Kerch Strait bridge closed, Ban Ki-moon goes to Bucha, and life in frontline Zaporizhzhya – The New Voice of Ukraine newsletter

18 August, 03:17 PM

This newsletter was compiled by Romeo Kokriatski, Managing Editor of the  New Voice of Ukraine, August 18, 2022.

The Kerch Strait Bridge, illegally built by Russia following the Crimean peninsula’s occupation in 2014, is the only overland link between Crimea and the Russian mainland. According to Ukrainian news channel Channel 24, the bridge was closed after Russian authorities determined that the bridge may soon be targeted by Ukrainian weapons – a ban that will remain in place until the following day.

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  • Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has called for the bridge’s destruction, defining it as a legitimate military target, though National Security and Defense Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov noted that “The amount of air defense they have put in to protect this facility is simply insane.
  • The bridge closure will likely complicate ongoing evacuation efforts from Crimea, with yesterday setting a record traffic jam of 38,000 cars on the way to the bridge.

Traveling with former Bolivian president Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, the pair expressed shock at the actions the Russians had taken in Bucha, and Ban himself criticized the veto power of the permanent Security Council members for resulting in a half-hearted UN response to the tragedy. “The international mechanism failed to somehow react to this because of the veto power,” Ban said, and said that necessary reforms were stalling because of the unwillingness of the permanent members to curtail this privilege.

Despite Russian claims to that effect, "Turkey’s defense procurement agency SSB denied that a second purchase agreement had been signed,” said Bloomberg in a report on the matter. Turkey first took delivery of Russian S-400 systems in July 2019. The deal between Turkey and Russia is reportedly worth $2.5 billion, and has been highly criticized by the United States, who ended Turkey’s plans to also purchase F-35 fighter jets, calling the two systems “incompatible.”

According to a representative from Siemens Energy, which built the turbine, it is still in a packaged state and ready for delivery, but "Russia continues to nitpick on documents with incomprehensible claims.” Russia had initially claimed that decreased flows of gas through Nord Stream was due to the turbine’s breakdown and delay in repairs – it had been sent to Canada for maintenance, and “stuck” due to sanctions. However, the Canadian government acquiesced to German demands to return the part on July 11, over Ukrainian objections.

The Ministry of Finance raised only $1.9 million at the auction, selling hryvnia-denominated bonds. The bonds on offer were six months at 12%, 14 months at 16%, and 12 months at 14$.

Data from the National Bank of Ukraine shows that in total, Ukrainian migrants working outside the country sent approximately $6.46 billion back home, and remittances are expected to increase in the second half of 2022. In total, the NBU believes remittances in 2022 will amount to $12.6 billion. Economists warn, however, that capital outflows from the country as a result of the full-scale Russian invasion still outpace remittances.

Surkis, formerly an MP from the now-banned pro-Russian Opposition Platform party, has been renting apartments in the five-star Monte-Carlo Bay hotel for many years – where the annual rent is EUR 2 million. He’s also been regularly spotted at the local casino. Surkis, along with his brother Ihor, fled Ukraine on Feb. 26, declared no cash at the Ukrainian border – but $17.6 million in cash was processed on the Hungarian side. Criminal proceedings have been initiated against the inspectors of the Vylok customs post of Zakarpattya Oblast Customs, who allowed the Surkis brothers out of the country without subjecting them to inspections.

The company behind the app has been unwilling to delete pro-Ukrainian channels, a Moscow court declared, and are not moderating the platform to remove information about the Russian military and Russian losses. Telegram has faced criticism from both Russian, Ukrainian, and Western parties for its nearly non-existent moderation policy, which has allowed for a proliferation of far right and pro-Russian, but also pro-Ukrainian, channels on the platform.

The city of Zaporizhzhya is one of Ukraine’s oblast centers and a historical monument to Ukrainian culture. It’s been under fire since the first of the full-scale Russian invasion, and has turned, like Kharkiv, into a frontline example of Ukrainian resilience. NV reporters traveled to the city and spoke to its residences, in order to gain a sense of what life is like under the shadows of Russian artillery and missiles.

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