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.
Pandemic in Ukraine
Ukraine approves booster shots for adults. Health Minister Viktor Lyashko announced the approval of booster shots for all fully vaccinated Ukrainian adults. The Ministry of Health has also eased the rules for mixing Covid-19 vaccines for the first, second, and booster doses.
Russia’s war against Ukraine
Borrell: EU to apply full power of sanctions if Russia escalates. If Russia launches another full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the European Union will use its full array of sanctions on the Russian economy and key officials, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy and security, told the Kyiv Independent during his visit to Kyiv on Jan. 6.
US, Germany warn Russia against further escalation, reiterate support for Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Washington D.C. on Jan. 5 to discuss Russia’s troop build-up near Ukraine’s border. Blinken said the U.S. hopes to resolve the situation through diplomacy, but both Blinken and Baerbock also stressed that Moscow will face severe consequences in case of further aggression against Ukraine. “Russian actions come with a clear price tag,” Baerbock said.
UK prepares high-impact measures against Russia. U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the country’s parliament that the U.K. is working with partners on new sanctions which will be imposed in case Russia further invades Ukraine. Moscow will face "massive consequences, including coordinated sanctions to impose a severe cost on Russia's interests and economy," Truss said.
Court seizes ex-President Poroshenko’s assets in treason case. Kyiv’s Pechersk Court issued a ruling on Jan. 6 to seize ex-President Petro Poroshenko’s assets under the treason charges against him. Poroshenko is accused of involvement in purchasing coal from Russian-occupied areas in the Donbas in 2014-2015 to supply Ukrainian state-owned enterprises. He has denied wrongdoing and called the case a political vendetta.
43 Ukrainians stranded in Kazakhstan amid ongoing protests. According to Oleg Nikolenko, press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 43 Ukrainian citizens are currently unable to return to their homeland, as flights into and out of Kazakhstan have been canceled due to the nationwide uprising. Nikolenko said that flights from Kazakhstan are expected to resume on Jan. 7, and the Ukrainian Embassy is working to bring citizens back promptly.
Iran refuses to engage in talks on downed UIA passenger plane. The International Coordination and Response Group for flight PS752’s 176 victims said that Iran refused to participate in negotiations regarding reparations. The group, which is made up of ministers representing countries whose citizens died in the crash near Tehran in 2020, including Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and the U.K., will now take action to resolve the issue in accordance with international law.
Russia breaks coal blockade of Ukraine to supply Luhansk power station. Russia previously stopped exporting thermal coal to Ukraine on Nov. 1, and followed this up by blocking trains carrying coal from Kazakhstan. However, on Jan. 6, Ukraine’s Trilateral Contact Group representative Victoria Strakhova announced that Russia had broken the embargo and supplied 60 rail cars of thermal coal to Luhansk thermal power plant, which is located on Ukrainian-controlled territory just outside the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk.
Ukraine 2021 exports hit 10-year high at $68 billion. Ukraine’s total trade volume grew by 36.7% in 2021, helping exports hit levels unseen since 2012, before the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which caused the loss of much of the industrial Donbas region and the tourism hotspot of Crimea. The largest exports were metals ($16 billion), plant-based agriculture ($15.5 billion), and mineral products ($8.4 billion).
Government made $185 million from privatization in 2021. The figure is the highest since 2014, but is only 43% of the target amount set by the government at the beginning of the year. The largest sale of the year was the Bilshovyk machinery plant in Kyiv, which was bought by construction tycoon Vasiliy Khmelnitskyi in controversial circumstances for $52 million, a figure that experts said reflected less than half of the property’s true value.
State railway operator Ukrzaliznytsia warned it could lose its license. Transport safety inspectorate Ukrtransbezpeka warned the state railway that it could lose its license to carry passengers and dangerous freight if it does not address its safety violations. Ukrtransbezpeka Head Evhen Zborowski wrote on Facebook that the first detailed inspection of the state railway in five years, held in July 2021, revealed 116 violations.