Commerce as Diplomacy: Penny Pritzker Goes to Kiev

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker speaks during a press conference in Kiev on Sept. 27, 2014. Photograph by Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. continues to play a soft hand in the Ukraine crisis, President Obama dispatched Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to Kiev. On Saturday, Sept. 27, she met with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and other political leaders, who are eager for U.S. technical expertise (with tax law, anticorruption initiatives, etc.), if not for a return of western investment. Pritzker stressed the need for rapid—and lasting—reform. Ukraine has been down this road before, raising the hopes of western investors and commercial interests in the wake of the Orange Revolution, only to slip back into an everglade of corruption and inefficiency. Washington has provided Kiev with a $1 billion loan guarantee, as well as $291 million in aid. But this, along with the first tranche of a $27 billion rescue package from the IMF, has made no one believe that stability is around the corner.

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