Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 13, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 13, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces participate in Operation Saber Guardian, 2019. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

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 28 times in total, including at least 4 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 1 and wounded 3 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. US President considering sanctions to block Nord Stream 2
Bloomberg reported on June 12, “President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s considering using U.S. sanctions to stop construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
            ‘We’re protecting Germany from Russia, and Russia is getting billions and billions of dollars in money from Germany’ for its gas, Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda. He didn’t say whom the U.S. might sanction to block the pipeline.
            Trump said he’ll meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Japan at the end of the month.
            U.S. opposition to the gas pipeline is bipartisan, out of concern about Russia using its supplies of natural gas to exert pressure on Western European nations dependent on the fuel. U.S. lawmakers also fear that with an added northern pipeline for its gas, Russia could more easily cut off fuel to Ukraine, which is now a key transit country to Europe.
           U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said during a visit to Ukraine in May that he expected Congress to prepare legislation to sanction companies involved in the pipeline’s construction.
           Senators Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, have drafted a bill that would target U.S. sanctions at vessels laying the pipeline and deny U.S. visas to executives from companies linked to the ships. The legislation would also block transactions in U.S.-based property or interests belonging to those individuals and would penalize entities that provide insurance to the project.
          The controversial pipeline is backed by Germany, and construction is scheduled to begin by the end of the year, though it faces delays from permitting issues in Denmark.”
3. Acting SBU chief Bakanov’s wife has Russian citizenship
Acting SBU head Bakanov. Photo – Kyiv Post

The Kyiv Post reported, “The acting head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Ivan Bakanov, has announced that his wife has Russian citizenship and that she is in line to get Ukrainian citizenship. The statement has been published on the SBU’s Facebook page on June 12.
             President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Bakanov, a friend since childhood, as SBU’s first deputy chief on May 22. Although the SBU’s head Vasyl Grytsak resigned, the Ukrainian parliament didn’t have enough votes to dismiss him. Grytsak reportedly went on vacation on June 3, which is why Bakanov temporarily took over his duties. According to Bakanov, he released a statement about his wife Oksana’s citizenship to counter those who might want to blackmail him.
            Bakanov said that his wife is Ukrainian who grew up in Kryvyi Rih, a city of 614,000 people some 420 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. He says that she studied at a higher educational institution in Russia, where during the collapse of the Soviet Union she received Russian citizenship. However, she has been living in Ukraine since 1998, hasn’t visited Russia since 2013 and has a pro-Ukrainian attitude, he says. […] Bakanov said that Oksana has a permanent residence permit and that she is in the process of receiving Ukrainian citizenship. […]
           Bakanov was the head of Zelenskiy’s presidential campaign. Earlier he was the head lawyer of Zelenskiy’s production company Kvartal 95. Bakanov and Zelenskiy are childhood friends.”
4. PrivatBank lost $303 million in deposits after Kyiv court ruling
Ukraine Business News (UBN) reported, “PrivatBank lost $303 million of deposits after a Kyiv court ruled in April that nationalization of the country’s largest lender was illegal, the bank’s finance chief tells Reuters.
             Noting depositors got ‘a bit nervous,’ Anna Samarina, PrivatBank’s chief financial officer, said in an interview: ‘As of today, we managed to recover part of that, but we are not back to previous levels.’ As legal fights continue with the former owner, Igor Kolomoisky, she said: ‘Up to 10% of the bank’s operating costs are now dedicated to legal costs.’ Although Kolomoisky was Zelenskyy’s main media backer in the presidential campaign, Samarina said: ‘There has been no interference from the new presidential team in the operations of PrivatBank.’
          Noting the initial withdrawals amounted to 5% of deposits, Timothy Ash writes: ‘This is a huge issue for Ukraine. Let’s hope the courts rule the most sensible course of action, and do not jeopardise Ukraine’s hard-won macro stability.'”
5. Ukraine House Toronto program announced
The program for Ukraine House Toronto (July 3-4), being held alongside the Ukraine Reform Conference, was announced. More information on Ukraine House Toronto, including information on registration, is available here:

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