How much aid does Ukraine really need? A lot

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The Ukrainian economy is one big mess. The country has zero percent growth. Its currency is plummeting. Its credit rating is worse than Greece’s, and its black market economy is one of the biggest in the world, depriving the government of much-needed taxes. The government owes billions, including nearly $2 billion to Russia for fuel.

Bad leadership and corruption are at the root of Ukraine’s problems, says Anders Aslund, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former advisor to the country.

“President Victor Yanukovych had one aim for his economic policies – enriching himself as much as possible together with his family. He didn’t care much about the rest.”

That corruption has scared off foreign investment in a country that has agriculture, steel, rocketry and even its own (under-developed, critics say) natural gas resources. Ukrainian leaders say they need at least $35 billion to start fixing the mess they’re in.  

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