US sanctions corrupt judge Vovk, “economically infeasible” to import power from Europe

12 December 2022, 03:05 PM

Your slice of the top headlines in Ukraine. Daily. Monday, December 12th, 2022.

Weekend Catch-up Edition:

•   Invading Russian troops have mined 170,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory.

This represents around 30% of Ukraine’s total territory, and will take years to clear, President Zelenskyy noted. “This ‘terror’ is even more cruel and vile than a missile one, because there is no such anti-mine system that could neutralize the threat, as our air defense does (with air strikes),” the president said.

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•   Kyiv has published its 2023 municipal budget.

The budget is projected to take in UAH 66.3 billion ($1.8 billion) in revenue – a decline of UAH 2.4 billion compared to 2022 – and spend UAH 65.6 billion in expenses – UAH 6.5 billion ($176 million) less than in 2022. Most of the expenses will be directed to education, while the rest will be spent on transport and road maintenance.

•   Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR has suspended purchases of Russian crude oil for its Turkish refinery.

This indicates that Western sanctions are beginning to have an effect outside Europe and the United States, Reuters reported. Turkish refineries, in particular SOCAR's 214,000-barrel-per-day refinery, increased purchases of Russian oil after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February. Because of the proximity of the countries, this was a more profitable trade for Russian producers than shipping oil to Asia.

•   Metal bars installed around the office building of Ukrnafta are being cut down.

The bars are believed to have been installed by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky in 2015, when he barricaded himself inside the building office with armed men, claiming that they were put in place as "planned measures against possible illegal seizures.”

•   Russia strikes on critical Ukrainian infrastructure caused a 41% drop in the economy in November.

That’s according to the National Bank of Ukraine, which commented that the drop is much greater than expected, due to the strikes. "Our prognosis is minus 33.2% as for now. It worsened a little bit due to the attacks on energy infrastructure facilities on Nov. 23 and Dec. 5," Deputy Economy Minister Denys Kudin said, referring to the overall annual GDP drop.

•   Google will provide a $2 million grant for a digital education project in Ukraine.

The grant will be used to expand the Dii.Digital Education platform to implement AI assistance, interactive simulators, and job matching. The grant also provides funds for the creation of an educational app, and the production of new educational series and projects.

•   Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t be holding an annual in-person summit with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

The reason, according to Bloomberg, is due to Russian threats of nuclear weapons use, which renders Russia a repetitional liability for the Indian government of Narendra Modi – however, the two countries remain closely linked.

•   Importing power from Europe to Ukraine is not “economically feasible.”

Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, CEO of Ukrenergo, the country’s power grid operator, stated that during a press briefing, saying that Ukraine would need a special funding mechanism to be able to purchase European power. “No entity on the Ukrainian market would to buy it for EUR 200-250 ($211-264) per MWh from Romania or Slovakia – to then sell it here for EUR 80 ($84) per MWh,” explained Kudrytskyi.

•   Ukrainian retail has bounced back from the war.

According to the Retail Association of Ukraine, the retail sector in Ukraine has recovered to 90.7% of its pre-war levels. Thus, only 9.3% of retailers remain shuttered – a stark contrast to March, when 29.4% of them closed due to the invasion.

•   The United States has introduced visa restrictions against Pavlo Vovk, head judge of the Kyiv District Administrative Court.

The court is widely seen as the most corrupt in the country, and Vovk is widely seen as the most corrupt judge in the country. According to the U.S. State Department, the sanctions on Vovk are specifically due to his corrupt activities, including taking and inducing bribes, fraud, and illicit enrichment.

•   The United Nations has said that Belarus agreed to the transit of Ukrainian grain without any prior conditions.

This agreement would allow Ukrainian rail-shipped grain to reach Lithuanian ports. Reportedly, Belarus has pushed for a lifting of sanctions on fertilizers in exchange for allowing this transit

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•   The Norwegian government and the World Bank have signed an agreement to provide Ukraine with $100 million to restore Ukraine’s energy grid.

"There is an urgent need to repair the electricity supply system and other infrastructure in Ukraine following Russia’s bombing campaign against civilian targets,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt noted.

•   Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has signed off on Russia’s 2023 state budget.

30% of the budget will be allocated to security spending, including defense and law enforcement. "Therefore, other parts of Russia’s budget are likely to come under increasing pressure to support the costs of the war," the UK’s Ministry of Defense stated.

•   Every single thermal and hydro power plant in Ukraine has been damaged by Russia strikes.

There remains a significant capacity deficit in Ukraine’s energy system, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted. 40% of the country’s entire high-voltage network has been damaged to various degrees. “Each of us should realize that there will be significant restrictions on electricity consumption as we go through this winter,” Shmyhal said.

•   The day’s long read: Latvian media manager on Dozhd TV channel, Russian journalists’ behavior in his country

Konstantins Kuzikovs, the chairman of the board of AS Delfi, the Latvian branch of the network of online news outlets in the Baltic countries, in an interview with NV shared his thoughts about the revocation of the license of Russian television channel Dozhd (Rain) and his country’s attitude to this scandal.

•   Don’t miss: An historic success: What saved Ukraine from a massive missile strike on December 5 editor-in-chief Yuriy Butusov explains why a mass missile strike on Dec. 5 was not as impactful or as devastating as initially expected.

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