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Wednesday, April 7, 2021
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Editor’s Note: VOA’s Russian service put me on the spot last night, asking me live the probability of military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I hazarded: 70% nyet; 30% da. The ‘leaked’ daytime videos of military hardware crossing the Kerch Bridge and of a convoy heading into southern Belarus smell more of a political threat than of a military threat. That said, last night’s Bloomberg headline captures the mood: “Russia Stages Mass Military Drills as Ukraine Tensions Climb.” At the very least, nothing will happen in April – Ukraine’s mud season. For a historical perspective, check out: Lost in the Mud: The (Nearly) Forgotten Collapse of the German Army in the Western Ukraine, March and April 1944. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Adamant analysts said:

“We lean towards Moscow’s actions being more of a show of force rather than a real preparation for a confrontation…Crossing over [into the Donbas] once more, especially with the world closely watching, would completely destroy Putin’s narrative of the conflict being Ukraine’s internal affair.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border and in Crimea

“has also pushed Ukrainian sovereign bonds to their lowest level since November,” Reuters reported last night. Adamant Capital elaborated: “The price of Ukraine’s 11-year benchmark Eurobond (2032) has tumbled over the past week (by roughly 370 bps) signaling investor concerns over the possibility of a military escalation.” From the other side, the Russian ruble dropped yesterday to 77 to the dollar, its lowest level since November.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Iranian military prosecutors have filed charges against 10 people allegedly involved in the January 8, 2020 shoot-down of a UIA passenger jet over Tehran, killing all 176 aboard.

Last month, Iran made public a ‘final’ report, blaming an unidentified Tor-M1 air defense system operator who mistook the passenger jet for an American target. Canada, whose nationals account for almost one third of the fatalities, denounced the long-awaited report, saying it “makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Boycotting Belarusian buses,

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi says he will not accept the results of a European Investment Bank tender that awards the contract for 100 buses to MAZ, the Belarus company. “We have no right to finance the regime,” he said, referring to widespread popular resistance to self-appointed ruler Alexander Lukashenko. “We have Ukrainian producers who need support.” Ukraine’s big bus manufacturers are Bogdan, Etalon, and Lviv’s Electron. “Why is this important?” asks Sadovyi. “Ukraine needs 30,000 units of public transport — billions of hryvnias and tens of thousands of jobs that will remain in Ukraine.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Corn exports are down 25% yoy in the first half of the October-September 2020 marketing season,

 reported APK-Inform. Of the 15.9 million tons exported so far, the top markets were: China – 6 million tons; EU – 5 million tons; and Egypt – 1.7 million tons. This year, Ukraine is expected to export 23 million tons of its 30-million-ton crop. Poor weather and reduced plantings depressed the harvest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Ukraine’s seaports handled 20.5% less cargo tonnage during the first quarter of this year than during the same January-March period last year,

 reported the Sea Ports Administration. The big factor in the drop to 33 million tons was a 37% decrease in grain export volumes, to 8.6 million tons. Ore exports were down by 12%, to 9 million tons. During the first quarter, ports handled 253,170 containers, almost a 5% yoy decrease. Despite these tonnage drops, Ukraine’s exports were up by 12% in the first quarter, to $13.75 billion.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Forbes lists seven Ukrainians amongst its latest list of the world’s 2,755 billionaires.

They are: Rinat Akhmetov — $7.6 billion; Viktor Pinchuk — $2.5 billion; Konstantin Zhevago — $2.3 billion; Igor Kolomoisky — $1.8 billion; Gennadiy Bogolyubov — $1.7 billion; Petro Poroshenko — $1.7 billion; and Vadym Novinsky — $1.4 billion.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Ukraine’s annual inflation will reach a 1.5-year high of 8% in March 2021,

exceeding the Central Bank’s forecast of 7.6%, said a monthly Reuters poll of Ukrainian analysts. Analysts said consumer prices rose due to inflation imported from world commodity markets, notably wheat, corn, sunflower oil and crude oil. Oleksiy Blinov, Alfa-Bank Ukraine’s Head of Research, said: “These changes in external prices are directly and indirectly transmitted to consumer inflation in Ukraine.” The IMF has predicted that Ukraine’s consumer price index will end this year at 7.9%.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Smartphone sales increased by 6% last year, to 6.9 million,

reported the analytics firm, International Data Corporation. Sales dropped during the second quarter lockdown, then came back with a roar, increasing by 37% yoy in the last quarter of 2020. This year, IDC predicts moderate growth, with sales topping 7 million. With Ukrainian purchasing power low, the average price fell last year by $19, to $192. Partly due to a surge in sales of China’s Xiaomi, the ‘cheap’ share of Ukraine’s market grew last year from 62% to 71%.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Last year, Ukraine weathered the Covid recession comparatively well.

According to figures compiled by Alfa-Bank Ukraine, the GDP drops for 2020 were: Poland – 2.8%; US – 3.5%; Ukraine – 4.1%; Germany – 5%; Czech – 5.6%; EU – 6.4%; France – 8.3%; Italy – 8.8%; and Spain – 11%.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The IMF has raised its Ukraine GDP growth to 4% this year,

 up from its forecast of 3% made six months ago. World GDP is to increase by 6% this year, “reflecting additional fiscal support in a few large economies and the anticipated vaccine-powered recovery in the second half of the year,” the IMF wrote in its April World Economic Outlook Review. Last week, the World Bank raised its growth forecast for Ukraine this year to 3.8%. A Bloomberg survey of 13 economists has predicted a rate of growth of 4.4%. Ukraine’s Economy Ministry has forecast a 4.6% rate of growth.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The total value of mergers and acquisitions in Ukraine in 2020 dropped by 62%, falling below $1 billion.

The number of M&A deals was 69, down 15% in comparison to 2019, according to a report issued yesterday by KPMG. Although deals are off to a slow start this year, the report predicts: “Momentum will really start to build up in the second half of the year, with a brighter outlook beyond this.” The four main sectors are: IT, agriculture, real estate, and infrastructure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Beyond “ensuring Qatar’s food security,” Ukraine is discussing using Qatar as a logistics hub to supply food to the region,

said Ihor Zhovkva, Deputy Presidential Chief of staff, (Ukrinform). Reviewing President Zelenskiy’s one day visit to Doha Monday, Zhovkva said: “During the talks, the leaders discussed the possibility of using Qatar’s logistics network to supply Ukrainian food to other countries in the region.” Doha’s Hamad Port and Hamad International Airport are amongst the busiest in the Gulf. President Zelenskiy also encouraged expanding flight connections beyond the current lone flight — Qatar Airways between Doha and Kyiv Boryspil.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Qatar’s Nebras Power and Kyiv’s UDP Renewables have entered into a consortium.  It’s designed to yield up to $250 million in joint investment in Ukrainian solar and wind plants

 by the end of next year, said Sergiy Yevtushenko, UDP’s co-founder and managing partner, on Facebook yesterday. Yevtushenko wrote, Nebras, a state-owned company, will buy control of six solar stations, noting Monday’s deal comes after two years of negotiations. He added: “The next stage of the partnership will be the implementation of new wind power projects which will create new capacity in ‘green’ energy to provide for the needs of about 310,000 average households.”

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