Ukraine: Daily Briefing – November 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
November 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Colonel Jens Hjort of Danish Defence visits a mortar range at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Lviv, Ukraine during Operation UNIFIER. Photo – Joint Task Force-Ukraine
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 two 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 16 times in total, including at least 8 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 3 and wounded 5 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Reuters: Ukraine’s PM upbeat on IMF loans in December after budget passes
Reuters reported, “Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman expects to get new loans from the International Monetary Fund as early as December once parliament passes a budget of stability that refrains from making pre-election populist moves, he said on Thursday.
          Securing IMF assistance will also unlock loans from the World Bank and the European Union, while Groysman also said Ukraine was in negotiation with Washington for a new loan guarantee for sovereign debt.
          Groysman negotiated a new deal with the IMF last month aimed at keeping finances on an even keel during a choppy election period next year. The new loans are contingent on him steering an IMF-compliant budget through parliament.
‘This budget is a budget of stability and continuation of reforms,’ Groysman said in an interview with Reuters. ‘This is fully consistent with our IMF programme.’
‘Yes. We are counting on a tranche in December,’ he added, when asked about when IMF loans were expected, though he did not elaborate on the possible size of the loan.
           Ukraine’s government approved a draft budget in September but it will typically undergo a slew of amendments before parliament finally approves it.
Groysman said a proposal to change how companies are taxed – on withdrawn capital rather than profits – had been dropped from the budget because of the IMF’s concerns.
          He also said he would not bow to opposition parties’ demands to reverse a recent increase in household gas tariffs, a step which his government reluctantly took in order to qualify for more IMF assistance.
‘Populism led to the weakness of Ukraine,’ he said. ‘This should not be allowed.'”
3. IMF Executive Board expected to consider Ukraine agreement later this year
IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice stated on November 15, “on the new 14-month standby arrangement that was announced on October 19. So the status is that the authorities are now working on the implementation of the prior actions needed for that program to go forward, approval by our executive board. And in this regard, a small IMF team visited Kyiv last week to assist with the necessary preparations in line with that staff level agreement.
            At the moment, we would expect executive board consideration later this year following as I said the implementation of those prior actions relating to parliamentary approval of the 2019 budget and an increase in heating tariffs in line with the agreements that were reached.”
4. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations of international law in Ukraine
The US Mission to the OSCE stated on November 15, “The United States’ position on the illegal so-called ‘elections’ held on November 11 in Russia-controlled Donbas is clear. Moscow’s actions ran afoul of Ukrainian law and contravened the letter and the spirit of the Minsk agreements. We call on Russia to disavow the results of these illegal ‘elections,’ which were nothing more than another attempt by Moscow to legitimize its proxies in Russia-controlled Donbas. […]
In addition to its aggression in eastern Ukraine, Russia contravenes OSCE principles and commitments with its occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and provocations in the Sea of Azov, where it harasses and obstructs international shipping bound for Ukrainian ports. Russia systematically delays ships carrying legal cargo through the Kerch Straits under the pretext of enforcing shipping regulations and fighting terrorism. Russia’s actions are part of its broader campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine and further violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
           The situation in Crimea is deplorable. On November 8, the United States imposed financial sanctions on three individuals and nine entities that are supporting Moscow’s attempt to annex the Crimean region of Ukraine into Russia or who are engaging in serious human rights abuses in furtherance of Russia’s occupation or control over parts of Ukraine. These sanctions reinforce our July 25 Declaration of non-recognition of Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. The sanctions also underscore the United States’ steadfast partnership with Ukraine and the European Union in opposing Russia’s occupation of the peninsula and use of force to subjugate parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
           The United States fully 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.”
5. Ukraine grain harvest up 14%; hits record

Ukraine Business News reported, “Harvest reports indicate that Ukraine’s total grain production will hit a record of 70 million tons, up 14% over last year, reports Dragon Capital. Last year, the harvest was 61 million tons. In 2016, it was 66 million tons, then a record.”

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