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Ukraine Daily: Jan. 5 news round-up

by The Kyiv IndependentJanuary 6, 2022 11:17 am
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Editor’s Note: The following is the latest edition of the Kyiv Independent’s newsletter, Ukraine Daily. If you would like to receive news about Ukraine in your mailbox six days a week subscribe here.

Russia’s war against Ukraine

EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell visits frontline in eastern Donbas. According to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, his European counterpart is the first EU top official to visit the frontline since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine in 2014. Borrell is currently conducting his two-day visit to Ukraine in a show of support for Kyiv amid Russia’s ongoing military buildup near Ukraine.

“Discussions on European security must involve the EU and Ukraine,” Borrell said on Jan. 5. “There is no security in Europe without the security of Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg to meet Foreign Minister Kuleba before Russia security talks. Dmytro Kuleba will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Jan. 10, two days ahead of the scheduled crisis talks between Russia and NATO. After face-to-face talks with Stoltenberg, Kuleba will take part in a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission. “This is part of a large-scale diplomatic effort to deter Russian aggression,” Kuleba said.

National news

28 Ukrainian NGOs call for action against Russia’s closure of Memorial human rights center. Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Center were shut down on Dec. 29 by Russian authorities. The sister organzations were pivotal Russian human rights organizations documenting crimes against humanity committed in the Soviet Union, particularly during the Great Terror of 1937-1938.

Business

Prosecutors block accounts of steel giant ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih in tax evasion probe. According to the Prosecutor General's Office, the non-cash funds of the steel mill were frozen as part of a tax evasion probe launched in November 2021. According to the investigation, between 2017 and 2019, the financial director and the company’s chief accountant forged the sum received from the extraction of minerals in order to avoid Hr 2.24 billion ($82 million) in rent fees. The company says that these accusations are baseless and alleges “political pressure on the largest foreign investor.”

US Ambassador Kvien meets Ukrainian Energy Minister, promises stable energy supply. U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien met with Energy Minister German Galushchenko on Jan. 5 to discuss Ukraine’s energy security. The two discussed Russia blocking Ukrainian coal shipments from Kazakhstan, as well as Moscow’s deliberate decrease of gas transit to the EU through the Ukrainian Gas Transmission System. Kvien assured that the U.S. is ready to assist Ukraine in ensuring the stability of energy supplies, in particular for nuclear energy.

Gas transits through Ukraine have decreased by 25% in 2021. According to Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System Operator, the country’s pipeline moved 41.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021, compared to the 55.8 billion cubic meters a year prior. The main reason for the sharp decrease in gas flow is Russia’s deliberate decrease in the use of Ukraine as a gas transit country.

Finance Ministry: Ukraine borrowed less money than expected in 2021.According to the ministry, government borrowings amounted to Hr 602.8 billion($22.3 billion) or 86.2% of those planned in 2021. Most of the borrowings were done through the domestic sale of government bonds. Ukraine also received Hr 192.8 billion ($7.1 billion) from foreign investors and institutions, primarily the International Monetary Fund. In 2021, Ukraine paid Hr 441.1 billion ($16.3 billion) to cover past loans.

Region

Russian military to intervene in Kazakhstan amid ongoing street protests. Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to intervene and help quell the ongoing protests. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that the CSTO will deploy its troops shortly. Protests in Kazakhstan, sparked by a sharp increase in gas prices, have turned political with people on the streets turning on the authoritarian government and the country’s first President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who until recently held extensive sway over the country he had ruled since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Poland simplifies employment and residency laws for foreigners. According to the new amendments, Ukrainians can now work in Poland for up to two years without the need to apply for a work permit. In 2018, Poland's Foreign Ministryestimated that almost 2 million Ukrainians worked in the agriculture, construction and service industries.

Culture

'Shum' by Ukrainian band Go_A voted third best Eurovision song of all time. In an annual listener poll by the Eurovision Song Contest Web Radio, Ukraine’s 2021 entry came third behind the current winner "Zitti E Buoni" by Italy’s Måneskin and the 2012 winner "Euphoria" by Sweden’s Loreen, which has secured first place for the tenth year in a row.

Other Ukrainian entries in this list of top-250 fan-favorite Eurovision songs are "1944" by Jamala (14th), "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" by Verka Serduchka (72nd), "Wild Dances" by Ruslana (78th), "Shady Lady" by Ani Lorak (108th) and "Be My Valentine" by Svetlana Loboda (242nd).

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