Ukraine: Daily Briefing – December 21, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 21, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Note to our readers: The UCC Ukraine: Daily Briefing will return December 27, 2018. Thank you for your interest!
Image by Andriy Yermolenko

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 one Ukrainian soldier was 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 8 times in total.
2. Tenders for 12 oil and gas PSAs could draw up to $2 billion in investment in Ukraine
Ukraine Business News reported, “Tenders for 12 oil and gas production sharing agreements are to draw up to $2 billion in investment for exploration and production, predicts Igor Nasalik, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry. The tenders are to held in the first half of 2019 for fields in Chernihiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, Poltava, and Sumy regions. Nasalik estimated total deposits at 800 million barrels of oil. By 2022, he predicts, 40 million barrels could be produced.
           The long-awaited decision to re-start production sharing agreements is a ‘huge win…really big time for Ukraine, international investors’ says Morgan Williams, director of government affairs of SigmaBleyzer, the Houston-based private equity group. Earlier this year, Michael Bleyzer, company president, said: ‘We are interested in areas over 500 square kilometers within the PSA conditions. At the first stage, we are ready to invest 100 million.’ […]
           Details of Ukraine’s first 10 oil and gas leases up for electronic auction are now on the ProZorro platform. Auctions are to be held in the first quarter of 2019, says Stepan Kubiv, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Nine licenses are for exploration and production over 20 years. One license is for exploration over five years. Covering a total area of 1,810 square kilometers, the lots potentially hold 86 billion cubic meters gas and 115 million barrels of oil. Oleg Kirilyuk, head of the State Geological Service, says that later in the year, 20 more leases, covering a total of 3,200 square kilometers, will be auctioned through ProZorro.”
3. UK Defence Minister visits Ukraine, UK sends Royal Navy ship to Black Sea
Defence Ministers Poltorak and Williamson. 
Photo – UK Embassy in Ukraine

Reuters reported, “British defense minister Gavin Williamson visited Ukraine on Friday where he told his Ukrainian counterpart that the Black Sea did not belong to Russia and that Britain had sent a Royal Navy ship there to show Kyiv did not stand alone.
           Williamson was speaking as tensions in the area remain high after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews in the Black Sea last month. […] Williamson on Friday met Stepan Poltorak, his Ukrainian counterpart, and visited the port of Odesa where a British Royal Navy ship, HMS Echo, docked earlier this week.
          ‘The reason…that HMS Echo is here is that we firstly want to demonstrate the solidarity that we have with Ukraine and the fact that Ukraine doesn’t stand alone,’ said Williamson. ‘But also demonstrate our right to be able to come to ports such as Odesa, for freedom of navigation, for freedom for navies to be able to operate in the Black Sea. This isn’t Russia’s sea, this is an international sea.'”
4. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine
The US Mission to the OSCE stated on December 20, “Twenty-five days have passed since Russia illegally blocked the Kerch Strait and then rammed, fired upon, and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their 24 crew. […] The United States urges Russia to immediately release the crewmembers, return the Ukrainian vessels, and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.
            The November 25 Kerch Strait attack is consistent with the Kremlin’s other acts aimed at undermining the OSCE, the Minsk process, and the prospects for peace in Ukraine. […].
           Russia manufactured and sustains this conflict. Attempts to apply a moral equivalency in this conflict are misguided. And Russia, as the aggressor, must take concrete and lasting steps to bring an end to it.
           The United States is alarmed by reports that Russia is deploying additional fighter jets to Crimea, supposedly in preparation for another so-called ‘provocation’ by Ukraine. Russia’s disinformation campaign seeks to justify Moscow’s ongoing militarization of Crimea. The United States welcomes the UN General Assembly’s December 17 resolution condemning Russian militarization of Crimea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea. The resolution correctly states that Russia’s actions pose further threats to Ukraine and undermine the stability of the broader region.”

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