International financing has played a significant—although not always reported—role in the current conflict in Ukraine. In late 2013, conflict between pro-European Union (EU) and pro-Russian Ukrainians escalated to violent levels, leading to the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and prompting the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.
A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually President Yanukovych’s removal from office was his rejection of an EU Association agreement that would have further opened trade and integrated Ukraine with the EU. The agreement was tied to a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead of the EU and IMF deal, Yanukovych choose a Russian aid package worth $15 billion plus a 33% discount on Russian natural gas. This deal has since gone off the table with the pro-EU interim government accepting the new multimillion dollar IMF package in May 2014.