KYIV. April 21 (Interfax) – U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden assured Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko in a recent phone call that the United States is ready to extend $1 billion worth of loan guarantees and additional non-lethal military assistance to Kyiv, the Ukrainian presidential press service has reported.
“Vice President Biden informed [Poroshenko] that the United States is ready to provide Ukraine with loan guarantees amounting to $1 billion as part of the financial support package in 2015. He also announced the funding of projects to send humanitarian aid to displaced persons and people affected by the war in Donbas,” the press service said.
“The parties also discussed further actions in the sphere of defense, including plans to extend additional assistance to Ukraine,” he said.
During the phone call, Poroshenko thanked Biden for Washington’s decision to send U.S. soldiers to Ukraine to take part in the Fearless Guardian 2015 joint drills on Ukrainian soil.
“It is a new and important page that has already proven the strategic level of partnership between Ukraine and the U.S.,” the Ukrainian president said.
KYIV. April 21 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The interagency working group on coordinating the return of laundered money to Ukraine has prepared proposals on amending certain relevant Ukrainian laws, the press service of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has reported.
“The working group headed by Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaliy Kasko continues operating and the ways of returning funds illegally withdrawn by former high-ranking officials [hiding] outside Ukraine are being discussed at the interagency level,” reads a PGO report which was published on Monday.
Proposals to amend Ukrainian laws aimed at improving the mechanism on applying sanctions for the violation of the procedure on placing currency assets outside Ukraine have been prepared by the working group.
“The amendments aim at increasing payments to the Ukrainian national budget at the expense of those who violate the established rules of currency regulation and try to hide funds abroad,” the PGO said.
KYIV. April 21 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukrainian grain exports since the start of the current agricultural year (July-June) as of April 20, 2015 totaled almost 27.7 million tonnes, including 9.83 million tonnes of wheat, according to an Agricultural Policy and Food Ministry of Ukraine press release.
The ministry said that 12.42 million tonnes of corn and 4.26 million tonnes of barley were supplied to foreign markets. Other grain exports totaled 204,000 tonnes.
As reported, with reference to the State Statistics Service, Ukraine in 2014 harvested a record high of 63.8 million tonnes of grain and leguminous crops (excluding Crimea), which is 2.4% more than in 2013.
In late January, the ministry and grain market players signed a memorandum of understanding on grain exports in the 2014/2015 MY. In addition to the memorandum, the volume of wheat exports was defined – 12.8 million tonnes, including 7.1 million tonnes of food wheat, corn – 20.2 million tonnes, barley – 4.2 million tonnes.
KYIV. April 21 (Interfax) – Ukraine imported natural gas from Europe at an average price of $277.4 per thousand cubic meters in February 2015, down 14% from $322.5 in January.
The State Statistics Service said that Europe supplied 1.197 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth $332.063 million in February.
Ukraine received 450.584 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas worth $125.3119 million from Germany (average $278.1), 416.986 mcm for $117.666 million from Hungary ($282.2), 214.552 mcm for $56.565 million from Norway ($263.6), 94.426 mcm for $26.325 million from Britain ($278.8), 10.73 mcm from Switzerland for $3.125 million ($291.2) and 9.993 mcm for $3.072 million from Luxembourg ($307.4).
Ukraine imported 2.266 bcm of gas from Europe for $676.564 million in January-February 2015.
The State Statistics Service did not say how much gas Ukraine imported from Russia in February, but pipeline operator Ukrtransgaz said 924 mcm were imported from Russia in February, as much as in January 2015.
KYIV. April 21 (Interfax) – Ukraine will definitely join the European Union but its membership in NATO remains in question in the case of the alliance’s ineffective response to contemporary challenges, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said.
“I think that throughout the long period of its existence NATO has been focused on Article 5, i.e. mutual defense commitments, hard security. And we are saying that we are fighting a hybrid war. I am not 100% sure that NATO is fully prepared to fight similar or future hybrid wars and that NATO currently has a structure optimal for dealing with such [challenges] […] No doubt, NATO has been adapting. So, I am always frank about our critical need for participation in structures and guarantees. Yet we will have to seek other options if the alliance fails to provide guarantees for Ukraine,” he said in an interview with the online publication Evropeiska Pravda published on Friday.
He gave an affirmative answer to the question whether Ukraine would become an EU member.
Speaking of alternative ways to provide Ukraine’s security, Klimkin said, “These ways of the provision of security can create much bigger challenges to our partners than those they are currently anticipating from Ukraine’s possible NATO membership.”
Klimkin dwelled on problems existing within the North Atlantic alliance and said that the alliance was lacking consensus on many aspects of its development. “NATO is an organization with a rather complicated structure, incorporating, for instance, Canada and Turkey. So, a lot will depend on the development of NATO in the near future,” he said.
KYIV. April 20 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The grain handling capacity of Ukrainian ports will increase by 10 million tonnes per year by 2018, President of the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA) Volodymyr Klymenko has said.
“At present the handling capacity is about 45 million tonnes. In the next two or three years another 10 million tonnes will be added,” he told reporters during the First National Forum of Export Support in Kyiv.
Klymenko said that a number of companies are currently expanding or building new port terminals. In particular, Noble trading company plans to launch a terminal in Mykolaiv port in November. Also, Cargill is carrying out construction work at Illichivsk port.
In addition, according to Klymenko, a very important item for the development of grain logistics is the Infrastructure Ministry’s decision to perform dredging work in the Dnipro River. The work is expected to begin in mid-July. This will be preceded by a tender for its execution and the formalizing of permits.
“If we start doing this work, we have prepared the second projects on the Pivdenny Buh River. And then the desire to clean the Desna River will appear,” Klymenko added.