17:01 PM Wednesday, October 17, 2018 Wednesday, July 18
Ukraine is the new ‘ground zero’; Difficult gas dilemma for the PM; Beverages back on line; Is Ukraine heading for a debt trap?; Mariupol buys 72 lower-floor trolleybuses; Atlasjet to link Odesa and Istanbul
image/svg+xml Kyiv Lutsk Rivne Zhytomyr Lviv Ternopil Khmelnytskyi Uzhgorod Chernivtsi Vinnytsia Chernigiv Sumy Kharkiv Poltava Cherkasy Kirovohrad Lugansk Dnipropetrovsk Donetsk Zaporizhzhia Mykolaiv Odesa Kherson Simferopol Sevastopol Ivano- Frankivsk

After the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, the mood in Kyiv can be described as one of disappointment and anxiety – but framed by quiet determination. The Atlantic today reports that Ukraine is “ground zero” for the crisis between Russia and the West. The confrontation in eastern Ukraine reflects a larger, possibly unbridgeable divide, writes Robert Malley in the American magazine. One small victory can be claimed by Ukrainians, however: the Presidents in Helsinki might have largely ignored the country, but Ukraine is still trending on social media.

On gas prices, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman is faced with a crucial decision, reports UNIAN. After tackling the challenge of establishing a robust anti-corruption court, the PM must now decide whether or not to raise gas prices for Ukrainians and how transparent to be about the process. “He may choose to speak in riddles about ongoing negotiations with the IMF,” reports one UNIAN opinion piece that reflects national concern about gas prices.

After temporary delays, large producers of beverages in Ukraine are working normally again, as of Tuesday. PepsiCo Ukraine said it's business as usual – but admitted there had been some disruptions to production, due to intermittent supply of chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Supply problems had stalled production of Carlsberg beer, Pepsi and other popular beverage brands, causing concern, but producers say the factories are back up-and-running.

Ukraine should be wary of debt traps, a knowledgeable source tells the UBJ this week. It's a frequently-discussed issue, after all: by the end of 2019, Ukraine is expected to repay more than USD $6 billion in debt. Today, there is slightly over USD $1 billion in Ukrainian treasury accounts, report UNIAN. At the same time, new international deals with countries such as the U.S., France and China create more debt for Ukraine. A deal inked last year for a new Metro line in Kyiv is 85 percent funded by Chinese loans and the EUR 555 million acquisition of French helicopters is 80 percent financed by loans from the French treasury and French banks.

Demand from companies in the EU for illicit timber from Ukraine is fuelling the illegal trade, an investigation has found. Earth Sight – a UK-registered non-profit organisation – published an extensive report yesterday detailing their findings into Ukraine's illegal logging trade. Illicit timber from Ukraine is fuelling European markets, they allege. It's being used in everything from flooring to newspapers, including in products sold by major retail chains. Their damning report alleges that EU companies aren't carrying out due diligence in compliance with EU timber regulations and that forestry officials in Ukraine have taken bribes, in order to supply major European countries with illegally-harvested wood.

Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov – owner of the SCM financial and industrial group – has become the only Ukrainian on Bloomberg's billionaires index. His fortune has increased by USD $994 million over the past year, the magazine reports. He's now worth USD $5.7 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The Cameron McKenna law firm (CMS) – a London-based multinational law company active in Ukraine – will advise the EBRD on a loan to renovate public transport in Mariupol, CMS said in a statement. CMS lawyers are advising the EBRD on a EUR 13 million loan to a local company in Mariupol that will be used to acquire 72 lower-floor trolleybuses, spare parts and maintenance equipment.

Atlasjet Ukraine will start direct flights between Odesa and Istanbul from November, the company's press service has reported. Firstly, the flights will be operated four times a week on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The journey time between Odesa and Istanbul is only 40-minutes.

One year after the downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, international allies rally around Ukraine. The United Kingdom has issued a statement aligning itself with the findings of the international JIT, calling the incident “another example of Russia's disregard for human life and the rules-based international system.” Last month, investigators revealed for the first time that flight MH17 was shot down with a Russian BUK missile originating from Russia's 53rd anti-aircraft brigade. Further analysis has conclusively shown that Russian intelligence operatives were responsible for delivering the weapon to terrorists in Donbas, before flight MH17 was shot down.

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