Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 22, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 22, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Soldier from new rotational unit, trains with RPGs in the field at Yavoriv CTC, Ukraine, Oct. 18. Photo – US Army Europe

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 19 times in total, including at least 3 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 8 and wounded 2 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Ukraine and IMF reach $3.9 billion, 14-month agreement
Ukraine Business News reported, “Ukraine secured a new $3.9 billion, 14-month stand-by aid agreement with the International Monetary Fund on Friday. The IMF announced the deal hours after Prime Minister Groysman announced that household gas prices would go up by 23.5% on Nov. 1. […] The IMF deal will unlock about $2 billion pre-approved EU and World Bank aid. In addition to giving Ukraine low interest loans, the deal will also allow Ukraine to borrow money at cheaper rates. Ukraine’s Eurobonds rose following announcement of the gas price hike.”
3. Ukraine plans to sell fresh dollar-denominated debt
The Financial Times reported, “Ukraine has mandated banks for its first long-dated international bond issue since last year’s stand-off with the International Monetary Fund, which halted a $17.5bn bail-out package. BNP Paribas, Citi, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have been named as lead managers on the deal, which will be a 10-year, dollar-denominated bond. Ukraine may also sell five-year paper, depending on investors’ appetite.
          The move comes just two days after the IMF agreed a new $3.9bn assistance package with Ukraine, after the country’s government took the politically unpopular decision of meeting a key condition of the fund by raising household gas tariffs.
          It is the first long-dated dollar debt since Ukraine raised $2.5bn from investors last November; that was its first dollar bond since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Last month an English court ruling gave Ukraine a boost in its long-running battle with Russia over the non-payment of $3bn of bonds sold by Ukraine in 2013. The court’s ruling that the case should go to a full trial was widely interpreted by investors as a boost for Ukraine, given the explosive implications of Russia probably having to present evidence and sworn testimony from senior government officials.
          Ukrainian ministers including Oksana Markarova, the acting finance minister, will hold a series of meetings with investors this week in preparation for the bond sale, which will take place ‘subject to market conditions’according to one of the banks involved. Ukraine is rated B- by both S&P and Fitch, both with a stable outlook.”
4. US Secretary of State on Ukrainian Autocephaly
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on October 19, “The United States reiterates its strong support for religious freedom and the freedom of members of religious groups, including Ukraine’s Orthodox community, to govern their religion according to their beliefs, free of outside interference.
           We support Ukrainians’ ability to worship as they choose and hope this will be respected by all. Tolerance, restraint, and understanding are key to ensuring that people with different religious affiliations can live and prosper together in peace. We urge Church and government officials to actively promote these values in connection with the move towards the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
5. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine
The US Mission to the OSCE stated, “The fighting in eastern Ukraine over the past week was similar to the week before. Ceasefire violations occurred every night. Civilian casualties mounted. […] These conditions could be reversed if Russia were to implement its commitments under the Minsk agreements. […] We call on Russia, as the instigator of the conflict, to take the first steps to cease the fighting and bring peace to Ukraine. […]
           Since April, Russia has delayed hundreds of commercial vessels attempting to reach Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait. These delays have damaged the Ukrainian economy and are another example of Russia’s efforts to destabilize the country. The United States condemns Russia’s harassment of international shipping and supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.
           The United States is deeply concerned about the health of Oleh Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh, and other Ukrainians unjustly held in Russian prisons, as well as deliberate attempts to misinform Ukrainian officials and the world at large about their condition. At the same time, severe restrictions on expression, association, and peaceful assembly continue unabated in Russia-occupied Crimea. […]
           The United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. We join our European and other partners in affirming that our Minsk-related sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments. The separate, Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

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