Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 9, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian army armored units exercises,
photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 3 times in total.
2. European Commission proposes 1 billion Euros in new macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
The EU stated, “The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme for Ukraine worth up to €1 billion to support economic stabilisation and structural reforms.
Today’s proposal follows a request from the Ukrainian authorities and direct discussions between Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. The new programme seeks to build on the progress made in supporting economic stabilisation and structural reforms under the three previous MFA operations.
The EU has so far pledged €12.8 billion to support the reform process in Ukraine, including €2.8 billion through three MFA programmes, since the onset of the crisis in 2014.
Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “Today’s proposal on the fourth Macro-Financial Assistance programme of €1 billion shows the EU’s commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine. This solidarity must go hand-in-hand with a continued commitment from the Ukrainian authorities to an ambitious reform agenda to ensure a stable and prosperous Ukraine. We are counting on the European Parliament and Member States for their support for this important programme.” […]
All disbursements under the proposed programme, including the first, would be conditional on the implementation of reform measures designed to address vulnerabilities identified in the Ukrainian economy. Established in a Memorandum of Understanding, they would take into account measures that remain outstanding from the previous MFA programme and include steps to intensify the fight against corruption.”
3. Ukraine’s Justice Ministry begins seizing Gazprom assets in Ukraine
Ukraine Business Journal reported, “Ukraine’s Justice Ministry is seizing Gazprom assets in Ukraine, following the Russian gas company’s refusal to pay Naftogaz $2.6 billion, as ordered Feb. 28 by the Stockholm Arbitration court. According to Ukrinform, the state news service, officers of the ministry’s State Execution Service have seized shares and other property from: Gaztransit, Gazpromzbut Ukraine, Institute Southerngiprogaz and the International Consortium for the Management and Development of the Gas Transit System of Ukraine. The Gaztransit shares are valued at $23 million.
Looking outside Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry is asking all embassies to conduct inventories of attachable Gazprom property. […] Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko told the Cabinet that Ukraine has bilateral treaties with 27 countries that would allow seizure of Gazprom assets to pay the bill. He estimated that the procedure could be completed by the end of this year.
The ministries are moving on the order of President Poroshenko. On Thursday he tweeted: ‘On my instructions, the team of lawyers is already working on collecting the appropriate amounts, so if Gazprom does not pay compensation, we will arrest the property'”
4. Europe split on Nord Stream 2 pipeline as US warns against dependence on Russian gas
Voice of America reported, “A number of eastern European states have ramped up their opposition to a new gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany.
The Nord Stream 2 project will bring Russian gas directly to Western Europe, but critics say it will increase dependence on Russia and enrich its state-owned energy firms, at a time when Moscow stands accused of undermining European security.
The $11 billion, 1,225-kilometer pipeline is on schedule for completion next year. It is a private project backed by Russian state-owned Gazprom and five energy companies from Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands. It also has the strong backing of the German and Russian governments. […]
Many eastern states, however, say Europe should not be engaged in big business with President Putin. Some of the most vocal critics have been the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whose foreign ministers traveled to Washington last week to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
‘Security these days is increasingly indivisible. There’s no clear division between internal and external security and also geographically,’ Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser told reporters in Washington ahead of the meeting.
The United States is opposed to Nord Stream 2, having sanctioned Russian companies over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, along with foreign companies involved in Russian energy exploration. So far, those sanctions don’t affect the new pipeline.
The European Commission also opposes the project but says there are no legal grounds to prevent the private investment from going ahead.
Opponents fear any additional revenues for Russia from Nord Stream 2 would soften the impact of sanctions. Many Eastern European states also question whether the new pipeline will benefit them economically. […]
Poland and Lithuania, which vehemently oppose Nord Stream 2, have built terminals for liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The United States wants to boost its LNG exports to Europe. Both Europe and the U.S. hope that a diversified supply will help reduce Russia’s ability to use gas as a political weapon.”