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As part of President Zelenskiy’s ‘Big Construction’ program, Ukravtodor plans to build by 2025, the end of his term, 1,400 km of cement concrete roads on routes leading to Black Sea ports in Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv.

 Designed to take heavy traffic of fully loaded grain trucks, this network of cement roads will triple in size in three years, Andriy Ivko, said Ukravtodor’s road development director (Interfax-Ukraine).

Ukraine is working with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to become the fulcrum of a Europe-Central Asia transit route

, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after meeting with Central Asian diplomats. Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be the entry points to Europe and Turkmenbashi port would be the entry to Central Asia. At the same time, Yuriy Vitrenko, Naftogaz CEO, is lobbying the US and the EU to force Gazprom to allow Central Asian gas to flow through Ukraine to the EU.

Nova Poshta has opened three more regional terminals, each capable of processing 120 parcels a minute.

With each facility estimated to cost $1.5 million, terminals have opened in Chernivtsi, Slavyansk and Vinnytsia. A total of 209 jobs were created. Earlier this year, the privately owned delivery company opened similar centers in Cherkasy and Mykolaiv and doubled its center in Kyiv. Last year, Nova Poshta’s profit rose 27% for $36 million.

Ukravtodor is halfway through rebuilding and repaving the longest road in Ukraine

the M-30 which stretches 1,392 km from Stryi, Lviv region to Izvarino, Donetsk. Almost twice as long as the drive from Paris to Marseille, the new M-30 east-west route will unite two existing international roads – the M-12 Stryi-Ternopil-Kropyvnytskyi-Znamenka and M-04 Znamenka-Luhansk-Izvarino. The final 100 km of the M-04 are not in government-controlled territory and will not be renovated.

President Zelenskiy said that two large state companies – power producer Centrenergo and chemicals producer Odesa Port Plant – will be auctioned online auction in the coming months

. “Centrenergo is completely ready,” he told reporters, speaking of a company that has 23 power plants across the country. Centrenergo has an installed capacity of 7,690 MW – equivalent to half the capacity of all renewable power producers in Ukraine.

This summer, Ukrzaliznytsia plans to lease out 41,000 square meters of commercial space in the nation’s 24 busiest passenger stations

, Ivan Yuryk, acting CEO of the state railroad, told reporters yesterday at a government development forum. These leases could bring in $4 million a year to the money-losing railroad. At the end of the summer, UZ will start renting out space at the system’s remaining 84 passenger stations. Listing possible tenants who could bid through ProZorro Sale, Yuryk said: “Food courts, pharmacies, shops, recreation areas, shops that sell big brands, brand stores of large chains and manufacturers, bank branches,

The successful online auction of Lviv Correctional Colony № 48 is to be the first privatization of 35 shuttered prisons put up for sale in a program started this year.

 Two prison sales – one in Odesa and one in Irpin, a northern suburb of Kyiv – failed due to a lack of bidders. Justice Minister Denys Mayluska hopes the Lviv sale will generate investor interest. A separate piece of the Lviv prison colony was sold last week for $1.1 million – almost nine times the starting price. Under the program, 30% of sales proceeds go to the state budget and 70% toward rebuilding existing prisons.

Chinese involvement in building the first $1.1 billion segment of the Kyiv Bypass Road,

the Ministry said, would be facilitated by the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on infrastructure construction cooperation. Other priorities for the Ministry are: construction of the 90 km Poltava-Oleksandriya road and increasing China-Ukraine freight traffic. At the G7 Summit in England last weekend, one American official talked of spending “several trillion dollars” on infrastructure projects designed to provide alternatives to China’s Belt and Road.

The new mill would be a vote of confidence in Mariupol, a city located 30 km west of the front lines and a step toward Metinvest’s target: ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050.

“This is the direction that we are going,” he said. “We have an idea to build a new plant based on hydrogen metallurgy.” Challenging Ukraine’s metallurgy to modernize, he said: “Today, we see an opportunity to declare, like the European Union itself, that we can be carbon neutral by 2050. This is absolutely real for Ukraine, for Ukrainian steelmaking.”

President Zelenskiy plans to spend $9 billion during the three remaining years of his term to rebuild and repair 43,000 km of national roads and 119,000 km of local roads

, reports the Finance Ministry. The expenditure in critical infrastructure is included in the Budget Declaration for 2022-2024, which was approved last week by the Cabinet of Ministers. Denis Ulyutin, Deputy Finance Minister, said: “Thanks to this, the number of road accidents should be reduced by about 7%.”

The Infrastructure Ministry plans to install 50 more weigh-in-motion devices this year, raising to 100 the number of the systems designed to catch overloaded trucks

. On Thursday, the Rada approved a law allowing automatic recording of overloaded trucks, eliminating the possibility of drivers paying roadside bribes to highway inspectors. With each device costing about $1 million, the system is designed to protect roads built under the government’s ‘Big Construction’ program.

To speed construction of Kyiv’s 150 km Bypass Road, the Rada passed a bill exempting the $3.2 billion project from ProZorro procurement and public tenders

, Max Nefyodov, a Kyiv City Councilman and former deputy Economy Minister, charges in an Atlantic Council blog. Under the headline “Ukraine’s post-2014 public procurement progress is under threat,” Neyodov argues: “This recently adopted amendment sets an awful precedent that could pave the way for further exemptions of other major construction projects from Ukraine’s public procurement laws and regulations.”

By the end of next year, a $35 million renovation of the airport’s runway and terminal should be finished,

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff, wrote on Facebook after landing. Serving Kryvyi Rih, a city of 60000 and part of the Dnipro and Kropyvnytskyi regions, the airport terminal will be able to process 400 passengers an hour. Kryvyi Rih is one of the 16 regional airports undergoing upgrades in an effort to restore domestic aviation.

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, plans to stop calls to Chornomorsk port after August 10

, the company says, citing “our network optimization exercise.” Three years ago, the Danish shipper stopped visiting Odesa. Now, Maersk will concentrate on Pivdenniy, Ukraine’s busiest port. Previously known as Yuzhny, this port has Ukraine’s fastest growing container terminal, TIS.

The first year of traffic cameras has yielded 1.7 million speeding tickets and a dramatic drop in recorded speeding,

Oleksiy Biloshitskiy, the first deputy head of the Patrol Police Department, told reporters yesterday. Of the fines, 85% were paid, yielding the Treasury almost $10 million. As of last weekend, the cameras were catching 7,000 speeders a day, about 15% the number who getting caught when the system started last summer.

Russia’s military support of a divided Donbas, “caused enormous damage to the economy of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,”

wrote Oleg Nemchinov, Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers on Telegram. “Russia’s occupation of part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has led to a sharp deterioration of the demographic situation in the whole territory,” he wrote from Mariupol where he was studying the economic situation in the Donbas. “Negative trends are observed in all three main factors that determine population dynamics: migration, birth rate, mortality.”

Abandoned coal mines across the Donbas are filling with water, threatening drinking water quality on both sides of the separation line

, Veronika Melkozerova reports for NBC News from Toretsk,  in government-controlled Donetsk. As water fills the mines, methane is pushed to the surface triggering explosions, she reports. Of the 121 working mines in the Donbas, 88 are in the Russia-controlled sector, says Ukraine’s Energy Ministry. Over the next 20 years, Ukraine intends to close most of its coalmines, partly with German and Polish aid. Ukrainian experts say the separatists have stopped pumping water from a dozen mines, including Yunkom site

The EU and its European Investment Bank are investing €460 million to repair damaged infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk,

 reports Jean-Erik de Zagon, the bank’s resident representation in Ukraine. A first tranche of €120 million will be used to repair 168 buildings – largely schools, kindergartens, libraries, culture houses, medical clinics and apartment buildings for internally displaced people. Building on the success of this ‘Ukraine Early Recovery Program,’ the EU and Bank recently agreed to a second €340 million loan, largely targeting Donetsk and Luhansk.

In Donetsk, the state highway agency is rebuilding 12 bridges and the access road to the front line city of Avdiivka.

In a multi-year project, Ukravtodor is rebuilding this summer the 625 km stretch of the M-14 between Odesa and Mariupol. This east-west road links the ports of the Azov and Black Seas, giving exporters increased flexibility if Russia closes the Azov to Ukraine-bound cargo ships.

Uzhhorod will become a rail hub for passengers traveling between Ukraine and Central and Southeastern Europe

, according to UZ CEO Ivan Yuryk. In a first step, UZ is spending $200,000 this summer to study restoring 20 km of Euro gauge track that was abandoned in the 1990s. Originally laid during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the line runs from Uzhhorod to Chop. Chop already has dual gauge tracks to Hungary and Slovakia. At Uzhhorod Central Station, EU-bound travelers will clear Ukrainian customs while they change trains. Yuryk predicts: “Uzhhorod will become a railway hub for changing trains

Bechtel Corporation, the largest construction company in the US, signed a memorandum of cooperation on Friday with Ukravtodor on construction of the 150-km Kyiv Bypass Road.

 This confirmation of interest caps several recent meetings in Kyiv and Washington between Bechtel executives and Ukrainian officials. Ukraine’s state highway agency has divided the project into six sections. Three are already in the design stage. One 25 km segment includes a 6 km bridge over the Dnipro, near Ukrainka, about 40 km south of the Kyiv Ring Road.

Budhouse Group, one of Ukraine’s largest developers, plans to invest €314 million in three projects over the next three years,

 Anatoliy Shkribliak, company founder and shareholder, tells Interfax-Ukraine. In Odesa, the group is spending €12 million to complete work on Yessa shopping and entertainment center, aiming for opening in the fall of 2022. In Zaporizhia, Budhouse starts work this summer on Khortitsa Mall, an €82 million shopping center project on a former industrial site on a major highway. After completing these two projects, Budhouse is to start an €220 million project on Kyiv’s Peremoha Avenue, near Zlatoustivska St. Called Hartz

Turkey’s Onur construction company signed a contract last week with Ukravtodor to develop a feasibility study for upgrading the Stryi-Mukachevo road into a highway

. Currently, it takes 2.5 hours to drive this 160 km mountain road joining Lviv and Zakarpattia regions. After the study is complete, the project will be put up for an international tender as a public private partnership, the highway agency reports on Facebook.

To promote private investment in Ukraine’s sea ports, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority plans to focus on dredging and allow companies build and maintain berths through concessions.

 With each berth costing $20-50 million to build, the state-owned authority does not have the capital to meet demand, Andriy Gaydutsky, chair of the Authority’s supervisory board, told the Ukrainian Ports Forum 2021 in Odesa yesterday.

Dragon increased its Kyiv warehouse holdings by 50% last week

by buying a 100,208 square meter office and logistics complex in Bilogorogoda, six km from the Kyiv ring road, between the Odesa and Zhytomyr highways. With the purchase of Amtel Logistics Complex, Dragon’s portfolio of 11 warehouses totals 294,000 square meters on the right bank of Kyiv and 391,000 square meters across Ukraine, the company has reported. Dragon also is building the first stages of two industrial parks – 25,500 square meters on the E40 in Kyiv; 14,500 square meters

Authorities have agreed on the location of a new Airport for government-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions

and construction could be completed within two years, Serhiy Gaidai, head of Luhansk regional state administration told Donbas Online TRK. He said he could not state the location for fear of triggering real estate speculation. The three major cities – Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Severodonetsk – have airports. Although used by the military, they are considered too close to the front line for civilian commercial use. Mariupol is a 3-hour drive from Zaporizhia’s newly rebuilt airport. Kharkiv airport is a 3-hour

The flight ban will cut Kyiv Sikorsky’s passenger traffic – and income – by 10%,

Denis Kostrzhevsky, head of the airport’s board of directors, told local TV yesterday. The daily Belavia flight to Minsk was carrying 3,4,00 passengers a month, one third the level of before the pandemic. Kyiv’s right bank airport already is struggling, operating at 30% capacity due to cuts in EU flights by its major tenant, Wizz Air.

Responding to the world surge in iron and steel prices, Ukraine’s pig iron production rose 9% to 7.1 million tons

during the first four months of this year, compared to January-April 2020. Ukraine slightly outpace world growth of 8.6% and put Ukraine in 10th place worldwide for iron production, according to the World Steel Association. By contrast, Ukraine’s iron production growth in 2020 was only 1.8% yoy.

Today, Ukraine will ban all flights to and from Belarus, ending 38 flights a week by Belavia,

the nation’s state airline. The move against the third largest airline serving Ukraine comes in reaction to Belarus President Lukashenko scrambling a MiG 29 fighter Sunday to force down a Ryanair Boeing on an Athens-Vilnius flight, leading to the arrest of a dissident journalist. “President Volodymyr Zelensky initiated a decision to completely stop air traffic with the Republic of Belarus and redirect all flights bypassing its airspace,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council told Interfax-Ukraine.

After direct Ukraine-Russia flights were banned in 2015,

Belavia boosted its revenues by flying Ukrainians on one-hour hops from Kyiv to Minsk and then on to any of 15 airports in Russia. Last year, Belavia made the third largest number of flights out of Ukraine: 10,644 flights, compared to 14,623 for Turkish Airlines and 14,406 for UIA. Competition was so intense that UIA stopped flying to Belarus in 2019. As of yesterday, Belavia’s schedule for flights to Minsk showed: two flights a day from Kyiv Boryspil; one a

The Zelenskiy government also will ban planes from flying through Belarus airspace to come to Ukraine,

the President’s office has reported. This will only stop Ukrainian airlines that fly to Belarus: Motor Sich with two flights a day from Zaporizhia. Yesterday, airBaltic and Wizz Air detoured around Belarus for their flights from Kyiv to the Baltics. UIA said it was waiting for the government’s formal decision before re-routing its two relevant flights, to Vilnius and to Helsinki. This detour is expected to add 30% to flight times from Kyiv.

By turning Kyiv’s central rail station over to private operators through a concession agreement, the station could attract $100 million in investment,

Vladyslav Krikliy said in an interview given to the Kyiv Post before he stepped down last week as Infrastructure Minister. Looking at station candidates for concessions — Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsia, Khmelnitsky, and Chop – Krikliy said his turnaround model is Vienna’s new Main Station. With a 20,000-square-meter shopping center below the tracks, Wien Hauptbahnhof on some days attracts more people to shop and dine than to travel.

Ukrzaliznytsia has identified 182 non-core assets to sell as the state railroad looks for ways to turn last year’s loss into a profit this year of around $130 million

. To test waters on market interest and pricing, 11 properties will be sold through Prozorro.Sales: six stores, four ‘non-residential’ buildings, and one sports club, UZ’s press office said Friday. “Historically, Ukrzaliznytsia has a lot of premises and buildings that are no longer used by the company,” said Ivan Yuryk, chairman of company that employs 250,000 Ukrainians. “Instead, we are forced to spend money on their maintenance. Thus, instead of profits, they generate extra costs.”

Yevhen Kuzkin has been appointed acting head of Ukravtodor,

 the government portal reports, citing a Cabinet of Ministers decision. For the last year, Kuzkin has been first deputy chair of Ukraine’s highway agency. As head of the highway agency, Kuzkin will be in charge of executing most of ‘Big Construction,’ a program deemed the most successful project of President Zelenskiy’s two-year presidency, according to a new Rating Group poll. On Thursday, the Rada promoted Oleksandr Kubrakov, then head of the agency, to Infrastructure Minister.

Renting out parts or all of Ukraine’s 13 state-owned seaports to private concessions will be a priority,

 Kubrakov said in his speech. To move the state railroad, Ukrzaliznytsia, toward profitability, he promised to raise freight tariffs . To rebuild domestic aviation, he announced investment in regional airports and to create a national airline, a pet project of President Zelenskiy’s. Kubrakov, whose previous role includes management of Ukravtodor, the state highway agency, for the last 18 months, asked the Rada to approve legislation that would allow the state Highway Safety Agency, Uktransbezpeka, to pay for itself through fines

President Zelenskiy vowed to continue his ‘Big Construction’ program until bad roads in Ukraine end.

“Roads should be the showcase of our country,” he said in the nationally televised press conference. “Everything we have in Ukraine must be repaired.” This year’s goal for the program is to rebuild: 29 swimming pools, 70 kindergartens, 95 schools, 80 stadiums, and 6,500 km of roads

With world iron ore prices double the level of one year ago, President Zelenskiy defended a draft law passed last week to increase taxes on iron ore.

“The price is very high today,” he said at his press conference. “You can slightly increase budget revenues. I think it’s fair.” Moving from a tax of 11-12% of iron ore as it come out of the ground, the new tax scale would range from 0.1% to 16% on iron concentrate and pellets ready for export. Using as a marker China’s price for one ton with 62% iron content, the tax would be 16% for shipments selling at over $180

The Biden Administration is backing off imposing sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its German CEO, Matthias Warnig,

 CNN and Axios have reported from Washington. Seeking to avoid serious damage to the Germany-US relationship, President Biden apparently has decided to sanction Russian ships and subcontractors, the reports say, citing Washington officials. With the 1,230 km long pipeline 95% complete, it seems that the Russia-Germany gas line will be finished this summer – sanctions or no sanctions.

The Baltic Sea pipeline bypasses Ukraine and will concentrate enormous power in Germany as the main distributor of Russian natural gas to the EU

. It will also deprive Ukraine of $1-2 billion in gas transit revenues and remove a brake on Russian behavior. Axios writes: “Bypassing Ukraine with a direct pipeline to Germany is an opportunity for Russia to advance its goal of isolating its former client state, now a fledgling democracy, from Western Europe.”

Fighting for the business of Ukraine’s 12 million pensioners

, Igor Smelyansky, CEO of Ukrposhta, disconnected last night all third party ATM machines in Ukraine’s 11,000 post offices. He wrote on Facebook that he is protesting a decision by the Pension Fund to force pensioners to open bank accounts. Smelyansky said this will cause needless hardships “especially in 96% of settlements in Ukraine where there are no banks.” Banks in Ukraine are closing branches because digital banking has a lower overhead and is more profitable.

To further upgrade rail freight and passenger traffic between Poland and Ukraine,

a consortium of German, Italian and Ukrainian engineers will study electrifying and restoring 63 km of pre-war European gauge tracks between Kovel and Yahodyn, on the Polish border. Funded partly by the European Investment Bank, the feasibility study could lead to a €40 million construction project. Separately, PKP PLK, which manages Poland’s rail infrastructure, plans to modernize Poland’s rail approach to Yahodyn. Kovel, northwest Ukraine’s rail hub, has six lines radiating outward. This month, work starts on electrifying a second

Betting on strong Chinese demand for iron, Ferrexpo plans to spend $2 billion in capital investments to double its production of iron pellets by 2030

, reports Interfax-Ukraine. This year, the LSE-listed company is increasing production by 14%, to 12 million tons. A combination of strong Chinese demand and the Biden Administration’s planned infrastructure renewal plan have contributed to a doubling of world iron ore prices over the last year, to $208 a ton yesterday.

Ukzaliznytsia should move faster to open its tracks to private freight trains, said

outgoing Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy  at a farewell speech presented to the Rada yesterday. Alluding to the doubling of world iron ore prices over the last year, he said: “It is impossible to observe how the cost of resources in international markets is growing, and at the same while the rates remain the same.” Krikliy also stressed the UZ should not be allowed to default and that “international partners should be involved in order to receive normal ‘transparent’ financing at

The privatization drive is “irreversible,

” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff, wrote on Facebook after President Zelenskiy chaired an inter-agency Zoom call Monday on the campaign. Over the next six weeks, there are to be 100 auctions of large-scale and small-scale state properties. He said: “It will, firstly, give new life to unprofitable property and, secondly, attract billions of investments.” Arguing that investors are taking notice, he said the average number of auction bidders has risen, from 3.67 in April 2020, to 4.57

The National Bank of Ukraine opposes the transformation of Ukrposhta into a postal bank

, arguing that Ukraine’s four large state-owned banks already dominate banking in the country. Smelyanskiy counters that he will focus on Ukraine’s ‘under-banked 20%’ – the thousands of villages that have no bank branches. He has said that by reaching Ukraine’s rural 6 million, Ukrposhta would soon be second only to PrivatBank in the number of payment cards.

Kyiv’s Sikorsky airport is embarking on a 3-year, $100 million investment program to allow long haul jets to land by the end of 2023.

 The asphalt concrete runway is to be rebuilt with concrete and extended by 20%, to 2,770 meters. Often restricted by fog, the airport will receive a Category II ILS instrumental landing system. This will cut in half – to 350 meters – the visibility needed for pilots to land. With only one landing strip, Kyiv’s right bank airport will be closed for eight months in 2023 for runway reconstruction, Denis Kostrzhevsky, head of Master-Avia, the airport management company, told reporters

By promoting charter flights to Egypt and Turkey, Kharkiv airport handled 53,500 international passengers in April, 71% of its pre-pandemic level,

 the airport’s press service has reportsed. With Covid controls restricting travel to the EU, Egypt and Turkey now account for 70% of the total foreign travel by Ukrainians, according to Pavlo Hryhorash, Chief Executive of the Ukrainian Travel Agencies Association.

London-based Environmental Resources Management has been chosen by the Energy Ministry to draft a pilot project for finding a new future for a coal-based region.

The pilot project is funded by Britain, a country which has struggled with this challenge since the 1980s. Germany and Poland also are advising Ukraine on the transition. With the number of coal miners dropping, Ukraine’s transition largely has meant miners leaving mining regions for other jobs.

Less than one year after receiving banking rights, Ukrposhta increasingly looks like a European-style postal savings bank.

 Now the Ukraine’s seventh largest purchaser of point of sale terminals, Ukrposhta has brought electronic banking to 3,200 branches, largely concentrated in villages of around 2,000 people. In the first quarter of this year, Ukrposhta customers used the cash withdrawal service 207,000 times, withdrawing an average of $50. Two weeks ago, the post office raised its limit on withdrawals to $535.

Ukrposhta has posted on ProZorro a tender for a partner in construction of a $50 million modern sorting center in Kyiv.

This will be the first such construction by the state postal operator in 42 years, Ukrposhta director Igor Smelyansky wrote on Facebook. Ukrposhta is undertaking a decade long logistic renovation program that will involve constructing six major sorting centers and 62 depots. To jumpstart the program, the EBRD is the lead finance partner, lending €63 million and the European Investment Bank is also lending €30 million to Ukrposhta.

In a €880 million deal, Alstom is to supply 130 electric locomotives to Ukrzaliznytsia

. France is financing 85% of the sale, through a €350 French Treasury loan and €400 million in loan guarantees from  BPI Assurance Export. French authorities raised the level of localization – value added inside Ukraine – from 15% in March, to 35% in the final contract. President Zelenskiy said after the signing: “Big money will be invested.”

Ridership on the Kyiv Metro has dropped in half compared to 2019, prompting the municipal company to ask the city to save the transportation lifeblood for city offices and factories.

 Waving signs reading “Fair fares = safe travel,” Metro workers protested yesterday in front of City Hall, demanding at least $50 million in aid. Inside, subway administrators told the City Council that, with discounts, the system only receives US23 cents for each ride – one third of the amount it needs to break even.

Noting “Ukraine has some of Europe’s biggest lithium reserves, but doesn’t currently produce the light metal,” S&P stresses Ukraine’s proximity to the EU and the free trade pact.

 Referring to a presentation by Roman Opimakh, head of Ukraine’s State Geological Service, S&P reports: “Three projects are now set to being auctioned: Kruta Balka with lithium oxide content of 0.86%; Dobra with lithium oxide content of 1.38%; and Shevchenkivske, with lithium oxide content of 1.1%.”

To speed the delivery of Ukrainian iron ore to Polish steelmakers, Ukrzaliznytsia has started to electrify a key bottleneck:

 a 94 km stretch of track between Kovel, Volyn oblast, and Izov, on the Polish border. The crossing handles 90% of the freight tonnage between the two countries, largely iron ore from Kryvyi Rih. By eliminating diesel locomotives, UZ will be able to cut air pollution, shorten delivery times and increase the weight of trains by 30%, said Ivan Yuryk, UZ’s Acting Board Chairman.

Cargo at Mariupol seaport, an indicator of Russia’s chokehold on the Azov, increased by 3.5% in January-April 2021,

 compared with volumes of the same period last year. In April, Russia strengthened its naval presence in the Azov and Black Seas, banning non-Russian government vessels from entering the Azov, a bi-national body of water. Despite the intimidation, exports out of Mariupol – largely steel and iron ore – increased by 17%, to 1.84 million tons. Last year, cargo volumes increased by 8.4% at Mariupol, Ukraine’s main port on the Azov.

With traffic jams growing in Kyiv, the World Bank’s Board of Directors is to review on May 27 a $38 million mass transit loan designed to increase mobility in Ukraine’s capital.

 One third of the money would be used to extend the Metro across the new Podil Bridge to Troyeshchina, the Left Bank shopping and residential district. Another $16 million wil be spent constructing a 3 km tram link between the Central Passenger Rail Station and the Palats Sportu Metro Station. This would provide an aboveground link between the Red Line, at the rail station, and the Blue and Green lines, at Palats Sportu. According to the TomTom Index, after Moscow

Dnipro River transportation is off to a strong start this year, increasing by 62% to 3.1 million tons

 during the first four months of this year, compared to January-April last year. Aided by a longer season, more vessels, and government incentives to reduce trucks, the number of barge trips doubled, to 3,465 so far this year. The cargo breakdown is: construction materials – 63%; grain – 26%; and metals – 11%. Last year, Dnipro cargo fell by 5%, to 11.25 million tons.

Belarus Steel Works plans to ship steel this summer down the Pripyat River, past Chornobyl, down the Dnipro, across the Black Sea and up the Danube to Smederevo, Serbia

. The plan by Belarusian Sea Shipping Company was facilitated by dredging of Ukraine’s 65 km portion of the Pripyat River last year. The work was undertaken by the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority, to allow the start this summer of Chornobyl tour boats from Kyiv. Belarus, a landlocked country, has improved navigation on its portion of the Pripyat. This is a first step in the E40 Waterway, a project designed to give Belarus river outlets to the Black and Baltic Seas.

To open up northern Moldova to Ukrainian trade and tourism

, a tender is underway for construction of what would be the second bridge on the 267 km Dniester River border between the two countries. Expected to cost $120 million, the bridge and seven kilometers of access roads are to be completed by the end of next year, according to the tender by the Vinnytsia highways department. The bridge, linking Yampil, Ukraine and Cosăuți, Moldova, will be midway on a 300 km north-south road that links Vinnytsia and Chisinau. Alexander