Ukraine: Daily Briefing
April 03, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on April 2, two service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were killed in action and two were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 15 times on Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sector using heavy weapons 14 times.
According to the Ukrainian military intelligence report three invaders were killed and eight were wounded as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on April 2.
2. Clearing Landmines in Ukraine, One Careful Step at a Time
Tomorrow is the International Mine Awareness Day introduced by the UN General Assembly in 2005.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for increased efforts to address the dangers and legacy of landmines in eastern Ukraine. The region is “one of the most landmine-contaminated areas in the world and where mines continue to be laid in the ongoing conflict,” UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said on April 2 press briefing in Geneva.
“According to the 2018 Landmine Monitor Annual Report, Ukraine ranked third globally for overall casualties behind Afghanistan and Syria, and landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) continue to kill or injure people,” she amplified.
Ukraine estimates that about 7,000 square kilometers in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk are contaminated with mines and ERWs but the full extent of the contamination is not clear.
Ukraine has adopted Ukraine’s Mine Action Law which came into force on Jan 25 and a set of National Mine Action Standards for organizations conducting mine clearance operations, based on international best practice, which took effect on April 1. Now adequate funding is required to implement the law’s provisions, stated the UNHCR official.
The UNHCR has even featured a story of one elderly couple from eastern Ukrainian town of Pivdenne to showcase the dangers of mines in the everyday life in the war zone.
“Sheltering in the basement of his family home in eastern Ukraine, Volodymyr Zayika, 71, was in the dark. Shelling had severed the electricity supply. Venturing out to check on some electrical wires, he felt his foot snag on a wire. “There was a flash,” he recalls. “Something hissed on my right. Then there was a blast,” starts a story by Oksana Grytsenko.
Volodymyr was rushed to the hospital in the nearby city of Toretsk where his 31 wounds were treated; his wife followed him shortly. A month later they had no home to return to becoming IDPs and receiving shelter in the relatives’ flat in another town. “The family’s experience is all-too common in Ukraine – one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, with over 1,000 mine-related casualties recorded since 2014. In 2018, 43 per cent of civilian casualties were attributed to mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) incidents. Mine incidents remained the leading cause of child casualties in 2018,” writes the author.
“Years will pass and grandchildren of our grandchildren will come here and walk in this field safely,” says Tetiana Nikoforva, 37, Ukrainian demining expert. “I hope one day Ukraine will be called a country free from landmines.”
Read the full story here
3. Ambassador Waschuk comments on Ukrainian Elections
The Ukrainian Presidential Election corresponds to all international election norms, said Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk in his interview to Channel 7 in Odesa. Canadian observers worked in about 900 election stations in 24 regions of Ukraine and the election day passed without incidents, according to the diplomat. He confirmed that there were some systemic issues that need to be addressed including the use of media and election funds.
Reiterating the words of the Head of Canada Mission to Ukraine Lloyd Axworthy, his excellency confirmed that Canadian observers witnessed no major violations except for one by the Russian Federation which illegally occupied Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine displacing, as a result, close to 1.5 million people and violating their right to cast their vote at their homeplace.
During his interview, Ambassador Waschuk praised the efforts of Ukrainians in Canada who were able to vote this year in three locations: Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.
Talking about presidential candidates the diplomat confirmed that he met most of the 39 candidates including the leading ones prior to the election day and he believes that Ukraine is full of talented people.
During his interview he mentioned the HMCS Toronto (FFH 333) frigate that arrived to Odesa per Urkaine’s invitation for a routine visit. According to Waschuk this is the first time since 1991 that a Canadian warship was able to dock at a Ukrainian port. The crew enjoyed visiting the city while more than 3,000 civilians were able to come aboard the ship.
When asked about the Black Sea, Ambassador Waschuk has amplified that the Black Sea is seen as not a sea of some Russian glory and every country has the right to exercise free shipping there. He also noted that soon foreign ministers of NATO countries will issue the statement regarding the Black Sea and the Azov Sea region.
Click here to watch the interview in Ukrainian.
4. CNBC: Ukraine Central Bank Deputy: Elections Shouldn’t Derail Reform Efforts
In view of the results of the first round of presidential election in Ukraine there is a prospect of a potentially radical change of political leadership in the coming weeks, ventures Holly Ellyatt of CNBC.
When talking to Dmytro Solohub, deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Ellyatt was wondering “how a change of leadership could affect the economy’s slow recovery – and reform efforts that are a condition of financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – are likely to be at the forefront of Ukraine’s benefactors’ minds?”
The Ukrainian top banker agreed that the country would need to accelerate reforms and to accelerate growth to catch up with other countries. “I would say the stability is there, but the tale of convergence would be only there if we see a strong push for reform and so on,” told Solohub CNBC Tuesday.
He emphasized that whoever wins the second round of voting, the economy will need to be at the forefront of governmental policy. “Ukraine’s economy is seen growing 2.7 percent in 2019, according to an IMF forecast, although its economy contracted a cumulative 16 percent in the two years after 2014 when Russia’s annexation of Crimea prompted a financial crisis and capital flight,” reads the piece.
Ellyatt indicates that “the IMF approved a four-year $17.5 billion loan for Ukraine in 2015 and subsequently gave the country a further $3.9 billion aid package in December” yet the release of tranches depends on implementation of key reforms and anti-corruption measures. “It will be important to resist pressures to increase spending or lower taxes, while renewing efforts to improve public financial management and revenue administration,” read the statement.
5. Opinion: What the Business Community Wants from Ukraine’s Next President
It is very important what message government sends to business owners, shareholders and executives, contemplates Andy Hunder, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, in his Atlantic Council opinion piece.
“Sending law enforcement officers in balaclavas armed with Kalashnikovs kicking down a company’s office door in a frantic search for financial records or tax documents is quite possibly the worst message a government can send,” describes Hunder his conversation with President Petro Poroshenko a couple of years ago.
Apparently, the Ukrainian parliament “introduced new legislation curtailing the brutality of business inspections. These dramatic raids on business are now all but a memory of the low points that investors faced while doing business in Ukraine years ago.”
Despite the magnitude of reforms introduced since 2015 the author indicates that foreign direct investment (FDI) remains too small, around two percent of GDP. FDI should be the focus of whoever becomes president. The author draws several examples of successful foreign businesses that have production facilities in Ukraine: Jabil that produces Nespresso machines, the Yazaki factory that produces cable harnesses for the new all-electric Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover SUVs, or an American-based consumer electronics company Flex.
Hunder raises the issue of intellectual property (IP) intensive industries, and how this is an area where Ukraine can grow significantly. “Ukraine’s economic growth at about three percent over the past three years is positive, but the country must increase this growth significantly in order to augment national wealth. This can only be achieved by significantly boosting FDI. […] Whoever wins on April 21, attracting FDI will be absolutely crucial in boosting Ukraine’s sluggish but highly promising economy,” concludes the author.