Blinken makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine raises flag over Balakliya, and Russia continues oil exports despite sanctions

9 September, 01:29 PM

Newsletter by Romeo Kokriatski, Managing Editor, New Voice of Ukraine Friday, September 9th, 2022

•  U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv, announcing $2 billion in additional military aid.

This aid will be provided not only to Ukraine, but also 18 of its neighbors, including not only NATO members but regional security partners that are “most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression,” according to the Associated Press. This visit by Blinken coincided with the fifth multilateral meeting at the U.S. Ramstein Air Force base in Germany, during which Austin announced that the United States would provide Ukraine with another $675 million in military aid.

Video of day

 

•  The Ukrainian flag has been raised over the formerly occupied town of Balakliya in Kharkiv Oblast.

A video on social media has revealed this significant Ukrainian gain, though accompanying comments with the video warn that the city is has not yet been swept for remnants of Russian troops, and that civilians are advised to remain indoors for the time being. The liberation of Balakliya clears the way to nearby Kupiansk, which, in turn, would allow Kyiv to threaten Russia’s major logistical node at Izyum. In total, according to the Institute for the Study of War, 400 square kilometers of territory in Kharkiv oblast has been liberated by Ukrainian forces, taking advantage of the low morale, damaged logistical capability, and rapid redeployments of Russian forces to Crimea and Kherson Oblast.

 

•  A local headquarters of the United Russia party has been blown up in occupied Melitopol.

According to Melitopol mayor Ivan Federov, the facility had been used by Russian “officials” to coordinate preparations for a sham referendum in the region intended to add a sheen of legitimacy to Moscow’s military conquests. Russian media later confirmed the HQ’s destruction. Earlier reports have noted that Russia has yet to finalize preparations for their sham referendum, and Ukrainian gains in Kharkiv, Kherson, and Donbas may further complicate Russian plans.

 

•  Ukraine’s central bank has announced plans to peg the hryvnia to the euro.

At a briefing, Deputy National Bank of Ukraine Governor Yuriy Heletiy told press that as EU integration remains Ukraine’s ultimate goal, it makes more sense to peg the Ukrainian currency to the euro. In order to do this, Heletiy named a number of necessary steps to be taken, including: further development, expansion of economic ties, in particular trade ones, with the EU, and political rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union. While Ukraine could technically take such a move now, this could result in “volatility in the foreign exchange market,” Heletiy explained.

 

•  Russia continues to export oil products to Europe despite sanctions, says a new investigation.

The investigation, conducted by the Skhemy (Plots) investigative journalism organization, revealed that Russian oil tankers are transferring their cargo in the Black Sea to EU-flagged vessels, which then further dock at European ports. Another method used to circumvent sanctions using a Liberian-flagged tanker, dubbed NEW LEGEND, which also obtains cargo from Russian tankers before further delivering the goods to EU ports. The journalists revealed that Russian tankers in these schemes belong to the Volga Shipping company owned by businessman Vladimir Lisin, who, according to Russian Forbes, topped the list of the richest people in Russia in 2022.

 

•  An explosion at a power substation in the Russian city of Belgorod has left it without power.

The explosion, which occurred overnight, has resulted in a complete blackout, as well as a disruption in water supplies. Official Russian sources are yet to acknowledge the substation being taken offline. No group has claimed responsibility for the act, and Ukrainian social media users have suggested it may have been a self-inflicted wound – as multiple missiles launched from Belgorod towards Ukraine have been seen to fail mid-launch and fall back towards the city.

 

•  Norway donates 160 Hellfire missiles to Ukraine.

“This is a weapon that Ukraine has asked for, and it will prove useful in their fight against Russian invasion forces,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram. Ukrainian operators have also been trained in the use of Hellfire by Norwegian instructors. Norway has also donated night-vision equipment to Ukraine.

 

•  The day’s long read: What is the forecast for the hryvnia’s exchange rate in the coming months?

The cash market exchange rate for Ukraine’s hryvnia has more closely aligned with the official rate as set by the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). NV Business spoke to several experts to get their views on how the Ukrainian currency will fare in coming months.

 

•  Don’t miss: NV interviews UK writer Peter Pomerantsev.

Pomerantsev is a UK writer and journalist who researches modern media and who has for many years been analyzing propaganda –particularly Russian propaganda. In his 2014 book “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible,” he draws on his own experience as a TV documentary producer in Russia to describe a world of authoritarian rule, big money and all-powerful Russian television.

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