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Ukraine: What’s the next big disruption?

The uncertainty surrounding the geopolitical crisis centered on Ukraine is unlikely to go away any time soon.

The country's interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, quit on Thursday night after the governing coalition fell apart. The U.S. claimed that Russia had been firing artillery across its border with Ukraine, which would mark a serious escalation in the conflict. And Ukraine is still reeling from the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last week.

An emergency services worker photographs debris from a Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Grabovka, Ukraine.
Getty Images
An emergency services worker photographs debris from a Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Grabovka, Ukraine.

The fallout for the region's economics and business continues. On Friday, Russia's central bank hiked interest rates 0.5 percent to 8 percent, which it said was to tackle stubbornly high inflation, but may also help incentivize wealthy Russians to bring their money back to the country, after large-scale capital flight following the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis in February.

While euro zone economic data, such as Thursday's PMI figures, suggest the crisis is not yet having a serious impact, economists warn that the effects may not yet have trickled through.

Here, we take a look at what the next big movements in the crisis may be.


EU ramps up sanctions

The European Union is drawing up proposals to impose tougher "phase 3" sanctions on Russia, including sanctions targeting key sectors. At the moment, it looks like leaders are still divided on how severe the next round of sanctions should be.

"From the US/EU perspective they have to raise the stakes to the point that further escalation by Putin is just too costly from the economic perspective, or else he will think that the prize in Ukraine is still worth the effort and risks," Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank, warned.


Russia takes further military action

If Russia moves from assisting Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, to outright military intervention in the country, it could "explode the world" according to Andrii Kuzmenko, the acting Ukrainian ambassador to the UK. Russia may choose instead to gradually ramp up its involvement by sending in more professional soldiers from its ranks to help the separatists.


Ukrainian elections

There will now be general elections in Ukraine, probably in late October, and until then President Petro Poroshenko, a chocolate magnate, will effectively rule the country. The new government is likely to contain more pro-Western politicians – but also likely to be "more fragmented" according to Otilia Dhand, vice president at Teneo Intelligence. One consequence of the war on Ukraine's borders is likely to be a swing towards more nationalist Ukrainian parties, which might make working with Russia even more difficult.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle

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