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Russia’s war against Ukraine
Diplomacy week ends with no resolution, Russian threats. The West and Russia have reached an impasse, neither willing to budge on Russia’s core demand of excluding Ukraine from NATO and pulling NATO members’ forces back from Eastern Europe. Following a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Vienna on Jan. 13, both Russia and the West made ominous statements.
European Council prolongs sanctions against Russia for 6 months. The council decided to renew sanctions targeting sectors of the Russian economy until July 31. This package of measures was first introduced in July 2014, months after Russia invaded Ukraine.
German defense minister: Nord Stream 2 has no link to Russian aggression against Ukraine. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht reportedly warned against drawing a connection between Nord Stream 2, Kremlin’s Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. “We should not drag (Nord Stream 2) into this conflict,” she said.
Security Service liquidates hacker group that made $1 million on illegal services. The Security Service, along with the U.S. and U.K. apprehended and uncovered a Ukrainian group of hackers that had robbed 50 foreign companies. The group provided various illegal hacking services as well as access to spyware, malware, and other unlawful software.
Investigators seize Bilshovyk shares over suspected corruption. The State Investigation Bureau seized 100% of the shares of Kyiv’s Bilshovyk machine-building plant on Jan. 11 over suspicions that it may have been knowingly undersold at its privatization auction in October. The shares, which are owned by tycoon Vasyl Khmelnytsky, were frozen as part of an investigation into potential wrongdoing by officials from the State Property Fund, the body responsible for managing and privatizing state-owned assets.
Land sales in Ukraine reach $200 million 6 months after launch. Since Ukraine’s historic liberalization of its land market on July 1, Ukrainians have sold 155,000 hectares of land plots worth $200 million, according to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy. On average, 470 sales were made every day at an average price of $1,420 per hectare, according to Roman Neyter, agricultural expert at the Kyiv School of Economics.
Zelensky signs law designed to revive domestic machine building industry. The law on ‘localization’ will enter into force in six months and establishes new requirements for public procurement for over 100 products over the next decade, including locomotives, helicopters, trucks and public transport. The share of Ukrainian-made components in purchased goods will have to be gradually increased from 10% this year to 40% by 2028.
Air traffic over Ukraine in 2021 recovers to 70% of 2019 levels. According to the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise, 29,367 domestic flights, 116,932 international flights, and 83,944 connecting flights passed through Ukrainian airspace in 2021. That’s 62.3% more flight traffic than in 2020, and 31.2% less than before the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. Ukrainian-owned airlines also operated 64.4% more flights than in 2020.
First Ukrainian satellite in 10 years launched by SpaceX. The world’s leading private space exploration company headed by Elon Musk, SpaceX, successfully launched Sich 2-30, the first Ukrainian satellite to be launched into orbit in a decade. The Transporter-3 rideshare mission on Jan. 13 saw a Falcon 9 space vehicle take off at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying a total of 105 various spacecraft — mostly microsatellites and orbital transfer vehicles, according to SpaceX.
Ukrainian film ‘Magda’ wins best drama at Budapest Film Festival. It tells the true story of German Magda Homann, who followed her lover to build a family in Ukraine during World War I and then faced the Holodomor, World War II and Stalinist repressions. The directorial debut by Denys Soboliev previously received the prize for best film at India’s Golden Eagle International Film Festival in December. In Ukraine, it will premiere in theaters this fall.