Ukraine: Daily Briefing – November 20, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
November 20, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian National Guard soldiers take part in training exercises, Yavoriv, Ukraine.
Photo – US Army Europe

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported 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 26 times in total on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 8 times with heavy weapons – mortars, artillery and tanks.
2. ABC News: President Trump to be presented with $47 million deal to arm Ukraine against Russia
ABC News reported on November 17, “President Donald Trump will be presented with the recommendation to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government – a move aimed at deterring aggression from pro-Russian separatists, a State Department official told ABC News.
           The National Security Council decided during a meeting on Tuesday to greenlight the presentation of a $47 million grant package to the Ukrainian government to purchase American defense arms, including the powerful Javelin anti-tank missiles.
           The president and Congress must approve the sale of anti-tank missiles. The Javelin, a portable missile with a steep price-tag, has been described as ‘The American Military’s Anti-Tank Killer.’ […]
           Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis have been in discussions since June about how to best make the sale. They strongly recommended the decision to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine above two other options that would aid in the arming of Ukraine.
           The State Department official added that, in the upcoming weeks, there will be a meeting to discuss the public messaging on the sale – feedback that will be included in the eventual decision.
           But a White House official cautioned that they are not ready to make their decision public.
           ‘We have no announcement at this time,’ National Security Council spokesperson Michael Anton told ABC News in an email.
           The State Department was equally non-committal. ‘The United States has neither provided defensive weapons nor ruled out the option of doing so,’ a State Department spokesperson told ABC News.”
3. Human rights group: Russia could sentence Ukrainian journalist to 20 years for gathering information about invasion
Roman Sushchenko. Photo – PEN America
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “The trial is due in January 2018 of Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko whom Russia has been holding prisoner for over a year.  Sushchenko’s lawyer Mark Feygin reports that a sentence of 20 years is planned, with the charge being that the journalist ‘gathered information about an anticipated invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the summer or autumn of 2016.’
           Since Russia has already flagrantly breached international law through its invasion and annexation of Crimea and military engagement in Donbas, the prosecution should come up with a more compelling indictment.  They may, of course, not even try, since the ‘trial’ is to be held behind closed doors, with Feygin prohibited from revealing any details.
           Sushchenko has been in Russian detention since September 30, 2016. The then 47-year-old journalist was seized by FSB officers shortly after arriving in Moscow where he has close relatives. […]
           [Sushchenko’s daughter Julia] is convinced that maximum publicity is crucial.  ‘This is barbaric – they grab an innocent man on fabricated charges, imprison him in a remand prison for over a year, restrict his freedom, his contact with his family and access to information. The world must know that such things are taking place and must stop them. Pressure needs to be placed to get him released because today somebody else’s son, father, husband could end up in Roman Sushchenko’s place.'” The full report from KHPG is available here: Russia could sentence Ukrainian journalist to 20 years for gathering information about invasion
4. EBRD develops local currency lending to SMEs in Ukraine
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development stated, “The EBRD is providing fresh funds to develop local currency lending and SME support mechanisms in Ukraine. The use of local currency gives greater comfort to potential borrowers, who will not be exposed to foreign exchange risks.
           The EBRD is providing a four-year local currency loan in Hryvnia (UAH) worth US$ 25 million equivalent to PJSC ProCredit Bank Ukraine (PCBU).
           For the EBRD this will be one of the first UAH-denominated loans to a commercial bank in Ukraine as well as the first synthetic local currency facility hedged through a cross-currency swap with the TCX fund. This mechanism will allow providing Ukrainian SMEs with lending in local currency.
          Grant funding provided through the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility  will help reduce the interest rate cost of the foreign exchange (FX) risk hedge in order to achieve better cost of funding in local currency (UAH).
           Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director for eastern Europe and the Caucasus, said: ‘We are lending to a well-known and well-established financial institution in Ukraine. This loan will support ProCredit Bank’s growth strategy focused on the expansion of SME lending much needed in the country. We are confident that the instrument we employ has a good potential for replication and will contribute to the development of local currency lending in this country.'”

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