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Friday, June 11, 2021
New Naftogaz CEO Welcomes Foreign Energy Companies… Test Gas Goes Into Nord Stream 2 Today… Forum: EU Carbon Tax Threatens Ukraine Industry… Italy Supplies Clean Steel Technology to Metinvest… Kyiv’s First Legal Casino Largely Serves Foreign Tourists
Friday, June 11, 2021
Six weeks into the job, Vitrenko traveled to Washington in a last ditch attempt to stop Nord Stream 2 and to “rebuild trust” with US officials

, he told Radio Free Europe. Describing himself as “a true reformer,” Vitrenko said he will focus on boosting Naftogaz’s production with the help of Western partners. Vitrenko also said he would go after Dmytro Firtash, the energy tycoon wanted by the United States on corruption charges.

Friday, June 11, 2021
Westinghouse fuel will power eight of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors by 2024,

under a contract signed yesterday between the US company and Energoatom, Ukraine’s state company responsible for nuclear power generation. To reduce dependency on Russian nuclear fuel, Energoatom switches a seventh reactor later this year to fuel supplied by Westinghouse Electric Sweden. In 2024, a second reactor at the Rivne nuclear plant is to make the switch, Westinghouse reports.

Friday, June 11, 2021
A Rada bill to impose a 3.2% excise tax on renewable energy producers “is a step in the wrong direction,

Nefco, the Helsinki-based Nordic Environment Finance Corp. said in a statement released Wednesday at a solar and wind producers forum in Kyiv. “Fossil energy should be subject to a CO2 tax.” After funding 421 MW of wind and solar projects in Ukraine, Nefco said it has frozen future funding because “the green tariff agreements [are] not being fulfilled.”

Friday, June 11, 2021
The steel plant deal was the centerpiece of an Italy-Ukraine business forum opened yesterday by Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s visiting Foreign Minister

. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted that Italy’s national railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, recently signed a memorandum with Ukrzaliznytsia to develop high speed trains on an Odesa-Kyiv-Lviv route. He also noted that last month Italy’s AVIO S.p.A signed a €6 million agreement with Dnipro’s rocket design and production companies to produce 10 engines for the European Space Agency’s Vega launch vehicle.

Friday, June 11, 2021
The Billionaire, Ukraine’s first legal casino under the new gambling law, attracted a largely foreign clientele during its first month in operation

. “We already have 1,000 people who have visited our establishment,” Andriy Parkhomenko, the casino’s guest relations manager, tells UNIAN. “Sixty percent of them are foreigners — mostly from the Middle East — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. Located in Kyiv’s Intercontinental Hotel, the casino paid $2.7 million for its main license and created 150 jobs.

Friday, June 11, 2021
By making a radical shift to charter flights, UIA kept its passenger losses in January-May to 25%

below the level of the first five months of last year. With most Ukrainians barred from traveling to Europe, Ukraine International Airlines increased its passengers on charter flights 6-fold, to 466,765, the airline reports. By contrast, lost two thirds of its scheduled flight passengers, falling to 269,133, the airline reported yesterday.

Friday, June 11, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 From my moderator’s seat at yesterday’s EU Energy Day conference, I could picked up the prevailing mood and message:  Ukraine should recognize and react fast to the EU’s new green rules. Policy zig zags and political gridlock will leave Ukraine behind. Unfortunately, one quick way to create consensus for action is to let a few brownouts and blackouts to happen. Few politicians dare risk it, but cutting off the wifi is a real attention getter. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Two years after Ukraine started to cooperate with Clearstream, external investment in government bonds has doubled,

the share of public debt in national currency has increased to 39%, and 5-year bonds have won acceptance, the Finance Ministry reports. In a press conference last week with representatives of the Luxembourg-based international depository, Ministry officials said external investors now hold UAH 98.3 billion, or $3.6 billion, in Ukraine government bonds.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Clearing the way for the biggest privatization of this year,

Ukraine’s Supreme Court refused to recognize a decision by Stockholm’s Arbitration Institute to award Dmytro Firtash’s Ostchem over $300 million from state-owned Odesa Port Plant. “This is a final decision that is not subject to appeal,” Dmytro Sennychenko, head of the State Property Fund, told Interfax-Ukraine yesterday. Looking ahead to a sale of the chemical producer through auction, he said: “This will help expand the pool of potential buyers and dramatically increase the value of the asset.”

Thursday, June 10, 2021
With Ukraine reporting the lowest number of coronavirus cases in nearly a year, all 24 regions are now listed ‘green

,’ the Health Ministry said yesterday. Restrictions have been eased to allow restaurants to serve indoors all night and cinemas and theaters to operate at two thirds capacity.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
In advisories to international travelers,

the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday promoted Ukraine to ‘Level 3’ – the same level as the United States. Ukraine now recognizes English language vaccination certificates as valid for entry into the country.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
With new air shipments of vaccines arriving in Kyiv daily, vaccination centers have opened in Kyiv and 13 other cities.

Kyiv residents can register online for free vaccinations on weekends at the International Exhibition Center 15A Brovarskyi Avenue using the Diia app and Helsi.me, an online service for booking doctor appointments. So far, 1.2 million Ukrainians have received their first vaccine dose, and 152,142 have received both doses. On Monday, President Biden promised President Zelenskiy to deliver 900,000 vaccine doses to Ukraine.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Working around the EU’s travel barriers, Ukraine’s SkyUp undertook 1,419 flights in May, a record for the 3-year-old airline.

Almost three quarters of the low cost airline’s 209,924 passengers flew on charter flights, largely to Egypt and Turkey, the airline reports. Ukraine will provide almost 20% of the 8 million tourists expected to visit Egypt this year, Egyptian ambassador Ayman Ahmed Mokhtar Elgammal tells Interfax-Ukraine.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Charter passenger traffic doubled at Kyiv Boryspil for the first five months of this year

, compared to January-May period last year, reports the Center for Transportation Strategies. The nearly 2.5 million-passenger flow for the period was split nearly evenly between charter and regular travelers. Passengers on regular flights were down by one third and transfer passengers were down by 80%. Overall, traffic was down by only 1% compared to the same five-month period last year.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 Eagle-eyed reader Mattia Nelles notes that a zero was missing from the population of Kryvyi Rih as posted in yesterday’s UBN. Ukraine’s seventh largest city, Kryvyi Rih, hometown of President Zelenskiy, has an urban population of 620,000 and a metro region population of 1,000,000. This population density justifies the government’s $35 million investment in the city’s airport and launching of direct flights this week by Windrose between Kyiv Boryspil and Kryvyi Rih. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Metinvest plans to build a $1 billion modern cold rolling mill at its Ilyich Metallurgical Plant in Mariupol,

Yuriy Ryzhenkov, the company CEO announced to Ukraine 24 TV yesterday. He said: “Literally next week we will sign a contract for the construction of a new cold rolling mill. This is already a billion dollar project at the Ilyich plant.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
In Kyiv, 60 roads will be repaired by year-end,

Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko tells Radio Free Europe. Promising to create 100 km of new bicycle lanes this year, he said that no road will “be put into operation without modern sidewalks, without bike lanes, without modern lighting and video surveillance.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 When Vladimir Putin rattled his chains outside of Ukraine in April, foreign investors who were toe-dipping decided not to take the plunge. In that light, credit goes to the much-maligned Rinat Akhmetov, owner of Metinvest Group. He is putting $1 billion on the line, only 30 km west of Russia-controlled Donetsk. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
President Biden has invited President Zelenskiy to visit the White House next month.

 Yesterday the two leaders spoke in advance of two critical meetings that are scheduled for next week. Next Monday, there will be a NATO heads of government meeting in Brussels. Ukraine has not been invited as an observer. Two days later, on June 16, Biden and Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva for their first one on one summit.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has told a US Congressional committee Monday that Nord Stream 2 is a “fait accompli.”

Referring to worries that this Ukraine bypass pipeline will free Russia to attack Ukraine, Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “We have agreements in place, upfront, to come back on any activities by Russia that are challenging the security or economic security of any of those countries.” Russian officials say the $11 billion; 1,230 km pipeline is 95% complete and will be ready to carry gas this fall.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 Articulate German officials may promise that they will not allow Russia to use Nord Stream 2 to leave Ukraine defenseless. But with elections in September, articulate German officials will come and go. The reality will remain: a $11 billion pipe at the bottom of the Baltic that renders Ukraine’s Russia-EU pipeline system redundant. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, June 7, 2021
Putin to Ukraine: Be Nice or No Gas … Nord Stream 2 Construction Ends in August, Gazprom Shares Jump … Turkey Boosts Black Sea Gas Discovery by 33% … Ukraine Exports Fewer Tons, Earns More Dollars … Used Car Imports Jump 45%
Monday, June 7, 2021
Ukraine is exporting less, for more money:
Monday, June 7, 2021
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.

Monday, June 7, 2021
Registrations of used imported cars were up 45% for the first five months of this year

, compared to January-May 2020, reports Ukravtoprom, the vehicle industry association. Used imports total 159,500 so far this year, four times more than new imports.

Monday, June 7, 2021
Belarus airlines – basically Belavia’s jets – are banned from landing in the EU or overflying EU airspace,

 under an EU decision that took effect Saturday. This coming weekend, more Belarus sanctions, possibly a ban on bond purchases, are to be discussed at a meeting in Cornwall, England of the G7 – US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU, Reuters reports.

Monday, June 7, 2021
Restoration of Ukraine-Belarus air links depends “on the behavior of Belarus,

how they will behave with those political prisoners, of whom there are already thousands today,” Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Friday. Air links were broken after Belarus forced down a Ryanair Athens-Vilnius flight and arrested a dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega. Western nations say that action on May 23 by Belarusian Air Force MiG-29 amounts to state piracy and must not be tolerated.

Monday, June 7, 2021
Editor’s Note – Update and fix:

UIA has reversed plans and will not resume flights between Kyiv Boryspil and Warsaw Chopin on June 18, as the airline announced last week. UIA blames market conditions.Kharkiv has two tram renewal projects. Acting Mayor Ihor Terekhiv plans to unveil in September a locally assembled Czech Škoda. Separately, the European Investment Bank announced on May 26 that it is evaluating a €75 million loan to Kharkiv to pay for new trams and related infrastructure. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Friday, June 4, 2021
Zelenskiy Wants to Ban Oligarchs from Privatization Auctions … Apple, Google, Netflix May Pay Ukraine’s 20% VAT Tax … DTEK Wants to Sell Coal Mines, Power Plants … ATB Is Top Revenue Earner in Ukraine … Cameras Cut Speeding
Friday, June 4, 2021
‘Certified oligarchs’ will be forced to declare their assets, will be banned from funding political parties and from participating in the privatization of major state companies

, under the “de-oligarchization” bill submitted yesterday to the Rada by President Zelenskiy’s supporters. A first step will be to draw up a list of about 12 businessmen who fit the criteria of an oligarch – through business monopolies, ownership of media, financing of political parties or by holding a high government position.

Friday, June 4, 2021
For the next 10 years, any government official who has contact with a registered oligarch or his agent, will have to report that meeting,

the bill says. “We are building a country without oligarchs,” the president said at his 2-year anniversary press conference last month. “We are building a country where everyone is equal before the law.”

Friday, June 4, 2021
While popular with the public, the bill may not pass the Rada,

a parliament where oligarchs loosely control blocs of votes. Critics say that Zelenskiy seeks to knock aside potential rivals in advance of an expected run for a second term, in 2024. This spring, he took away TV stations from one rival, pro-Russian Viktor Medvechuk.

Friday, June 4, 2021
If passed the new bill would render former president Petro Poroshenko, a candy and media magnate, ineligible to run for office.

Poroshenko’s party said yesterday: “Zelenskiy is trying in every way to get rid of Poroshenko as the leader of the most powerful pro-European opposition party and to ban his political activities.”

Friday, June 4, 2021
Kira Rudyk, head of the liberal opposition party Golos, said:

“The president’s initiative was submitted to parliament only as a PR stunt…Instead of reforming the judiciary and creating fair courts in the country, the president is submitting a populist bill that will not change anything fundamentally.”

Friday, June 4, 2021
The government-controlled Rada passed a law yesterday restoring prison terms for officials who hide assets — then President Zelenkiy said he would not sign it.

“This isn’t what Ukrainians expect, and not what I promised them,” he said on the presidential website. Critics say the bill does not check assets held by family members, a classic dodge for officials seeking to hide ill-gotten gains. A law on assets is seen as key to restoring Ukraine’s $5 billion Stand-By Arrangement. This agreement stalled after Ukraine received the first tranche, one year ago next week.

Friday, June 4, 2021
DTEK is ready to “consider the sale of power stations and coal mines” as the company shifts towards green energy,

DTEK CEO Maxim Tymchenko tells Ekonomichna Pravda news site. Ukraine’s largest private electricity producer is positioning itself to meet the EU’s net zero carbon target for 2050. Over the last three years, DTEK has invested $1.5 billion to build 1 GW of wind and solar capacity in Ukraine. In contrast, many of DTEK’s coal-fired power stations are “physically exhausted” and will have to close in the 2020s, Tymchenko says. He adds: “If nobody buys them, then we will close them — just like we do with coal mines.”

Friday, June 4, 2021
Eight renewable energy producers have won a total of $29 million in judgements in Kyiv’s Economic Court

 against the Guaranteed Buyer, Finbalance reported on Monday. As of mid-May, Ukrenergo, parent company of Guaranteed Buyer, said it still owes $574 million in overdue 2020 payments to wind and solar producers. More bills went unpaid this year. PV Magazine reports that Lithuania’s Modus Group, the owner of three solar plants in Ukraine, is preparing to sue the government for €11.5 million in losses due to last summer’s 15% reduction in solar tariffs.

Friday, June 4, 2021
ATB, the supermarket chain, generated the most revenue of all companies in Ukraine last year,

according to State Tax Service figures analyzed by Liga.net. About $4.5 billion flowed through the cash registers of the 1,200 stores of the national chain last year. Despite the recession, ATB’s net income was up 18% yoy. By comparison, Silpo ranked seventh in revenues, up 3% to about $2.3 billion. The Tax Service now posts revenue, profit and loss data for 18,600 Ukrainian companies and 386,500 small and micro businesses.

Friday, June 4, 2021
Azov Sea summer tourism is a far cry from the glory days when Soviet holidaymakers flew directly from Leningrad to Berdyansk

. With half of Ukrainians saying they plan domestic vacations this year, an estimated 3 million tourists are expected to travel by car, bus and train to vacation in the warm waters of the Azov. Investment in promotion and in upgrading the region’s 12 health resort villages, would cause the tourism flow to nearly double, to 5.4 million, according to Oleksandr Liev, chairman of Ukraine’s Hospitality Industry Association. Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv yesterday, he said: “We see in the Azov region a great sanatorium-resort potential, health-improving potential.”

Friday, June 4, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 In the US we called them ‘Robber Barons’. These American oligarchs of the Gilded Age amassed fortunes by ruthlessly pursuing and protecting monopolies. They decorated their palatial estates in Newport with fine art vacuumed out of Europe. In reaction, Theodore Roosevelt built a political career as a ‘trust buster.’ He broke up monopolies, cracked down on court corruption, and adopted free market reforms. If implemented seriously, it could work here — one century later With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Nord Stream 2 Threatens Ukraine’s Pipelines … Metal Production Up 9% … Finance Ministry Sells $1 billion in Bonds … Kharkiv Gets New Wheels … Half of Ukrainians Have Biometric Passports For EU Travel
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Only the US can stop Nord Stream 2

, President Zelenskiy told three visiting US Senators yesterday. “Nord Stream 2 will disconnect Ukraine from gas supplies, which means it will “disconnect” us from at least $ 3 billion a year,” Zelenskiy said. “We will have nothing to pay for the Ukrainian army.”

Thursday, June 3, 2021
EU moves to crackdown on ‘carbon leakage’ by curbing imports from polluting companies in non-EU countries will not affect Ukraine

, Olha Stefanishyna, the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, told relevant Rada committees on Monday. Stefanishyna said that “an agreement was reached in Brussels that Ukraine, as a country having a free trade area with the EU, could not be subject to direct trade restrictions,” reports Ukrinform, the state news agency. Prior to this agreement, she said, Kyiv think tanks estimated “the introduction of such a measure would actually block 20% of all exports of Ukrainian products of certain sectors to the European Union market.”

Thursday, June 3, 2021
The European Investment Bank will loan €75 million to buy new electric trams for Kharkiv,

reported Interfax-Ukraine. The first tram – a locally-assembled Czech Škoda – will be presented in September to Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhiv, the Acting Mayor, said last week at the UkraineInvest Talks in Dnipro. “We will completely renew the tram fleet in Kharkiv,” he said, referring to an estimated €100 million project.

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Next month, the first of 150 Turkish Karsan buses are to appear on the streets of Kharkiv

. Ultimately, 500 buses could come from Karsan with some local assembly, said Acting Mayor, Terekhov. Okan Bash, the General Director of Karsan, said: “Depending on the potential in the Ukrainian market, we will be evaluating to invest in a production facility in Kharkiv.” The most likely site for production would by Oleksandr’s Yaroslavsky’s Ecopolis KhTZ business park, a former tractor plant, where the Škoda trams now are being assembled.

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Landlocked Uzbekistan opens up to tourism from Ukraine with inaugural flights this summer to the nation’s two largest cities.

In June, SkyUp plans to launch a weekly flight between Kyiv Boryspil and Tashkent, the capital. In July, Bees Airline starts weekly flights between Kyiv Sikorsky and Samarkand, the nation’s cultural capital.

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Belavia, Belarus’ state airline has stopped flying to 21 European cities

. It now flies through Russian airspace to nine countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and UAE. Belarus plans to appeal the European overflight ban to the International Civil Aviation Organization, according to the Transport and Communications Ministry in Minsk. In Kyiv, Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar tells Ukrinform that more sanctions will follow if Belavia acts on President Lukashenko’s threat to start Minsk-Crimea flights.

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Half of Ukrainian adults – 17 million people – now have biometric foreign passports.

Since June 2017, these passports allow the bearers to visit the EU visa-free for 90 days. In the first five months of this year, 701,032 biometric passports were issued in Ukraine.

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Ukrainian electro-folk band Go_A narrowly missed winning Eurovision two weeks ago, but its song powered to the “top spot in the global Viral 50 chart

 of the world’s largest music streaming service, Spotify, while also riding high on the iTunes and Apple Music platforms,” Peter Dickinson reports in an Atlantic Council Ukraine blog. Headlined Why Eurovision is Ukraine’s soft power secret weapon”, the essay notes: “The song has clocked up tens of millions of views on YouTube and counting. In other words, Eurovision succeeded in introducing a vast global audience to a uniquely Ukrainian sound.”

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Editor’s Note:

Obscured by the Covid clouds, half of Ukrainians adults quietly obtained the documents that allow them to enter the EU visa-free to travel, study or work part time. When historians write about this phase of Ukrainian history, the story will be told of a people turning their back on Russia and experiencing Europe for the first time. It seems unlikely that Vladimir Putin will be able to turn back the clock. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
OECD Ups World Growth Forecast… Metinvest: Ukraine’s Cash Cow…Donbas: Destruction and Investment… Zakarpattia Integrates Rail With EU… Zelenskiy’s National Airline Plans To Fly to US, China
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
The OECD has radically raised its forecast for world economic growth this year to 5.8%,

 from a forecast of 4.2%  from December 2020. Large scale stimulus spending in the US combined with aggressive vaccination campaigns have turned developed countries, China and India into world locomotives for growth. The world leaders are: India +9.9%; China +8.5%; UK +7.2%; US +6.9%; France +5.8%; and Turkey +5.7%. Ten days ago, Ukraine’s Economy Ministry downgraded its 2021 growth forecast to 4.1%, from 4.6%.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Ukraine’s broad gauge tracks have been extended to a new intermodal terminal under construction in Fényeslitke, Hungary

, 25 km south of Chop, Ukraine’s Zakarpattia border town. Billed as the largest truck-train terminal in Europe, Hungary’s €61 million East-West Gate will have several sets of parallel Euro gauge and broad gauge tracks. Lifts will straddle the tracks shuttling containers from one train to another. For trucks, Hungary is improving highway access from Budapest.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Switzerland’s Stadler Rail has chosen a site in Ukraine to produce electric trains,

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Presidential Chief of staff, tells Interfax-Ukraine. The goal is to replace Ukraine’s Soviet era ‘elektrichkas,’ or suburban commuter trains. Baptized ‘City Express’ this suburban rail project is to start in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro. A memorandum of understanding was signed last month with Ukrzaliznytsia. In coming months, Stadler is expected to deliver one or two trains for testing. In Eastern Europe, Stadler has manufacturing plants in Hungary, Poland and Belarus.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
The national airline that President Zelenskiy intends to create would carry out trans-Atlantic flights and flights to China

, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, his Deputy Chief of staff, told Interfax-Ukraine. Airline representatives are negotiating with Boeing and Airbus for long haul jets. “These are for flights to Europe, transatlantic flights and long-haul flights – China, Asia,” he said. UIA has suspended flights to North America and Asia.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
A bill to ban most plastic shopping bags by next spring passed the Rada yesterday

. Following EU eco standards, Ukraine would ban stores from distributing thin plastic bags commonly used to carry groceries. Small bags used to wrap fish and raw meat would be exempt through 2022. The bill’s explanatory note says: “Every year, every Ukrainian uses about 500 plastic bags. In the EU this figure reaches 90 bags on average.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Editor’s Note:

With foreign investors circling Ukraine, looking for opportunities, my friends at the London-based Strategy Council have come up a timely webinar tomorrow: “Private Equity in Ukraine.” Investors with skin in the game will talk: Dan Pasko of Diligent Capital Partners; Andrii Nosok of Dragon Capital; and Iurii Kovalskyi of East Star Capital. The webinar starts at 4 pm Kyiv time, and lasts for 60-90 minutes. You can sign up here. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
IT Cities Rise in Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv… Belarus Cuts Gasoline Deliveries by 80%… Electricity Consumption to Drop by 25% in the 2020s… Average Salaries up 30%…Windrose Now Flies from Kyiv to 11 Ukrainian Cities
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
UNIT.City Kharkiv is to be twice as big, with 250,000 square meters of space,

 Melnyk told the press office of UFuture, the parent company. On this 9-hectare site, 3,000 square meters of school and office premises have opened.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
At Kyiv’s UNIT.City, 100,000 square meters of office and residential space are under construction or completed

. In coming weeks, Japanese-Dutch architect Hiroki Matsuura plans to open his Main Plaza, a 5,500 square meter central square for UNIT.City.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Belarus is cutting its shipments of premium unleaded gasoline by 80% for June,

 Serhii Kuyun, director of the A-95 consulting group, writes on Facebook. Ukraine will get 10,000 tons, instead of the normal 50,000. Ukrainian traders have bought all free gasoline from Lithuania’s Orlen Lietuva, the only refinery in the Baltics, and have contracted gasoline for sea delivery. Drivers can expect price rises at the pumps.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Behind the Belarus cuts are not politics, but domestic needs,

 writes UNIAN. Anna Bredikhina wrote that Russia’s Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz are refusing to supply oil to Naftan, Belarus’ second refinery because of US sanctions that hit Naftan on Thursday. Bredikina writes: “Accordingly, our northern neighbors decided to screw on the tap with fuel for Ukraine in order to meet, first of all, the needs of their country.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
The average nominal salary in April 2021 was up almost 30% yoy,

 reaching the hryvnia equivalent of $493, reports that State Statistics Service. This is 2.3 times the minimum monthly wage of $218, a level largely used to set pensions. With Ukraine’s average salary expected to cross $500 in May, Russia’s average salary is stalled at $713. In Ukraine, the fastest growing sectors were IT and science, where salaries were up 48% yoy in April.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Of the 109 companies managed by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, 20 state companies are to be liquidates, 15 are to be reorganized and three are to be prepared for privatization

, Deputy Defense Minister Ihor Khalimon tells Interfax-Ukraine. By the end of this year, he has predicted that the number of companies under the Defense Ministry will be cut to 42.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Svetlana Zalishchuk, the former journalist and Rada member for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, has become an international affairs advisor to Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko

. Targeting Nord Stream 2, she told the oil and gas company’s press department: “Ukraine still needs to win its battle against the Russian geopolitical pipeline. We are currently working on several scenarios to stop Nord Stream 2.” In the Rada, Zalishchuk ran the Subcommittee on Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and European Integration.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Yulia Svyridenko, Deputy Presidential Chief of staff,

 has been chosen by the Cabinet of Ministers to represent the government on the Naftogaz Supervisory Board. She succeeds Robert Bensh, a Houston oil and gas executive. At the same Cabinet session, three foreign members were reelected for new, 1-year terms: Clare Spottiswoode (Britain), Bruno Lesqua (France) and Ludo Van der Heyden (Belgium), as well as two Ukrainian state representatives: Natalia Boyko and Yulia Kovaliv.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Of Ukrainians who plan to take a vacation this year, about half plan to vacation in Ukraine,

 according a telephone survey of 2,104 people taken in mid-May. With summer approaching, 53% said they planned to take a vacation in Ukraine. Of this group, 44.5% plan to travel outside their home region. The top regions cited were: Odesa, Zakarpattia, Zaporizhia and Lviv. The survey was conducted by Operative Sociology company and presented yesterday at a press conference with Oleksandr Tkachenko, Culture and Information Policy Minister.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Targeting regional airports, SkyUp is offering flights this summer from Zaporizhia to Batumi, Georgia; Istanbul, Turkey; Tirana, Albania; and Tivat, Montenegro

. The discount airline also offers flights to Tivat from Kharkiv and Lviv. Before coronavirus disrupted travel patterns, UIA followed a spoke and hub strategy, forcing residents of regional capitals to fly to Kyiv Boryspil for external flights.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Tomorrow Windrose airlines starts flying three times a week from Kyiv Boryspil to Uzhgorod

. With this 2-hour, 627 km flight to the capital of Zakparpattia, Windrose emerges as Ukraine’s dominant domestic carrier, flying from Kyiv to 11 Ukrainian cities. The flight – ending a one-year suspension of air links to Uzhgorod — is expected to boost summer tourism to the Carpathian Mountains.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Aiming to return river cruises to the Dnipro, Kaniv, a port 130 km downriver from Kyiv, is to be reopened as a working port,

Oleksandr Skichko, head of Cherkasy region, said after a meeting with Oleskandr Kozlovsky, head of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. The Infrastructure Ministry seeks to revive day boat trips from Kyiv – north to Chornobyl and south to Kaniv. Kyiv City is working to start ferry service between Podil’s River Station and two left bank districts — Rusanivka and Berezniaki.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 Eagle-eyed Swedish reader, Fredrik Svinhufvud, writes that I erred on the size of the new turbine rotors that Vestas is building for DTEK. From tip to tip, they will be 162 meters. Imagine a 46-story building revolving atop a wind tower. Then, imagine a right-sized Don Quixote thundering down the Mykolaiv steppe. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, May 31, 2021
Will Belarus Cut Off Gasoline to Ukraine?… Trade War Bubbles… US Bechtel Wants to Build Kyiv Bypass Highway… DTEK Moves Ahead with Wind Investment… World Bank + US Aid = $355 million… UZ Starts Trains Again to EU
Monday, May 31, 2021
Oil traders worry that Belarus will cut off supplies of A-95 gasoline to Ukraine this week,

 enkorr, or energy correspondent news site, reports from Kyiv. Belarus supplies half of Ukraine’s needs for this premium unleaded gasoline. “Today we were advised that there would be no supplies of the A-95 at all,” one trader reportedly told enkorr Friday. Referring to a refinery in Mazyr, just north of Ukraine, another trader said: “According to our data, the Mozyr plant is flooded with gasoline.”

Monday, May 31, 2021
Serhii Kuyun, director of the A-95 consulting group, wrote on Facebook Friday that the cut off is starting.

“The worst decision that Belarusians could have taken in the current situation is to close the supply of A-95 gasoline to Ukraine, where their product has 50% of the market,” he wrote, noting that Ukrainian drivers, truckers and farmers need 50,000 tons of this fuel monthly. The uncertain mood is captured in a UNIAN headline: “Fuel lesson from Belarus: should Ukrainian motorists to stock up on gasoline?”

Monday, May 31, 2021
In response, officials for both sides said any shortages will be caused by scheduled repairs to the Mazyr refinery.

 Ukraine’s “policy of diversification of supplies will be strengthened,” Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative, promised on Facebook. “Don’t panic yet!”

Monday, May 31, 2021
Worries over gas lines come as Belarus imposed on Friday licensing restrictions on a series of imports from Ukraine

 – ranging from toilet paper and beer to farm machinery and washing machines. With the curbs to take effect this weekend, Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative: “Individual licensing regime means manual control of the import of Ukrainian products to Belarus.”

Monday, May 31, 2021
On Saturday, Ukraine banned over flights by planes from Belarus

. Belavia, the state airline, says this ban adds 30-90 minutes to its flights south – to Israel, Turkey and Egypt, reports Avianews. The ban prompted Belavia to drop its flights to Moldova and Hungary as impractical. Due to over flight bans by Ukraine and EU nations, Belavia can now only fly east, to Russia.

Monday, May 31, 2021
US State Department is asking Congress for $255 million in aid to Ukraine for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

“U.S. assistance will strengthen Ukraine’s ability to counter Russian aggression, reads the Ukraine section in the 168-page Congressional Budget Justification. “Funding will accelerate reforms to address corruption, enhance transparency and accountability, including by expanding e-government initiatives, advance institutional reforms and training necessary for European integration.” US taxpayer money will also focus on reforming Naftogaz, supporting the OSCE mission in Ukraine, and Covid-19 ‘vaccine hesitancy.’

Monday, May 31, 2021
Developing Ukraine’s stock market infrastructure will be the goal of an agreement to be signed this week by Ukrainian authorities with EBRD, USAID and the American Chamber of Commerce.

 “We are working on the development of the stock market infrastructure,” Prime Minister Shmygal said last week at the UkraineInvest Talks Dnipro International Investment Forum. “There is quite a lot of money provided for the clearing system for stock market development in Ukraine.”

Monday, May 31, 2021
Tomorrow afternoon, Ukrzaliznytsia restarts international service with a daily Kyiv-Budapest-Vienna train

, the state railroad reports. The 21-hour train comes after Ukraine’s third coronavirus wave has receded to about 3,000 new cases a day – one third the level of one month ago. Before buying tickets, travelers should check the rules of entry of their ultimate destination country.

Monday, May 31, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 Bechtel Corporation’s experience with this part of the world got off to a bad start. In August, 1933, on a business trip to Moscow, Warren A. Bechtel, the company founder, died of an insulin overdose. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Bechtel returned to region working on the Chornobyl sarcophagus and on the Nunn-Lugar project to contain ‘loose nukes.’ That included decommissioning the Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv oblast base that once was home to 80 ICBMs aimed at the US. Now Bechtel may turn to infrastructure. Let’s see if the company that built the Chunnel can tackle Kyiv’s traffic gridlock. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Friday, May 28, 2021
Kyiv Apartment Prices Could Double… Developer Starts €314 Million in Projects… ZAZ and AvtoKrAZ Revive… Belarus-Ukraine Trade Dwindles… National Airline to Link Regional Airports
Friday, May 28, 2021
Ukraine should mine its mountains of metallurgical slag and ash for road building materials,

the European Business Association recommends in a new, 44-page study. Citing European experiences, the study says that by recycling these byproducts from steel manufacturing, Ukraine will cut industrial waste and cut the mining of sand and gravel. “Stimulating the use of ash and slag materials and rock, in addition to reducing material costs, will improve the state of the environment,” the study says. Six months ago, Ukraine adopted national standards for the use of slag for road beds and surfaces.

Friday, May 28, 2021
Lyft, the second largest ridesharing company in the US after Uber, plans to open an R&D office in Kyiv and hire more than 80 engineers,

 reports Dou.ua. “Thanks to a large base of highly qualified specialists in the field of technology and a highly developed IT sector, Ukraine, and Kyiv in particular, is an ideal place for Lyft Engineering,” the company says. The Kyiv office will focus on digital mapping for Lyft, which is present in 656 cities in the US and Canada. Last month, Spain’s food delivery firm Glovo and France’s car-sharing service BlaBlaCar announced plans to open R&D centers in Kyiv.

Friday, May 28, 2021
Belarus fell to seventh place among Ukraine’s trading partners for goods

in the first quarter of this year, Ukraine’s Economy Ministry tells Ukrinform. For goods and services, Belarus accounted for 3.7% of Ukraine’s foreign trade in the January-March period. Trade has fallen in recent years as Ukraine diversifies away from Russia. Belarus has often service as a transit country for goods banned from direct Russia-Ukraine trade.

Friday, May 28, 2021
AirBaltic reports that flying around the airspace of Belarus will cost it €200,000 a month in extra fuel charges

. 29 flights, or 8.1% of airBaltic’s total, will have to make the detour. Latvia’s national airline flies four times a week from Riga to Kyiv Boryspil and once a week to Odesa.

Friday, May 28, 2021
The creation of Ukraine’s national airline is a priority project,

two government officials said yesterday. Prime Minister Shmygal said Oleksandr Kubrakov, the new Infrastructure Minister, has been told to “speed up negotiations” with foreign aircraft makers and foreign airlines for partnerships. Eventually, the government wants the new airline to only fly Ukrainian-made Antonovs, but the factory here has to catch up on other government orders.

Friday, May 28, 2021
The airline could be launched by the end of this year,

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy presidential chief of staff, told Ukraina TV. With the national airline focused on domestic flights, Tymoshenko noted that the government’s ‘Big Construction’ project is building or upgrading airports in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Kherson, Kryvy Rih, Mukachevo, Poltava and Rivne.

Friday, May 28, 2021
Editor’s Note:

Yesterday, a Cabinet Minister asked to be signed up to the UBN. I filled out the form. But, tell your friends and colleagues that it is very easy – just sign up here. Our readership grows steadily. And next week we launch our 9th language. Stay tuned! With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Ukraine Bans Electricity Imports from Belarus… EU Mulls Ban on Belarus Potash… Shakeup at Naftogaz… Dragon Buys Ukrainska Pravda… Donbas to Get a New Airport
Thursday, May 27, 2021
The EU may place sanctions on Belarus exports of potash, the soil nutrient used to improve crops

, Bloomberg has reported. One of the world’s largest suppliers of potash, Belarus supplies about 25% of the region’s demand. The legal framework for ‘targeted economic sanctions” are being drafted for presentation to EU foreign ministers at their scheduled June 21 meeting. Yesterday, exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee
and urged the EU to ban exports of potash, oil products and timber,
as well as to stop lending to Belarusian banks.

Thursday, May 27, 2021
With demand strong for workers, students and business executives to travel to Poland, UIA will restore its Kyiv Boryspil – Warsaw Chopin flight on June 18.

LOT, Wizz Air, and Ryanair already have restored flights between Ukraine and Poland.

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Next week, FlixBus, Europe’s largest bus company, will restore three bus lines from Ukraine to Poland.

An estimated 1 million Ukrainians work in Poland. Remittances from Ukrainians working abroad total $1 billion a month, making labor Ukraine’s second largest export, after food.

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 On April 30, the European Parliament passed a resolution saying: if Russia invades Ukraine, Russia will be cut off from the SWIFT system of international payments. A Belgian ‘cooperative society’ based near Brussels, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication can only ignore the EuroParl at its peril. If Germany really wants to allay EU and Ukrainian fears about Nord Stream 2, the Bundestag could pass a similar law. If Russian troops cross the Ukraine’s real and de facto borders, Berlin will cut off the gas. In an emergency, Germany can plug the pipe. But the legal foundation has to be put in place. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Big Chill Starts With Belarus… Russia Raps Turkey for Backing Ukraine… Pakistan Seeks to Get Arms Purchases Back on Track … Iron, Steel Production Grow… Retail Sales up 14%… Farm Land Prices to Double by 2025
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
With almost all European airlines boycotting Belarus air space, Ukraine hopes to get some of the East-West overflight traffic, Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s new Infrastructure Minister,

said yesterday. Due to the EU reaction to Sunday’s forced landing of the Ryanair passenger jet in Minsk, Belarus now faces losing $50-70 million a year in overflight fees. Last week, only 20% of the 3,300 flights in Belarus airspace landed in Minsk, according to Flightradar24. Yesterday evening, this tracking service showed only five planes flying over Belarus – an Aeroflot, an S7, an Ethiopian Airlines jet and two corporate jets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
With cargo flights also subject to the bans,

Ukrposhta plans to deliver mail and parcels to Belarus – about 10,000 a month – by truck. For ground passenger travel, the trip from Kyiv to Minsk, takes 10 hours by train and 12 hours by bus. Partly due to Belarus serving as way station for Russia-Ukraine trade, the country has risen in recent years to become Ukraine’s third or fourth largest trading partner country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Outrage over the forcing down of the Ryanair Boeing may bring more economic sanctions against Belarus.

Mykhailo Volynets, an influential Rada member, called on Ukraine’s government to speed up a planned phaseout of electricity imports from Belarus. From London, Bloomberg editorialized yesterday: “Sanctions imposed after last year’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators should be expanded.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Timothy Ash, the emerging market analyst at BlueBay Asset Management wrote:

“On Belarus sanctions, there does seem to be momentum now for really consequential economic sanctions, both from the Europeans and the US.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Russia’s foreign minister has tut-tutted Turkey for “fueling Kyiv’s militaristic sentiment,”

 Reuters reports. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments to Argumenty i Fakty newspaper on Monday came after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last month pledged support to Kyiv amid the massive buildup of Russian military forces along Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders. Turkey last year sold military attack drones to Ukraine, a first step of a wide ranging defense production alliance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Seeking to get Ukraine’s weapons sales to Pakistan back on track,

 Ukroboronprom demonstrated the newest Oplot tank and the Skif anti-tank system last week in Kharkiv to Pakistani General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The de facto ‘CEO of Pakistan’, Gen. Bajwa is army chief of staff and the highest ranking Pakistani official to visit Ukraine. Ukraine’s 20-year arms supply relationship with Pakistan foundered in 2014-2015, when Ukraine was unable to supply tank engines in due to its own defense needs. At the end of Gen. Bajwa’s visit, “Both sides agreed to further optimize military to military ties particularly in defense production,” reports Defence Blog.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Editor’s Note:

The Women’s Business Chamber of Ukraine opens its Kyiv office next week. Founded two years ago in Lviv, the chamber has grown to almost 200 members nationwide. Key objectives are to promote women’s entrepreneurship and economic opportunities in Ukraine. The Ukraine Business News is proud to become a media sponsor of the Chamber. Women interested in becoming members – and joining the June 3 opening celebration at Vozdvyzhensky Hotel — should email Tatiana Smirnova at smirnova@cci.lviv.ua With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Ukraine Bans Flights to Belarus… Belavia Was No. 3 Airline for Ukraine… Angry over ‘State-Sponsored Hijacking, EU Adopts Similar Bans… Ukraine Prepares for Farmland Market on July 1
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
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 day from Kyiv Sikorsky and from Lviv; five a week from Odesa; and three a week from Kharkiv.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
European Union leaders meeting in Brussels last night called for Belavia to be banned from the 27-nation bloc’s airspace and urged EU-based carriers to avoid flying through Belarus airspace

, Reuters reports. Earlier, Lithuania, and Poland instructed airlines to detour around Belarus. This means that Belarus’ three Western neighbors no longer have flights to Minsk. Britain is instructing British airlines to cease flights over Belarus and is suspending the air permit for Belavia, BBC reports. KLM is suspending flights through Belarus airspace. Located on a flight path between the EU and Moscow, Belarus stands to lose millions of dollars in overflight fees.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Fueling the swift reaction

was the fear that, if unanswered, the forced landing of the Ryanair passenger jet could set a precedent for future interference with civil aviation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
“This was a case of state-sponsored hijacking,

 Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, told RTE Radio. O’Leary said a total of five people failed to re-board the plane in Minsk, for Vilnius. They were: the journalist, Roman Protasevich, aged 26; his girfriend, Sophia Sapega, a 23-year-old Russian who studies in Vilnius; and three unidentified men. O’Leary said he suspects the three men were Belarussian or Russian agents who boarded the plane in Athens to supervise the hijacking. He said: “We believe there was also some KGB agents offloaded off the aircraft as well.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Timothy Ash, the emerging market analyst, writes from London:

“This is not just a defensive action from Lukashenko but a full frontal attack on the EU – an EU plane, travelling between two EU capitals, forced out of the air by an autocratic regime. If the West lets Lukashenko get away with this, no Western airline is safe flying across any autocratic run country.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
On July 1, a limited farm land market is to open. Sales only are allowed among Ukrainians and the limit is 100 hectares.

In advance of this modest opening, farm land rents increased 6.5% yoy in 2020 to an average of 3,380 hryvnia/hectare, Ellina Yurchenko, a farmland expert for the Ukrainian Agrarian Business Club said in a press release Friday. At the Forum, Timofei Milovanov, president of the Kyiv School of Economics, said that by allowing farmers to borrow against their land, the market will result in higher yields, greater productivity and an extra $2 billion in tax revenues.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Editor’s Note:

 The 11th century, King Canute, the all-powerful King of England, Denmark and Norway, is remembered today for having his courtiers carry his throne down to a beach. His Majesty ordered the tide to stop. Predictably, the waves soaked the hem of his robes. Today, Russia and Belarus’s Medicare Men cling to power, deluded by the illusion that botox and billy clubs will delay the inevitable. But time is not on their side. The generational wheel always turns. Look at the photos of Protasevich, of Sapega, of the Belarus protesters, of Russia’s Navalny supporters. These fresh faces represent the youth, the future of their countries. Putin and Lukashenko should prepare for the inevitable. Time stops for no man. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, May 24, 2021
Kyiv Rail Station as Shopping Center?… Gov’t Plan Sets High Targets for the 2020s… UZ Starts to Privatize… Car Imports Surge
Monday, May 24, 2021
Lviv City Council has approved construction of a cable car

running from the Heavenly Hundred memorial and the governor’s ramparts to High Castle park. The city government hopes to attract a private investor to spend about $15 million to build the cable car and tourist facilities in the parks at both ends. UkrDizaynGrup has prepared this project video.

Monday, May 24, 2021
A Canadian court ruled Thursday that Iran’s Jan. 2020 shoot-down of a UIA passenger jet was “intentional” and an “act of terrorism.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled: “On a balance of probabilities…the missile attacks on Flight 752 were intentional.” He added: “The plaintiffs have established that the shooting down of Flight 752 by the defendants was an act of terrorism and constitutes ‘terrorist activity.” Of the 167 passengers on board, 63 were Canadians. In response, Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Friday: “The Canadian court is fundamentally not qualified to judge this aviation accident or potential negligence in an incident that is outside the territory and jurisdiction of Canada.”

Monday, May 24, 2021
On the move:
Monday, May 24, 2021
President Zelenskiy has appointed Tymofiy Mylovanov, president of the Kyiv School of Economics, to serve on the Supervisory Board of Ukroboronprom.

 During the first six months of the Zelenskiy presidency, Mylovanov, served as Economy Minister. Last fall, he returned to the government as an economic advisor to the President.

Monday, May 24, 2021
Editor’s Note:

With Nord Stream 2 seemingly a done deal, Germany’s wishful thinkers say the geopolitical balance will not change if the Kremlin no longer needs the big pipe crossing Ukraine to the EU. In retort, skeptics say: once gas runs through Nord Stream 2, the Kremlin may no longer feel constrained to play Mr. Nice Guy with Ukraine.

During the first week of August, 2008, I was in Tbilisi when the Georgia-Russia war broke out. Given the fog of war, most of us – foreigners and Georgians — did not comprehend Russia tactics. Today, we know key elements were pipelines.

On Aug. 5, 2008, as pre-war skirmishes flared, a mysterious fire took out the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil line in Refahiye, eastern Turkey, 750 km from the war zone. Only six years later, Bloomberg was able to run a story blaming the fire on a Russian cyberattack.

Closer to the events, two weeks after the war ended, Mark Trevelyan of Reuters traveled to a Georgian village 25 km from the Azeri border. In a report filed Aug. 29, 2008, he wrote that local herdsmen showed him 42 bomb craters that went up and down a remote stretch of the oil line running from Baku-to the Black Sea. Some fell within 15 meters of the 150,000 barrel a day pipe. Russian pilots clearly messaged: “Look at what we can do.” Seven years later, in July 2015, Russian soldiers demarcating the de facto Georgia-South Ossetia border, moved the fence 1 km to the south, close to the village of Orchosani, Georgia. This gave Russia control over a short length of the Baku-Black Sea pipeline. For the Kremlin, pipelines are part of the art of war. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Friday, May 21, 2021
New Ministers for Economy, Health and Infrastructure… Zelenskiy Promises to Keep Infrastructure Spending… Steel Production up 7%…. DTEK Pioneers Electricity Storage for Solar, Wind
Friday, May 21, 2021
Lyashko promised that every Ukrainian who wants to be vaccinated against coronavirus will get the two vaccinations by the end of this year

, the Health Ministry reports on Telegram. Until this week, Ukraine’s Chief State Sanitary Doctor, Lyashko, has been involved in the fight against coronavirus since its start in Ukraine 14 months ago. Previously, during the tenure of former Health Minister Ulana Suprun, he worked at the Center for Public Health.

Friday, May 21, 2021
Concorde Capital’s James Hydzik writes:

“In general, we see the replacements are good, at least from the reputational standpoint…Lyashko is very familiar with the government’s pandemic response from his time as chief sanitary officer…Lyashko still needs to prove himself as decisive if and when the highly probable fourth wave of the pandemic emerges. Also, Lyashko will have to better organize the COVID-19 vaccination process…Lyubchenko looks like a good technocrat who is familiar with the way government works (unlike his predecessor who came from business), so he definitely will be a more efficient economy minister.”

Friday, May 21, 2021
The ousted minsters of Economy and Infrastructure will continue to hold roles in the Zelenskiy Administration,

the President said yesterday at his press conference reviewing his two years in power. Ihor Petrashko, the former Economy Minister, will help coordinate the launch this summer of a farm land market. Before entering government, Petrashko worked for seven years a deputy director general of Oleh Bakhmatyuk’s UkrLandFarming. Zelenskiy did not specifiy the new post for Vladyslav Krykliy, the former Infrastructure Minister.

Friday, May 21, 2021
DTEK officially launched Ukraine’s first industrial lithium-ion energy storage system yesterday, a pioneering entry into what is to be a billion dollar business in Ukraine during this decade.

 Maksym Tymchenko, DTEK’s CEO, said of the 1 MW battery in Zaporizhia: “This is first step toward building a new reliable, flexible energy system in Ukraine. We open door to other actors who will invest more in energy storage systems.” Storage helps power distribution companies balance the peaks and lows of electricity generated from solar and wind plants.

Friday, May 21, 2021
Ukraine will meet the 18-month deadline to synchronize its power system with the EU one

Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, Ukrenergo board chairman, told the battery storage event. The head of Ukraine’s state-owned electricity distribution company, promised: “Synchronization of the Ukrainian energy system with the European one in 2023 will take place. Period.” He said that if Ukraine has more ‘flexibility’ – including industrial energy storage systems – it will allow Ukraine to export more power to the EU.

Friday, May 21, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Save the Date!  My Leopolitan friend Oleg Drin reminds me that Lviv Jazz Fest will be back next month, returning from last year’s corona-inspired hiatus. From Thursday June 24 through Monday June 28, the lineup features musicians and singers from Britain, Denmark, Israel, Sweden and the US. I took my family there for the last one – lots of fun and a good networking. Check out the program for 2021! With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Biden Backs Off Big Sanctions on Nord Stream 2… Nafto Board Stays on for One More Year… Hungry China Wants More Ukrainian Food… Vaccination Passports Will Open EU Doors — for the Vaccinated Elite
Thursday, May 20, 2021
The EU 27 countries agreed yesterday to allow fully vaccinated tourists this summer from non-EU countries,

Reuters has reported. Largely aimed at bringing back tourists from the US and Britain, the new rules would apply to Ukrainians fully vaccinated against Covid. To date, 1 million Ukrainians have received their first vaccination. Yet only 8,350 have received their second vaccination. On Tuesday, the Rada fired Maksym Stepanov from the post of Health Minister, largely for the slow progress on vaccinations.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
A domestic ‘vaccination passport’ – for entrance to schools, shopping centers, restaurants, theaters and gyms – would be supported by 27% of Ukrainians and opposed by 34%,

according to a survey by Research & Branding Group conducted during the last week of April. Support grows with the age of respondents. For foreign travel, 44% of the 1,804 respondents see it as justified.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Car carrier trains to the Carpathian Mountains and to the Black Sea have proved increasingly popular since their debut in March

, reported Ukrzaliznytsia. With the addition of auto wagons to Train No. 53/54 between Dnipro and Odesa, there are now seven trains that carry automobiles. The state railroad beckons: “Using this service and choosing the railway instead of traveling by car, you can save a lot on fuel, reduce emissions, as well as spend time on the road with benefits or relax in comfort.”

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Ukraine’s State Aviation Service yesterday recommended that Ukrainian airlines suspend all flights to Tel Aviv

 until the Israeli-Palestinian missile exchanges stop. A check of Ben Gurion Airport’s arrivals and departure board shows cancellations for about half of flights from around the world to Israel’s main airport.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
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Editor’s Note: My friend Roman Sulzhyk gave me some free Facebook publicity last night, reminding Ukraine’s corporate world that, in addition to writing the UBN, I represent BCP Securities, the US-based firm specializing in emerging market bonds. BCP has a strong, 30-year track record in Latin America for originating Eurobonds for rising companies. With 1,800 relationships with institutional investors – hedge funds, private banks, and family offices – BCP taps into a layer of US, UK, EU, Swiss and Asian investors who are hungry for yield, accustomed to EM risk, but often overlooked by issuers. If you think your company – or a friend’s company — is heading into the $50-100 million Eurobond range, let’s talk: jbrooke@bcpsecurities.com With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Ferrexpo to Invest $2 billion to Double Iron Production… Metinvest Produces Enough Steel for 20,000 Eiffel Towers… Iron and Steel Boom… Privatization ‘Irreversible’…Big Bond Sale
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Prices for the iron and steel products exported by Metinvest have skyrocketed over the last year,

according to Metal Expert, an industry consultancy. Compared to one year ago, the price jumps are: pig iron +71%; billet +77%; steel slab +104%; hot rolled coil steel +118%.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Timothy Ash, of BlueBay Asset Management, writes:

“Payouts increase markedly with higher real GDP growth. If real GDP growth accelerates to 5% in 2021, the payout might increase to around $900 million for that year. And, obviously, growth at 3% or lower and there are zero payouts.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
For Ukrainians who like to vacation without Russians,

 Moscow is extending its ban on tourist flights between Russia and Turkey for one more month, to mid-June, reported Bloomberg. Although Turkey’s 3-week coronavirus lockdown ended Monday, the Kremlin apparently is still annoyed about President Erdogan supportive statements for Ukraine during last month’s military standoff.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Over the last year, Ukraine has had four energy ministers and three health ministers. Of the original September 2019 Honcharuk cabinet, there seem to be only one or two men left standing among the key portfolios. If a company has four different CEOs in two years, shareholders head for the exits. Musical chairs is bad for the Ukraine brand. It also holds the nation back. And if the President cannot keep the help, it ultimately reflects on the President. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
DTEK Completes Marathon Debt Restructuring… Today’s Likely Cabinet Picks… Ukrposhta Plans to Buy a Bank… IMF Deal Next Month?… Kyiv Sikorsky to Build A Longer Runway For Long Haul Jets
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
In advance of today’s expected cabinet reshuffle, the Cabinet of Ministers let go three deputy ministers.

Two Deputy Energy ministers were fired: Yuriy Boyko, responsible for electricity, and Oleksandr Zorin, responsible for coal. The Cabinet accepted the resignation of Svitlana Panaiotidi, a deputy minister who had submitted her resignation before the May holidays.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
This afternoon, the Rada is to meet in special session to decide on three ministries; Economy, Health, and Infrastructure. Concorde Capital

predicts: “The most likely substitutes in the Cabinet are: Oleksiy Lyubchenko (Head of the Tax Administration) for Economy Minister; Oleksandr Kubrakov (Head of the state road administration Ukravtodor) for Infrastructure Minister; and Viktor Lyashko (Chief Sanitary Doctor and Deputy Minister) for Health the Ministry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Ukrposhta plans to acquire a bank,

 Igor Smelyanskiy, CEO of the state postal operator, wrote on Facebook. He said that “The acquired bank will be small, without branches or with a small number of them (we have 11,000 of our own) and, of course, without a portfolio of problem assets.” Smelyianskiy’s goal is to conclude talks with one of three target banks by the end of this year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
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 last week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Today through Sunday, Odesa Wine Week is to boost tourism during a lull in Ukraine’s coronavirus pandemic.

Designed to promote the brand ‘Ukrainian Wine,’ the event will draw vineyard directors, wine tasters and tourists to a mix of online and live events centered around the Premier Hotel Odesa. In January, Ukraine lowered taxes on wine imports from the EU. Ukrainian vineyards are fighting back with promotion and brand recognition.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Due to the exchange of rockets between Israel and Palestinian Gaza, UIA has cancelled all flights between Ukraine and Tel Aviv through tonight.

The suspension will be reviewed every 48 hours, the airline’s press service has said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Munich-based FlixBus inaugurates Thursday its first domestic bus route in Ukraine,

 a marathon, 21-hour voyage that start in Zatoka, the Odesa region Black Sea resort, then circles through Kyiv, Zhytomir, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and finally ends at the Carpathian mountain resort of Dragobrat. Michal Lehmann, the bus company’s regional director, said in an online press conference: “This is our first branded line on the domestic route in Ukraine, and it provides the most popular destinations for travel in Ukraine, both in summer and in winter.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
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Editor’s Note: The central bank does not want Ukrposhta to become Ukraine’s fifth state bank. Maybe the National Bank of Ukraine does not believe the government’s promises to privatize two of the state banks, Ukrgazbank and PrivatBank, within the next five years. But ideological purity is easy for free market economists living in central Kyiv, where every block has an ATM. But there are many Ukraines. There is the sparsely populated, rural Ukraine where people live in towns with less than 4,000 people – and no banks. I come from a town with a population of 4,500. There, the adults watch over the health of the local bank like hawks. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, May 17, 2021
GDP Down… Cabinet Shuffle Tomorrow… IKEA Draws Digital Crowds… Coal Phase out Planned… Bitcoin Uses As Much Electricity as Ukraine… Ukrposhta More and More Looks Like a Bank
Monday, May 17, 2021
A cabinet shuffle is in the works.

 Tomorrow, the Rada is to vote on the Ministers of Economy, Health, and Infrastructure. Ihor Petrashko, Minister of Economic Development, Trade, and Agriculture, and Vladyslav Krykliy, Minister of Infrastructure have submitted their resignations, the press secretary of Verkhovna Rada Speaker Dmytro Razumkov, posted Friday on Facebook. The Rada must vote to approve or deny.

Monday, May 17, 2021
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal asked parliament to fire Health Minister Maksym Stepanov.

 Appointed at the start of the Covid pandemic, 13 months ago, Stepanov was criticized for first trying to bypass Ukraine’s Western-designed procurement system, then for failing to procure enough vaccines. In April, 500,000 vaccines were administered, a fraction of the 2.6 million promised for that month. To date, almost 1 million vaccines have been administered, giving a first jab to about 3% of the adult population.

Monday, May 17, 2021
By the end of May, Ukraine is to have received a total of 3 million vaccines.

 Officially, 48,075 people have died of coronavirus in Ukraine and more than 1.8 million people have recovered from the infection. In a UNICEF survey last month of 2,027 Ukrainian adults, 22% said they had fallen sick with coronavirus. If this percentage is applied to Ukraine’s adult population of 30 million, it would indicate that around 6 million Ukrainians have had coronavirus.

Monday, May 17, 2021
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.

Monday, May 17, 2021
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.

Monday, May 17, 2021
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Editor’s Note: For Soviet era nostalgists, the Interior Ministry wants to turn Ukraine into a nation of стукачів, or snitches. “Every phone in a car, installed under the windshield, can record an offense, such as driving at a red light, violation of road marking rules, and so on,” Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko told ‘Ukraine 30. Country Security’ forum in Kyiv last week. “The driver just needs to click his finger on the phone screen, and a 30-second record with the violation of the other driver, with his car numbers will go to the police…There will be millions of cameras on the roads of Ukraine, and everyone will watch everyone else in order to prevent accidents, prevent the deaths of people.” As an incentive, traffic snoops will get 10% of every fine paid. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Friday, May 14, 2021
France Finances €1.3 billion of projects in Ukraine… Ukraine’s Exports up 19%, due to a doubling of Iron Ore Sales … Vitrenko Signs 1-Year Contract at Naftogaz… Kyiv Metro Ridership Drops in Half, More Funds Needed to Avoid Mass Transit Collapse
Friday, May 14, 2021
€300 million will be spent on Desautel SAS supplying Ukraine’s Emergency Services with 370 fire trucks with long ladders to fight fires in highrises

that make up the majority of urban residential housing in Kyiv and other major cities. As with the locomotive, 85% will be financed by the French government, a mix of loans and guarantees from the Treasury and BPI Assurance.

Friday, May 14, 2021
Boosted by booming world iron ore prices, Ukraine’s foreign trade was up 20% to $39.5 billion from January to April,

 compared to the same period last year, reported the State Customs Service. With bills for imported oil and gas rising 18%, to $3.5 billion, imports rose 21%, to $20.4 billion. The trade deficit for the first four months was $1.3 billion.

Friday, May 14, 2021
Although iron ore exports were down 8%, to 14.2 million tons, earnings from Ukraine’s iron ore sales almost doubled, reaching $2.3 billion

. With mines in Brazil and South Africa closed due to Covid-19 infections among staff, the world price of a ton of iron ore has jumped from $40 to $200,  wrote Oleksandr Kalenkov, President of Ukrmetallurgprom, the metals association, on Facebook. Top consumers of Ukrainian iron ore in 2021 are: China – 44%; Poland – 9%; Czech Republic – 9%.

Friday, May 14, 2021
Viktor Medvedchuk, the Ukrainian opposition leader who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin, is to spend two months under house arrest while awaiting trial for high treason.

A Kyiv judge rejected yesterday a prosecutor’s request for jail in lieu of bail of nearly $11 million. The Russian president is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. In the 424-member Rada, Medvedchuk leads the largest opposition group, the 44-member Opposition Platform – For Life.

Friday, May 14, 2021
President Zelenskiy inaugurated the new building of the Kyiv School of Economics yesterday

which is located on Mykola Shpaka Street, near the US Embassy. “The new KSE building is really impressive,” Zelenskiy said to Timofiy Milovanov, the Acting President of the business school who is also an advisor to Zelenskiy. The new 6-story building has classrooms for 700 students. Founded in 1996, the school has grown to have 230 students in seven master’s programs and 1,400 students of professional programs and courses.

Friday, May 14, 2021
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.

Friday, May 14, 2021
Starting tomorrow, passengers flying from Ukraine to Turkey do not need to present negative results of a PCR coronavirus test,

reports Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. Turkey’s national coronavirus lockdown is due to be lifted Monday morning.

Friday, May 14, 2021
Due to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, UIA canceled three flights yesterday between Israel and Ukraine.

A fourth flight PS778 from Tel Aviv to Kyiv was postponed. It is due to arrive today at 11:50 am. UIA asks passengers to check its website for updates. In light of the missile exchanges, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry “strongly recommends that Ukrainian citizens refrain from traveling to Israel and Palestine.”

Friday, May 14, 2021
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Editor’s Note: It’s called ‘tied aid.’ A nation extends foreign aid to help its own domestic companies. Professors of liberal economics may carp from the sidelines, but France’s big contracts will have a real impact in Ukraine. With private investors skittish and scarce here, the often maligned international civil servants emerge as the real pioneers. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, May 13, 2021
Ukraine Opens Its Mineral Treasure Chest… Ukraine Narrows Wage Gap With Russia … Mariupol Cargo Rises… Mortgages Double… Ukrainians Sell a Net $1billion in FX
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Rights to mine Lithium, titanium and gold deposits coming up for auction in Ukraine this year have prompted reports in International Mining, Hellenic Shipping News and S&P Global Platts

. Investor interest is heightened by a forward-looking report published last week by the International Energy Association: “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions.”

Thursday, May 13, 2021
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%.”

Thursday, May 13, 2021
Separately, in July, Ukraine’s State Property Fund plans to auction state-owned United Mining and Chemical Company, Europe’s largest miner of ilmenite, the main source for titanium oxide.

 Ukraine produces 6% of global titanium ore and its proven reserves are among the world’s 10 largest. The first of this year’s ‘Big Privatizations,” the company is Europe’s only miner of rutile and zircon, reported International Mining. Information for the auction can be found at this link. Site visits are taking place. The starting price is $135 million.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
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.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
Russia’s Interior Ministry has reported last week that 527,000 people in Russia-controlled Donbas have been granted Russian citizenship over the last two years.

 Recently, a Russia parliament member said that number should reach 1 million by December. This would cover about half of the population believed to remain in the Russia-controlled portions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
Mortgages, long a rarity in Ukraine, doubled to $50 million during this first quarter of 2021,

compared to January-March of last year, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. The Central Bank has reported that the number of new mortgages increased by 51% yoy, to 1,811. Most mortgages are for dachas with primary residences can be offered as collateral.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
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 and Istanbul, Kyiv has the third worst traffic in Europe,.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
A UIA flight from Kyiv Boryspil to Tel Aviv was rerouted to Larnaca, Cyprus Tuesday night after Israel’s main airport came under a Palestinian missile attack.

 After a three-hour delay, the plane landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. In January 2020, two Iranian anti-aircraft missiles downed a UIA flight shortly after takeoff from Tehran airport. All 176 passengers and crew were killed. In July 2014, a Russian missile fired from separatist-controlled Donbas downed a Malaysia Airlines jet, killing all 298 crew and passengers aboard.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Black earth holds a deep sentimental value in Ukraine. Rutile does not. For the foreseeable future, large foreign farming operations will continue to rely on complicated land lease structures. But, if handled diplomatically, foreign mining should not run into popular resistance. The innovation of online data banks and online auctions should largely eliminate the buddy-buddy backroom deals that shut out foreign miners in the past. The EU is committed to switching to electric cars over the next 20 years. The lithium for the batteries is here. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Ukraine to Build Space Center, Launch Satellites… IFIs Approve $270 million to Align Universities with Jobs… River Cargo Takes Off… New Flights to Saudi Arabia and UAE… Zelenskiy Baits the Russian Bear
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Separately, the European Investment Bank has approved a €58 million loan to improve vocational education in Ukraine.

 The money will help create up to 10 regional centers of excellence in vocational education and training in Ukraine. The money follows a similarly sized project under the EU4Skills program, funded since 2019 by the European Commission, Germany, Poland, Finland and Estonia.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Ukraine’s first flights to Saudi Arabia will commence next month

 when Flynas, Saudi’s low cost carrier, starts flying three times a week between Riyadh and Kyiv Boryspil. The flight on an Airbus A-320 will take five hours, reports Avianews.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, a new unit of the Budapest-based low cost carrier, will start flights from Abu Dhabi to Odesa on June 5 and to Kyiv Boryspil on July 1.

 The Abu Dhabi-based airline will fly to Kyiv three times a week, using an Airbus A321neo. This long-range Airbus is too big to land on the runway at Kyiv Sikorsky, Wizz Air’s Kyiv hub.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
UIA inaugurates flights next month between Kyiv Boryspil and Ras al-Khaimah,

 the fifth largest of the seven kingdoms of the United Arab Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah’s airport is a 40-minute drive from Dubai city and a three-hour drive from Abu Dhabi.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
In a crackdown on pro-Russian political and business interests, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has authorized high treason charges against two Rada members,

 Viktor Medvedchuk and Taras Kozak. In February, the Kyiv government seized the pair’s three TV stations, a chain of gas stations and oil pipeline. Yesterday Venediktova said that Medvedchuk and Kozak are suspected of colluding with the Russian government to produce gas in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied by Russia since 2014. Noting Medvedchuk’s friendship with Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg called the charges “a move that’s likely [to] fan already elevated tensions with Russia.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Once again, follow the dots. Last Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv. Five days later, on Tuesday, Ukraine’s prosecutor general charged two leading pro-Russian politicians with high treason, citing economic crimes allegedly committed six years ago.

Presumably, behind last week’s fist-bumping, Blinken-Zelenskiy photo ops, the Biden envoy told the Ukrainian president that his back is covered. I hope so. Russia still has 80-100,000 troops on Ukraine’s southern and eastern borders. Four months from today, on Sept. 12, Russia and Belarus are to have their massive annual military exercise — Zapad, or West. “The only way to deter Putin is to arm Ukraine,” Yelyzaveta Yasko, a Servant of the People Rada member, writes in a new Atlantic Council UkraineAlert. Tick tock. Tick tock. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Cargill to Invest $75 Million in Canadian Iron Mine… VR Capital’s €59 Million Wind Park Starts Generating Power… Solar Producers Default, Sue… New Bridge Over Dnister Will Bring Kyiv Closer to Moldova… Summer Tourism: EU Prepares to Welcome Vaccinated Ukrainians
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Lithuania’s Modus Energy International has started arbitration against Ukraine,

 claiming €11.5 million in damages for last summer’s retroactive cutting of green tariffs. The company owns the Bolokhivsky solar parks in Zhytomyr.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Energy storage systems in Ukraine can receive $300 million in revenues a year

, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, chairman of Ukrenergo, predicted at a recent press conference, reports ExPro Consulting. Solar and wind power plant have production peaks and lows, necessitating storage systems to ‘balance’ electricity flows. DTEK is preparing to commission Ukraine’s first industrial power storage  system, a 1 MW unit next to the Zaporizhia thermal power plant. Built by Sungrid, a Canadian company, the unit uses a lithium-ion energy storage system supplied by Honeywell.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Ukrenergo lost $1 billion last year, a sharp turnaround from nearly $70 million profit in 2019.

 The state company says its core activity – power transmission — is profitable. But losses come from subsidizing electricity to low income households and from national rates that do not cover elevated ‘green tariffs’ due solar and wind producers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Direct flights from Tel Aviv to Uman for the annual Rosh Hashana pilgrimage?

 That could be the result of a recent decision to transfer 500 hectares from Uman’s military airfield to civilian use, Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko tells Interfax-Ukraine. Every September about 40,000 Hasidic Jews go to Uman for an annual pilgrimage. The Cherkasy city is a three hour drive from the nearest international airports, Odesa or Kyiv Boryspil.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Drivers returning to work in Kyiv today will encounter a new, digitized system for parking fines.

 Using hand held terminals, parking inspectors are able to quickly check for nonpayment for parking and issue tickets on the spots. “The ticket can be quickly printed and left on the offending vehicle,” a city administration official tells UNIAN. The terminals do not give inspectors access to drivers’ personal data.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
This summer, the EU would allow visits by fully vaccinated travelers from third countries, such as Ukraine,

 under a formal proposal by the European Commission. Travelers will have to complete the vaccination sequence at least two weeks before travel, reports Avianews. Similarly, the EU is working on a system to allow fully vaccinated travelers from the US, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, recently told The New York Times.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Ukraine has signed contracts to receive a total of 42 million doses of coronavirus vaccines through the end of this year

, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said Friday night on Ukraine 24 TV. To cover Ukraine’s adult population, he said, delivery contracts need to be signed for 5 million more doses.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  Greetings! I returned yesterday from a week in the US. A new feature of the American highway landscape are billboards beckoning people to get vaccinated against Covid. Shots are being administered at the rate of 2 million a day. The total so far is 260 million shots, or 46% of the population, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.

By contrast, 2% of Ukraine’s population has been given one dose. Catching up on email, I find one reader letter describing his day-long bureaucratic vaccine obstacle course that ended last week in failure. He writes: “Arrival at the agreed time and day (Thursday, May 6, 9:00 am) at the vaccination center Central Polyclinic of the Shevchenkovsiy district (St. Saksaganskogo, 100. 1 floor, 130 office), refusal of the doctor to give me the vaccine. I am missing an administrative registration document. Registration of a family doctor in a Ukrainian state clinic. I ask him to do the vaccine and we will do the document afterwards. No! impossible! Categorical refusal.”

Maybe medical personnel who block life-saving vaccinations should forfeit their new Covid pay bonuses. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Thursday, May 6, 2021
NBU Report Exposes Lockdown’s Effects … Govt. Approves Oschadbank plan to Pay Record Dividends … Agroton EBITDA up 14x … AV Hotel & Hub Completes Expansion … Pandemic Doesn’t Deter Tourists from Traveling to Kyiv … Estonians Cry Foul After Skymall Saga
Thursday, May 6, 2021
According to the business activity expectations index (BAEI), Ukrainian businesses have downgraded assessments for their April performance and future prospects in response to the stricter quarantine and growing uncertainty

 (NBU). In April 2021, the index again moved below its equilibrium level of 50 points, to 46.9, down from 51.4 in March.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
In April 2021, enterprises across most of the surveyed sectors reported worsened outlooks of their business performance.

 The indices of the industrial, trade and services sectors moved below their neutral levels. Meanwhile, construction companies reported optimistic expectations for the first time since September 2019.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
Trading firms also revised their outlook of their performance

 as the sector’s DI dropped to 48.9 in April, from 52.2 in March. Respondents expected a decrease in the amount of goods purchased for sale. With firmer expectations of a rise in purchase prices, trading firms reported stronger expectations of a rise in the price of goods purchased for sale and a decrease in the trade margin. At the same time, respondents expected a slight increase in trade turnover.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
The services sector was hit hardest by the stricter quarantine, significantly S

. “Respondents expected a drop in the amount of services provided, the number of new orders, and the amount of services being provided, while also intending to raise their selling prices,” the NBU report said.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
AV Hotel & Hub, Ukraine’s most innovative hostel with imported capsules that is modeled after the popular Japanese trend, has opened up a new location near the Golden Gate metro station

. It is also greatly expanding its existing AV Hotel branch located at Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho St, 58А in Kyiv to boost guest capacity.

Thursday, May 6, 2021
Kyiv was visited by 116,000 foreign tourists in the first quarter of 2021

reported the press service of the Kyiv City Administration. The largest number of foreign tourists came to the capital from Belarus – 10,500 visitors. In second place are tourists from Israel – 8,900 people, in third from Turkey – 8,300. The list of countries from which the most foreign tourists came also included the USA, India, Germany, Great Britain, France and Georgia. According to preliminary estimates, 300,000 domestic tourists also visited Kyiv during this period.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Eight New Export Markets Opened … Agricultural Sales Look Optimistic … Firefly Aerospace Scores Big Investors … Naftogaz Situation Continues
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Firefly Aerospace is a privately held aerospace company that provides space transportation services from low Earth orbit to the moon.

Firefly offers launch, space travel and landing on the lunar surface using the Alpha, Beta, SUV and Blue Ghost platforms and participates in NASA space projects. In 2017, after bankruptcy, the company was bought by Ukrainian businessman Maxim Polyakov via the Noosphere Ventures investment fund. Firefly Aerospace offices are located in Austin and Dnipro. The main production of rocket assemblies is in the state of Texas, with part of the equipment is also being developed in Ukraine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Zelenskiy Blasts Western Leaders … Securities Regulations Streamlined … Metinvest Looks at DMC Acquisition
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
After a state visit to Poland on May 3, President Zelenskiy slammed western leaders for being “insincere” and refusing to provide enough money and vaccines.

 Writing on Facebook, he said, “The European Union is about equality. Not just statements, but real actions. And for equality, sincerity is necessary”

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
With no end in sight to the pandemic, which has left tens of thousands dead and threatens even more, Zelenskiy said “Ukraine was among those who did not ask, but, on the contrary, gave a helping hand”

: our doctors traveled to different countries of the European Union to save the sick together with local exhausted doctors. He also mentioned the planes that Ukraine provided for the delivery of protective equipment “to itself and to others.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
“Ukraine received too little of the promised vaccines, and I reminded everyone that equality is about concrete support when it is most needed.

 The pandemic began more than a year ago. And for seven years Ukraine has remained a real, not a metaphorical outpost of Europe. War takes our people, eats up our economy, and ravages our Ukrainian territories. But this is a threat to the whole of Europe,” Zelenskiy criticized.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
“And although we are not yet EU members, we are already being spoken to as equal members of the European family.

 Therefore, today Ukraine came to greet Poland with the Constitution Day on May 3 – the document that served as the basis of Polish democracy. And therefore Ukraine signed the joint declaration of the five countries, where it is clearly stated that Europe is our common home and should be built on the principles of freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy, the rule of law, equality and solidarity. Share such values,” he added.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Ukrainians purchased and registered over 10,000 new passenger cars in April, or over the next 3 years,

Ukravtoprom has reported. The demand for new cars has increased by 11% since 2020. This is due to the low starting point caused by pandemic related restrictions in place last spring. The market leader is Toyota, while Renault has moved down to the second place.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Oversubscribed $1.25bn Offering … Oschadbank to pay Record Dividend … UZ Under Fire…MHP Cruises on … Farmak Gifts KSE
Monday, May 3, 2021
Investors from the United Kingdom, the United States and the EU

comprised the bulk of demand for the offering – 42%, 34% and 21%, respectively. Investors from Asia and MENA accounted for 3%.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Yuriy Butsa, the Government Commissioner for Public Debt Management, noted that despite the return to the trajectory of fiscal consolidation, Ukraine’s funding needs are still high compared to previous years. 

“Having successfully implemented a local borrowing strategy in the first quarter, we returned to international capital markets after stabilization to cover some of our foreign exchange needs this year,” he said.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Oschadbank will pay a record-setting dividend to the budget,

the state-owned bank said in a press release to investors. Sergei Naumov, the Chairman of the Board of Oschadbank, wrote “The reporting year 2020 was full of turbulent events that shocked the whole world. The global crisis associated with the pandemic caused unprecedented challenges in all areas of our life. I am pleased to state that despite all the difficulties Oschadbank coped with these challenges with dignity managed to ensure the stable operation of the financial institution, as well as to maintain the trust of more than 7 million customers.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Ukrainian Railways is under intense scrutiny by the Temporary Investigative Commission of the Verkhovna Rada,

which said that the company has performed unsatisfactorily, VSK head and MP Yulia Grishina announced on Facbeook.  The body intends to appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers to dismiss the company’s acting head, as well as some members of the company’s board.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Fitch Ratings revises Ukrainian Railway’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating, senior unsecured debt, and its SPVs on Rating Watch Negative,

the agency announced on April 29. The change reflects the company’s weakened liquidity position, according to the agency’s assessments. As of April, Ukrainian Railway’s liquidity coverage ratio, calculated as available undrawn lines of credit and cash/scheduled repayments, was less than 1x. “The company’s immediate liquidity position is insufficient to offset expected repayments of a local bank loan (USD116 million or equivalent UAH 3,225 million) maturing on 30 May. The company’s available immediate liquidity (as of 26 April 2021) is UAH 3,130 million,” according to Fitch.

Monday, May 3, 2021
Farmak, a leading Ukrainian pharmaceuticals company, will donate $500,000 to the Kiev School of Economics (KSE) to fund a new campus and improve existing programs

, the company said in a press release. “By supporting such projects, we are contributing to the achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals, one of the tasks of which is to improve the quality of higher education and ensure its close connection with science,” said Volodymyr Kostyuk, Executive Director of Farmak.

Monday, May 3, 2021
“Ukrainian business is entering a new level of corporate social responsibility, and this should become an example for others.

Thanks to the support of companies such as Farmak, we are preparing the ground for a strong and innovative Ukrainian economy,” said KSE President Timofey Milovanov.

Friday, April 30, 2021
After Naftogaz, Reformers Worry About Politicians and State Companies … Kobolyev Hands Over Office Keys to Avoid ‘Circus’ …. Next Down: Mustafa Nayem … America’s Bechtel, Australia’s Volt Come to Ukraine … Lviv Has Ukraine’s Highest Salaries
Friday, April 30, 2021
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote:

“Vitrenko could be at least as efficient at the position of Naftogaz CEO as Kobolyev was, so there is no risk to Naftogaz operations with the top management replacement.”

Friday, April 30, 2021
Dragon Capital wrote in a note:

 “This breach of corporate-governance standards is likely to create a new point of tensions with international financial institutions and Ukraine’s other Western partners…Naftogaz is set to experience a turbulent period, as the new CEO is likely to move to rid the management team of Kobolev allies.”

Friday, April 30, 2021
The Rada moved forward yesterday,

appointing Herman Halushchenko as Energy Minister, succeeding Vitrenko, who had held the job in an acting capacity for four months. For the last year, Halushchenko served as vice president of Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company.

Friday, April 30, 2021
With Russia’s Rosneft cutting diesel supplies to Ukraine, traders plan to increase diesel imports in May from Belarus, Lithuania, Hungary and Turkey,

 Ukraine’s Economy Ministry reports after meeting with “key stakeholders of the oil and gas market.” Yesterday, two companies won tenders to supply diesel to Ukrzaliznytsia. In addition to using diesel to power half of its locomotives, the state railroad has 1,300 tanker cars, enough to move about one third of Ukraine’s annual imports of 7 million tons.

Friday, April 30, 2021
More than 300,000 Russian soldiers, nearly one-third of the nation’s 1 million member military, took part in exercises near Ukraine this month

, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in a public briefing yesterday. He said drills involved 35,000 combat vehicles, 900 aircraft and 180 navy ships. Previous estimates put the Russian troop number at 100,000. Col. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev, commander of Russia’s Western Military District, reported most of his troops are back at their garrisons, with one trainload of troops still on its way home.

Friday, April 30, 2021
Lviv has the highest average salary in Ukraine,

 the hryvnia equivalent of $1,130 a month, according to a survey of Ukraine’s largest cities by grc.ua, a personnel portal. Lviv presumably edged out Kyiv, the traditional leader, due to the high concentration of IT jobs and wage competition with nearby Poland. Of the five cities, the lowest average monthly wage was in Dnipro — $692.

Friday, April 30, 2021
Passenger traffic was down by one third during the first quarter,

compared to January-March of 2020, the State Statistics Service reports. The number of rides taken by passengers was down 30.5%, to 624 million. The number of passenger kilometers was down 35%, to 12.3 billion.

Friday, April 30, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  A reporter friend of mine once wrote a book about crime in the Southern US called: “All Over But the Shoutin’.” That’s where we are with the Naftogaz CEO switch. There were stern tweets and angry press releases. There will be a lawsuit or two. The IMF will chastise. But much indignation will dissipate over the upcoming 10-day holiday. Yuriy Vitrenko now is in charge. Let’s see where he goes with it. On a personal note, I fly Sunday to the US to get my house in order for summer rentals. Over the next week, my colleague Li Luo will be reporting and writing the UBN. I will be back in print on May 11. In the meantime, enjoy Orthodox Easter and the May holidays! With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Coup d’Etat at Naftogaz: Kobolyev Out, Vitrenko In … Cabinet Bypasses Board … Nuclear Exec to be Energy Minister? … Nord Stream 2 Could Untie Kremlin’s Hands for Military Action … Kyiv Lifts Corona Lockdown on Saturday
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Yuriy Vitrenko starts work today as the new CEO of Naftogaz, reports the government portal.

Yesterday, the Cabinet of Ministers fired Andriy Kobolyev, a 20-year company veteran, who had held the CEO post since March 2014. Kobolyev is credited with cutting corruption, but criticized for failing to increase gas production. His downfall came after news of last year’s disastrous results – the loss of $685 million, the first loss since 2015.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
To fire Kobolyev, the Cabinet of Ministers suspended the Supervisory Board for two days,

the body charged with personnel decisions. Next Wednesday, a search is to start for new Board members. Vitrenko, the former number two at Naftogaz, has won a 1-year contract. Since December, he has served as Acting Energy Minister.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
This afternoon, the Rada is to meet to vote on the candidacy of Herman Halushchenko for the post of Energy Minister.

Supported by the Rada Energy Committee, Halushchenko, is Vice President of Energoatom, the state company that runs Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants. Nuclear supplies half of Ukraine’s electricity.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Defenders of Kobolyev noted that despite last year’s loss,

the company paid $5 billion in taxes – 17% of Ukraine’s tax receipts. Kobolyev leaves Naftogaz with $2 billion in cash on hand, a war chest to buy gas for the winter.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Objections swirl over the legal maneuver used to bypass the Board and fire an executive who was one year into a four-year contract.

“This violates the charter of Naftogaz and violates our obligations, in particular, to the IMF to ensure the independence of Naftogaz,” said Inna Sovsun, a Rada Energy Committee member from the pro-Western Holos party, on the party’s website. A major demand of Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers is the installation of independent boards to control state companies.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
The dismissal of Kobolyev “is legal manipulation” and “demonstrates a return to practice manual management of state enterprises,”

reads a defiant statement posted by the company’s outgoing management on the Naftogaz Group Facebook page. The change at the top comes as Naftogaz was planning to issue a Eurobond. In this light, the manifesto, posted also on the company’s website declares: “This is clear signal to investors in securities of Ukrainian issuers: the working conditions of state enterprises of Ukraine are unpredictable and can be changed depending on political expediency.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021
“Dismissed. Reappointed. Andriy gone. $2bn cash reserves in company,”

one foreign member of the Supervisory Board emailed the UBN last night. “Prospect of developing serious new gas basin in Black Sea and others and were going to raise a bond issue next week – killed. As are longer term plans to transform Ukrainian gas reserves. What are they playing at? Perfect gift to Russians. Incomprehensible.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Kobolyev made no public comment yesterday about his dramatic fall.

 Vitrenko, his former deputy, said the CEO switch is a “logical” response to “inefficient management of Naftogaz Ukrainy.” “The state must be an active owner,” he said in an interview last night with Interfax Ukraine. “The Cabinet of Ministers has the right and obligation to respond to problems in the company…When you submit a financial plan and promise something, and, then, instead of the planned 11 billion UAH [$400 million] of profit, you receive 19 billion UAH {$685 million] of loss, it leads to the fact that your owner reacts.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Naftogaz Group has cut its capital expenditures by 44.5% last year, to $54 million,

from $99 million. The biggest area, exploration and production, fell by 26%, to $39 million. Oil and gas production by Naftogaz, the nation’s largest producer, has been stagnant for the last several years.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
PricewaterhouseCoopers was won the contract, which is valued close to $2 million to audit the Naftogaz Group’s financial statements for 2021 and 2022

, the state company has reported. The Cabinet of Ministers made the choice after reviewing results of a ProZorro competition. In addition to auditing the accounts of nearly 30 companies of the Group, PWC is review financial statements to support the issuance of Eurobonds.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Russia’s recent military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border has re-focused Washington’s attention on the potential perils of the Nord Stream 2 Russia-Germany Baltic sea gas line,

 Diane Francis writes in a new Atlantic Council blog. Noting that Russia hopes to finish the 1,230 km project this summer, this veteran Ukraine watcher warns that commissioning “would also remove a major obstacle to future large-scale Russian military operations against Ukraine, potentially paving the way for a major escalation in the seven-year conflict between the two countries.”  She adds: “Once construction of the pipeline is finished, opponents fear Moscow will sabotage existing supply routes via Ukraine in order to force Germany to accept deliveries via Nord Stream 2.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021
In a different kind of complaint about a Ukrainian state company Supervisory Board,

Richard Deitz, President of London-based VR Capital Group, charges that the Ukrzaliznytsia board has failed to act decisively to negotiate a deal for debt obligations VR bought two years ago from Prominvestbank. Last week, Ukraine’s Supreme Court confirmed UZ’s obligation in four cases. Instead of settling the debt at a discount in 2019, UZ is running up interest and penalties, pushing the total owed over $100 million. “The amount keeps going up,” Deitz tells the UBN of the 14 cases. “The real issue is the failure of corporate government governance. The management board and the supervisory board did not do what they are supposed to do. The loser is the taxpayer in Ukraine.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Kyiv lifts its strict lockdown Saturday,

opening the Metro to all riders, allowing indoor restaurant dining, and opening shopping centers, gyms and open-air markets. The opening comes in time for Orthodox Easter, which is celebrated on Sunday. In theory, Kyiv schools open Wednesday, but in reality most reopen on Tuesday May 11.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
The opening comes as Kyiv still records about 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day,

Mayor Klitschko reports. Among the reported cases, 40% are men and 60% are women. On a national scale, 9,590 new cases were reported yesterday, half the level of the peaks in early April.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
Officially, there have been 2 million cases of coronavirus in Ukraine over the last year.

However, in a UNICEF survey of 2,027 Ukrainian adults interviewed by cell phone in April, 22% of respondents said they had fallen sick with coronavirus. If this percentage is applied to Ukraine’s adult population of 30 million, it indicates that around 6 million Ukrainians have had coronavirus.

Thursday, April 29, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  There is bad blood behind the successful coup d’etat at Naftogaz. Today, Yuriy Vitrenko comes back in triumph to run a company that one year ago pushed him into exile in Berlin. But, after the dust settles, historians probably will be kind to Kobolyev’s seven year reign at Ukraine’s state oil and gas company. By cutting off major corruption streams, he converted a drain on the treasury into the nation’s largest taxpayer. Last year, it was again a money loser. But, in a taste of things to come, it was the first year that Naftogaz accounts did not reflect revenues from Russian gas shipments. From an investor point of view, a reformer has replaced a reformer. Ideally, Vitrenko will crack open the monopoly and allow foreign companies to jump start Ukraine’s oil and gas production. Historians – those annoying people again – remind us that well into the 1970s, Ukraine SSR was the top oil and gas producing republic of the 15 Soviet republics. Back to the future, anyone?  With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Naftogaz Racks up Big Loss … Ukrainians Bought Dollars During Russian Standoff … Blinken to Come to Kyiv … Turkey Starts Lockdown Tomorrow, but May Holiday Visitors Are Still Welcome
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Kyiv in May as part of preparations for a Biden-Putin summit this summer,

 CNN has reported, citing a Ukrainian government official. Blinken has already spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, several times since taking office in January, including two weeks ago in Brussels. “A proper Ukraine strategy needs two parts,” Daniel Fried, who served as US Ambassador to Poland in the late 1990s, told CNN. “One arm around their shoulder to help them resist aggression from the Kremlin and a foot on their back to get them to fix things at home, so that Ukraine is not simply a corrupt state vulnerable to that Russian aggression.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Ukraine will supply gas turbine engines for Turkey’s new ATAK-II combat helicopters,

reported the Ukrainian Military Portal. The 11-ton helicopters will be twice as large as current attack helicopters now produced by Turkey. Temel Kotil, General Director of Turkish Aerospace Industries, confirmed the contract signing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Starting tomorrow, Turkey is requiring that everyone stay at home under a nationwide ‘full lockdown’.

This current lockdown will lasts until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus. Although intercity travel will be largely banned, destination tourism will continue, under heightened health controls.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Other airlines are breathing new life into Ukraine’s domestic airports.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  Slovakia’s foreign ministry may mourn the news that Zakarpattia is moving its regional airport away from a fence that separates Ukraine and Slovakia. For years, like the movie Ground Hog Day, we watched — again and again — the theater that Slovakia has approved use of its air space for takeoffs and landings from Uzhgorod airport. Then, surprise! There was just one more EU form to be signed at one more bilateral meeting. Now, I guess Slovakian diplomats will have to shift to more boring work, like looking for Russian embassy spies scouting ammo dumps. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Ukraine Places €1.25 Billion Eurobonds at Low Rates … Gas Traders Brush off Geopolitical Risk … Foreign Donors Spend €2.5 billion to Seal Chornobyl … Cold, Wet Spring Means Good Harvests
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
With Russia withdrawing troops, but leaving tanks and ships

, Ukraine has asked Germany for anti-ship missiles and old corvettes, Germany’s  dw.com news site reported Saturday. Separately, the Rada committees on defense, infrastructure and foreign relations want to hold hearings on a deal with Turkey to buy four Ada class corvettes. Ukrainian Navy officers fear the project will eat up a large part of the budget of Navy and that the corvettes will be easy targets for Russian anti-ship missiles.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Denmark is targeting Ukraine for a ‘nearshoring’ initiative

– bringing factories and outsourcing work closer to home, to Eastern Europe. The move is prompted partly by the Covid epidemic reducing the mobility of Ukrainian workers and restricting Danish managers from flying to China.  In a first step, Antonina Leth Moeller, a Ukrainian business woman living in Denmark, recently opened the Ukrainian Danish Chamber of Commerce, with a bilingual Danish-Ukrainian website.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  Norway’s Scatec plans to invest €9.8 billion through 2025 to build wind, solar, and hydropower in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Mali, Pakistan and Tunisia. The summary of a story I read in enerdata.net did not mention future projects for Ukraine, once a big focus for the company. Once again, it’s clear that Ukraine’s bait and switch on the green tariff turned off foreign investors. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Monday, April 26, 2021
Russia Closes More of the Black Sea … Ukraine Courts Turkey, Romania … Privatization Goal: $430 million in 2021 … China-EU Rail Freight to Triple by 2030 … Chernobyl: UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Monday, April 26, 2021
Russia has closed for three more sections of the Black Sea near Crimea for six months of ‘training exercises

, Ria Novosti has reported from Moscow, citing Russia’s Defense Ministry. Ten days ago, Russia closed the southern approaches to the Kerch Strait to foreign navies and foreign governments through the end of October. This same prohibition has been extended to waters off the coast of Russia’s Opuk training ground, a 100 km stretch between Hurzuf and Sevastopol, and Crimea’s westernmost tip, facing the southern Kherson region. Responding to protests that this will hamper commercial shipping to Ukraine’s Sea of Azov ports, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the closure will not “interfere with shipping through the Kerch Strait.”

Monday, April 26, 2021
This fall Ukrainian Navy officers will take part in Turkey’s Dogu Akdeniz 2021 naval exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean

, reported Ukraine’s military news site, ArmiyaInform. The Ukrainians are to be stationed aboard Turkey’s Ada-class corvettes. In coming days, Turkey and Ukraine are to sign a contract for joint production of four corvettes. Ordered for Black Sea patrolling, the first is to be built in Turkey and the next three at Mykolaiv’s Okean shipyard.

Monday, April 26, 2021
Romania and Ukraine are ready to start a ‘strategic relationship,

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said yesterday after meeting his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, in Bucharest. “Ukraine seeks to officially start a strategic partnership with Romania,” Kuleba said. “This means a special relationship between our states. Aurescu and I agreed to make this a reality.” Kuleba said the two Black Sea neighbors will open more border checkpoints and facilitate more cooperation in natural gas. Romania will send a military unit to march in Ukraine’s Independence Day parade on Aug. 24.

Monday, April 26, 2021
By the end of this year, as many as one million Ukrainians living in Russia-controlled Donbas will receive Russian passports,

said Viktor Vodolatsky, the Deputy chair of Russia’s Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Eurasian Integration (TASS). “Today, 538,000 people living in the territory of Donbas are citizens of the Russian Federation,” he said. “By the end of this year, up to 1 million Donbas residents will have become Russian citizens.”

Monday, April 26, 2021
YouTube has blocked three pro-Russian channels that President Zelenskiy shut down three months ago

. After Zelenskiy ordered the channels off the air, and sanctioned their reputed owner Viktor Medvedchuk, the channels — 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK — reappeared on YouTube. As of last night, YouTube had not blocked Pershy Nezalezhny, or The First Independent, a new channel started by staff of the three blocked channels.

Monday, April 26, 2021
By June 1, the EU plans to implement a uniform vaccination certificate that will allow free movement by EU citizens within the bloc

. “We can guarantee that the system will be operational by the summer season,” EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said Thursday. Available in paper or digital form, it will certify that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection. A QR code will ensure that certificates can be read through the 27 countries of the EU. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the measure this week.

Monday, April 26, 2021
Today, 35 years after a nuclear fire destroyed a reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine is seeking to have the nuclear power plant and the surrounding exclusion zone declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As a first step, the government is moving to have the site – and a neighboring Soviet era radar – declared a national monument. “The importance of the Chernobyl zone lays far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko told Reuters. “It is not only about commemoration, but also history and people’s rights.” Boosted by the HBO Chernobyl series, tourism doubled in 2019, to 120,000 visitors to the site.

Monday, April 26, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  After the Russia-Ukraine brinkmanship of last week, Presidents Putin and Biden now are working to meet in June, Yuri Ushakov, a top foreign policy adviser for Putin, tells Russian state television. The lure of a one-on-one summit is expected to keep Putin on his best behavior – for at least the next six weeks. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Friday, April 23, 2021
Markets Rebound on Kremlin’s Promise to Pull Back … Russian Cyberattacks Intensified … After War Scare, Ukraine Helps Turkey, Raps Belarus … Privatization: Prisons, Bakeries, Prime Kyiv Real Estate … Bankers Are Optimistic About Lending
Friday, April 23, 2021
Ukraine’s GDP warrants and Eurobonds reacted positively to news yesterday that Russia will start to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s borders

. Warrants jumped from 102.5% to 104.4%, and Eurobonds rose by 0.8-2.3 percentage points, depending on maturity dates.

Friday, April 23, 2021
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared military drills near Ukraine to be over

and that units would be withdrawn to their bases in central and eastern Russia. Anticipating more drills later this year, he said soldiers would leave large weapons in place, largely in Pogonovo firing range two hours east of Kharkiv. Russian restrictions on flights near Crimea are to expire tomorrow. But the ban on foreign government ships from the southern approaches to the Kerch Strait is to remain in place through late October.

Friday, April 23, 2021
Prime Minister Shmygal is asking government agencies to facilitate more tourist flights to Turkey

and to facilitate visits here of Turkish tourists with Covid-19 vaccination certificates. According to the government portal, the Prime Minister calls for “organizing additional flights on popular routes at weekends, as well as opening communication with new cities.” Last week, shortly after Turkish President Recep Erdoğan gave a warm welcome to President Zelenskiy in Istanbul, the Russian government banned Russian tourism to Turkey through June 1, causing half a million people to change their travel plans.

Friday, April 23, 2021
With Belarus increasingly coordinating its military policies with Russia, Ukraine is slapping a 35% duty on MAZ trucks and buses,

a move expected to end their import into Ukraine. Belarus’ state-owned Minsk Automobile Plant, or MAZ, has been a major supplier of city buses and oversized trucks for mining operations in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Interdepartmental Commission on International Trade said it decided last week to impose the tariff in retaliation for Belarusian barriers on purchases of Ukrainian made vehicles, largely buses.

Friday, April 23, 2021
The first of seven state-owned flour mills is to be privatized through auction on May 7

, the State Property Fund reports. Often called ‘bakeries’ these Soviet-era complexes mill wheat and corn into flour and animal feed. Located alongside railroad tracks, the seven ‘kombinats’ have elevators with a total storage capacity of 634,000 tons, about 1% of the nation’s total. Of the seven going up for sale, four are working and three are nonworking. The first auction will be of a working one, Dunayevets Bakery in Khmelnitsky Region. The starting price is $6.7 million.

Friday, April 23, 2021
After two months of declines, industrial production grew in March,

recording a 2.1% increase, the State Statistics Service reports. The March growth was not big enough to offset declines in January and February. The first quarter was down 2% yoy. Last year, industrial production dropped by 5.2% compared to 2019.

Friday, April 23, 2021
Bankers are optimistic about lending prospects for the next 12 months

, according to the National Bank of Ukraine’s quarterly survey. Of credit managers polled, 78% predict an increase in the loan portfolio of corporations, 82% predicted an increase in loans to households. These are the highest rates since 2015. Completed on April 9, the survey polled credit managers of 23 banks. These banks represent 88% of the banking system’s assets.

Friday, April 23, 2021
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 Editor’s Note: After the war scare, it is hard to see what President Putin really achieved. He educated a new generation of European leaders to the real military dangers coming from the East. French President Macron went from wishy washy to talking about red lines. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to increase military aid to Ukraine. NATO planned war games with new focus their responses to potential Russian moves. And Ukrainian popular support for joining NATO increased to 64%, according to an April poll by the Ukrainian Institute for the Future. By stopping short of military action, Putin probably guaranteed a summit this summer with President Biden. That’s a pretty costly way to get a seat at the table. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, April 22, 2021
BlaBlaCar Buys Second Ukrainian Company … Kyiv Rail Station to go Private Concession … EIB Funds Dnipro Metro Expansion … Retail Trade up 7.5% … Business Asks for Vaccines To Boost Economy
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Today, FlixBus inaugurates a 30-hour, 2,300 km bus route – from Lviv to Montpellier, on France’s Mediterranean coast

. “Despite serious restrictions for travelers, economic and social ties between Ukraine and Europe are strong today,” said Michal Leman, regional director for the Munich-based bus company. “We see the potential for international travel and continue to develop the Ukrainian network.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021
Diesel fuel supplies to Ukrzaliznytsia are resuming,

 the state railroad reported yesterday. Earlier this week, UZ warned that it would run out of diesel on Friday. After diesel prices increased this year, suppliers did not want to fulfill long term contracts, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy said Tuesday on the Mokrik Live TV show. He also said that February’s seizure of a diesel pipeline from pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk affected diesel supply in the country. In February, the price of diesel rose by 12%. Today, it is about $1 a liter.

Thursday, April 22, 2021
Fifteen business associations appealed to the government yesterday to vaccinate

 “the part of the population that really wants to get it.” Lead by the European Business Association, the appeal argues: “The sooner the Ukrainian population receives full protection against the virus, the closer the state will get out of the actual crisis situation, and the need to suspend the economy will disappear.” Ukraine has vaccinated less than 1% of the population since February, partly because of refusals by some eligible people.

Thursday, April 22, 2021
The government plans to fully vaccinate 11 million adults – about one third of the total — by the end of this year,

 according to an officially approved blueprint issued yesterday by the 2021 National COVID-19 Preventive Vaccination Plan. By this summer, the Health Ministry plans to perform 5.65 million vaccinations a month. All the vaccines that Ukraine intends to buy require two jabs, spaced one month apart.

Thursday, April 22, 2021
A full scale outbreak of fighting in the Donbas appears unlikely,

“despite the Russian tanks being ferried toward the border,” the International Crisis Group concludes in a new, 3,000-word analysis The Brussels-based group writes: “Troop numbers and postures, although worrying, do not fit the template for an invasion.

Thursday, April 22, 2021
President Putin delivered an aggressive, anti-Western state of the nation address yesterday,

a speech that focused more on an alleged coup plot against Aleksandr Lukashenko than on Ukraine. “You can think what you want of Lukashenko, but an assassination plan is too much,” Putin said. “It is telling that the West doesn’t condemn such flagrant actions.” Responding to French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for ‘red lines’ to be drawn for Russia in Ukraine, Putin said: “No one should cross the red lines with Russia. And where those lines are, we will decide on our own in each case.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Here is one for conspiracy theorists: what if Russia’s massive buildup around Ukraine’s borders is a partly a ruse to distract from Russia gobbling up Belarus? Last Saturday,  Belarus President Lukashenka posted this teaser on his Telegram channel: that he has made “the most principled decision of my quarter-of-a-century presidency,” adding that he will “formalize” the decision soon. Today, he meets in the Kremlin with President Putin. Yesterday afternoon, the Kremlin’s website posted this notice: “The two presidents are expected to discuss a wide range of issues concerning the further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance, as well as prospects for cooperation within the Union State.” At the same time, BelTA, Belarus’s state news agency, posted about the visit: “Matters related to the Belarus-Russia Union State will also be on the agenda.” Tomorrow, Russia’s Federation Council, which represents all 85 federal subjects of Russia – republics, oblasts, etc — is to meet in full plenary session. If Russia wins full military basing rights in Belarus, Ukrainians will wake up this weekend living in a horseshoe: surrounded on three sides by Russian forces. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Ukraine’s Ambition: Feed China … April’s Rains Help the Farmers: Grain Harvest to Increase by 15% … Sunflower Oil Gold Rush Prompts ‘Voluntary’ Export Limit … Government Raises Yields to Sell Bonds … Russia Blocks Black Sea Airspace and Shipping Lanes
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
The US will displace Ukraine as China’s top source of corn this year

as predicted on the China’s Global Times news website. In the first two months of this year, China’s corn imports increased by 414% yoy, to 4.8 million tons. The US pulled ahead of Ukraine, largely due to the Trump-era US-China trade accord. With the marketing year ending June 30, the US Department of Agriculture has predicted that China will import a record 24 million tons of corn.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
April’s soaking rains and a good start to the spring sowing campaign lead Economy Ministry analysts to predict a bumper grain crop of 75 million tons in 2021.

This would be 15% over last year’s output. State weather forecasters said last month around 98% of Ukrainian winter wheat crops and 100% of winter barley were in good condition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Ukraine has passed the peak of its third coronavirus wave,

said Maksym Stepanov, Health Minister, in a press conference yesterday. Last week, there were 3,500 fewer hospitalizations than the previous week. In the nation, hospitals in the capital, Kyiv, had the highest occupancy level of hospital beds equipped with oxygen – 75%. Three other regional centers were also hardest hit: Odesa – 73%, Kyiv – 70%, and Sumy- 69.5%. The Deputy Health Minister,Viktor Liashko, announced that  367,000 AstraZeneca vaccines are to arrive in Kyiv tomorrow. In the first two months of the vaccination campaign, 450,000 people have been vaccinated, less than 1% of the population.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Satellite photos of Crimea show “airborne troops, motorized rifle and armored units, attack helicopters, smoke generators, reconnaissance drones, jamming equipment and a military hospital,

’’ according to The Wall Street Journal. Headlined “Satellite Images Show Russia’s Expanding Ukraine Buildup”, the article is accompanied by photos taken between March 27 and April 16 by Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite and imaging company. The Biden Administration is considering sending to Ukraine “antitank, antiship and antiaircraft systems, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Russia’s naval exercises cover 27% of the Black Sea,

according an Axios story that cites “an internal document from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.” “Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine’s economy,” starts the story reported from Washington. Projecting Russia’s intelligence gathering into the Black Sea, Russia has installed radars on natural gas platforms that it seized from Ukraine’s Chernomorneftegaz in 2014, Axios says.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Russia has blocked the airspace over Crimea and parts of the Black Sea through Saturday,

 Interfax has reported from Moscow, citing an official NOTAM, or international ‘notice to airmen.’ NOTAM said yesterday, “The area has been declared temporarily dangerous for aircraft flights.” Russia is conducting aviation drills with Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, and has closed the airspace up to 19,000 meters, or 62,000 feet. For comparison, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was flying at 33,000 feet on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down by a Buk surface to air missile fired from Russia-controlled Donbas. Since then, flights from Ukraine fly well away from Crimea when crossing the Black Sea to fly to Turkey, the Emirates and other Southern and Eastern destinations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Today, the world may get insight into President Putin’s plans for Ukraine when he gives his annual state of the nation address to Russia’s Federal Assembly, a joint meeting of the Duma and the Federation Council. Orchestrating the largest military buildup on Ukraine’s borders since Independence 30 years ago, Putin may be playing ‘coercive diplomacy.’ One goal might be to twist President Zelenskiy’s arm until he agrees to restore Dnipro water flows to the North Crimea Canal. Last night, Zelenskiy gave a unity speech on TV. After addressing Ukrainians, he spoke to the people of Russia in Russian. He said it is impossible “to liberate someone by a conquest” and “to bring peace with a tank.” With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Russia Cuts Diesel Supply to Ukraine … EBRD, World Bank Lend $222 Million to Ukraine … Accor to Open 3 Hotels by 2023 … Road to Chornobyl Repaved
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Despite war clouds over Russia-Ukraine, multilateral banks continue announcing new loans to Ukraine:
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The EBRD is also lending $57 million to the Kernel Group to improve the storage, transportation and export of agricultural commodities

, the bank reported in a press release. The loan is part of a $200 million syndication arranged by French investment bank Natixis for Kernel, the world’s leading producer and exporter of sunflower oil. The EBRD announced: “The new financing will help the group enter the new harvest season with sufficient working capital to buy crops and prepare them for export, making full use of its newly expanded infrastructure.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Last week the Rada made progress on one key IMF demand: restoring jail terms for officials who fail to fully declare their assets.

Last October the Constitutional Court called an earlier law allowing for jail terms ‘excessive’ and struck it down. The new bill must be approved in final reading to be signed into law.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, yesterday announced that 150,000 Russian troops are concentrated on Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea

. Noting that the deployment includes field hospitals, he warned that only “a spark” could set off a conflict. On Saturday, four large landing ships from Russia’s Baltic and Northern fleets entered the Black Sea. From the east, 15 smaller ships from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla also entered the Black Sea. Russia’s Southern Military District said Saturday that over 50 aircraft were involved in an exercise over the Black Sea.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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Editor’s Note: It is no big surprise Voldemort Putin is wielding the energy weapon. That has been his MO during three decades in power. What is worrying is the precarious condition of Alexei Navalny. If Navalny dies in prison hospital, Putin will have to create a major distraction to change the subject fast. Can you guess what that distraction might be? With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, April 19, 2021
UMG to Build Large Scale Black Sea Grain Terminal … PrivatBank to Be Privatized … Windrose to Fly from Kyiv to 12 Ukrainian Cities … War Jitters: No Fly Zones, Bomb Shelters and UK Warships Steaming to Black Sea
Monday, April 19, 2021
PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest bank, will put up for sale ‘soon,’

announced Kyrylo Shevchenko, the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, (GlobalCapital). “The privatization of PrivatBank, which owns 20% of the Ukrainian banking market, will be of interest to the most prestigious international investors, including those from the United States and the European Union,” he said. The December 2016 nationalization of the bank prompted its previous owner, Ihor Kolomoisky, to launch 100 lawsuits. The Central Bank Governor said that he hoped that “the lawsuits will be resolved” by the end of this year. Privatization of PrivatBank is key to the government’s strategy to cut the state share of Ukraine’s banking system from 55% today to 25% in five years time.

Monday, April 19, 2021
The World Steel Association has predicted that Global steel demand is to increase by 6% yoy.

Investment worldwide in delayed infrastructure projects will be a boon to Ukraine, which produces 20 million tons of steel a year, placing it 13th place worldwide in production output. China, which consumes slightly more than one half of the world’s steel, is expected to increase demand by 3%. Other demand will come from : the EU and United Kingdom + 10%, to 155 million tons; India +20%, to 106 million tons; US + 8%, to 86.5 million tons; Japan +6.5%, to 56 million tons; Germany + 9.3% to 34 million tons; and Turkey by 19% to 35 million tons.

Monday, April 19, 2021
Within the next year, work is to start on a ‘futuristic’ bus station for Kyiv’s Boryspil airport,

 reported Avianews. Designed by Kyiv’s Raden architectural firm, the station with a white cloud roof will be located next to the Kyiv Borispol Express train platform, adjacent to Terminal D. The station is to handle buses from Kyiv City as well as buses travelling to the Kyiv Region.

Monday, April 19, 2021
Ukraine’s security chief believes the downing of the UIA jet by Iran’s military over Tehran in January 2020 was intentional, rather than an accident as claimed by Iran’s government.

“When they say this was accidental, I don’t buy that,” said Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense council, in an interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail that was published last Friday. “It was intentional. This was a conscious attack.” Referring to the shootdown that killed all 167 crew and passengers aboard, Danilov added: “Iran does not allow anybody to examine this tragedy, and they postpone or slow down any investigations. The fact that they are investigating themselves is rather surprising, to put it politely.”  The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded Saturday by saying that that Iran has “strongly rejected” Danilov’s assertion.

Monday, April 19, 2021
The US Federal Aviation Administration has warned US airlines Saturday to

 “exercise extreme caution when flying into, out of, within, or over” the Ukraine-Russia border airspace. Citing “potential safety-of-flight risks associated with escalating regional tensions” the warning covers the area between Kyiv and Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

Monday, April 19, 2021
Kyiv City authorities have launched a new database and map showing the location of reinforced underground vaults that can be used as bomb shelters

in the case of a Russian air raid on the capital. The map is best navigated by a Ukrainian language speaker. In the past, Kyiv authorities have said the city has 3,000 underground locations, including 47 subway stations, 184 parking garages and 229 underground walkways.

Monday, April 19, 2021
Nord Stream 2, the nearly completed Russia-Germany gas line, “is a matter of war,”

 President Zelenskiy said to Le Figaro newspaper prior to his meeting Friday with President Macron in Paris. “This is not a matter of business,” he said of the $10 billion trans-Baltic pipeline which is designed to render Ukraine’s transmission pipeline redundant. Gazprom officials have predicted that Nord Stream 2 will be commissioned by this fall. On Thursday, President Biden omitted Nord Stream 2 from US financial sanctions imposed on Russia. This prompted The Wall Street Journal to run on Friday an article headlined: “Biden Faces New Pressure to Act on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline.”

Monday, April 19, 2021
“No knockout, but new U.S. sanctions add to Russia’s ‘slow destruction,’

headlined a Reuters analysis out of London.  Based on interviews with market participants, the reporters write of Washington’s sanction package: “Its move to target Moscow’s main funding avenue – the ruble bond market – has in some ways, crossed the Rubicon, potentially with far-reaching consequences.”

Monday, April 19, 2021
The US, UK, and the EU have protested Russia’s ban on Ukrainian and foreign navy ships from the southern approach to the Kerch Strait

. With the ban starting Saturday and lasting for six months, shippers worry that the ban will lead to curbs on shipping to Ukraine’s two ports on the Sea of Azov – Berdyansk and Mariupol. NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu posted on Twitter: “We call on Russia to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation.”

Monday, April 19, 2021
In coming days, two British warships – one destroyer and one frigate – are to enter the Black Sea,

 reported London’s Sunday Times. With foreign aircraft carriers effectively banned from the Black Sea by the 1936 Montreux Convention, the flagship of the Royal Navy’s carrier group, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will remain nearby, in the Eastern Mediterranean, with its 60 aircraft. The Montreux Convention limits warships from non-Black Sea nations to three weeks in the Black Sea. Consequently, two US Navy destroyers, the USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt, are monitoring Black Sea developments from the coast of Crete, a two-day sail from the Bosporus.

Monday, April 19, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Careful UBN reader Ed Cowan queries from Washington about the status of the Sea of Azov. Considered the shallowest sea in the world, the Azov is rich in fish, but tricky to navigate. In 2003, Russia and Ukraine, the two basin countries, agreed that “the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch are historically internal waters of the Russian Federation and the Ukraine.”  In this bi-national body of water, “mercantile vessels and other state non-commercial vessels flying the flags of the Russian Federation and the Ukraine have free navigation in the sea of Azov and the strait of Kerch.” But, after Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian Navy boats in the Kerch strait in Nov. 2018, Russian coast guard vessels have harassed commercial ships heading for Ukrainian ports, often detaining them for days at a time. As Lenin reportedly said: “Promises are like pie crusts – made to be broken.” With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Friday, April 16, 2021
Russia’s Navy Threatens Ukraine’s Sea Routes … Russia Gathers Black Sea Armada of 50 Ships … US Navy Watches from Crete … Biden Sanctions Russian Debt … Central Bank Raises Prime to 7.5%
Friday, April 16, 2021
Russia’s naval deployments in the Black and Azov Seas threaten to “block important trade routes in international waters,”

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Andriy Taran warned the European Parliament’s subcommittee on Security and Defense on Wednesday. The bulk of Ukraine’s $103 billion in foreign trade last year moved by ship. Taran has predicted: “The total number of Russian troops concentrated along the Ukrainian borders in this direction will reach 56 battalion tactical groups with 110 thousand troops.”

Friday, April 16, 2021
Russia’s Defense Ministry is closing the Kerch Strait to Ukrainian Navy and Sea Guard boats for six months,

starting from Saturday April 24 through October. Commercial shipping is allowed passage. The Ukrainian Navy reported on Facebook: “Tonight, in the Azov Sea, Russian Federal Security Service boats attempted to obstruct the legal actions of the Navy of Ukraine boat group.” That confrontation did not end in a clash.

Friday, April 16, 2021
On the pretext of naval maneuvers, Russia is closing major swaths of the Black Sea and several approaches R

. On the Azov, the Mariupol port often ranks as Ukraine’s fifth busiest port, largely due to exports from Metinvest’s large scale Ilyich Iron and Steel Works. “This step is a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry protested yesterday. “The Russian Federation should not impede or interfere with transit passage through the international strait to ports in the Sea of Azov.”

Friday, April 16, 2021
By the end of April, Russia will have amassed an armada of 50 warships patrolling the Black and Azov Seas

, calculated the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor. Bolstering the Black Sea fleet, four large ships from the Baltic Fleet are making their way to the Black Sea. In addition, 15 smaller vessels from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla are making their way through the 100 km Volga-Don Canal. The ships from the Baltic and Caspian are equipped for marine landings.

Friday, April 16, 2021
The US has cancelled the deployment of two US Navy ships to the Black Sea,

Turkish diplomatic sources told Al Jazeera. After Turkey made the deployment public last Friday, Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, said the US ships should stay well away from Russia-controlled Crimea “for their own good.” US officials in Ankara said that the US occasionally files notices of sending warships through the Bosporus without following through. The two ships are offshore Crete.

Friday, April 16, 2021
Russia’s Navy threatens Ukraine’s sea routes, S&P Global Platts has warned in a story headlined:

“Russian escalation in Ukraine yet to faze commodity markets.” “Russia could close off Ukrainian ports due to its control of Crimea and Black Sea chokepoints,” the authors warn. “Any limitation of vessels through the Kerch Strait would likely affect supply routes used by Metinvest, the Ukrainian mining and steel group, and other bulk shipping on the route.”

Friday, April 16, 2021
In Paris today, President Zelenskiy will discuss the growing Russian military threat with French President, Emmanuel Macron, and with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel,

who will join by video conference. The three countries – plus Russia – are members of the ‘Normandy’ format of peace talks. The Normandy group has not met since December 2019.

Friday, April 16, 2021
With coronavirus lockdowns gripping much of Europe, especially Germany,

SkyUp is dropping from its summer schedule of 15 flights to the EU, reported Avianews. Almost half of the flights were from Kyiv Boryspil to Germany:  Berlin, Hanover, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart. Other routes that were discontinued include: Kyiv to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Ostrava, and from Lviv to Alicante, Lodz, Bergamo, Paris and Prague.

Friday, April 16, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  In these times of trouble, it easier than ever to get the words of wisdom from the Ukraine Business News. This week, we relaunched the UBN website. Our eight languages are easily identifiable by colorful flags. The archive is faster and more accessible. Just type in your search word and date parameters, and the search engine races through 1 million words to find the right citations. While you are in there, sign up for the UBN weekday morning email. It’s free! With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Arcelor Launches $1 billion Investment in ‘Green Steel’ … Investors Split Over War Odds … Zelenskiy Meets Macron in Paris Tomorrow … Kyiv’s Corona Lockdown Extended to April 30
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal, told President Zelenskiy yesterday that his Ukraine unit is launching a ‘Steel Billion’ program, a nearly $1 billion investment

to bring the steel maker in compliance with EU ‘green steel’ rules, according to the president’s website. By the end of 2023, ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s largest integrated steel company, plans to complete the modernization of its coke-chemical, sinter and blast-furnace production, Mittal said. Zelenskiy, a native of Kryvyi Rih, said: “Investments in the Ukrainian economy and the environment are a positive signal for all investors.”

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Ukrainian companies are interested in contracts to rebuild areas in Azerbaijan damaged during the war last fall in Nagorno Karabakh

, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Vladislav Krikliy told Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov in Baku on Tuesday, reports Azernews. After Russia, Ukraine is Azerbaijan’s second largest trading partner of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Last year, Ukraine exported to Azerbaijan $418 million and imported from Azerbaijan $353 million.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
President  Zelenskiy submitted to the Rada Tuesday a bill to liquidate the Kyiv District Administrative Court, headed by controversial judge Pavlo Vovk

, reports the Kyiv Post. Among foreign and national investors, the court was widely seen as a bazaar where decisions went to the highest bidder. Last July, Vovk and other judges of the court were  charged with organized crime, abuse of power, bribery and unlawful interference with government officials. Last week, detectives arrested Vovk’s brother Yury Zontov, an employee of the Foreign Intelligence Service. In a raid on Zontov’s apartment, detectives confiscated $5 million in bricks of cash: $3.7 million, €840,000, £20,000, and 100 Israeli shekels.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Ukraine’s international bonds and the Russian ruble rallied yesterday on the prospect of a Biden-Putin summer summit,

reports Reuters. But the lengthy, London-based story starts: “Fund managers are trimming exposure to Russia and Ukraine on fears that years of tensions could finally erupt into outright war, bringing economic ruin for Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia.” On Ukraine, Reuters notes: “The volume of local bond holdings held by foreign portfolio investors has been declining since late March.”

Thursday, April 15, 2021
The massing of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders has weakened demand for Ukrainian domestic government bonds

, or IGLBs, Danylo Hetmantsev, head of the Rada Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy, wrote after Tuesday’s hryvnia bond auction sold only the equivalent of $7.7 million. Writing on his Telegram channel, Hetmantsev predicted: “As soon as the situation at the border stabilizes, investors will start buying IGLBs again.”

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Starting today, Russia’s six-week suspension of tourist flights to Turkey is causing 533,200 canceled flight bookings,

the Russian Association of Tour Operators, said yesterday on its site. If each Russian tourist spends $600, Turkey loses $300 million. On Monday, two days after President Zelenskiy’s successful meeting with President Erdogan in Istanbul, the Putin government imposed the ban, citing elevated Covid cases in Turkey. Last year, 2.1 million Russians visited Turkey. Last year, about 1 million Ukrainians visited Turkey. Judging by a May-June surge in scheduled and charter flights, the number of Ukrainians will grow this year.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
President Zelenskiy meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris tomorrow.

The topic is French support against Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s borders. With Germany’s Chancelor Angela Merkel retiring this fall, Macron is expected to become the EU’s senior leader.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Despite Covid, France-Ukraine trade remained strong last year,

falling slightly to $2.1 billion. French brands account for about 20% of new car sales in Ukraine, with Renault the most popular. Last year, France exported $180 million worth of wine to Ukraine. After Ukraine lifted import duties on EU wine in January, this figure is to grow.  About 180 French companies operate in Ukraine, controlling $1.1 billion in foreign investment, the Kyiv Post reported last week in its annual France-Ukraine edition.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Ukraine’s third coronavirus wave may be receding,

 Health Minister Maksym Stepanov wrote yesterday on Facebook. Hospitalization rates are declining and Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattia are no longer considered “red” zones. He reported that Tuesday “was the first day when the number of people discharged from hospitals exceeded the number of hospitalized people.” However, he added Kyiv city and the regions of Kyiv, Lviv and Poltava “continue to be in the ‘red’ zone of increased epidemic danger and the situation there remains extremely difficult.”

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Kyiv’s lockdown has been extended for another two weeks – to Friday, April 30.

“We don’t have a choice,” Mayor Klitschko said at a briefing yesterday. “Otherwise, the medical system won’t handle the load, and there will be even more deaths.” Schools and shopping centers will remain closed. Restaurants will operate on a take-out basis only. The Metro will only take passengers with special permits. With traffic jams clogging streets at rush hours, employers are asked to encourage employees to work remotely from home.

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Special mass transit permits have been distributed as follows:

healthcare and pharmaceutical  – 152,000; production and sale of food, defense industry, mechanical engineering – 104,000; government executives – 81,000; military, police, judiciary – 72,000; housing and communal services – 46,000; press – 4,700; and religious – 2,700. Mayor Klitschko told reporters: “We cannot issue such special tickets to everyone. Why else did we impose strict restrictions?”

Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Vaccinations in Ukraine proceed at a leisurely pace. In the nearly two months since vaccinations started, Ukraine has used 80% of the 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines received in mid-February. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry started to vaccinate with China’s CoronaVac medicine — three weeks after receiving the first batch of 215,000 doses. In coming days, Ukraine should receive 117,000 Pfizer vaccines under the UN’s COVAX vaccine. All three variants require two shots. Health Minister Maksym Stepanov claims that half of Ukraine’s adults – about 16 million people – will be fully vaccinated by the end of this year. But, at current rates of 10,000 jabs a day, it will take nine years. Think 2030. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Prospects of Biden-Putin Summit Ease Investor Worries … War Clouds Hit Exchange Rates, Bond Yields … Central Bank to Raise Prime Tomorrow … Astarta’s Sugar Profits Jump … Belgians to Supply Ship Engines to Ukrainian Danube
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Before the news broke of the proposed Biden-Putin summit in late afternoon London time,

 the yield on Ukraine’s dollar bond due in 2032 reached 7.67%, the highest since November and taking the 3-day increase to 34 bps. Similarly, the yield on 2026-dollar debt climbed 12 bps to 6.78%. Ukraine’s GDP warrants drop 0.3c to 99.9c on the dollar, trading below par for the first time since November, (Bloomberg).

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Visit Turkey for your May holidays. As the prospect of a Biden-Putin summer summit draws the tension out of the border standoff, Turkey will pay the price for Putin’s military buildup. Last Friday, Vladimir Putin telephoned Recep Tayyip Erdogan and warned him not to welcome President Zelenskiy. Ukraine’s President arrived the next day, met for three hours with Erdogan. When the two leaders emerged for a joint press conference, Erdogan called on Russia to stand down, refused to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, called for completing the Ukraine-Turkey free trade pact, and in general, stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. On Monday, the Kremlin announced that it will severely limit flights to Turkey — starting tomorrow and running through June 1. So, Turkey pays the price losing six weeks of Russian tourists, easily several hundred million dollars. Extending thanks to Turkey, Ukrainians should make it their destination for their Easter/May Week holidays. And they will get a bonus: few encounters with their sometimes-tiresome Eastern neighbors. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Summer Gift: $2.7 billion from the IMF … Bonds for Roads and Rail … UZ Flips from Profit to Big Loss … Black Sea Gatekeepers? Chinese to Buy a Bridge over the Bosporus
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Ukraine may receive $2.7 billion from the IMF this summer

under a plan by the International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, to allocate $650 billion from international reserves to restore the world economy after the coronavirus crisis. Unlike the conventional IMF programs this money would not have to be paid back. The National Bank of Ukraine Governor, Kyrylo Shevchenko, announced the possible windfall yesterday following a meeting with Alfred Kammer, the Director of the IMF’s European Department.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Ukrzaliznytsia plans to issue a Eurobond this year,

to partially cover for a disastrous 2020.  Largely due to the coronavirus, a $110 million profit in 2019 turned into a $430 million loss in 2020, according to the State Railroad’s recently released Annual Report. Revenues from freight transportation were down 10% yoy to $220 million in 2020. Passenger revenues dropped 58% yoy to $148 million.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
UZ has 250,000 employees, “while a modern railroad of this size could probably manage with around 120,000”

  Adomas Audickas, a member of the railroad’s Supervisory Board, wrote in an Atlantic Council essay: “How to Reform Ukrainian Railways.” While the railroad has lost 75% of its trans cargo due to Russian measures, internal rates undermine the UZ’s finances. He wrote: “Grain shippers pay 40% higher tariffs than shippers of iron ore. Reforming tariff-setting practices must be a priority.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Each ton of iron ore “is transported with a 19% loss for Ukrzaliznytsia,

Sergii Leshchenko, another UZ board member, (Kyiv Post). Once an UZ freight train carrying iron crosses into Poland or Slovakia, “the tariff for ore transportation increases,” he wrote. “In Poland, it increases 2.5 times. In Slovakia — more than four times.” Blaming Rinat Akhmetov’s metal companies for lobbying for low tarrifs, he concluded that UZ loses $288 million “annually due to unfairly low tariffs for iron ore transportation.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Volodymyr Zhmak is suing UZ and the Cabinet of Ministers for firing him last month.

The reasons for his firing were not made public. Ivan Yuryk, the new Acting Head of the Company, is the 11th head in seven years. “The release of the chairman of the board six months after the appointment and further chaos with the acting head of the company will definitely worsen the state of UZ,” Viktor Dovhan, a former Deputy Infrastructure Minister, told the Center for Transportation Strategies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Ukraine’s second multimodal terminal – moving containers from trucks to trains – has opened in Klevan, Rivne region.

This ‘dry port’ on a 10-hectare lot is designed to handle 2,000 containers a month. Due to the lack of such cargo hubs, 80% of containers in Ukraine move by trucks on highways. Although growing fast, containers account for only 1% of all rail traffic as measured by weight. In Europe, containers account for 45% of rail cargo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Editor’s Note: While Putin refuses to talk to Zelenskiy on the phone, the rhetoric from the Kremlin is shrill, bordering on hysteria. Foreign Minister Lavrov has warned: “Those who will try to start a new war in Donbas will destroy Ukraine.” Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff, warned that an escalation could mark the “beginning of the end” for Ukraine – “not a shot in the leg, but in the face.” Kremlin officials repeatedly warn against Ukraine committing a Srebrenica, a reference to the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serbs. Behind the radical speech may be the panicky realization by aging leaders that Ukraine is slipping between their fingers. A generation of Ukrainians has grown up spurning Moscow and St. Petersburg in favor of Berlin and Krakvow. On church and language, the two countries are divorcing. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish-American political scientist, once observed: “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” With the time for a sneak attack long gone and the Western allies focused, let’s see how far the Kremlin’s last Soviet-trained rulers are willing to go. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Monday, April 12, 2021
Pressured by Russia’s military threats against Ukraine

, the Presidents of Turkey and Ukraine met for a three-hour meeting in Istanbul on Saturday and agreed to speed up reaching an agreement on a free trade pact between the two countries. The cross-Black Sea pact is designed to double bilateral trade to $10 billion. To put an end to a decade of official talks, both countries agreed to an ‘audit’ of all problem issues with an eye to signing this year.

Monday, April 12, 2021
“Ukraine turns to Turkey as Russia threatens full-scale war,

reported Al Jazeera. Noting that it was President Zelenskiy’s second visit in six months to Turkey, the report said: “Ankara views Ukraine as a crucial buffer against Russia and has been a strong advocate for its acceptance into the NATO alliance.” Highlighting the wide spectrum of defense industry cooperation, the articles noted: “Turkey is working with Ukrainian companies to develop diesel engines for its fifth-generation fighter jet and main battle tank.”

Monday, April 12, 2021
Defense industry cooperation was discussed on Saturday during a parallel meeting between the Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Andriy Taran

. At the time of Zelenskiy’s last visit to Turkey last October, Vadim Nozdriya, the General Manager of Ukrspetseksport, announced that Ukraine would like to purchase 48 Bayraktar TB2 combat drones.  The drones would be jointly produced by Ukraine and Turkey. In 2019, Ukraine bought six Bayraktar TB2 drones, three ground control stations and 200 high-precision missiles from Turkey in a $69 million deal.

Monday, April 12, 2021
Unhappy with Saturday’s visit, Russian officials this weekend discussed suspending Russian tourism to Turkey,

reported the Vtimes in Moscow. Last year, approximately 7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey. The number of tourists has fluctuated, depending on Moscow’s mood. In 2016, 850,000 Russian tourists visited Turkey. Last year, Turkey was visited by 1 million Ukrainians, a number expected to increase this year.

Monday, April 12, 2021
Timothy Ash writes from London:

 “The message from the Kremlin is stay out of Ukraine, don’t supply drones as you did to Azerbaijan, or else we will ban Russian tourist visits to Turkey which earns $3-4 billion export earner for Turkey.”

Monday, April 12, 2021
Ukrainian Motor Sich engines are to power Turkey’s planned heavy attack helicopter ATAK-2

that is being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI. With the Ukrainian 2,500 hp turboshaft engines, the attack helicopters will be produced by 2023, said TAI President Temel Kotil, according to Defense Express.

Monday, April 12, 2021
In a $1 billion deal, the largest for Turkey’s defense industry, Ukraine will purchase four Ada class ‘stealth’ corvettes for patrolling the Black Sea

. The first ship is to be built in Turkey and the next three at Mykolaiv’s Okean shipyard, reported the shipyard. The deal was signed last December by Ukrainian Defense Minister Taran and Turkey’s top defense procurement official, Ismail Demir.

Monday, April 12, 2021
This import deal damages Ukraine’s already ailing shipbuilding industry,

complained Anatoly Kinakh, the President of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. “The first ship will be manufactured there (with the participation of Ukrainian specialists),” he wrote. “The next ones will be delivered to Ukraine almost ready-made, with additional equipment at our shipyards.” All-Ukrainian production, he said “would allow attracting more than 10,000 workers in various branches of the defense industry complex for 8-9 years.”

Monday, April 12, 2021
Ukraine ranked second worldwide for projects undertaken by Turkish construction companies in 2020,

said Burak Pehlivan, the Chairman of the International Turkish-Ukrainian Business Association, (Kyiv Post). Boosted by the Zelenskiy government’s ‘Big Construction’ program, Turkish companies have undertaken 2000 construction projects worth more than $7 billion since the 1990s. In 2020, a year of reduced cross border investment, Turkey was the largest source of new foreign investment, investing $400 million in Ukraine. Currently 700 Turkish companies work in Ukraine, nurturing a total foreign investment of $3.5 billion.

Monday, April 12, 2021
Driving up egg prices, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, owner of Avangard, the nation’s largest egg producer,

has halved egg production over the last 18 months, to 170 million eggs a month. He has blamed the criminal prosecution by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, saying it has cut him off from bank loans needed to run his Ukrlandfarming agribusiness.

Monday, April 12, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  For foreign correspondents who worked in Moscow in the 2000s, it was widely believed that Vladimir Putin was behind the September 1999 apartment building bombings that propelled him into the presidency and gave him carte blanche to wage a scorched earth campaign against the Chechens. The 300 dead and 1,000 wounded were collateral damage for Putin’s political ambitions. Fast forward two decades: Ukrainians worry that Putin will create his own provokatsiya to justify attacking Ukraine in May. Oleksandr Danyliuk, heading of the Defense Reform Center NGO, writes on Facebook: “To launch aggression against Ukraine, they only need a pretext, which traditionally Russian special services are able to set up on their own.” He writes the Russians could blow up the reviewing stand at the Donetsk May 9 military parade – and blame it on Ukraine. On Friday, UNIAN news agency posted the recording and transcript of what it says is a Russian officer ordering DNR rebels on April 7 to shell two positions occupied by fellow DNR units. Listen, read and draw your own conclusions. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Friday, April 9, 2021
Real Estate Rocks: ATB to Invest $410 million…Poles to Fund 60% of Lviv’s IT Park…Defying E-Commerce, 6 Shopping Malls to Open in Kyiv…Offices May Shrink…Cut Off From EU, Ukrainians May Vacation Locally This Summer
Friday, April 9, 2021
During the pandemic year, online shopping increased by 26% and shopping mall rents softened. Despite these conditions 20 new malls are expected to open across Ukraine by the end of next year.

This will add a total of 1.8 million square meters of leasable area, reported the Kyiv Post. This year, Kyiv is to see the openings of Ocean Mall with 100,000 square meters and Blockbuster Phase 3, with 55,000 square meters. Next year, if construction plans hold up, five new malls are to open in Kyiv, adding 173,000 square meters of retail space.

Friday, April 9, 2021
Ukraine’s real estate magnates were recently ranked by Forbes Ukraine. The top eight are:
  1. Viktor Polishchuk, owner of Gulliver and the Eldorado retail chain. $70 million
  2. Vagif Aliyev, developer of Blockbuster Mall, Lavina Mall, and Mandarin Plaza. $61 million
  3. Tomas Fiala, founder/CEO of Dragon Capital, which owns six shopping centers, 10 warehouse complexes and 13 office buildings. $54 million
  4. Alexander Yaroslavsky, owner of Caravan shopping mall chain and Kharkiv Palace Hotel. $46 million
  5. Adnan Kivan, owner Kadorr Group. $45 million.
  6. Roman Lunin, Equator shopping malls. $35 million
  7. Rinat Akhmetov, TSUM, Leonardo Business Center, Opera Hotel, Ukrtelecom real estate. $32 million.
  8. Garik Korogodsky and Oleksandr Melamud, owners Dream Town malls. $32 million
Friday, April 9, 2021
With the EU closed to Ukrainian tourists, local beach and rural retreat hotels may enjoy another boom this summer.

Vodafone has reported that analytics of cell phone users showed a 30% yoy increase last summer at Ukrainian beach resorts. On the Azov, one hamlet, Bilosarayska Kosa, about 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, saw a 177% yoy increase. Last summer, while Kyiv hotels saw occupancy rates fall to 23%, seven countryside hotels reported revenue increases, reports the Ukrainian Hotel and Resort Association. More recently, during the December-January holidays, Carpathian mountain resort hotels enjoyed almost 100% occupancies, Artur Lupashko, founder of Ribas Hotels Group, told Interfax-Ukraine.

Friday, April 9, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Russia’s Sept. 19 Duma elections seem to be driving President Putin to massively build up military forces on Ukraine’s eastern border. With Russia’s economy and political situation stagnant for years, Putin may be tempted to stage a ‘glorious’ little summer war as an electoral diversion. But, in terms of lives lost and Western sanctions imposed, a small war could well prove inglorious. My bet is that Putin will try a Crimea II: the largely bloodless annexation of the half of the Donbas he already controls, ‘endorsed’ by a late summer referendum. To pave the way, by Jan. 1, he had handed out Russian passports to 441,000 residents of Russia-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk. Then, on Jan. 28, Margarita Simonyan, head of RT, traveled to Donetsk and made an emotional appeal to wild applause:“Mother Russia, take Donbas home!”  Ominously, the Kremlin never shot down that trial balloon. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, April 8, 2021
Ships and Airplanes: Dnipro Shipping Season Has Strong Start…From Kyiv to Qatar by Ship…Danube Shipping Co. Makes $200 Million Bid for Dnipro Cargo…Nibulon and SMG Revive Black Sea Shipbuilding…Coming Soon: River Cruise to Chornobyl…Boryspil Air Traffic Drops in Half
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Construction of the Istanbul Canal is to start this summer,

said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported Anadolu Agency. Erdogan promised to have the canal open in time for the October 29, 2023 Centennial of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic. The 45 km canal is designed to carry 160 ships a day, the same volume that travels today through the Bosporus which passes through central Istanbul. Designed in part to handle dangerous cargo, the Istanbul Canal is expected to open the Black Sea to LNG cargoes from the Gulf.

Thursday, April 8, 2021
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Editor’s Note: With public private partnerships and concessions becoming realities in Ukraine, London’s Strategy Council holds its Ukrainian Transport Infrastructure forum next week. Every day, Monday through Friday at 4 pm Kyiv time, there will be an online panel with a stellar lineup of Ukrainian and foreign experts. In succession, the panels are: Monday – Overview, with Infrastructure Minister Krikliy and four IFI reps; Tuesday – Ports and Waterways, with Nibulon, Hamburger Hafen, and IFIs; Wednesday – Roads, with Oleksandr Kubrakov, Head of Ukravtodor, and government’s PPP office; Thursday – Rail, with UZ, the IFIs and East-West Intermodal Logistics; and Friday – Airports, with  Kyrylo Khomyakov, head of State Agency for Infrastructure Projects, Kharkiv and Odesa airport managers. The weeklong program is free. You can sign up here. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Qatar-UDP Ink $250 million Solar/Wind Deal…Smartphone Sales Surged 6% Last Year…Analysts: March Inflation Hits 8%…Seaport Cargo Drops 20%…War Threats Depress Ukraine Bonds, Russian Ruble
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
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
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
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
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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

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Qatar-Ukraine Courtship Intensifies…EU-Ukraine Border Crossings Get Big Upgrades…Asphalt Diplomacy: Ukraine Paves All Roads to Hungary…Kyiv’s Corona Lockdown Spawns Massive Traffic Jams
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Capital investment by cross border investors in Ukraine decreased by $868 million last year, the first decline of Incoming Investment since 2015,

Bohdan Danylyshyn, Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine wrote on Facebook. He said: “The key reasons for the low interest of foreign investors in the Ukrainian economy are the weak and underdeveloped domestic market, the ongoing military conflict with the Russian Federation, as well as the low level of legal protection of investments.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Ukraine’s restaurants and cafés lost almost 30% of their revenue last year, falling to about $500 million,

the analytical group Restaurant of Ukraine reported on Facebook. The number of restaurants, cafes and bars fell by 21%, to 14,786.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
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Editor’s Note: In Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin meets his ‘starshyy’ – his senior. Biden was elected to the US Senate in the fall of 1972, when 20-year-old Putin was a second-year law student at Leningrad State University. For the next half century, Biden went on to watch Russia and to deal with the Kremlin — either on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee or as Vice President. This spring, Putin is using his old playbook – testing a new US President early in his term. But Putin is used to dealing with neophyte US presidents with limited Washington experience: George W. Bush was governor of Texas; Barrack Obama served only half a US senate term. Donald Trump was a businessman/entertainer. Biden comes in knowing more than where the wash rooms are in the White House. He knows Washington’s levers of power — and how to use them. Only 75 days after his inauguration, 3 million Americans are being vaccinated every day – 10 times the rate of Russia. In Ukraine, Putin is again playing brinkmanship. But the new US president and his team who know how to play the game. Of all the Russia-Ukraine-US quotes that came out last week, the most telling was to David Ignatius of The Washington Post from ‘a senior Biden official’: “We are not looking to reset our relations with Russia nor to escalate. Our goal is to impose costs for actions we consider unacceptable, while seeking stability, predictability, turning down the temperature…If they’re inclined to turn the temperature up, we’re ready for that.” With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Monday, April 5, 2021
Zelenskiy Flies to Qatar…Food for Gas?.. Brexit Boost: Exports to UK up 38%…Less is More: Food, Metal Exports…World Bank Prepares Big IT Education Loan…Biden Backs Zelenskiy…Customs Purge Underway
Monday, April 5, 2021
Next week, a Ukrainian trade mission will visit South Africa, the second largest economy in Africa, after Nigeria,

Lyubov Abdravitova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to South Africa, announced at the Ukrainian Prism conference. Trade Representative Taras Kachka will lead the mission, which runs from April 13 to 18, 2021. The last high level Ukrainian visit, by a foreign minister to the region, took place 20 years ago.

Monday, April 5, 2021
After a week of Russian troop movements and aggressive statements toward Ukraine, President Biden called President Zelenskiy Friday

and for a 45-minute discussion. Later, Zelenskiy said in a public address: “We enjoy the full and unwavering support of international partners, including Europe and the United States. Proof of that is the conversation I had today with President of the United States Joe Biden. We discussed the situation in Donbas in detail. President Biden assured me that Ukraine would never be left alone against Russian aggression.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
The National Security and Defense Council has purged 100 customs officials, frozen the assets of the nation’s “top 10” smugglers

and 68 of their companies, and is preparing laws to criminalize “inaccurate customs declarations,” the President said in his speech on Friday. Behind the drive is an estimate that smuggling costs the treasury $10 billion a year in lost import duties. “This is economic terrorism against Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said, referring to the lost revenue. “The fight against smuggling will be continued. Today it is the top 10, but it certainly not be the last.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
Kyiv starts an open-ended ‘hard lockdown today, with mass transit restricted to ‘critical workers’ with special passes.

The lockdown – the third in one year – comes as the city registers 1,000 new infections a day. At the end of last week, Ukraine was registering a record 20,000 new infections daily and 5,000 new hospitalizations. Iryna Ozymok, of Western NIS, wrote Thursday in an Atlantic Council blog:  “With little sign of any vaccine breakthroughs on the horizon, Ukraine looks set for many more months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.”

Monday, April 5, 2021
Ukraine scores on the low end for coronavirus deaths, compared to its EU neighbors Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania,

according to the Worldometer running tally of infections and deaths. A BBC Eastern Europe coronavirus roundup shows Ukraine far behind in vaccinations. Poland, Czech and Slovakia are near the EU average — 16 jabs for every 100 people. Hungary is at 29.5. Ukraine is at 0.6. Yesterday, Zelenskiy gave his government one week to draw up a plan to vaccinate most adults by the end of this year.

Monday, April 5, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  From Brooklyn, my son William told yesterday that Manhattan clubs are re-opening their doors. Admission? A QR with your vaccination code. Biden is vaccinating 3 million people a day.  All three of my adult sons in the US now are vaccinated. In my home county, Berkshires, Mass., the Boston Symphony Orchestra will resume its summer music festival. Theater and ballet festivals are planning summer schedules. Here in Ukraine, all that is needed is 40 million vaccines and anti-vax attitudes will ebb. Here are the summer choices. Fly Wizz Air to Krakow for the weekend? Of go in a BlaBlaCar crammed with cranky anti-vaxxers? Suck a beer like a booby on a park bench? Or dance the night away in a club with scantily clad members of the opposite sex? Attitudes will evolve. Just bring in the vaccines. The Rada is taking a good step to ease out all-talk, no-action Health Minister Stepanov.  With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Friday, April 2, 2021
Fueled by China and Vietnam, Exports Jump in Q1…Japan’s JCB Credit Card Giant Comes to Ukraine…Concorde Plans 10 IPOs…UIA Survives by Shifting to Charter Flights
Friday, April 2, 2021
Ukraine’s foreign trade has increased by 12% during the first quarter of 2021,

compared to the same January-March period last year. Exports were up by 12% to $13.75 billion. Imports were up by 12% to $15.1 billion. Overall trade totaled $28.8 billion. “The Ukrainian economy is recovering,” Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka wrote on Facebook.  “Good news – export is growing.”

Friday, April 2, 2021
Thanks to fast-growing exports to China and Vietnam last year, Ukraine slashed its trade deficit last year by 93%,

to $255 million in 2020, from $3.4 billion in 2019, Kachka said when speaking at the Ukraine’s International Trade Council. He said: “The most important indicators are the phenomenal growth of exports of Ukrainian products to Vietnam and China – by 93% and 98%, respectively.” Last year, 14.5% of Ukraine’s exports went to China, compared to 5.5% for Russia, reports the State Statistics Service.

Friday, April 2, 2021
JCB, Japan’s largest credit card company, is entering the Ukrainian market.

  It will be the fifth international card payment system in Ukraine with a non-resident payment organization, reported the National Bank of Ukraine. The 50-year-old Tokyo-based company has 5,000 employees and 130 million cardholders in 23 countries. Around the world, JCB has alliances with Discover Network in the US, UnionPay in China, RuPay in India and American Express in Canada.

Friday, April 2, 2021
Two Czech investment bankers prominent in Ukraine – Tomasz Fiala and Ivan Svitek –received permission from the National Bank of Ukraine to acquire UNEX bank.

Fiala, through Dragon Capital companies, is buying 75%. Svitek, former CEO of Alfa-Bank Group in Ukraine, is buying 25%. The Central Bank ranks UNEX Bank as the 63rd largest of Ukraine’s 73 banks, with total assets of $32 million.

Friday, April 2, 2021
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Ukraine, business expectations have moved into the positive

territory of the Central Bank’s monthly survey. The mood inched up to 51.4 points, the first time since February 2020 that the index of business prospects have crossed the 50-point equilibrium, reported the National Bank of Ukraine. The survey of 269 companies was taken March 3-24, before the latest imposition of quarantine restrictions.

Friday, April 2, 2021
Concorde Capital plans to bring 10 Ukrainian companies to initial public offerings over the next two years,

Concorde CEO Ihor Mazepa said recently at the IPO presentation of Veres Rivne People’s {Football] Club. Citing changes in Ukraine’s financial markets, the Concorde founder said: “What I have seen for the last six or nine months: there has been such a huge trend that a class, a huge group of investors has begun to form in the country. He added: “I give myself, roughly speaking, two years to bring a good 10 companies to an IPO.”

Friday, April 2, 2021
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Editor’s Note:  The Kremlin is matching its anti-Ukraine rhetoric with major troop movements toward the border and into Crimea. The Kremlin bills these movements as “exercises.” In August 2008, I happened to be in Georgia when a Russian exercise turned into an invasion of Georgia. In Dec. 2013, I won no friends by warning in a column that Putin wanted to take Crimea. Today, Putin faces Duma elections on Sept. 19. He may calculate that military action against Ukraine is a vote getter. Let’s see if he cranks up his propaganda machine – and if he starts moving field hospitals closer to the lines of control. All this clearly is a test for President Biden. But the days are over when President Obama viewed Putin as a tiresome pest. Since then, the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election and then orchestrated massive thefts of American computer secrets. Today, there is a deep bipartisan consensus in the US to rap Russia when it gets out of line. Inside the Kremlin information bubble, Russia’s leaders may be oblivious to American readiness to whack back. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Kyiv Imposes Tough Corona Crackdown … Revival of the IMF Deal Still Faraway … US, IMF Support Depend on Free Market Reforms … As Russia Rattles Sabers, Ukrainians Look West
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Starting Monday, the Kyiv City Administration will impose the toughest coronavirus lockdown in one year

, announced Mayor Klitschko yesterday. The Metro, city buses and trams will carry only ‘critical workers’ with special passes. Employers are asked to move as many workers to remote work as possible. All schools and kindergartens will close for two weeks. Starting today, all outdoor food markets are closed.  On Tuesday, the Rada may pass a 10:00 pm curfew for Kyiv, reported Segodnya.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Ukraine’s capital tops the nation’s 11 red zone regions for new infections, with about 1,000 new cases reported a day.

Kyiv hospital occupancy levels are around 85%. Klitschko said: “We have lines of ambulances in front of hospitals. We have no choice. Otherwise, there will be hundreds of deaths every day.” Nationwide, the Health Ministry reported 407 coronavirus deaths yesterday, a record for the year-long pandemic.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
To get out of the pandemic, Ukraine needs to vaccinate 70% of its population, create herd immunity, and create a system of “COVID-19 vaccine passports,”

President Zelenskiy said on Monday. The next day, his Health Minister Maksym Stepanov  said on Ukraina 24 TV: “If there is an appropriate amount of vaccines, we will be able to vaccinate up to 5 million people a month in a very quiet mode.” By the end of May, Ukraine is to receive 1.7 million doses — enough to vaccinate 3% of Ukraine’s adults. Of the 500,000 vaccines received five weeks ago, the Health Ministry has used only 212,900.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Renewal of Ukraine’s $5 billion IMF agreement depends on “a number of outstanding issues that need to be resolved,”

Goesta Ljungman, the IMF’s resident representative, said in a lengthy interview with Interfax-Ukraine. “At this stage, it is not possible to make any predictions about when the review can be completed. This depends on how quickly there is progress on outstanding issues,” he said, referring to the Stand-By Arrangement that has been largely dormant since $2.1 billion was disbursed last June 11.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
The IMF checklist includes:

protecting the National Bank of Ukraine from political pressure; strengthening the rule of law by maintaining the EU-standard anti-corruption institutions put in place; returning the fiscal deficit “to pre-pandemic levels;” building a fully functioning household gas market without price controls; and not going down the path of tax amnesties.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Just as the interview was posted, the Rada passed on first reading a tax amnesty.

Valid for one year – from this July through July 1, 2022 – the amnesty would clear tax bills from assets voluntarily declared. The one-time tax schedule would be: 5% on declared assets inside Ukraine; 9% on assets located abroad; and 2.5% on Ukrainian government bonds.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Facing $6 billion in external borrowing that are needed this year, Ukraine is “already uncomfortable” without the $3 billion in remaining IMF tranches

, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said in a lengthy interview with LIGA. “We have no opportunity to receive income from another source,” he says. “The IMF program is our baseline scenario.” He said talks would go better with IMF if they were face to face, not through video calls.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Separately, Marchenko hopes to reach an IMF staff level agreement soon,

 he told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. Anti-corruption policy and judicial reform remained outstanding issues in the talks, he said.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
US and IMF support for Ukraine depend on the Zelenskiy Administration taking concrete steps to reform the court system and protect Western-designed anti-corruption institutions,

George Kent, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told VOA last week. Explicitly tying aid to free market changes, he said: “The expectations of Ukrainians and Americans are clear. Reform efforts need to continue and deepen. The justice sector is absolutely essential.” He added: “The U.S. as a partner is here to be supportive. But to be very clear, any legislation that rolls back the independence of organizations, whether it’s the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, NABU, or the central bank, does not help Ukraine and that will make it very difficult for international partners, whether it’s the IMF or the United States, to continue to be as supportive of efforts when they are not leading to reform the change that Ukraine needs.”

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Speaking before Zelenskiy removed Constitutional Court Chairman Oleksandr Tupytskiy

and Judge Oleksandr Kasminin for “threatening Ukraine’s independence and national security,” Kent said: “How Ukrainian authorities get out of the constitutional crisis created by the Constitutional Court undermining reversing changes that were made is a real challenge for Ukrainians.”

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Ukraine has expanded its 5-year-old list of Russian goods banned for import,

the Cabinet of Ministers reported Monday. The new list includes 25 largely low tech items such as toilet paper, hand towels, new spring, boxes, packing bags and cosmetic wipes. Of importance to Ukraine’s railroad sector, train wheels and axles are banned. Last year, the government approved measures aimed at banning $650 million worth of imports from Russia.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
After seven years of war, 71% of Ukrainian poll respondents consider Russia the aggressor in the Russia-Ukraine conflict,

according to a poll conducted last week by the Rating Sociological group. The survey of 2,500 people was conducted before Russian TV aired video of dozens of Russian armored vehicles and self-propelled guns crossing the Kerch Strait bridge. In the poll, 45% of respondents supported restoring water supplies to Crimea and 48% did not support it.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Oschadbank, Ukraine’s second largest bank, plans to appeal Tuesday’s decision by the Paris Court of Appeal

 that it lacks jurisdiction to arbitrate the 2014 seizure by Russia’s Sberbank of Oschadbank’s assets in Crimea. State-owned Oschadbank seeks $1.3 billion in compensation.

Thursday, April 1, 2021
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Editor’s Note: The Biden-Zelenskiy relationship is starting off transactional. On Wednesday, George Kent tells VOA that Zelenskiy should solve the Constitutional Court problem. On Saturday, Zelenskiy decapitates the Court. On Monday, Andriy Yermak, Zelenskiy’s presidential chief of staff, wins an in depth telephone conversation with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The focus: defending Ukraine’s from Russian forces in Crimea and the Donbas. Biden’s experience with Ukrainian politicians has taught him to avoid the big kumbaya, love in telephone call that yields…thin air. And Zelenskiy is astute enough to understand the news rules of the game. After all, who is going to help Ukraine militarily hold the dike against Russia? Germany? China? One problem: with Russia pouring military assets this week into Crimea and Russia-controlled Donbas for ‘training exercises,’ Biden’s methodical, arms distance approach to Zelenskiy may be overtaken by events. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Rada Unlocks Big Privatizations…Six State Companies Readied for Auction…21% of Ukraine’s Restaurants Closed Last Year…McDonald’s Invests $42 Million to Create 4,600 Jobs…Inside Ukraine, E-Passports Equal Paper Passports
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Private investment will breathe economic life into dead state assets,

 Economy Minister Ihor Petrashko wrote on the Ministry website. He said: “Removing restrictions on the sale of large state-owned enterprises will not only fill the state budget, but also attract large amounts of private investment in the development of these companies and the economy of Ukraine.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Ukraine loses $6 billion a year to corrupt managers of state companies,

Mikheil Saakashvili, Chair of the National Reform Council, estimated in his Kyiv Post column. Ukraine has 3,500 state companies – 63 times more than neighboring Poland and 76 times more than Sweden. To prepare a state-owned company for sale, the State Property Fund needs 11 months to prepare 70 documents. To streamline the process, Saakashvili’s Office of Simple Solutions and Results and the Property Fund has submitted legislation to the Rada to cut the red tape.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Online bidding by five companies for a state-owned alcohol distillery increased the price five times yesterday, to $3.9 million

, reported the State Property Fund. The sale of the distillery in Lutsk through ProZorro.sale is part of a 2-year process to privatize Ukrspirt, the former state monopoly alcohol producer. By the time that all 78 Ukrspirt properties are sold, the Fund expects to raise $35 million for the State Budget.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The crackdown fulfills a March 19 decision by the National Security and Defense Council.

In a first step, the Council seized unused 19 oil and gas no-bid permits obtained in 2012-2013 by East Europe Petroleum, a company controlled by Eduard Stavytsky, a former Yanukovych-era minister. Now a fugitive, Stavytsky reportedly in Israel living under the name of Nathan Rosenberg.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Dollar-denominated bonds accounted for almost half of the $317 million in equivalent sold yesterday

at the Finance Ministry’s weekly auction. The auction nearly covers repayment of $325 million scheduled this week. With yields unchanged, investors bought $49.6 million of 1-year bonds at 3.7%, and $106.8 million of 2-year bonds at 3.9%, the Ministry has reported on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
For hryvnia bonds, the Ministry pushed down yields on 3-months bonds by 35 basis points,

to 7.98%, and on 1-year bonds by one basis point, to 10.74%. To sell $34.6 million worth of 2-year bonds, the Ministry raised the yield by 10 basis points, to 11.8%, according to the Ministry’s website. In general, the weighted average rate at yesterday’s auctions fell to 10.67%, from 11.64% one week ago. Last week, the Ministry sold the equivalent of $232 million, reports ICU.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The number of Ukraine’s restaurants and cafes operating has decreased by 21% last year,

to 14,700, from 18,600, said Olha Nasonova, the Director of Restaurants of Ukraine analytical center, (Interfax-Ukraine). Repeated lockdowns and the absence of foreign tourists has cut turnover by 30%. The current lockdown will have a minimal impact because most restaurants have adapted to the restrictions, and some have closed. Looking forward, she said: “Many interesting locations have become available. Plus, rental levels have decreased. The most popular hybrid formats are shops-cafes, shops-bars.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
McDonald’s Ukraine plans to invest $42 million this year,

creating 4,600 new jobs and opening restaurants in four new cities — Ivano-Frankivsk, Bila Tserkva, Lutsk, and Khmelnytskyi — Yuliya Badritdinova, McDonald’s Managing Director, told reporters yesterday. The new jobs will be split between 1,500 at new restaurants and 3,100 at supplier companies. In addition to new cities, McDonald’s plans openings in Ukraine’s five most populous cities; Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa. Looking to 2022, the chain plans to open in Chernivtsi, Kropyvnytskyi, Mariupol, and Uzhgorod.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Last year, McDonalds invested $25 million, opening five new restaurants, to bring the total number of stores to 98 in 21 Ukrainian cities.

While the company maintained its restaurant payroll of 10,000, the number of customers decreased by 20% yoy and sales fell by almost 4% yoy, Badritdinova said at a press conference in Kyiv.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The Rada passed a law yesterday equating digital ‘e-passports’ with conventional paper passports for use inside Ukraine.

Part of the government’s ‘state in a smartphone’ program, e-passports are displayed by the increasingly popular Diya app. The passports are issued with a unique electronic identifier, such as a QR code or bar code. “All e-passports can be used within Ukraine’s borders for their holders’ identification, confirmation of citizenship and provision of government and other services,” reported UNIAN. The law goes into effect August 23, 2021. So far, Ukraine’s e-passports are not accepted for foreign travel.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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Editor’s Note: The next time you whizz down the Boryspil highway, ask your driver if he can name the Metro stations flashing by. Probably not. Thirty years ago, the little green M signs stood out against the drab Soviet landscape. Now, they are lost among billboards and kiosk clutter. Most of the Metro’s 52 stations do not have large identifying signs legible from a car or bus window. Probably some weird Soviet state secret. After the pandemic, one legacy will be low mass transit use and spreading traffic gridlock. One solution is to get middle class drivers out of their cars and into the Metro. A good start would be clear, large signs identifying each Metro station and its color coded line. Otherwise, Kyiv will continue to languish in the TomTom Traffic Index, between Bangalore and New Delhi. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Start the Bulldozers: Ukraine’s Largest Road Building Season Kicks Off…EBRD, USAID Work to Cut Corruption…Foreigners to Buy Highway Bonds?
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
With the EBRD loaning €450 million for the renovation of the southern half of the Kyiv-Odesa highway and the Lviv northern bypass, the multilateral bank and Ukravtodor are implementing EU-standard anti-corruption standards,

Ukravtodor Chairman Oleksandr Kubrakov said during a recent meeting with Matteo Patrone, the EBRD’s regional director. “Together with the EBRD we plan a number of systemic reforms in the industry: from improving the procurement process to taking into account modern safety and environmental requirements,” Kubrakov said. “Already in 2021 Ukravtodor will work out world practices of road project management in its own work.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Ukravtodor is protesting an arbitration decision ordering it to return €10.3 million to a Chinese company, Sinohydro,

for ending a contract to build the northern bypass of Zhytomyr on the M-06. Six months ago, Ukravtodor ended the contract, charging that the Chinese company completed 49% of the project, far short of the 80% due at the time. Yesterday, Ukravtodor complained on Facebook that Mahadev Gopinat, the arbitrator for International Association of Consulting Engineers, lives in South Africa and never visited the Zhytomyr project.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Passenger travel was down almost 50% in January-February, compared to the same pre-pandemic period last year,

reports the State Statistics Service. The drops: rail – down 49%, to 11.2 million passengers; transport companies down 41%, to 397 million; motor transport down 42%, to 167 million passengers; and airlines down to 600,000, one third the level of last winter. Last year, overall passenger travel in Ukraine dropped by 54% yoy, to 49.4 billion passenger-kilometers. With coronavirus hospitalizations increasing, authorities in Kyiv and Lviv are threatening to close municipal mass transit systems.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
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Editor’s Note: The more private investment involved in Ukraine’s highway construction the better. After the bait and switch on green tariffs, foreign companies understandably are leery of building highways they cannot roll up and take home — if a new government slashes highway tolls. The Word Bank’s IFC and others have devised less obtrusive ways for construction companies to get their money back. For starters: monopolies on billboards, gas stations and highway restaurants. I see the public sector alternative in my neighborhood, where the Kyiv Metro proudly (pathetically?) announced with great fanfare that they overhauled Golden Gate station’s six escalators in an 8-month, $1.5 million project. Can you imagine River Mall announcing with fanfare that, after eight months, they had fixed their escalators? With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Monday, March 29, 2021
Airlines Start Summer Schedules, Reconnecting Ukraine with the World…With EU Closed to Ukrainian Tourism, Egypt and Turkey See Boom…Corona Hospitalizations Climb to Record Levels
Monday, March 29, 2021
Airlines have started their summer flight schedules this week.

Bolstered by increasing acceptance of negative PCR coronavirus tests for international travel. Air links that were suspended one year ago are being renewed to Ukraine.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Highlights:
Monday, March 29, 2021
Ukraine International Airlines this week resumes flights between Kyiv Boryspil and 19 cities:

Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Baku, Cairo, Chisinau, Dubai, Geneva, Istanbul, Larnaca, London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Milan, Munich, Paris, Prague, Vilnius, Tel Aviv, Tbilisi, and Yerevan. By the end of April, UIA plans to restore 64% of its pre-pandemic network, flying 43 international and seven domestic routes. The March-October flight schedule can be found here. Starting this week, Kyiv-Tel Aviv will be daily service and Odesa-Tel Aviv flights twice a week.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has restarted service this week from Ukraine to 18 European cities.

From Kyiv Boryspil, Ryanair will fly to Berlin, Bergamo, London, Rome, Sofia, Vienna, Vilnius, Bergamo, and to six Polish cities: Gdansk, Krakow, Katowice, Poznan, Wroclaw and Warsaw. From Odesa, Ryanair will fly to Berlin, Rome and Gdansk; and from Lviv to Bergamo and Rome. In May-July, Ryanair will relaunch 37 other routes from Ukraine, including from Kherson and Kharkiv, according to Avianews. On July 3, Ryanair launches two new routes from Ukraine: Kyiv-Cologne and Odesa-Barcelona. By mid-summer, Ryanair plans to be flying 55 routes from Ukraine. From early July, Ryanair will commence flying between Odesa and Corfu and Kyiv and Crete.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Lufthansa will increase it’s Frankfurt-Kyiv Boryspil frequencies by 50% this week,

to twice a day. Last week, Lufthansa restored its Munich-Kyiv flight, to five regular services a week. Next month, Lufthansa will inaugurate its Lviv-Frankfurt route, with four flights a week. In the Lufthansa Group, Austrian Airlines is restoring its flights from regional centres including Vienna-Lviv and Odesa-Lviv, and is increasing Vienna-Kyiv service to daily flights. Last week, SWISS expanded Zurich-Kyiv flights, with the plan to fly by June 2021.

Monday, March 29, 2021
“The Lufthansa Group believes in the early recovery of the Ukrainian market,” said Rene Koinzach, Lufthansa Group’s regional general director. “Our customers want to travel again,

as they did before the crisis. We see an increase in demand amongst travelers from other continents who want to fly through our hub airports to Ukraine.”

Monday, March 29, 2021
Cyprus will reopened to tourists from Ukraine as of Thursday.

From a ‘red zone’ such Kyiv, all passengers aged 12 or over must take PCR tests within 72 hours of flying and again on arrival. At Larnaca airport, the analysis costs €30 euros. At Paphos airport, €32 euros. Airlines that fly to Cyprus from Ukraine includee: Ryanair, SkyUp, UIA and Wizz Air.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Wizz Air

will recommence services today from Kyiv Sikorsky to Bologna and Catania, and from Lviv to Verona and Catania. Tomorrow, it starts regular flights from Zaporizhia to Milan Malpensa and to Katowice, Poland.

Monday, March 29, 2021
SkyUp starts services this week

from Kyiv Boryspil to Belgrade, Berlin, Gdansk, Lodz, Memmingen, and Stuttgart. In April and May, SkyUp will expand its schedule with flights from Kyiv to Copenhagen; Düsseldorf; Hamburg; Hannover, Katowice and Nuremberg. From Lviv, regular flights will commence by the end of May to: Bergamo, Lodz, Odesa, Tbilisi, Tirana and Tivat. From Odesa, SkyUp will have regular services to Kharkiv, Lviv, Tbilisi, Yerevan and Zaporizhia.

Monday, March 29, 2021
AirBaltic

resumed Riga-Kyiv Boryspil flights last week. Next month, it plans to restore the Riga-Odesa service, followed by Riga-Lviv.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Azerbaijan’s discount airline Buta Airways

will resumes flights from Baku to Kyiv Sikorsky on Thursday.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Czech Airlines

resumes flights from Prague to Odesa on Saturday.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Bees Airlines, Ukraine’s new discount airline, plans to expand its fleet to six Boeing 737s over the next year.

In the past two weeks, Bees started flying from Lviv and Kyiv Sikorsky to Egyptian beach resorts. Ukraine’s State Aviation Service has authorized Bees to flight 31 routes out of Ukraine – 15 regular and 16 charter.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Turkish Airlines’ economy unit AnadoluJet starts flying to Ukraine tomorrow with an Ankara-Kyiv Boryspil flight.

At the end of April, AnadoluJet starts flying from Kyiv and from Odesa to Dalaman, on Turkey’s southwest coast.

Monday, March 29, 2021
With the EU blocked for most Ukrainian tourists, Egypt and Turkey are the huge beneficiaries, according to Boryspil’s flight schedule for April, reported Avianews.com.

The ranking of flights listed for April is: Sharm el-Sheikh – 305 flights; Hurghada, Egypt – 194; Antalya, Turkey – 157; Istanbul – 130; Dubai – 102; Tel Aviv – 98; Amsterdam – 88; Minsk – 60; Prague – 60; and Tbilisi – 58. Boryspil’s schedule for April shows that air carriers plan to fly on more than 50 international routes.

Monday, March 29, 2021
A record number of charter flights are scheduled to fly from Ukraine to Turkey in early June,

Turprofi, the tourism professional news site reportsed, citing research of Ukrainian Association of Travel Agencies. For the week of June 7-13, 326 flights from nine Ukrainian cities are to go to Turkey. This is 62% more than the 201 flights that took place during the same week in 2019. The top three destinations are: Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman. The airline ranking is: UIA – 125 flights; Azur Air and SkyUp – 71 flights each; and Windrose – 59 flights.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Starting from Thursday, Chinese tourists can enter Ukraine without visas and stay for up to 30 days,

 according to a Decree signed last week by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The experimental visa-free regime is to last six months, until Sept. 30. All visitors to Ukraine need to show a negative coronavirus test and proof of purchsae of travel / health insurance.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Ukraine plans to open a Consulate General in Houston this year,

said Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine’s outgoing Ambassador to the US, speaking to the US-Ukraine Business Council last week. Scheduled for last year, the opening was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Antonov Airlines’ mammoth An-124-100 Ruslan cargo aircraft, recorded nearly 8,000 hours of air time last year,

a record for the 32-year-old Kyiv-based company, Mikhaylo Kharchenko, Antonov’s Director told the Center for Transportation Strategies. In the most recent urgent, outsized delivery, three Antonov Ruslan’s flew 370 tons of mining equipment from Australia to Brazil. The shipment was chartered by UK-based Chapman Freeborn Airchartering.

Monday, March 29, 2021
As Ukraine struggles with its ‘third wave’ of coronavirus infections, daily hospitalizations hit a record 5,052 yesterday morning,

Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has reported on Facebook. This is more than double the peak of 2,000 hospitalizations recorded during the last wave, four months ago. With a ‘British variant’ spreading fast, Stepanov warned during an appearance on Ukraina 24 TV that daily infections could rise to 25,000, well over the record 18,132 reported Friday. He added that public transport could be stopped.

Monday, March 29, 2021
Paperwork delays should be cleared by early April to allow use of 215,000 Sinovac vaccines that arrived in Kyiv last week from China.

Separately the first vaccines under the UN’s COVAX initiative are to arrive in early April, Stepanov told Ukraina 24. Ukraine has paid for 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines from India, but delivery was suspended as India faced rising infections. Of the first batch of 500,000 that arrived in Ukraine one month ago, only one third have been used.

Monday, March 29, 2021
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Editor’s Note: With an eagle eye for the negative, The New York Times pounces on a looming ‘problem’ for the Biden Administration: too many coronavirus vaccines. Biden has promised to vaccinate all 260 million American adults by the end of May. But, frets the Times, the US has locked in orders for the delivery of 400 million vaccines by the end July. A 12-year-old could tell the Times, this ‘problem’ represents a massive opportunity for the US — to spread good will and save lives around the world. With the Zelenskiy Administration floundering in its vaccination rollout, the US could send 40 million vaccines here – predicated on clean government changes (tough love). At the same time, Minister Stepanov should be retired and replaced with a real manager – a Ukrainian Army general or a corporate exec. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Friday, March 26, 2021
Half of Ukraine is in Corona ‘Red Zone’…India Stops Sending Vaccines…China Sends Vaccines…AmCham Optimism for 2021…Ukrainians Now Spend 1 Hour a Day on YouTube…Marie Claire Switches to Ukrainian
Friday, March 26, 2021
Swept up by the EU’s COVID-19 upsurge, half of Ukraine’s population presently reside in the ‘red zone’ quarantine areas,

Ukraine’s Health Ministry has reportsed. In this strictest form of quarantine are: Kyiv City and 10 regions — Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Sumy, Zhytomyr and Zakarpattia.

Friday, March 26, 2021
“I don’t rule out that the whole country may be put on lockdown,”

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, told the BBC on Wednesday. Hours later, on Thursday morning, the Health Ministry announced a record daily death toll for the one-year-old pandemic: 363. Daily new infections hit 16,669, a record for the pandemic in Ukraine. Yesterday also saw record number of hospitalizations: 5,438.

Friday, March 26, 2021
In Kyiv, mass transit could be halted if people do not wear masks,

Mayor Klitschko warned  on Facebook on Wednesday. Yesterday, Klitschko confirmed 1,267 new coronavirus cases, 57% of them women. Over the last year, 3,198 people have died in the capital of the pandemic, including 35 yesterday.

Friday, March 26, 2021
India is suspending delivery of 75% of Ukraine’s order of 1.9 million AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines,

in part because of a coronavirus upsurge in India, and in part because of “defamatory statements about India as a manufacturer of medicines,” Mykhailo Radutsky, Servant of the People Chair of the Rada Health Committee, wrote on Facebook. Recently, many Ukrainians refused the Indian vaccine, saying that it was ‘Third World’ and demanding the same vaccine, but produced in the UK. During the first month of the vaccination campaign, only 155,587 people have received a shot – one third of the stock received from India.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Health Minister Stepanov is struggling to restore deliveries of 1.5 million vaccines contracted with the Serum Institute of India.

The Minister for Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, has accused Russia of waging a disinformation campaign, and India’s Embassy has complained to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Yesterday, the first load of 1.915 million doses of China’s CoronaVac was air shipped to Ukraine,

 reported the website of Ukraine’s Embassy in China. The vaccine was produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech. Ukraine will receive it first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in April, said Oleksandr Zaika, the Head of the Health Ministry’s immunization strategy department (Dom TV).

Friday, March 26, 2021
By July 1, Ukraine is set to receive 2.3 million doses – of the 8 million secured – from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.

 S&P Global Ratings has calculated that Ukraine will vaccinate 3% of its population by this summer.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Riding the private health care wave, Horizon Capital announced yesterday that its EEGF III has made a ‘successful exit’ from its 2-year investment in Dobrobut, Ukraine’s largest private healthcare provider.

 The Horizon investment helped Dobrobut make two M&A investments – the purchase of Doctor Sam and Boris. Purchasers of the Horizon’s investment are Dobrobut’s two major shareholders: Igor Mazepa, Concorde Capital CEO, and Igor Kalashnikov, owner of the retail network of Luxoptika. Mazepa said:We see great prospects in the development of the private medical sector. The market of medical services is estimated at $6 billion, while the need for quality services in Ukraine is very high and supply is insufficient. We have ambitions to occupy this niche.”

Friday, March 26, 2021
For new business worries,

 uncertainty about vaccines against COVID-19 (69%) and continued lockdowns (57%), and employee safety (47%) rank the concerns of executives polled by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. In the poll completed two weeks ago, 59% of respondents plan to promote vaccinations among employees.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Looking ahead, 60% of companies have positive expectations for 2021, expecting revenues to go up.

Over 30% of businesses plan to hire new employees, and 39% plan to increase investments. With the uncertainties over public health and transportation, 82% have switched to hybrid work, a combination of remote and office-based work. Looking back, 56% of respondents said that last year their companies kept the number of employees, 24% hired new employees, 20% cut employees.

Friday, March 26, 2021
“For 43% of member companies that express restrained optimism about doing business and potential investment in Ukraine in 2021, key obstacles remain,”

said Andy Hunder, AmCham president. “The business community is urging the government to ensure the rule of law, protect the population from COVID-19 and fight corruption.”

Friday, March 26, 2021
Registrations of new companies fell by 20% yoy last year,

a drop blamed on the pandemic and quarantine measures, according to recent report by YouControl, an online database. In 2020, the state registered 54,000 new companies. At the same time, 10,000 companies closed, largely in June, at the end of the hard lockdown.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Ukraine’s big four state-owned banks cut their total non-performing loan portfolio by 22%, or $3.1 billion,

last year, reported the Finance Ministry. This reduced the non performing loan portfolio to UAH 310 billion, or 57.4% of all outstanding loans. To cut into the bad loan mountain, more than 94,000 new lawsuits worth about $1 billion were filed last year. The banks received more than 100,000 court decisions worth about $820 million.

Friday, March 26, 2021
The average Ukrainian spends one hour a day watching YouTube videos,

The average Ukrainian spends one hour a day watching YouTube videos, reported Google, owner of the video hosting service. Last year, the number of Ukrainian YouTube channels with 100,000 subscribers grew by 35% yoy.  Channels with 1 million subscribers or more grew by 45%. Last year these audience jumps in daily views were recorded: meditation +35%; cooking +45%; and home workout +340%. December 2021 showed these year over year viewership jumps: educational/science +50%; fish farming +50%; and hiking and rafting +80%.

Friday, March 26, 2021
Fashion magazine Marie Claire Ukraine has switched from Russian to Ukrainian,

making its Spring 2021 edition its first Ukrainian-language issue. “There is a superstition about writing on fashion in Russian because of the longstanding influence of these magazines’ head offices, which were based in Russia,” said editor Nadiia Shapoval (The Calvert Journal). “For me, this is a very colonial way of thinking. I think that [this Marie Claire issue] will illustrate that publishing magazines in Ukrainian is possible, and can be popular and competitive.”

Friday, March 26, 2021
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Editor’s Note: Greetings. After 11 days at the Oberig Clinic Covid ward, I am emerging from corona fog. This may explain why the top half of my first post-Covid UBN focuses on the corona crisis. Next week, there will be more on Ukraine’s real economy. With Best Regards Jim Brooke

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Govt. Will Offer Stimulus to Avoid Further Collapse…EBRD Chief in Kyiv…MHP $30mm Dividend Payout…Top Security Chief Threatens Even Harsher Lockdown
Thursday, March 25, 2021
The government intends to offer 8,000 UAH ($285) cash payments to private entrepreneurs and employed individuals impacted by the three-week strict quarantine on businesses, said the

 Prime Minister, Denis Shmyhal. “The state is ready to pay the relevant individual entrepreneurs and employees of enterprises who have suffered as a result of the introduction of quarantine restrictions in the red zones, 8,000 UAH each. In particular, a set of measures has been developed to support people and businesses, which will be implemented in cooperation with local governments,” the Prime Minister said.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
According to Odile Renaud-Basso, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, State-owned enterprises stand to gain the most from radical reforms.

In Kyiv she told reporters “The EBRD and Ukraine have been strong partners for almost three decades now. Ukraine is a top three investment destination for the EBRD. In the past two years alone, the Bank has committed EUR 2 billion of investment to the Ukrainian economy. We provide a comprehensive support package for the country to assist its stabilization, the anchoring of its reforms and sound, inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021
EBRD investments focus on strengthening energy efficiency, energy security, boosting agricultural and industrial potential, building solid infrastructure and strengthening the financial sector.

“Our work is underpinned by and supports Ukraine’s aspiration of European integration. In order to achieve healthy and fast economic development, there must be a radical reform of SOEs, including the state-owned banks,” said the EBRD President.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Among sectors with the highest potential are: agriculture, energy, transport, information technology.

“There is a huge potential in Ukraine, especially in its people and its youth. Pursuing the reform agenda is key for the economic development. Structural weaknesses remain and weigh on the pace of economic growth while labor productivity remains below other countries in the region. Progress in key areas of governance would provide a level playing field for investors and entrepreneurs, which is crucial for unleashing the growth potential of the Ukrainian economy.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021
“I hope that in 10 years’ time Ukraine will be country guided by the European Union values

and standards, with a stronger rule of law, greater social cohesion and trust between citizens, greener economy and more gender and income equality.”

Thursday, March 25, 2021
MHP, the largest poultry producer in Ukraine and a national blue-chip stock, plans to pay $30 million in dividends for 2020 or $0.2803 per share,

 the company has announced. “Given the current challenging market dynamics, with a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.66 as at 31 December 2020 (above 3.0, after which certain restrictions come into effect), the board deemed it prudent to continue to save cash and subject to approval shareholders to pay an unchanged dividend of $ 0.2803 per share,” the company’s said in its Annual Report.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
The Ministry of Community and Territorial Development may receive a EUR 100 million loan from the European Investment Bank to modernize street lighting in Ukraine.

 “The proposed project should cover the entire territory of Ukraine. It provides for the implementation of measures for the restoration, reconstruction and construction of external lighting networks. As well as bringing the external lighting power grids to the norms and standards of the current legislation and equipping them with equipment using energy and resource-saving technologies,” the Ministry said.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
The Ministry of Health has reported another death related to the Covishield vaccine, which is licensed by AstraZeneca and made in India.”

 On the morning of March 24, the pharmacist of the military hospital pharmacy in the Chernivtsi region died. The man received the vaccine on March 15,” the Ministry announced on Facebook. This is the second death reported by the Ministry after a high-profile servicewoman died after receiving the vaccine in Odessa.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
A strict nationwide quarantine may be imposed if the spread of Covid worsens, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Oleksiy Danilov told BBC Ukraine.

“The Council will soon hold a meeting regarding the epidemic. However, it is not known whether the introduction of a lockdown will be considered. So far, all decisions remain to be made by the regions. When we completely close the regions, this is already an exceptional case. If the development of events does not follow the optimistic scenario, then I do not rule out that the whole country may be closed,” the NSDC chief said.

Thursday, March 25, 2021
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 Editor’s Note: My phone buzzes at my room at the Kyiv Oberig Covid clinic. “Hi Jim, it’s Johnny,” says an Irish friend who was just in Kyiv last weekend. “I am in Ireland, going to the UK to get my vaccination.” Phone buzzes. “Hi Jim, it’s Liubko, I am off to Alberta to get my vaccination.” Expats living in Kyiv, have taken a hard look at Ukraine’s vaccination timetable. Here is the calculation: $1-2,000 for a flight home for a vaccination. Or stay in Kyiv and risk $5-10,000 in medical expenses, and possible death. My US home state, Massachusetts, has made 3.1 million jabs, enough to protect almost one quarter of the state population. On April 19, Massachusetts starts free vaccinations for anyone over 16. I have bought my ticket for May 2. Better late than never. With Best Regards Jim Brooke.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
IMF Funding Crucial: NBU Official…GDP Shrank 4% in 2020…MHP to Boost Dividend Payouts…UNIT.city Partners with BMW Ukraine…Railway Workers Strike to Protest Low Wages…Miners Demand Better Conditions…Bees Airline Gets Green Light…New Rules For Foreigners Arriving
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
According to the Deputy Chief of NBU, Dmitry Sologub, failure to secure IMF funds this year will increase inflation and devalue the hryvnia.

“Refusal to cooperate with the IMF will most likely lead to an increase in debt service costs, a reduction in the inflow of foreign investment, and pressure on the foreign exchange reserves of the National Bank,” he recently said (Economic Truth). “The government should reduce the budget deficit, thus the hryvnia exchange rate will weaken in order to neutralize the negative impact on the balance of payments, respectively, inflation will accelerate,” stressed Shologub.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
After four years of growth, the overall GDP rate declined by 4% in 2020 to $151 billion,

according to the State Statistics Service. In 2019, Ukraine’s GDP grew by 3.2%; in 2018 by 3.4%; in 2017 2.5%; in 2016 2.5%, after a massive 9.8 % decline in 2015 and 6.6% decline in 2014.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Officials project 4.6% growth in 2021

. Ukraine’s economy peaked in 2013 with a GDP of over $183 billion and has yet to recover to this level in the past 7 years.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
MHP, the largest poultry producer and a national blue-chip stock, expects to increase dividend payouts by 2.6x in 2021 due to growing revenue fueled to rising chicken prices

, said Denis Belyi, an analyst at Freedom Finance. “Due to the resumption of growth in world prices for chicken meat, the 2021 financial year reflect a positive outcome for MHP agricultural holding, which is expected to increase its dividend payments by 2.6 times compared to 2020 – to $ 0.75 per share” said Belyi speaking to participants at the Prospects for the Development of the Stock Market in Ukraine webinar.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
“MHP shares are traded not only in Ukraine, but also on the London Stock Exchange,

and it is one of the most undervalued companies whose shares are quoted on international trading floors. This is due to the fact that the price of the company’s main product – chicken was in a downtrend from 2018 to April 2020,” he added. In 2020, chicken prices hit the lowest levels seen in the past 15 years, but are now rebounding.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
MHP’s revenue in the first nine months of 2020 decreased by 6% – to $1.41 billion.

The agro holding received $109 million in net loss against $276 million in net profit for the same period in 2019. This is due to a foreign exchange loss of $191 million in the period of January to September 2020 compared to a profit of $182 million in same period in 2019. MHP’s EBITDA for the specified period decreased by 7% – to $332 million.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
UNIT.City is partnering with AWT Bavaria Ukraine to launch the U.go service, which offers electric vehicle car sharing.

Kyiv will be the first city to test the new car-sharing model. For now, the service can be used by residents and employees of the UNIT.City Park, who have a driver’s license and have more than two years of driving experience.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
“When UNIT.City is completed, it will be a place without cars.

We will have intercepting hubs, and all residents of the park will be able to use a service such as U.Go. For business, it will be relevant during the day, for those who will live here – in the morning or in the evening. According to forecasts, by 2025 the share of the sharing economy in the total revenues of companies around the world will reach 50%, although back in 2013 it was only 5%.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Ukrainian Railways workers are planning a large-scale strike on March 31 to protest low wages and poor working conditions during the global pandemic,

Interfax-Ukraine reported citing recent union announcements. The warning was announced by the trade union of railway workers and transport builders of Ukraine. Whether there will be a continuation depends on its results. “In 2019-2020, we, contrary to the terms the collective agreement, did not raise our salaries.,” said protest leader Alexander Skiba.

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Workers at Kryvyi Rih Mining and ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih are also starting protest campaigns for an increase in wages by 30%.

“The workers of the AMKR enterprise took industrial action today. The protesters note that the action is preventive and, if the administration of the enterprise does not sit down at the negotiating table regarding the demands, the protest will increase in scale. The main demand of the union members is to increase wages to European levels, and have salary levels reflect the conditions labor,” said the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine Mikhail Volynets on Facebook on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
“With the onset of spring, protests will only intensify. Wages are low. Employers do not comply with the law. Their priority is profits and surplus profits. With a further rise in prices and inflation, people will inevitably participate in protests more and more,”

a union leader told Interfax-Ukraine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Bees Airline, a Ukrainian low-cost carrier is offering charter and routine flights, after it received its flight license to operate flights on 31 routes,

said the State Aviation Service of Ukraine in a recent announcement.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Foreigners entering Ukraine now need a negative PCR test for coronavirus, said the

Health Chief Maxim Stepanov in a recent press briefing. “Foreign citizens and stateless persons entering Ukraine will need a certificate certifying a negative PCR test result for coronavirus, regardless of the epidemiological situation in the country from which they have traveled. The test should be executed no more than 72 hours before entry,” according to announcements on a government website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Bureau of Economic Security Established…Motor Sich Seized “For the People”… Ukroboronprom Pounces on Blue Chip…MoF Borrows Big Locally…EU Integration to Accelerate …Covid a Threat For Over 50: Chief Govt. Doc… Kyiv Enters Red Zone
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
President Zelenskiy has signed off on the creation of Ukraine’s Bureau of Economic Security (BEB),

 the Presidential press office has reported. “The main function of the Bureau of Economic Security will be analytical work, not law enforcement. The Bureau will analyze the beneficiaries of financial transactions and determine if there is a violation of the law in the circulation of funds of certain business or government structures,” a government spokesperson said.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Ukraine’s SBU security service will lose the power to investigate crimes relating to corruption and organized criminal activity.

“This will allow the SBU to focus on performing tasks that are really directly related to the security of the state, focusing on counterintelligence activities in the economic sphere,” the President’s Office clarified.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
The Bureau of Economic Security is to be the sole government agency responsible for combating economic and financial crimes.

 BEB will assume the current powers of the Security Service and the State Tax Police. “According to the law, the Bureau of Economic Security is the central body of executive power, which is entrusted with the task of countering offenses encroaching on the functioning of the state economy. Its activities are directed and coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers,” the Presidential press service said.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
BEB powers include:

“identifying risk zones in the economic sphere by analyzing structured and unstructured data; assessment of risks and threats to the economic security of the state, development of ways to minimize and eliminate them; submission of proposals for amending regulatory legal acts on the elimination of prerequisites for the creation of schemes of illegal activities in the economic sphere; ensuring the economic security of the state by preventing, detecting, and suppressing, investigating criminal offenses that infringe on the functioning of the state’s economy.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
BEB is not a law enforcement agency and its functions include

“drawing up analytical conclusions and recommendations for government bodies in order to increase the efficiency of their management decisions on the regulation of relations in the economic sphere.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
A local Kyiv court ruled to transferred the ownership of Motor Sich’s to the management of the National Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA),

the SBU has announced. Earlier this month, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said it intended to return Motor Sich “to the Ukrainian people in a legal, constitutional way.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Motor Sich was a blue chip company with top-2 free float and has been operating as a private firm since 2000, after the successful privatization in 1994.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote: “Thus far, the way Motor Sich has been “returned to people” does not look optimal for Ukraine’s investment case, taking into account that before mid-2017 the company was a local stock market blue chip with a top-2 free float. No doubt, it is positive that the chance is increasing that Motor Sich will finally receive a controlling owner that will do its best to preserve the company’s business. At the same time, the unresolved ownership issue raises the threat of multiple court battles with the minority shareholders of the company, as well as with the Chinese firms that reportedly purchased a control stake in the company in 2016-2017.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Ukroboronprom, the state-owned arms conglomerate, has announced that it is ready to take over Motor Sich.

 Ukroboronprom’s Chief Yuri Gusev said, “I consider the preservation of Ukrainian Motor Sich a matter of national security. Ukroboronprom has already sent a letter to ARMA about its readiness to act as a subject of asset management of Motor Sich Joint Stock Company in order to preserve its potential. For us, as a state defense concern, it is important that Motor Sich “continued its work: with the preservation of jobs, with the fulfillment of obligations within the framework of production orders. Our team is ready to support the enterprise.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
In March, Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance tapped UAH 31 billion or USD 1.1 billion in the domestic bond market in local and hard currencies,

which assisted in the refinancing of domestic debt obligations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Investment firm ICU commented:

“By the end of this month, the MoF has to repay UAH13.5bn (US$0.5bn) and US$325m. They should be able to refinance these payments, taking into account the level of demand seen earlier this month, and the size of the repayments. The MoF will primarily concentrate on borrowings in local currency, due to the resumed activity of foreign investors. Therefore, we expect that in March, debt repayments will be refinanced in full.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
At the 4th German-Ukrainian Business Forum in Berlin, DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko underlined the importance of energy transition, taking into account social and economic aspects, as well as current challenges facing the renewables sector in Ukraine.

 The Forum is an important platform for strengthening economic cooperation between Ukraine and Germany and the energy sector is a key focus area. In August 2020, a joint Statement was signed at the Governmental level to launch the German-Ukrainian Energy Partnership.The Forum discussed key priorities of the Energy Partnership, including the integration of Ukrainian energy markets into ENTSO-E, increasing energy security, decarbonizing the economy, exchanging innovations in energy technologies, implementing joint projects in green energy development, digitalisation of energy infrastructure and establishment of a modern energy system.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Ukraine expects an acceleration of integration with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership,

said Prime Minister, Denys Shmygal. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have designed a joint initiative to start engaging with the Eastern Partnership known as EU + 3 Associated Partners. “We hope that, within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, deeper integration will be offered to the associated partner states based on the “more for more” approach. That is, the more progress countries make in implementing reforms, the more support they receive from the EU. The EU internal market, energy security, the EU green course, digitalization, and healthcare are the areas that are of interest to Ukraine for deepening cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Kyiv will be labeled a Covid “red zone” by the State Commission on Technogenic and Ecological Safety and Emergencies starting March 24,

2021 according to officials.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
According Chief State Sanitary Doctor Viktor Lyashko, the largest proportion of Covid-19 cases in Ukraine are people aged 50+ years

(Interfax-Ukraine). “75-80% of all deaths are registered in this age group. That is why this group is a priority for vaccination, and their inoculation will begin immediately after the doctors.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Untitled

Editor’s Note: A nurse told me last week, he turned down the AstraZeneca vaccine because it was made in India. He said he would take it if it were made in England. Ukraine has lost one third of its population since its post-Independence peak of 51 million. It cannot afford falling for more eccentric theories or more Russian disinformation voodoo. Missed vaccinations means lost lives. It also means a ‘Corona Curtain’ will separate Ukraine and the EU. Neighboring Poland has vaccinated 5 million people or 7% of its population. Ukraine has vaccinated 110,000. Within weeks, EU countries will demand vaccination passports for entry. Similarly, Ukraine demands vaccination passports for Hasidic pilgrims coming from Israel to Uman this September.

An Indian pharma importer friend working in Ukraine for many years emails to me at my Covid clinic sickbed: “India has supplied AstraZeneca vaccines so far to more than 70 countries in the world including Canada.” Separately, the Kyiv Post reported last year: “Ukraine imported $146 million in Indian-made pharmaceuticals in 2019 alone, making it the second-biggest drug supplier in Ukraine’s $2.8-billion pharma industry after Germany.” Manufacturing under US and UK government safety standards, India fulfills “over 50% of global demand for vaccines and 40% of demand for generics in the U.S., as well as providing 25% of medicines in the U.K.” One year ago, the corona crisis erupted in Ukraine with scenes of Russia-inspired, torch-waving yahoos stoning buses carrying Ukrainians evacuated from Wuhan, China. Let’s get the corona campaign back on the track of reason and science.  With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Monday, March 22, 2021
Ukraine Worth Investing In: Merkel…SBI Probes Balance Sheet Hole…British Covid Strain Detected…Govt. Signs Preliminary Agreements for Vaccines…Medical Staff Reject “Third World Vaccine”
Monday, March 22, 2021
Ukraine could become a center for global food security,

Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal said during the recentUkrainian-German economic forum on Friday. “Ukraine has been improving its agricultural exports for the third year in a row, and Germany is consistently been amongst the top ten importing countries of Ukrainian agricultural products. Our priority is the development of the agricultural sector. We are already in discussions regarding the opening and liberalization of the land market, improving amelioration infrastructure, increasing the production of high-margin products, and improving quality / safety of Ukrainian food products. Ukraine can become one of the centers of food safety for the world, and we urge our partners to invest in this together.”

Monday, March 22, 2021
Germany considers Ukraine an important trading partner and a country worth investing in.

“Ukraine is an important trading partner and it is also a place into which German companies should channel their investments. We appreciate it. Speaking at the opening of the 4th German_Ukrainian Business Forum in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel that, “Two thousand German companies and their representative offices actively work in Ukraine now.” (Ukrinform). Merkel also praised recent reform laws passed in Ukraine, which “give investors more guarantees and protect their investments.”

Monday, March 22, 2021
According to the German Chancellor, Ukraine has economic potential.

“Ukraine has highly qualified personnel in the industrial sphere, primarily in mechanical engineering and aircraft construction, as well as in the agricultural sector. IT also plays an increasing role,” Merkel said. Noting that trade turnover between the two states had grown to EUR 7.7 billion in 2019. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic “thwarted plans significantly”, but the German Chancellor is convinced that the countries will gather momentum in the future “thanks to progress with vaccination” she said.

Monday, March 22, 2021
Merkel noted that “some steps still need to be taken”,

in particular regarding fight against corruption, judiciary, and the land market.

Monday, March 22, 2021
The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a probe into former Central Bank Governor Valeriya Gontareva and First Deputy Governor Kateryna Rozhkova,

Bloomgberg reported. Authorities are interested in what they say is the inappropriate use of more than 900 million hryvnia (or $32.5 million) through schemes with local white-shoe law firms that overcharged legal services. The two women dismissed the accusations as “absurd theatre.”

Monday, March 22, 2021
“This investigation, if true, looks both odd and inconsistent, as it’s clear the Privatbank case is crucial for the country,”

Rozhkova said to Bloomberg by phone. “The reason for this probe is to discredit our work.”

Monday, March 22, 2021
Zelenskiy commented: “The Office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, with the support of Ukraine’s Western partners, will continue to do everything necessary to return all funds stolen from the Ukrainian population, including money related to PrivatBank,”

The stakeholders who previously owned a controlling stake in Privatbank are fighting efforts by the government to recoup bail-out money from them.

Monday, March 22, 2021
The British strain of coronavirus was detected in Kyiv Kharkov, Dnipro and Lviv as part of joint monitoring of the circulation of new strains of SARS-CoV-2, which is carried out by the pharmaceutical company Farmak JSC,

along with the the Gromashevsky Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases with the participation of the Center for Public Health (CPH), Farmak reports. “As a result, the British strain SARS-CoV-2 was detected in samples from Kiev, Kharkov, Dnipro and Lvov. At present, a bioinformatic analysis of the results is being carried out to study other mutations of the virus that are unique for Ukraine,” the company said.

Monday, March 22, 2021
Farmak’s new test system was audited and verified by the State Institution Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases named after Gromashevsky of the AMS of Ukraine and the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology named after Mechnikov of the AMS of Ukraine

  The company said that the new test system is already available for pre-order. “Farmak” is a member of the Association “Producers of Medicines of Ukraine” (APLU)

Monday, March 22, 2021
Ukraine has signed preliminary supply agreements with six global manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines,

said Prime Minister, Denis Shmyhal in an interview with Bild Germany. “Ukraine is negotiating with all world vaccine manufacturers. Today, preliminary agreements have been signed with 6 of them and 3 vaccines are registered in Ukraine. These are AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sinovac. In the near future, we expect the delivery of the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at the initiative of COVAX, where Germany is one of the world’s major donors and initiator of such an international platform. We are grateful to Germany for participating in this global initiative.”

Monday, March 22, 2021
62% of medical professionals refuse to get a vaccine,

according to the AP. The Indian vaccine available in Ukraine has been widely accused of being a “third world shot” by local media, fueling skepticism towards the jab. CoviShield is supplied to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles and India also plans to ship vaccines to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Mauritius and Brazil.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Editor’s Note:

As I walked with labored breaths yesterday down a corridor of a leading Kyiv Covid ward, I listened to a physiotherapist tell me that every room is occupied. He told me it is the same on the floor above, at the Oberig Health Center, near Kyiv’s Zoo. Across Kyiv, a city of 4 million, it is the same picture: no room at the Covid inn. Covid hospitals near full occupancies will drive Mayor Klitchko today to reimpose the capital’s third major quarantine in one year. Starting Saturday morning, restaurants will serve only takeout customers, shopping centers will be largely closed, and gyms will be closed. More important, if you get sick from Covid – as I did last week — think of getting a friend to drive you to Kharkiv. With Best Regards, Jim Brooke

Friday, March 19, 2021
Even though the government received half-a-million doses of India-made Covishield shots earlier this month, it faces a battle against skepticism towards the vaccine

“Ukrainian medical facilities have thrown away some unused vaccines after doctors failed to show up for their own appointments to be vaccinated, authorities said,” according to Reuters. Health authorities prioritized giving shots to frontline medical workers but only 47% of the workers do not want the vaccine.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Farmak, one of Ukraine’s top pharmaceutical companies, has created a state-of-the-art PCR test to detect new variants of the novel coronavirus,

the company says. The joint commercial project with the Hromashevsky Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases allows scientists to carry out the sequencing procedure via reading the sequence of nucleotides in the RNA of the virus. The results of the study, as well as information about the virus strains circulating in Ukraine since the beginning of the pandemic, have already been posted in the GISAID international initiative promoting the rapid sharing of data from all influenza viruses and the coronavirus causing COVID-19.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Farmak said that its product also detects the new UK variant of coronavirus.

The PCR test system is based on the TaqPath COVID 19 RT PCR Kit (manufactured by Thermo Scientific, the United States), which is authorized by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA). High quality components made in the United States are used for the production of the new SARS-CoV-2 test kit.

Friday, March 19, 2021
The accuracy of the new test kit is verified by the findings of the Hromashevsky Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine and the Mechnikov Institute of Microbiology and Immunology of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine in Kharkiv.

Reference trials of the PCR test kit are carried out in both private and public laboratories in Ukraine (Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia, Vinnytsia), confirming its accuracy. Farmak says that the new test kit can be pre-oredered.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Ukraine faces a trade deficit as imports amounted to $4.87 billion and export $4.55 billion in February 2021,

the government has reported. According to the State Customs Service, “imports in the first two months of this year showed an increase over the same period last year by 4.5% and amounted to $9.09 billion, and exports – by 4.4%, to $8.49 billion. At the same time, in February, imports rose to $4.87 billion, which is 6.5% higher than the same period last year and 15.4% higher than in January. As for exports, last month it also showed an increase of 14.8% compared to February 2020 and 15.8% compared to January, reaching $4.55 billion.”

Friday, March 19, 2021
President Zelenskiy aims to launch satellite “Sich 2” into space by the end of the year, Economic Truth reports.

The Parliamentary Committee on Economic Development together with the State Space Committee announced the completion of the next stage of negotiations with SpaceX on the launch of the Ukrainian satellite. The topic of launching a satellite is controversial, as many Ukrainians remember the ambitious project to create and launch the first telecommunications satellite “Lybid”. The Ukrainian government spent 24 years and about $350 million on the failed launch.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Ukraine and China are exploring further trade liberalization,

said the Deputy Minister of Economy and Trade Representative of Ukraine, Taras Kachka. “During the fourth intergovernmental commission in November 2020, we signed a joint statement on the study of trade liberalization. We are working well on it, with a dialogue between department directors. There is already have the content available that we will study, schedule, resources, and work on the preparation of further trade liberalization. We do not see any threat in this,” said a senior trade official.

Friday, March 19, 2021
New Covid-19 infections have soared to record levels as the police force is set to impose a strict lockdown for three weeks starting on Saturday.

“We need to gain time and do everything to prevent the collapse of the medical system,”  said Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. Cinemas and shopping malls will be closed completely. People are to be banned from sporting events, cafes and restaurants will be limited to providing takeaway, while schools and universities will begin remote learning and all government employees will work from home.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Ukraine has recorded a total of 29,253 deaths from the  coronavirus pandemic

and the total number of infections since the pandemic began a year ago has exceeded 1.5 million, said Health chief Maksym Stepanov on Thursday. The real number is thought to be much higher than official statistics, which only includes medically confirmed deaths resulting from Covid.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Major international hotel brands are planning to open new hotels in Ukraine within the next two years, said the

International Relations Director of the Ukrainian Hotel & Resort Ivan Lun (Interfax-Ukraine). “Today, only 17 hotels operate under international brands in Ukraine. This is a paltry figure: compare it with 185 branded hotels in Poland, a country comparable to ours in terms of geography, population and economic potential,” he said.

Friday, March 19, 2021
According to Open4business.ua,

the most active hotel chains in Ukraine today are Accor, Radisson, InterContinental, Marriott and Hilton, whose development offices are located in Moscow and Warsaw. In addition, according to experts, the Wyndham chain and the Louvre Hotel Group have recently also promoted their brands and participated in tenders for projects, mainly through franchise supplies.

Friday, March 19, 2021
A criminal case has been initiated against top NBU official Kateryna Rozhkova,

who worked on the investigation and 2016 nationalization of PrivatBank, according to a document from the Prosecutor General’s office seen by the Kyiv Post.

Friday, March 19, 2021
Covid Infections Soar…Ukrainians Reject India’s “Covishield” Shot…Hospitals Destroy Unused Supplies…Quarantine in the Capital…Farmak PCR Kits to the Rescue…Constant Trade Deficit…Zelenskiy Eyes Satellite Launch…Hotel Chains Focus on Kyiv
Friday, March 19, 2021
Former president Petro Poroshenko, now European Solidarity party leader, said that Ukrainian health care workers were refusing inoculation in the belief that the vaccines were of poor quality.

In Parliament, the Former President used foul language to describe the India-made vaccines. Health authorities said that around 1/3 of medical staff in the country have already been infected with Covid, and the rest are divided between those who want to be vaccinated and those who say they have no intention of taking either of the available vaccines.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Ukraine will nationalize aerospace company Motor Sich

Ukraine will nationalize aerospace company Motor Sich, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of jet aircraft engines and other aviation equipment. Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, revealed at a press briefing that the move had been “made for the national security of our country.”

Friday, March 12, 2021
About 75% of Motor Sich’s outstanding shares are in the hands of Chinese shareholders

About 75% of Motor Sich’s outstanding shares are in the hands of Chinese shareholders, Interfax-Ukraine reports citing a government official. Parts of the disputed block of shares are collateral for financing provided to Ukraine by the China Development Bank.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Motor Sich is a flashpoint for the United States and China

Motor Sich is a flashpoint for the United States and China, presenting a dilemma for Ukraine which relies on Washington for military aid but is dependent on Beijing for future economic growth.

Friday, March 12, 2021
The National Bank’s independence is vital,

The National Bank’s independence is vital, IMF press officer Jerry Rice said in a briefing in Washington. Rice noted “preserving the integrity, independence and effectiveness of Ukrainian anti-corruption institutions” were equally important and a precondition for further cooperation with the IMF.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Eipcenter Agro elevator capacity nearly doubled in 2020

Eipcenter Agro elevator capacity nearly doubled in 2020, to 1.5 million tons of grain storage. The company plans to increase its grain storage capacity to 2.2 million tons next year.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Ukravtodor, the state roadbuilding agency, has taken an important step towards toll roads

Ukravtodor, the state roadbuilding agency, has taken an important step towards toll roads, said Prime Minister Denis Shmygal during the signing of the Memorandum on the preparation of a proposal for public-private partnership on the project of construction and operation of the highway on the route Krakovets-Brody-Rivne.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Overall GDP in January 2021 declined up to 2.8%, compared to 2020

Overall GDP in January 2021 declined up to 2.8%, compared to 2020, mostly due to lockdown measures, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture estimates.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Farmers plagued by drought and other adverse weather conditions will receive interest compensation

Farmers plagued by drought and other adverse weather conditions will receive interest compensation for outstanding short and medium-term loans, said the Ministry of Economy.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Airline passenger traffic in January-February was down 68% y-o-y in 2021

Airline passenger traffic in January-February was down 68% y-o-y in 2021, reports the State Aviation Service. The decrease is largely attributed to uncertainty caused by pandemic mitigation policies. In 2020, Ukrainian airports served 8.6 million passengers, 64.4% less than in 2019.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Over 9,000 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on March 10

Over 9,000 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on March 10, a 3x increase since early February. Despite the upsurge in infections, Ukrainians are overwhelmingly rejecting vaccination, according to the AP.

Friday, March 12, 2021
In December, Motor Sich stakeholders launched international arbitration against the government of Ukraine for $3.6 billion in compensation

In December, Motor Sich stakeholders launched international arbitration against the government of Ukraine for $3.6 billion in compensation, arguing officials expropriated investments and violated the “intergovernmental agreement on the encouragement and mutual protection of investments between Ukraine and China” signed by Kyiv and Beijing in October 1992. The plaintiffs are represented by law firms WilmerHale, DLA Piper, and Bird & Bird.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Ukrainian companies seeking to IPO can expect a very receptive market,

Ukrainian companies seeking to IPO can expect a very receptive market, according to analysts presenting at Strategy Council’s Ukrainian IPO Webinar. ”Ukraine has quite a few candidates that would be attractive to foreign investors…. Timing is quite good…I hope to see Ukrainian IPOS in the next 12-18 months” said Brian Best, Managing Director at Dragon Capital. Nova Poshta, Rozetka, and Ajax were mentioned as examples of excellent companies and potential IPO candidates.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Epicenter Agro, the agribusiness arm of Epicentr K, plans to build grain elevators in the Khmelnytsky region,

Epicenter Agro, the agribusiness arm of Epicentr K, plans to build grain elevators in the Khmelnytsky region, the company announced Thursday. Project lead Svetlana Nikityuk said “With the advent of new modern elevator capacities, all accompanying processes will accelerate – acceptance, processing, shipment and transportation of grain to seaports from the Khmelnytsky region. The ability to sell large volumes of grown grain in combination with additional speed will provide local agricultural producers with a competitive advantage, despite the long distance to ports.”

Friday, March 12, 2021
Interpipe has signed a long-term contract to supply self-assembled cargo wheelsets to INVEHO UFO, one of the largest car building and car repair companies in France

Interpipe has signed a long-term contract to supply self-assembled cargo wheelsets to INVEHO UFO, one of the largest car building and car repair companies in France, the company reports. “The contract is to supply 1,530 wheelsets of the ULT-25 design for a French client until September 2022.” Interpipe sells world-class products to 80 countries around the world.

Friday, March 12, 2021
The government is working on implementing 40 joint projects with international financial organizations

The government is working on implementing 40 joint projects with international financial organizations, worth a total of EUR 5.66 billion and USD 3.09 billion, reports the Ministry of Finance. These organizations include the International the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the Reconstruction Credit Institution (KfW) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Friday, March 12, 2021
The Prime Minister stressed that the use of public-private partnership mechanisms will attract investment in the development of a quality road network in Ukraine,

The Prime Minister stressed that the use of public-private partnership mechanisms will attract investment in the development of a quality road network in Ukraine,  and that investments from private investors will make roads comfortable and safer for Ukrainians in the long run.

Friday, March 12, 2021
Ukrainian low-cost carrier SkyUp launches direct flights to Istanbul from Zaporizhia and Kharkiv

Ukrainian low-cost carrier SkyUp launches direct flights to Istanbul from Zaporizhia and Kharkiv. “We will fly on the route Zaporizhia – Istanbul – Zaporizhia three times a week: on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The first flight will take place on May 28. On the route Kharkiv – Istanbul – Kharkiv we will also fly three times a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The first flight will take place on April 29, the company announced.”

Friday, March 12, 2021
Ukraine International Airlines refunded $2.5 million to passengers in February for canceled flights due to COVID-19 measures

Ukraine International Airlines refunded $2.5 million to passengers in February for canceled flights due to COVID-19 measures, the company says. “UIA once again emphasizes its readiness for dialogue with its passengers and sincerely hopes for understanding. The airline is doing everything possible to process every request as soon as possible.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
The share of UZ cars in freight trains has dropped in half – from 47% in 2018 to 21% in 2021

The share of UZ cars in freight trains has dropped in half – from 47% in 2018 to 21% in 2021, Zhmak said. This year, Zhmak wants to increase the UZ portion to 40%. Private cars are more popular because they are cheaper and in better shape. Critics charge UZ drags its feet on pilot projects to allow private freight trains on UZ tracks.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
The Health Ministry reported that 40% of medical workers say they do not want to be vaccinated.

The Health Ministry reported that 40% of medical workers say they do not want to be vaccinated. In the Donetsk village of Selydove, a visiting AP reporter found that only 5% of medical workers agreed to be vaccinated. Thirty kilometers away, in the frontline town of Krasnohorivka, AP reported: “Soldiers widely refused to be vaccinated.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
UIA said that it has refunded $2.5 million to travelers last month for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

UIA said that it has refunded $2.5 million to travelers last month for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.  These refunds, up to 15,000 passengers, brings to $29 million the airline has refunded to customers over the last year.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
A total of 1,000 people a day crossed the two checkpoints with Russia-controlled Crimea last month

A total of 1,000 people a day crossed the two checkpoints with Russia-controlled Crimea last month, reported Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service. This volume – 27,300 people – was down 88% compared to February, 2019.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
In the last six months, Ukraine’s Central Bank has moved from collegiality to Soviet-style centralism

In the last six months, Ukraine’s Central Bank has moved from collegiality to Soviet-style centralism, Kateryna Rozhkova, First Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, said in a lengthy interview with NV. “There’s actually a rollback,” she says. Relations with the new Governor of the Central Bank have become so frosty that they only communicate in group meetings, on Zoom. She said: “If there are any questions and I comment on something, he comments on something. It does not mean that we communicate with him.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Hours after the interview with NV was posted

Hours after the interview with NV was posted on Facebook yesterday, the bank’s communications department tried — unsuccessfully — to censor the interview. Rozhkova also complained that she is no longer invited to key meetings and that her opinions are not heard on PrivatBank, the bank she helped to nationalize in 2016. In response, Galyna Kalachova, the bank spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook that Rozhkova had been asked to edit the text to reflect bank policy. She wrote: “One-voice policy is important.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Independence of the Central Bank became the critical issue with the IMF last summer

Independence of the Central Bank became the critical issue with the IMF last summer after President Zelenskiy pushed out the internationally known and respected governor, Yakiv Smoliy. In the ensuing shakeup, several top officials left the bank and Rozhkova’s responsibilities were reduced. The public dispute comes one week after the bank raised prime for the first time in two year, to 6.5%. President Zelenskiy favors easy money policies.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
With the $5 billion IMF lending program to Ukraine suspended, Bloomberg and Reuters moved stories yesterday on the spat

With the $5 billion IMF lending program to Ukraine suspended, Bloomberg and Reuters moved stories yesterday on the spat. Bloomberg headlined: “Another Ukrainian Central Banker Speaks Out on Governance Fears.” Reuters headlined: “Ukraine central bank denies it tried to censor top official.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Ukrzaliznytsia passenger service – which has been hemorrhaging money loser – lost 26% more of its income in the last year, a total of $314 million

Ukrzaliznytsia passenger service – which has been hemorrhaging money loser – lost 26% more of its income in the last year, a total of $314 million, said Volodomyr Zhmak, the state railroad’s CEO, yesterday. Due to quarantine restrictions on travel, passenger traffic decreased by 56%, to 68 million passengers. Estimating that the railroad’s locomotives and cars are “90% worn out,” Zhmak praised the government for allocating $145 million this year for the renovation of rolling stock. In Ukraine, freight subsidizes passenger service.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Former Ukrzaliznytsia CEO Wojciech Balczun is co-owner of Aurum Polonez, an amber mining company in Klesiv, northern Rivne oblast

Former Ukrzaliznytsia CEO Wojciech Balczun is co-owner of Aurum Polonez, an amber mining company in Klesiv, northern Rivne oblast, according to Nadra.info. A Polish rock musician, Balczun ran UZ in 2016-2017. His partners are Poland’s Amos Investments and Mykola Nemtsov, who was UZ’s acting director of security during Balczun’s time at the railroad.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Egis Ukraina, a French-financed engineering company working in Ukraine for the last three decades,

Egis Ukraina, a French-financed engineering company working in Ukraine for the last three decades, has entered into a joint venture with Ertle, Ltd, an international engineering and construction holding, known locally as Derffer. The new company is called Egis Ertle Engineering. Ignace Haertlé, founder of the Ertle Group and major Derffer shareholder, notes that the company worked on the NOVARKA new safe confinement for Chornobyl, saying: “Through the years, we have delivered projects for both international and local clients including turnkey contracts, reconstructions, adaptations.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Half of Ukrainians seeking work abroad want to go to Poland, with two thirds looking for seasonal work,

Half of Ukrainians seeking work abroad want to go to Poland, with two thirds looking for seasonal work, according to an OLX Work survey last month of 7,700 Ukrainian job seekers. The other top two destinations are: the Czech Republic – 11%; and Germany – 9%. The primary reasons are: high salaries in the EU – 60%; and difficult financial situation at home – 39%. Construction and factory work account for half of the jobs sought.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Resistance to vaccinations against the coronavirus is high and growing in Ukraine,

Resistance to vaccinations against the coronavirus is high and growing in Ukraine, the AP reports in an article headlined: “Wide resistance to vaccines plagues Ukraine’s COVID-19 fight.” The portion of poll respondents who do not want to get vaccinated rose from 40% in February to 60% in March 2021, according to polls of 1,200 Ukrainians conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. In the first half of 2019, resistance to measles vaccinations lead to 5,000 cases in Kyiv and 50,000 nationwide.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Ukraine and Israel are negotiating mutual recognition of “vaccination passports” for tourist travel

Ukraine and Israel are negotiating mutual recognition of “vaccination passports” for tourist travel, Yevhen Korniychuk, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel, told Ukraine 24 TV. In September, more than 4,000 Hasidic Jewish pilgrims plan to travel to Uman, Cherkasy region, for the High Holidays. Although Israel has the world’s highest vaccination rate for a major country – 44% — some Orthodox Jews refuse to be vaccinated.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Passenger traffic at Kyiv Boryspil was down by two thirds during the first two months of this year

Passenger traffic at Kyiv Boryspil was down by two thirds during the first two months of this year, compared to January-February 2020, reported the Center for Transportation Studies. With UIA’s suspension of its hub system, transfer passengers were down 94%, to 20,018. Passengers on regular, scheduled flights were down 75%, to 373,726. Faring best were vacationers on charter flights, which were down by 30%, to 298,332.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Stepanov yesterday berated the vaccination program he leads.

Stepanov yesterday berated the vaccination program he leads. In the two weeks since 500,000 vaccines arrived from India, 20,000 people have been vaccinated and 190,000 are on waiting lists. “I’m not satisfied with these numbers,” Stepanov said, criticizing his own campaign. “We were supposed to be vaccinating 10,000 people a day by the end of last week. Today, I’m interfering.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Adamant Capital last night wrote of the inflation spike:

Adamant Capital last night wrote of the inflation spike: “One of the reasons for this may be the sharp YoY increase in the money supply. Despite the fact that the NBU has already increased the key rate by 50bps to 6.5%, we expect the CPI to accelerate further in March to 8.0% YoY. Our end-of-year projection remains at 7.0%.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Services that would be taxed include:

Services that would be taxed include: sale of images or texts, e-books; sale of audio, video, games, gambling; providing paid access to electronic resources; provision of cloud technologies for data placement; supply of software and updates to it; and, providing advertising services on the Internet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Kyiv plans to receive 5 to 7 container trains a month from China this year, which is double last year’s rate, reported Ukrzaliznytsia.

Kyiv plans to receive 5 to 7 container trains a month from China this year, which is double last year’s rate, reported Ukrzaliznytsia. The trains take about 15 days to travel from China and are unloaded at the Kiev-Lyski logistics terminal on the Left Bank.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
The Cabinet of Ministers last night banned travel on buses and trains to and from four regions listed as ‘red zones’ for coronavirus infections: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr.

The Cabinet of Ministers last night banned travel on buses and trains to and from four regions listed as ‘red zones’ for coronavirus infections: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr. Car travel is permitted. If the number of red zone regions rises to more than half – or 13 of the 24 – Ukraine may have to reimpose a national lockdown, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov warned in an interview with strana.ua. He also said that March and April will be difficult due to the coronavirus. In Zakarpattia, the hospitalization rate is approaching one out of 1,000 inhabitants.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Inflation spiked up to 7.5% yoy in February, a jump from the 6.1% yoy increase in January

Inflation spiked up to 7.5% yoy in February, a jump from the 6.1% yoy increase in January, reported the State Statistics Service. Last month, the biggest factor was a 45% yoy increase in price of natural gas. The recent price hikes in world oil prices will be reflected in March inflation. Last week, the National Bank of Ukraine got a jump on the inflation rise, hiking the prime interest rate to 6.5%, from 6%. The central bank predicted that inflation will peak this summer, then recede to around 5% yoy by December 2021.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
The Finance Ministry managed to keep lowering rates for short term government bonds at yesterday’s weekly auction

The Finance Ministry managed to keep lowering rates for short term government bonds at yesterday’s weekly auction, the Ministry reported on Facebook. The all-hryvnia auction yielded the equivalent of $168 million, less than half the volume of last week. According to numbers posted on the Ministry’s website, short term bonds settled at these rates: 6-month, down 17 basis points, to 9.03%; 1-year bonds, down 5 basis points, to 10.62%; 1.5 year bonds down 8 basis points, to 10.96%. Staying unchanged were: 2-year bonds at 11.8% and 3-year bonds at 12.05%.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
The Rada will soon vote on the final passage of the “Google” tax – a tax that would impose a 20% VAT tax on provision of Internet services by foreign companies to residents of Ukraine

The Rada will soon vote on the final passage of the “Google” tax – a tax that would impose a 20% VAT tax on provision of Internet services by foreign companies to residents of Ukraine. The law, which could render $100 million in annual tax payments to Ukraine, would apply to such foreign tech giants as: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Wargaming Group, Bloomberg, Alibaba, and Booking.com. “These are large foreign international companies operating and earning money in Ukraine. They receive a lot of income, but do not pay taxes in our country, Oleksandr Tkachenko, Culture and Information Policy Minister, wrote on Telegram. “Ukrainian technology companies pay VAT when providing electronic services to Ukrainians. But foreign companies – no.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Last week’s US entry ban on Ihor Kolomoisky and his immediate family “is the beginning,”

Last week’s US entry ban on Ihor Kolomoisky and his immediate family “is the beginning,” Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for President Zelenskiy, said in an interview posted yesterday on the YouTube channel of Olesya Batsman, editor-in-chief of Gordon. Last week in an article for Atlantic Council, Mendel wrote that Zelensky is prepared to take on the oligarchs “everywhere from the energy and banking sectors to politics and the media.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the fourth Ukrainian-German Economic Forum

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the fourth Ukrainian-German Economic Forum, an investment and trade conference that will take place on line on Friday, March 19. According to Ukraine’s Embassy in Germany, experts will discuss: discuss industrial development and digitalization, energy and renewable energy, food and agriculture, and logistics and infrastructure. Registration can be made here, on the site of one of the organizers, the German-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, or AHK Ukraine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Poland’s PCC Intermodal S.A. plans to triple container trains between Poland and Ukraine, to three per week this year

Poland’s PCC Intermodal S.A. plans to triple container trains between Poland and Ukraine, to three per week this year, according to the company’s website. Starting last year, the company picks up and delivers containers from Mostiska, the Lviv region border city where the European and Russian gauge rails meet. Across Ukraine, container traffic grew last year by 11% yoy, to 425,000 containers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Ukraine should invest in achieving universal fluency in English among young people,

Ukraine should invest in achieving universal fluency in English among young people, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said yesterday at a “Ukraine 30” forum on culture, media and tourism. “The English language should be used from kindergarten to the end of secondary schools,” Danilov said. “When the youth is fluent in English, that’s the precondition for the independence of this country.” In Scandinavian countries, about 60% of people under 35 are fluent in English. In the Netherlands, rate is 45%. In Germany, it is 38%.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
The sale of Ukrposhta’s iconic postwar headquarters at 22 Kreschatyk Street, Kyiv will take two years

The sale of Ukrposhta’s iconic postwar headquarters at 22 Kreschatyk Street, Kyiv will take two years, Ihor Smilyanskyi, director of the state postal system, said in a video. With Kyiv’s commercial real estate market soft, he said, now is a good time to start the obstacle course of permissions, audits, assessments leading up to a ProZorro auction. A buyer should be prepared to invest almost $4 million to upgrade the Stalin-era landmark. While the 1,000 employees will move with the headquarters, the building will retain Branch 01001, Kyiv’s Main Post Office.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest

Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile operator, reports the most popular messenger services for its 25.9 million users are: Viber– 12 million; Facebook messenger – 11 million; Telegram – 6 million; and WhatsApp –  5 million. For social platforms, the ranking is: Facebook and YouTube – 13 million; Instagram – 10 million; Twitter – 7 million; and TikTok – 5.5 million. Average daily use is: TikTok – 88 minutes; YouTube – 54 minutes; Facebook – 44 minutes. Prime usage time is during lunch – from noon to 13:00 pm and at night,  from  18:00 to 22:00.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Declaring war on paper documents, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved

Declaring war on paper documents, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved 94 digital transformation projects to be added to the Diya app over the next three years. A sampling are: E-notary, E-property, E-urban planning, E-school, E-social protection, E-migration, E-hospital, E-permission and E-access. The programs will largely allow digital payment of fees and the transfer of digital files.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
The EU is providing Ukraine with €20 million to help digital development

The EU is providing Ukraine with €20 million to help digital development, Minister Fedorov writes on Telegram. To be implemented with the help of Estonia’s e-Governance Academy and FIIAPP, Spain’s public administration aid agency, the project will focus on developing infrastructure for electronic government; modernization of public e-services and development of services on the Diya portal and in the Diya app.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Bucking the world recession, Ukraine’s IT exports increased by 20% yoy, to $5 billion

Bucking the world recession, Ukraine’s IT exports increased by 20% yoy, to $5 billion, according to new figures from the National Bank of Ukraine. IT now accounts for 8.3% of total exports, putting it in fourth place after food, metals, and migrant labor. In 2013, IT accounted for 1.3% of Ukraine’s exports. “Ukraine has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the world’s leading IT outsourcing destinations, but many feel it is time for the country to move up the tech food chain,” Peter Dickinson writes in an Atlantic Council blog: “Ukraine’s Booming IT Sector Defies the Coronavirus Crisis.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Of the 100 best IT outsourcing firms in the world, 11 are based in Ukraine

Of the 100 best IT outsourcing firms in the world, 11 are based in Ukraine, according to the 2021 Global Outsourcing 100 list, a ranking compiled annually by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals. Designed to help companies find the right IT help, the list includes from Ukraine, in alphabetical order: Ciklum, Eleks, Infopulse, Innovecs, Intellias, Miratech, Nix, N-iX, Program-Ace and Sigma Software.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
The share of women in Ukraine’s IT workforce has tripled over the last decade, hitting 22% today

The share of women in Ukraine’s IT workforce has tripled over the last decade, hitting 22% today, according to a study by GlobalLogic. Women now account for one third of all testers in Ukraine and 8% of developers, according to ITC.UA’s report on the study. Overall, employment in IT is growing by 15% a year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Almost 40 Belarusian IT companies with a total of 2,000 employees have moved to Ukraine in the last six months

Almost 40 Belarusian IT companies with a total of 2,000 employees have moved to Ukraine in the last six months, Mykhailo Fedorov, minister for Digital Transformation, tells Interfax-Ukraine. The emigration south has been prompted by police violence following Alexander Lukashenko’s assumption of presidential powers after the presidential election of last August and by a nearly 50% hike in IT income taxes, to 13%, effective Jan. 1.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Ukraine is following the example of Dubai, Silicon Valley and Belarus of a decade ago by creating a low tax, low bureaucracy regime for IT companies

Ukraine is following the example of Dubai, Silicon Valley and Belarus of a decade ago by creating a low tax, low bureaucracy regime for IT companies, Fedorov told Interfax last week. In coming days, the Rada is to vote on “Diya City” an special regime for IT companies that will feature 5% income taxes and a modern labor code. “Action City is essentially a virtual zone, a kind of register,” Fedorov said. By legalizing operations, he said “companies can go to IPOs, become more understandable to investors.” The Ministry forecasts that Diya City will help Ukraine’s IT industry to attract $12 billion in investment by 2025, creating 450,000 new jobs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
About 10% of Ukraine’s population are now using ‘Diya 2.0,’ the updated version of the mobile digitized documents app that was launched only one year ago

About 10% of Ukraine’s population are now using ‘Diya 2.0,’ the updated version of the mobile digitized documents app that was launched only one year ago, Fedorov reports on his Telegram channel. With 220,000 users sharing digitized documents every day, the top three uses are: banking — Nova Pay, Monobank, and A-Bank; delivery services — Nova Poshta , Ukrposhta, and SAT; and money transfer — Miloan, Tengo, and MoneyVeo. The user breakdown is: Android — 66%; IOS – 31%; and Huawei — 2.5%.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
For the first time, Internet tops TV as the primary news sources for Ukrainians

For the first time, Internet tops TV as the primary news sources for Ukrainians, according to a new survey by Research & Branding Group. For news, the preferences are: Internet – 51%; TV – 44%; radio and print — 2%. For social media use, the rankings are: Facebook – 59%; YouTube – 43%; Instagram – 30%; Telegram – 17%; Twitter—6%; Odnoklassniki – 5%; and Vkontakte – 3%. Top messenger services are: Viber — 57%; Facebook Messenger — 37%; Telegram — 20%; WhatsApp — 9%; and Skype — 8%. Only one quarter of the population does not use a chat or messenger service.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Online advertising grew by 7% last year, countering the overall stagnation of Ukraine’s advertising market

Online advertising grew by 7% last year, countering the overall stagnation of Ukraine’s advertising market, reports the Ukrainian Internet Association.  With millions of Ukrainians housebound and turning to e-commerce, online advertising grew to $490 million last year. Nearly half of the ad spending for social media and messenger platforms. The most dynamic segment was online ‘media advertising’ which grew by 41% yoy, to $240 million. The full report can be found here. Ukraine’s overall advertising market shrank by 1% last year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
“Our goal is for Ukraine to enter the top 20 digital countries of the world,” President Zelenskiy said

“Our goal is for Ukraine to enter the top 20 digital countries of the world,” President Zelenskiy said on presentation of the program. “To do this, we must provide every Ukrainian with high-speed Internet anywhere in our country.” Praising the first year of the Diya app, he said: “We are the first country in the world with digital passports and the fourth in Europe with a digital driver’s license. Digitization is the direct and best fight against corruption.”

Monday, March 8, 2021
The State Department has barred Ihor Kolomoiskiy and his immediate family from entering the US.

The State Department has barred Ihor Kolomoiskiy and his immediate family from entering the US. The bans come as the US Justice Department pursues a civil case alleging Kolomoiskiy and his business partner Hennadiy Boholyubov stole billions of dollars from PrivatBank and laundered the money by buying office buildings and steel companies in the US.

Monday, March 8, 2021
After Ukraine’s government nationalized PrivatBank in 2016

After Ukraine’s government nationalized PrivatBank in 2016, Kolomoiskiy left Ukraine for Switzerland and then for Israel, where he also holds citizenship. In 2019, Kolomoiskiy backed Zelenskiy in the Presidential campaign. After Zelenskiy won the first round, Kolomoiskiy returned to his native Dnipro. The US entry ban applies to Kolomoisky’s wife, Iryna Kolomoiska, his daughter, Angelika Kolomoiska, and his son, Israel Zvi Kolomoiskiy.

Monday, March 8, 2021
In response to the Kolomoiskiy bans, Zelenskiy’s office said

In response to the Kolomoiskiy bans, Zelenskiy’s office said: “The battle with the oligarchs lies not only in the realm of criminal responsibility. It is also about creating the conditions in Ukraine, in which business can grow in a transparent and competitive environment, and large financial groups will not be able to dominate the market or influence the media and political decisions.”

Monday, March 8, 2021
In a separate poll, only one quarter of respondents told

In a separate poll, only one quarter of respondents told the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology that they would take a coronavirus vaccine. Of the 1,207 respondents, 60% said they would not take the vaccine. The poll concluded on Monday, before President Zelenskiy and Health Minister Maksym Stepanov were filmed taking the vaccine.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Under pressure for a slow start to vaccinations

Under pressure for a slow start to vaccinations, Minister Stepanov told the Rada on Friday that all Ukrainian adults will be vaccinated by the end of this year. As of Thursday, only 10,000 people had been vaccinated – 10 days after the arrival of 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from India. A second load of 1.9 million Sinovac vaccines from China are expected to arrive one week from now.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Ukraine will open full-fledged embassies in Chile, Ghana and the Philippines this year

Ukraine will open full-fledged embassies in Chile, Ghana and the Philippines this year, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on Friday. In addition to these new diplomatic posts, Ukraine will open consulates general in Mumbai, Wroclaw, Poland and Sighetu-Marmatiei, the Romanian city across the border from Zakarpattia.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Ukraine will allow dual citizenship with EU and “friendly countries,”

Ukraine will allow dual citizenship with EU and “friendly countries,” Foreign Minister Kuleba said on Friday when he announced plans to allow dual citizenship in Ukraine with the EU countries. One goal is to reconnect Ukraine with Ukrainians who have emigrated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As for Russia, he said: “This is an aggressor state, there can be no talk of any dual citizenship with it.”

Monday, March 8, 2021
Ukraine’s grain harvest is expected to rise by 15% to 75 million tons this year, returning to the bumper crop levels of 2019,

Ukraine’s grain harvest is expected to rise by 15% to 75 million tons this year, returning to the bumper crop levels of 2019, Deputy Economy Minister Taras Vysotskyi wrote on Facebook. While the amount of grain planted is virtually unchanged, moisture levels in the ground lead government experts to forecast the following increases in output: corn +10% to 33 million tons; wheat +17.5 % to 29.5 million tons; and barley +18% to 9 million tons.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken couched the Kolomoiskiy bans in the framework of getting Ukraine back on a Western-style free market, low corruption track.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken couched the Kolomoiskiy bans in the framework of getting Ukraine back on a Western-style free market, low corruption track. “The United States continues to stand with all Ukrainians whose work drives reforms forward,” Blinken said. “The Department will continue to use authorities like this to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.” Last month, Blinken singled out Zelenskiy’s ousted Prosecutor-General, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, as an “anti-corruption champion.”

Monday, March 8, 2021
On Thursday, the day before the Kolomoiskiy family bans were announced

On Thursday, the day before the Kolomoiskiy family bans were announced, the Washington-based Atlantic Council posted an essay headlined “Zelenskiy Aims to End Ukraine’s Oligarch Era,” written by Yuliia Mendel, Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman.  “President Zelenskyy is now making good on his election promises and combating oligarch influence in ways that eluded his predecessors,” wrote Mendel. Listing a string of recent measures, including the closing of three TV stations owned by pro-Russian oligarchs, she concluded: “As events in recent weeks have shown, President Zelenskyy is prepared to challenge the power of Ukraine’s oligarchs everywhere from the energy and banking sectors to politics and the media.”

Monday, March 8, 2021
Denmark’s Maritime Authority expects Nord Stream 2 to be completed by the end of September 2021, several months later than forecast completion date.

Denmark’s Maritime Authority expects Nord Stream 2 to be completed by the end of September 2021, several months later than forecast completion date. Reuters reports that a Russian pipe-laying vessel, Akademik Cherskiy, left Wismar, a German Baltic port, yesterday to join another Russian vessel, the Fortuna, in laying 120 km of pipe through Danish waters. The new gas pipeline is designed to double the capacity of the existing undersea Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, to 110 billion cubic meters per year. If commissioned, it would render Ukraine’s east-west pipeline system redundant.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Baker Hughes Co and AXA Group and 16 other international companies have withdrawn from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to avoid US sanctions

Baker Hughes Co and AXA Group and 16 other international companies have withdrawn from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to avoid US sanctions, Reuters reported. Washington has sanctioned the Fortuna’s owner and other Russian companies. Yet Russian companies are expected to try to complete the $11 billion Russia-Germany project despite US opposition. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is leading a Republican effort to pressure President Biden to widen sanctions against the project, Bloomberg reported from Washington.

Monday, March 8, 2021
Bidding in an online auction of a Ukrspirt distillery drove the price up almost five times, to $3.6 million

Bidding in an online auction of a Ukrspirt distillery drove the price up almost five times, to $3.6 million, reported the State Property Fund. Thursday’s sale of the Vyshiakivka, Poltava is part of a plan to sell all 41 unites of Ukrspirt. In the second half of this year, major privatization will commence, notably the sales of: Kyiv’s President Hotel, the Bolshevik enterprise, the Odesa Port Plant, and the United Mining and Chemical Company.

Monday, March 8, 2021
By the end of this decade, Ukraine’s goal is to sell all state companies not protected from privatization

By the end of this decade, Ukraine’s goal is to sell all state companies not protected from privatization and to transfer to concession 90% of companies enterprise protected from privatization. These goals are stated in the National Economic Strategy of Ukraine until 2030, approved last week by the Cabinet of Ministers. The plans include corporatizing all state-owned companies, introducing supervisory boards, ensuring the financial self-sufficiency, increasing the average return on equity of state-owned enterprises to 10%, and carrying out IPOs in international financial markets of at least two state companies.

Monday, March 8, 2021
With new coronavirus cases hitting 10,000 a day last week – double the rate of one month ago – over half of Ukrainians told pollsters they would support a new lockdown

With new coronavirus cases hitting 10,000 a day last week – double the rate of one month ago – over half of Ukrainians told pollsters they would support a new lockdown. If cases keep surging, 56% would back a lockdown, and 41% would oppose, respondents told the Rating Sociological Group last Tuesday and Wednesday. Two-thirds of respondents were in favor of closing restaurants, cafes, and cinemas during a lockdown. Support for other measures were:  shutting down gyms – 58%; closing schools – 52%; closing urban mass transit – 20%.

Friday, March 5, 2021
More hikes could come this year,

More hikes could come this year, Yuriy Geletiy, a deputy governor of the central bank, told reporters yestrerday. “The National Bank is ready to raise the discount rate more decisively to limit the fundamental inflationary pressure and bring inflation to the target. Therefore, monetary policy will continue to focus on preventing the inflation spike.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
In the first two months of this year, foreign holdings of Ukraine government bonds increased by $570 million

In the first two months of this year, foreign holdings of Ukraine government bonds increased by $570 million, Geletiy told reporters yesterday. As of Monday, foreign holdings totaled $3.65 billion. He said: “In February, non-resident investors continued to grow their portfolio, with a slowdown in the second half of February.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
Remittances from Ukrainians working abroad are expected to grow by 8%, to $13 billion this year

Remittances from Ukrainians working abroad are expected to grow by 8%, to $13 billion this year, Geletiy said. For the last two years, remittance averaged $12 billion, or $1 billion a month. Labor is Ukraine’s third largest export, after food and metals.

Friday, March 5, 2021
With new coronavirus cases doubling this week,

With new coronavirus cases doubling this week, Prime Minister Shmygal warned yesterday: “It’s obvious that the third wave of the pandemic has started that Ukraine is facing.” Yesterday morning, 10,057 new cases were registered, more than double Monday’s level of 4,285. “If the situation worsens, if we see that medics are not coping, then we will probably have no choice but to impose strict quarantine like the one that we have already experienced.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
The new cases are largely in Kyiv and to the West

The new cases are largely in Kyiv and to the West: Zhytomyr Oblast – 888; Kyiv City – 868; Vinnytsia Oblast – 827; Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast – 776; and Zakarpattia – 676. Ukraine’s first two cases of the British coronavirus variant, were detected in Ivano-Frankivsk region, health officials said yesterday.

Friday, March 5, 2021
Coal miners may become lithium miners

Coal miners may become lithium miners under a pilot project to start closing two coal mines this year, one in Lviv and the other in Donetsk, the Prime Minister. With German and Polish advice and aid, Ukraine’s “Fair Transformation of Coal Regions” project could involve employing some coal miners to work in new lithium mines, he said.

Friday, March 5, 2021
Turkey and Ukraine are on the final stretch for finalize a bilateral free trade agreement

Turkey and Ukraine are on the final stretch for finalize a bilateral free trade agreement, Shmygal told reporters. Of the long-delayed agreement, he said: “Literally, last week and this week the free trade agreement with Turkey is being finalized.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
Ukraine plans to become a major producer of lithium batteries for Europe’s electric cars

Ukraine plans to become a major producer of lithium batteries for Europe’s electric cars, Prime Minister Shmygal told reporters yesterday, reviewing talks he had in Brussels last month. By 2030, Europe will need 18 times more lithium than now, by 2050, 60 times more, he said. “Ukraine has the largest lithium deposits on the European continent,” he said. “Europe sees Ukraine as a partner, both in production and processing…We are interested in added value, production, processing, and the maximum creation of the finished product. Again, we do not want to be just a supplier of raw materials, as we have before.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
In a new twist on the Motor Sich drama, David Arakhamia, the head of Servant of the People faction in the Rada

In a new twist on the Motor Sich drama, David Arakhamia, the head of Servant of the People faction in the Rada, said yesterday he will submit a bill to nationalize the Zaporizhia-based aircraft engine manufacturer. On Jan. 29, President Zelenskiy barred Chinese investors from asserting control. “It is to settle the legal status of the company, that is a large constructor of helicopter engines,” Arakhamia said. “Because the company is facing uncertainty, it is being sanctioned upon, and several tens of thousands of employees work at it.”

Friday, March 5, 2021
Although last year’s Dnipro shipping season was six weeks longer than usual, cargo dropped 5% yoy, to 11 million tons

Although last year’s Dnipro shipping season was six weeks longer than usual, cargo dropped 5% yoy, to 11 million tons. “Results of cargo transportation were influenced by the reduction in grain transportation on navigable rivers,” says Dmitry Kozachenko, executive director of the Rivers of Ukraine Association. Volumes on Ukraine’s portion of the Danube were down 28%, to 4 million tons. On the Southern Bug, volumes were down 37.5%, to 500,000 tons. The big products moved down Ukraine’s three largest navigable rivers are: grain, coal, metal products and ore, and building materials, such as sand, cement and gravel.

Friday, March 5, 2021
With traffic jams clogging Kyiv’s Dnipro bridges, the City Council is studying restoring boat service across the river.

With traffic jams clogging Kyiv’s Dnipro bridges, the City Council is studying restoring boat service across the river. According to Kiev Vlast, the River Port Administration calculates that 2,000 people a day would commute by ferry, following this route: Rusanivka, Bereznyaki, Dnipro Metro station, Podil River Port. Depending on the boat and the weather, the entire trip would take one hour. Tickets would cost UAH 30-60, $1-2.

Friday, March 5, 2021
In January-February, Ukrainians imported 53,000 used cars, 4.4 times the volume of the first two months of 2019

In January-February, Ukrainians imported 53,000 used cars, 4.4 times the volume of the first two months of 2019. Used imports, a rarity four years ago, now account for 81% of car imports, reports Ukravtoprom, the vehicle industry association. In 2020, 353,400 used imports and 85,500 new imports were registered in Ukraine.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Ukrainians can sign up for vaccinations through

Ukrainians can sign up for vaccinations through the Diia website, or by calling the Health Ministry’s hotline: 0 800 60 20 19. Although international donors are paying for a large portion of the vaccines through the COVAX program, expatriates and any other foreign nationals will only be able to get vaccinated by paying for it. The Health Ministry predicts vaccines will become commercially available in Ukraine by this summer.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Cargo handled by Ukraine’s ports was down 24% yoy in January-February,

Cargo handled by Ukraine’s ports was down 24% yoy in January-February, to 20.6 million tons, reported the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. Exports dropped by 23%, to 16.1 million tons. Imports dropped by 28%, to 3 million tons. The big winter drop was a 38% fall in grain exports, to 5.6 million tons.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
High grain prices may partly cancel out falls in volume shipments

High grain prices may partly cancel out falls in volume shipments. In the eight months since the grain marketing year started July 1, grain exports fell 22%, reported the Economy Ministry. Corn is down 30%, to 13.8 million tons. Wheat is down 17%, to 13.7 million tons. Barley is down 2%, to 4 million tons.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Kernel, the world’s largest sunflower oil producer, is halfway through a $169 million project to build cogeneration heat and power plants

Kernel, the world’s largest sunflower oil producer, is halfway through a $169 million project to build cogeneration heat and power plants at its six oil seed crushing plants. The company already receives half of its energy from renewable sources.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Swedish retailer H&M plans to open its first store outside of Kyiv in Kharkiv in May

Swedish retailer H&M plans to open its first store outside of Kyiv in Kharkiv in May. With the 2,100 square meter store in the new Nikolskiy shopping mall, H&M will have six stores in Ukraine after 18 months ago of its initial entry to the market. H&M Ukraine CEO Dominik Fantachino said: “We see a high interest in the H&M brand in the regions.”

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Last Tuesday, Turkey reopened restaurants for inside dining, ending a long ban.

Last Tuesday, Turkey reopened restaurants for inside dining, ending a long ban. Ukrainian tourists can travel to Turkey without a visa if they have a negative coronavirus test result taken no earlier than 72 hours before departure. About 9% of Turkey’s population have received a first coronavirus vaccine shot.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
With coronavirus hospitalizations spiking to the highest level since the pandemic appeared in Ukraine one year ago

With coronavirus hospitalizations spiking to the highest level since the pandemic appeared in Ukraine one year ago, Ukrzalysnitsia is temporarily ceasing passenger train service to the three most effected regions: Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi and Zhytomyr. Ticket sales for the Ivano-Frankivsk service stopped one week ago. Sales of tickets for the passenger service to Chernivtsi and Zhytomyr stop on Sunday.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Yesterday morning, the Health Minister Maksym Stepanov reported that 3,486 people were hospitalized with Coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.

Yesterday morning, the Health Minister Maksym Stepanov reported that 3,486 people were hospitalized with Coronavirus in the previous 24 hours. During the same period, 7,235 new cases were registered, and 185 deaths recorded. Earlier on Tuesday, the infection toll was 5,336. In a campaign to soften opposition to vaccinations, Stepanov, his deputy Viktor Liashko, and President Zelenskiy were publicly vaccinated this week. In public opinion polls, 40-50% of people interviewed say they will refuse to be vaccinated.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
By November, all Ukrainians will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated

By November, all Ukrainians will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, Stepanov said Monday on ICTV’s Freedom of Speech talk show. Starting next week, the daily vaccination rate is to hit 10,000. “By summer, it would be 5-6 million a month,” he told reporters yesterday. So far Ukraine has received from India 500,000 doses of the Swedish-British AstraZeneca vaccine. Ukraine has also ordered 17 million more doses from India. Stepanov said yesterday he fears the 1.9 million Sinovac doses will not arrive from China this Saturday as per the contractural agreement.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Yet Black Sea grain prices are at seven-year high

Yet Black Sea grain prices are at seven-year high: corn at $260-267 a ton, wheat at $281-288 a ton, and barley at $256-$263 a ton, reported Reuters. In the last marketing year, Ukraine exported 57 million tons of grain. This year, the government predicts exports could decline to 45.4 million tons – a 20% drop. Dragon Capital wrote: “The recent surge in global grain prices should at least partially offset weaker volume exports.”

Thursday, March 4, 2021
MHP Agroholding, Ukraine’s largest chicken producer plans to open 2,000 Myasomarket stores across Ukraine in the next three years

MHP Agroholding, Ukraine’s largest chicken producer plans to open 2,000 Myasomarket stores across Ukraine in the next three years. Part of a shift from a ‘raw materials’ producer to a higher value ‘culinary company’.  MHP will franchise the meat market stores, 2,000 shawarma DönerMarket outlets, a network of ‘Secrets of the Chef gastro-studios’ and an R&D department. Olena Kosyuk, Head of Research & Development and spouse of the Company Chairman Yuriy Kosyuk, said: “We will be able to develop new products for ourselves and other companies. Study the tastes of different consumer segments. Hold tastings, gather focus groups, test packaging materials and much more.”

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo is considering building a bakery in Fastiv, Kyiv region to bake buns for McDonald’s.

Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo is considering building a bakery in Fastiv, Kyiv region to bake buns for McDonald’s. Three years ago, the multinational’s Ukraine unit, Bimbo QSR Ukraine, bought East Bolt Ukraine bakery in Dnipro to bake buns for the fast food chain. This morning the project is to be outline at UkraineInvest’s “Industrial Relocation” conference, in Fastiv’s Palace of Culture, a one hour drive south of Kyiv’s Ring Road.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
With Kyiv traffic conjestion increasing, Ukravtodor agreed yesterday to complete the construction by the end of 2021 of the long-stalled New Darnytskyi Bridge

With Kyiv traffic conjestion increasing, Ukravtodor agreed yesterday to complete the construction by the end of 2021 of the long-stalled New Darnytskyi Bridge. In what could be a $40 million project, Ukravtodor will complete the Left Bank exits from 1 km long road-rail bridge. At present, the 6-lane bridge funnels east-bound traffic directly to Darnitskiy Highway. Exit ramps to the Dnipro Embankment highway will allow exiting traffic to flow north and south. The bridge, which is owned by Ukrzaliznytisa, was designed almost 20 years ago to carry 60,000 cars a day. After the bridge opened a decade ago to trains and limited road traffic, UZ stopped construction.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Kyivpastrans has opened a tender for two new cars for the Funicular, a purchase expected to cost €6.5 million.

Kyivpastrans has opened a tender for two new cars for the Funicular, a purchase expected to cost €6.5 million. As part of a wider Urban Public Transport initiative for 11 Ukrainian cities, the European Investment Bank is funding much of the funicular budget to replace two cars bought in 1984. Connecting Podil’s Poshtova Square and the upper town’s Mykhailivska Square, the Funicular carries about 10,000 passengers a day. It opened in 1905, three years after the Odesa Funicular.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Casino gambling licenses have been issued to five hotels,

Casino gambling licenses have been issued to five hotels, Danilo Hetmantsev, Head of the Rada’s Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs policy, said after a briefing Tuesday by Ivan Rudy, Head of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries. Hetmantsev said that half of the nearly $5 million in total licenses have been paid. Separately, the Commission posts on its website that it issued a license Tuesday to allow Parimatch to resume betting activities in Ukraine. A bookmaker license is $3.8 million.

Thursday, March 4, 2021
Turkish Airlines’ lowcost unit, AnadoluJet, will start flights to Ukraine for the first time on March 30 2021 with a flight between Ankara and Kyiv Boryspil.

Turkish Airlines’ lowcost unit, AnadoluJet, will start flights to Ukraine for the first time on March 30 2021 with a flight between Ankara and Kyiv Boryspil. Flying a Boeing 737-800, Anadolujet schedule includes four services a week. Pegasus Airlines, another Turkish lowcost airline, already operates on the Kyiv-Ankara route. Separately, Ukraine International Airlines commences a new route to Nevşehir, the regional capital in Central Anatolia on March 25. The direct flights from Kyiv Boryspil will improve tourist access to Cappadocia.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Denmark’s JYSK Ukraine will open six new furniture and household goods stores by June

Denmark’s JYSK Ukraine will open six new furniture and household goods stores by June, raising the total number to 78. In addition, the chain is reformatting all  existing stores and promoting online sales, Ievgenii Ivanytsia,  executive manager of JYSK Ukraine tells Interfax-Ukraine.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Dragon Capital writes: “

Dragon Capital writes: “We expect retail turnover to remain on an upward trend throughout the rest of this year, as slow vaccination will limit the recovery in international travel, supporting domestic consumption…the growth in retail turnover will likely surge to high double-digits in 2Q21, boosting full-year growth to 15% yoy…up from 8.4% in 2020.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
The Pentagon is sending $125 million in military aid to Ukraine

The Pentagon is sending $125 million in military aid to Ukraine — training, equipment and advisory efforts “to help Ukraine’s forces preserve the country’s territorial integrity, secure its borders and improve interoperability with NATO.” The aid includes two Mark VI patrol boats, raising the number to eight. The boats are designed to patrol rivers and coastal waters.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Epicenter K, Ukraine’s largest retailer, plans to invest $2 billion over the next two years in all areas of the group

Epicenter K, Ukraine’s largest retailer, plans to invest $2 billion over the next two years in all areas of the group, Petr Mikhailishynm the group’s general director, tells Interfax-Ukraine. Investments include: $100 million for solar panels atop hyper markets, $100 million for grain elevators, $96 million for ceramics factories, and $46 million for concrete production with German equipment. “Since we have about 1.5 million square meters of roofs, which are empty from the point of view of energy efficiency, we want to start arranging solar panels there,” Mikhailishynm said, adding he hopes to win low interest ‘green loans’ from the EBRD or World Bank.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Fozzy Group’s Silpo supermarket chain, is purchasing another Ukrainian store chain, Furshet

Fozzy Group’s Silpo supermarket chain, is purchasing another Ukrainian store chain, Furshet, according to the Anti-Monopoly Committee. Silpo will buy 21 Furshet stores, raising the chain’s nationwide number to nearly 300. Silpo is still far behind its top rival, ATB-Market, which has over 1,000 stores. As Ukraine steadily moves away from traditional food markets, ATB opened 127 new stores last year.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
With foreign investors increasingly believing in Ukraine’s foreign exchange rate stability, the Finance Ministry sharply cut yields in short term debt

With foreign investors increasingly believing in Ukraine’s foreign exchange rate stability, the Finance Ministry sharply cut yields in short term debt up for auction yesterday, the Ministry reports.  Yields were cut by 60 basis points on 3-month papers, to 8.47%; by 13 basis points on 1-year papers, to 10.67%; and by 11 basis points on 1.5-year papers, to 11.04%. Unchanged were yields on 2-year papers, at 11.8%, and 3-year papers, at 12.05%. Also unchanged was the yield on 2-year US dollar bonds – 3.9%. Total auction proceed were the equivalent of $411 million, the Ministry posts on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Foreign investors were the fastest growing class of buyers in February, increasing their holdings by $233 million,

Foreign investors were the fastest growing class of buyers in February, increasing their holdings by $233 million, Bohdan Danylyshyn, chairman of the National Bank Council, writes on Facebook. Last year, foreign investors’ share of the issues tumbled: from 15% in February to 8% in late November. Since then, it has rebounded to 12.2%.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
“Ukraine local bonds are back,”

“Ukraine local bonds are back,” headlines a story in BNEIntellinews. “Despite the political brouhaha that never ends in Ukraine, the macroeconomic situation has improved enormously in the last two years,” Ben Aris writes from Berlin. “Inflation has fallen to post-Soviet lows, forex reserves have risen to give 4.4 months of import cover (a comfortable level), the banking sector is healthy, and Ukraine ran a large trade surplus in 2020…Focusing just on the economic arguments, the outlook for Ukraine’s local bond market looks very attractive. It compares very well with its frontier and emerging market peers.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Analysts are divided on whether Ukraine’s central bank will raise its prime rate tomorrow or hold it steady

Analysts are divided on whether Ukraine’s central bank will raise its prime rate tomorrow or hold it steady, a Reuters poll showed Tuesday. Half of 16 Ukrainian analysts predict the National Bank of Ukraine will keep the interest rate at its historic post-1991 independence low of 6%, to help businesses. Industrial output, which started recovering in December, shrank 4% yoy in January. The other eight analysts believe the central bank will raise the rate: six expect 6.5% and two expect 6.25%. Inflation jumped to 6.1% in January, above expectations and above the interest rate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
The EU will provide money to build more and better crossing points between the Ukraine- and Russia-controlled halves of the Donbas

The EU will provide money to build more and better crossing points between the Ukraine- and Russia-controlled halves of the Donbas, European Council President Charles Michel yesterday at a joint press conference with President Zelenskiy at the Shchastia border crossing point in Luhansk. “This year we are starting a new program to support economic development and public services in these regions,” Michel said referring to Ukraine-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk. “This will include funding for the Entry-Exit Crossing Points.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Russia cut crossings of the line of control by 96% last year,

Russia cut crossings of the line of control by 96% last year, according to figures supplied by Oleksiy Reznikov, deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. In 2019, there were 1.4 million crossing a month. Last year, after the Covid pandemic hit in March, crossings averaged 55,000 a month. Last week, the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral contact group issued this message: “The opportunity for our citizens to leave the temporarily occupied territories and receive administrative services, pensions and social benefits has been blocked since Nov. 10.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Ukraine is working to create a ‘virtual mobile number’ which will give residents of Russia-controlled territories the opportunity to call Ukraine-controlled Ukraine

Ukraine is working to create a ‘virtual mobile number’ which will give residents of Russia-controlled territories the opportunity to call Ukraine-controlled Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov told a development forum in Kyiv. Over the last year, Russia has distributed an estimated 400,000 passports to residents of Russia-controlled Donbas.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Zelenskiy’s fast-paced attacks on pro-Russian interests “are likely to score points with the new US administration,”

Zelenskiy’s fast-paced attacks on pro-Russian interests “are likely to score points with the new US administration,” Roman Olearchyk, the Financial Times’ veteran correspondent in Kyiv writes in a story headlined: “Zelensky takes on Ukraine’s oligarchs in bid to court Biden.” Maria Zolkina, analyst at the Kyiv-based Democratic Initiatives Foundation, tells the FT fo Zelenskiy: “Everything he is doing now is an attempt to return to his original image, upon which he can build his re-election campaign.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
International brand hotels in Ukraine are to increase by 50%, to 25, by 2023

International brand hotels in Ukraine are to increase by 50%, to 25, by 2023, Ivan Lun, international relations director at the Ukrainian Hotel and Resort Association, tells Interfax-Ukraine. Planned openings for this year are: Radisson Hotel City Center Odesa – 90 rooms; Best Western Plus Lviv Market Square – 70; and Ibis & Adagio Kyiv – 265. Planned for opening by 2023 are: Ibis Lviv – 100; Radisson Hotel Pechersk Park Kyiv – 167; Sheraton Kyiv Troitska Square – 208; Novotel Lviv – 125; and Hampton by Hampton Lviv airport – 138.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
In a ray of hope for Ukraine’s beleaguered wind power sector

In a ray of hope for Ukraine’s beleaguered wind power sector, DTEK Renewables and Denmark’s Vestas have signed a joint venture agreement to build 126 MW of wind power capacity in Mykolaiv. To pay for the 21 towers and turbines, DTEK will draw on its five-year €325 million green bond issued in 2019. Over the last year, the Zelenskiy Administration’s green tariff cuts and delays in payments to producers have frozen many renewable projects.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
France’s Eurocape New Energy has commissioned a 98 MW wind farm

France’s Eurocape New Energy has commissioned a 98 MW wind farm in the Priazovsky district of Zaporizhia. The plant, Eurocape 1, has 27 GE tubines, each with a capacity of 3.6 MW. Originally planned to be Europe’s largest on shore wind project, with a capacity of 600 MW, the Eurocape project has largely frozen further expansion due to the lowered electricity rates and the unpaid power bills.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Non-cash payments grew last year to 55%, more than double the level of 25% recorded in 2014

Non-cash payments grew last year to 55%, more than double the level of 25% recorded in 2014, reports the European Business Association. The total volume of e-money transactions increased by 15% last year, The number ‘e-wallets’ increased by 7%, to to 79 million.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
“We will work to ensure that housing loans at 7% are truly accessible to all in Ukraine,”

“We will work to ensure that housing loans at 7% are truly accessible to all in Ukraine,” President Zelenskiy vowed at the mortgage signing ceremony. Seven banks are participating in the program: PrivatBank, Oschadbank, Ukrgasbank, Globus Bank, OTP Bank, Megabank, Kredobank. This week, state-owned Oschadbank opens 12 Oschad Home mortgage centers in 10 regions.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Lufthansa launches flights between Lviv and Frankfurt am Main on April 30.

Lufthansa launches flights between Lviv and Frankfurt am Main on April 30. Germany’s largest airline already flies between Lviv and Munich. Ryanair flies from Lviv to Memmingen and to Weeze. Wizz Air flies from Lviv to Berlin Brandenburg and to Dortmund.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Rising on the Tylihul estuary, 80 km southwest of Mykolaiv city, the DTEK/Vestas turbines will be the tallest post-Independence structures in Ukraine.

Rising on the Tylihul estuary, 80 km southwest of Mykolaiv city, the DTEK/Vestas turbines will be the tallest post-Independence structures in Ukraine. The blades will measure 162 meters from tip to tip, about 60% longer than the standard football field. If the 6 MW turbine hub is mounted atop a 100-meter tall tower, each windmill would rise 181 meters in the air. By contrast, the tallest building in Ukraine, Klovskii Descent 7A, rises 168 meters. The Duga radar array near Chornobyl rises 150 meters. Only the Kyiv TV Tower is taller — 385 meters.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
The Tiligulska wind power project is designed to be scaled up to 5

The Tiligulska wind power project is designed to be scaled up to 564 MW. But, for this to happen Maris Kunitskis, CEO of DTEK Renewables, says: “We expect that the crisis related to non-payments for the renewable energy sector will be resolved soon, and the state policy regarding renewable energy will become understandable and predictable.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
With wind and solar executives desperately renegotiating bank loans and talking to lawyers about international arbitration

With wind and solar executives desperately renegotiating bank loans and talking to lawyers about international arbitration, the most visible sign of Ukraine’s crisis came in January when Norway’s Aker decided, after six months of due diligence, not to go ahead with a planned purchase of NBT. Aker reportedly cited “Ukraine exposure” as its reason for not going through with the deal to buy control of NBT, which had plans for 1 G of wind power plants southern Ukraine.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Turkey’s Atlas Global Energy plans to build a 16 turbine, 60 MW wind farm in a Carpathian mountain valley

Turkey’s Atlas Global Energy plans to build a 16 turbine, 60 MW wind farm in a Carpathian mountain valley near the Beskidy railroad tunnel, reports Daily Lviv. The tracks through the newly rebuilt, 1.8 km tunnel are electrified. The wind power plant is to connect to an Ukrzaliznytsia substation.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Hong Kong’s Hiro Asia Investments is paying for the construction of a 25-turbine, 75 MW wind power plant that is to guarantee electricity for Yuzhne, Ukraine’s largest port

Hong Kong’s Hiro Asia Investments is paying for the construction of a 25-turbine, 75 MW wind power plant that is to guarantee electricity for Yuzhne, Ukraine’s largest port. China is Ukraine’s largest trading partner. The €65 million project is nearing completion, reports Southern Okrug news site. The power is almost 10 times more than the city’s peak winter consumption, Yuzhne mayor Vladimir Novatsky, writes on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Ukrposhta, the national postal operator, starts this week a partnership with OLX, one of Ukraine’s largest online market places.

Ukrposhta, the national postal operator, starts this week a partnership with OLX, one of Ukraine’s largest online market places. Last year, Dutch-domiciled OLX nearly doubled its deliveries in Ukraine, to 300,000 a month. Ukrposhta now guarantees 3-day delivery of OLX packages to anywhere in Ukraine. Ihor Smelyansky, director general of Ukrposhta says: “We are opening access to an audience of 10 million Ukrainians in the most remote corners of the country.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Offering a boost to residential construction, the first two mortgages were signed yesterday under a new state

Offering a boost to residential construction, the first two mortgages were signed yesterday under a new state program “Affordable Mortgage at 7%.” The 20-year mortgages are reserved for apartments or house that are under six years old. The maximum value of the residence is $90,000, the maximum loan size is $71,500, the down payment is 15% and the fixed rate is 7%.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
French and Italian railroad station operators are among the eight companies that are seriously interested in running Ukrainian rail stations on a concession basis

French and Italian railroad station operators are among the eight companies that are seriously interested in running Ukrainian rail stations on a concession basis, Alexander Pertsovsky, director of Ukrzaliznytsia’s ‘Passenger Company,’ tells the Center for Transportation Strategies. Candidate stations include: Kyiv, Chop, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Vinnytsia.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Hotel Lviv, Grand Hotel Lviv and Gagarinn Hotel in Odesa’s Arcadia district have been granted premises permits, a first step toward winning a casino license

Hotel Lviv, Grand Hotel Lviv and Gagarinn Hotel in Odesa’s Arcadia district have been granted premises permits, a first step toward winning a casino license, reports Deadlinenews, a Scottish site. Without citing sources, the news site says that Ukraine’s new Gambling and Lotteries Regulation Commission has issued a total of 11 permits to hotels around the country.

Monday, March 1, 2021
A Viber and Telegram chatbot for buying tickets

A Viber and Telegram chatbot for buying tickets that UZ launched in January with Visa and Middleware Inc. is to be expanded to handle group sales and “the B2B segment,” said Pertsovsky. UZ is working on a wait list feature for tickets on sold out trains. To promote sales, UZ may pay conductors sales commissions.

Monday, March 1, 2021
UZ will buy 100 new passenger sleeper cars for an expected price of $109 million

UZ will buy 100 new passenger sleeper cars for an expected price of $109 million, according a tender posted last week on Prozorro, the online procurement platform. The tender closes March 30 and the cars are to be delivered by year end. UZ carries about 40% of Ukraine’s long distance passenger traffic.

Monday, March 1, 2021
Georgia reopens to foreign tourists today

Georgia reopens to foreign tourists today, after almost one year of quarantine. To enter Georgia, Ukrainians need to do two PCR tests – one within 72 hours of takeoff and a second 72 hours after arrival. In response, Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines launches flights this week from  Kyiv Borsypil, Zaporozhia, Lviv, Odesa and Kharkiv to Tbilisi and Batumi. On Friday, Ukraine’s Health Ministry ranked Georgia as ‘Green’ is its coronavirus listing.

Monday, March 1, 2021
Bell Textron’s ‘Huey’ helicopters, the US military’s workhorse in the Vietnam War, will be assembled in coming months at Ukroboronprom’s

Bell Textron’s ‘Huey’ helicopters, the US military’s workhorse in the Vietnam War, will be assembled in coming months at Ukroboronprom’s Odesa Aviation Plant under license from the Fort Worth, Texas company. Formally called the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, the first helicopter should be started in time for Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day, Aug. 24, Yuriy Gusev, CEO of Ukraine’s defense conglomerate, said Friday after a visit to the plant. Most of the 16,000 Hueys made since 1952 have been manufactured in Texas or Quebec. The Odesa plant, which specializes in the repair and maintenance of Soviet-design aircraft, is expected to largely assemble helicopter components manufactured in North America.

Monday, March 1, 2021
US investments in Ukraine are expected by the end of this year in a series of areas,

US investments in Ukraine are expected by the end of this year in a series of areas, Oksana Markarova, said in a lengthy interview with Ukrinform made prior to her traveling to Washington to take up her new post Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States. “We are already discussing a number of projects in the defense sector, energy, mining, agriculture, where I hope we will be able to show progress during the first six to twelve months,” she said. “Above all high technologies in other areas – high-tech, agrotech, medicine, as well as the military-defense sector.”

Monday, March 1, 2021
A five-year veteran of Ukraine’s Finance Ministry, Markarova dampened hopes that her main job is to get Ukraine’s IMF program back on track

A five-year veteran of Ukraine’s Finance Ministry, Markarova dampened hopes that her main job is to get Ukraine’s IMF program back on track. She said: “Most of the central bodies of financial organizations are located in Washington, and I have a huge successful experience of working with them and a wide base of personal contacts at all levels, including managerial one, but working with the IMF is far from the main task of the ambassador to Washington.”

Monday, March 1, 2021
Ukraine will receive only one IMF tranche this year,

Ukraine will receive only one IMF tranche this year, predicts Fitch Ratings. Predicting that Ukraine will get less than one quarter of the $2.9 available under the June 2020 Standby Arrangement, the New York-based credit rating agency writes:  “Fitch envisions one IMF disbursement of $0.7 billion for 2021, $1.5 billion of other official funding, a higher Eurobond issue than the planned $1.4 billion, and a 0.2% GDP cut in budget reserves.”

Monday, March 1, 2021
Financial needs in the second half of this year will pressure the government to adopt the anti-corruption and free market reforms demanded by the IMF,

Financial needs in the second half of this year will pressure the government to adopt the anti-corruption and free market reforms demanded by the IMF, Fitch predicted. Foreign debt repayments spike in September, to $2.2 billion, and government budget needs increase in the fall.

Monday, March 1, 2021
As Ukrainians gain confidence in money transfer systems, the amount of money transferred inside the country grew by 24% yoy in 2020

As Ukrainians gain confidence in money transfer systems, the amount of money transferred inside the country grew by 24% yoy in 2020, to the equivalent of $9.5 billion, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth over 20%.

Monday, March 1, 2021
The amount of money sent into Ukraine through money transfer systems increased by 19% yoy, to $2.7 billion.

The amount of money sent into Ukraine through money transfer systems increased by 19% yoy, to $2.7 billion. The average amount of one transfer increased by 7%, to $393. The top sources of money coming in by money transfers were: the US, Italy, and Israel. Overall, $12.1 billion was sent into Ukraine last year by informal and formal channels, estimates the central bank.