, Federalnoye Agentstvo Novostey, Voyennoye Obozrenie and other Russian media disseminated this fake story.
Mr. Murayev refers to the Maidan revolution as a state coup, he calls the Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine a civil war, and is overtly critical of Ukraine’s European aspirations. He is a member of the opposition block in the Ukrainian parliament, most of his opposition colleagues are former Regions Party members.
Murayev’s take on the Ukrainian economy is not only inaccurate, it is only his personal opinion. Russian media however present this opinion as fact, declaring that Ukraine recognizes its GDP has shrunk because of Russia sanctions.
According to Ukraine’s State Statistics Service, Ukraine’s GDP fell as much as 16% in the first quarter of 2015. According to the World Bank, Ukraine’s GDP in 2015 shrank by 9.77%.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development explains that the 2015 drop in the country’s GDP was not only caused by restricted access to the Russian market but also by the impact of the war on Ukraine’s manufacturing and transport infrastructure, weak demand, a drop in world prices in key commodity markets, limited financial capacity amongst the Ukrainian public and a reduction of Ukraine’s internal investment demands.
Although Ukraine lost access to the Russian market, thanks to the EU Association and Free Trade Agreement Ukraine gained access to EU markets. Over the last years the European Union has become Ukraine’s largest trading partner, in 2017 40% of Ukraine’s exports went to the EU, 42% of its imports came from the EU.
StopFake has debunked other Russian fakes, claiming that Russia sanctions were driving Ukraine’s economy into a dead end.