Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – November 10-16, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
November 10-16, 2018
Lieutenant-Colonel Pierre Leroux, Commander of Joint Task Force-Ukraine, visits with Canadian Armed Forces members during T-80 Tank training at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Lviv, Ukraine during Operation UNIFIER on October 26, 2018. 
Photo – Joint Task Force Ukraine
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of November 9-15, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 75 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 23 times with heavy weapons. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 14 and wounded 27 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Reuters: Ukraine’s PM upbeat on IMF loans in December after budget passes
Reuters reported on November 16, “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Groysman said a proposal to change how companies are taxed – on withdrawn capital rather than profits – had been dropped from the budget because of the IMF’s concerns.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. Ukraine, US to restore work of Commission for Strategic Partnership
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on November 11, “President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that within the Paris Peace Forum, about 40 meetings with world leaders took place. Speaking with media representatives, the Head of State told about his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
‘Yesterday, the meeting with the President of the United States of America was held. As a result of this discussion, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin and his American counterpart – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met today,’ Petro Poroshenko stressed.
            The President said that the result of these meetings was the agreement to hold the Ukraine-US Strategic Partnership Commission at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries in Washington on November 16 this year. The Head of State reminded that the Commission was founded almost ten years ago.
‘Today we agreed to restore its work as a symbol of the fact that the partnership between Ukraine and the United States of America is strategic in nature,’ the President of Ukraine said. The Head of State also informed that a meeting of diplomatic advisor to the President of Ukraine Kostiantyn Yelisieiev with advisor to the President of the United States on national security John Bolton took place in Paris.”
4. Court arrests suspect in acid attack on murdered activist Handziuk
The Kyiv Post reported on November 13, “Igor Pavlovsky, a former aide to lawmaker Mykola Palamarchuk, has been detained on suspicion of abetting the murder of Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk, Prosecutor General’s Office spokeswoman Larisa Sargan announced on Nov. 12.
            She said Pavlovsky had been arrested on Nov. 10 in Kherson. A court ordered his detention without the right to bail. He is suspected of co-organizing an attack on Handziuk, who was doused with a liter of acid on July 31 and died in a hospital three months later on Nov. 4 from chemical burns and multiple organ failure.
           Pavlovky’s name as a suspect in the case had leaked to media last week. Handziuk’s friends claimed that he was an intermediary between those who ordered the murder and the hitmen.
           In August, police arrested five people suspected of being involved in the attack on Handziuk – all former veterans of the war in the Donbas. Four of them were detained for 60 days. The fifth suspect was placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring.
          After Handziuk’s death, the case was reclassified from attempted murder to premeditated murder and transferred to Ukraine’s SBU security service for investigation. The SBU was reported on Nov. 10 to have raided the apartment of a member of Kherson Oblast council, Mykola Stavitsky.”
5. Canada condemns illegitimate elections in Russian-occupied Ukraine
Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated, “Canada joins its European allies and the United States in unreservedly rejecting the illegitimate and illegal November 11, 2018, elections in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. These ‘elections’ are an attempt to validate the rule of Moscow-imposed Russian proxies. In the absence of a recognized legal basis or any credible international monitoring, the international community will not recognize these ‘elections.’ Canadians continue to stand steadfastly with the people of Ukraine.”
6. US condemns sham “elections” in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine
The US State Department stated, “The United States joins our European Allies and partners in condemning the November 11 sham “elections” in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine. Yesterday’s illegitimate processes were an attempt by Moscow to institutionalize its Donbas proxies, the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.’ These entities have no place within the Minsk agreements or within Ukraine’s constitutional government, and they should be dismantled along with the illegal armed formations.
            If Russia calculated the November 11 illegal ‘elections’ would lead to international respect for its proxies, the international reaction proves it was mistaken. The OSCE refused to monitor yesterday’s farce. Russia’s actions have been denounced in capitals on both sides of the Atlantic and on the floors of the UN Security Council and the OSCE. The United States and the European Union have spoken with one voice against yesterday’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will continue to impose Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia until Moscow fully implements the Minsk agreements and returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”
7. EBRD helps acquire new rolling stock for Ukraine Railways
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) reported, “An investment programme by rail transport company Ukraine Railways (UZ) is to receive a major boost in the form of a US$ 150 million senior loan from the EBRD. The loan will be used to acquire up to 6,500 general purpose open freight gondola-type wagons through an open international tender.
           The investment programme will help to maintain the UZ’s capacity, significantly improve its efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by its operations. Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to fall by up to 80,000 tonnes a year thanks to the new rolling stock. The financing will be combined with corporate governance reforms at UZ and its subsidiaries.
           The development and implementation of a Corporate Governance Action Plan and an Anti-Corruption Action Plan will introduce measures such as the appointment of independent directors, business planning, the establishment of an audit committee, an internal audit function and anti-corruption measures, making it a benchmark for other state-owned enterprises in Ukraine.
           The EBRD will also assist UZ in certifying and improving its procurement processes and implementing an energy management information system, which will lead to better overall efficiency of UZ. This will be funded by the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.

Upgrading and modernising Ukraine’s freight railway fleet is a major contributor to strengthening the country’s regional and international integration. UZ possesses a total track length of over 23,000 km, making it the 14th largest in the world. It is the world’s 6th largest rail passenger transporter and the world’s 7th largest freight transporter. The EBRD has supported the transformation of the state-owned enterprise into a commercially-run corporate.”

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