The main news of the day comes from Helsinki, Finland, where U.S. President Donald Trump spent hours with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a controversial, historic meeting. Practically any mention of Ukraine was conspicuously absent from any public comments by the two leaders. "What is the point of this meeting?" commented former US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, as the meeting got underway. "The strategic purpose of this meeting is not clear at all.” As President Trump made his strongest and most Russia-friendly statements so far, some observers pointed to disappointment and confusion here in Ukraine. “It's difficult to see how we can continue looking to the U.S. as a dependable and trustworthy ally,” a government source told the UBJ, echoing dissapointment across Ukraine.
Trump and Putin have again put plans for cyber-security cooperation back on the table, to the amazement of many observers in Ukraine and the West. Plans to establish a joint cyber-security working committee were publicly welcomed by President Trump, as both leaders also committed to more joint “military-technical cooperation”. The United States, through U.S. State Department funding and U.S. Army technical assistance is a major backer of Ukraine's cyber-security strategy. But Russia has been regularly accused of hacking infrastructure, government services and private companies in both countries. Russia, for their part, deny any interference.
In Helsinki, Interfax asked President Trump if he would provide gas to Europe in place of Russia – noting that the United States themselves, despite criticising European countries, have bought Russian gas in order to meet demand. The Russian-German Nord Steam 2 gas pipeline was a point of contention in the Helsinki talks, but President Trump largely steered around the the topic. President Putin, for his part, said that Russia and the United States had a common purpose on the issue, with neither country wanting to interrupt their own gas stability and supply. Putin reported that there's space for cooperation between Russia and United States on gas production and supply and Trump was receptive.
President Trump's confusion on Ukraine, is life or death for Ukrainians, reports Anna Nemtsova in a feature for the U.S. Daily Beast. Ukraine desperately needs to know that Washington is on side and that Ukrainians can rely on consistent, stable support from their most powerful ally.
In other news, the European Union has banned the import of poultry meat and other related products from Russia due to concerns regarding avian flu, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinarians has reported. 18 Russian businesses were certified to export poultry to the EU and will be affected by the new ban. The ban, temporary or not, presents an opportunity to Ukrainian poultry producers and exporters.
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has announced in a press release that his country's Orsha Aircraft Repair plant will pass to 100% state ownership. The move confirms that former Ukrainian shareholders Motor Sich no longer have a stake in the Belarusian aerospace company. Lukashnko said in his statement that “former owners of the company have chosen to withdraw – therefore, this is a fully state-owned company now." Ukrainian Motor Sich are engaged in a challenging legal dispute here in Ukraine, where a state-owned Chinese company have attempted to purchase a majority equity stake in the Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturing company, triggering a investigation by the SBU.
Dragon Capital last week announced they had acquired the 17,000 m² Eco Tower business centre in the city of Zaporizhia. The company bought the business centre from an Austrian company in a deal worth an undisclosed amount.
Kyiv is reportedly preparing a response to Russia's increased presence in the Sea of Azov, where Ukrainian shipping is being delayed on a daily basis, costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. Officials are keeping a record of shipments detained by the Russian Federation for inspection and say they will respond. To date, 148 ships from various countries have been stopped and searched by Russian border guard, who claim they're acting within the law.
Ukraine has slightly increased oil production but slightly reduced coal production, executives have told UNIAN. From January through June 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, oil and gas production increased slightly to 1.098 million tons. At the same time, UNIAN reports that extraction of coal has decreased by 0.1% compared to the same period last year to 16.5 million tons.
Finally, Kyiv mayor and champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko has said that he intends to run again for the office. “I've held this post now for four years,” he told Ukrainian reporters. “I've already done many things. The past years were difficult. But I can say now that I will run from the position again.” Klitschko has been mayor of Kyiv since June 2014.