Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 29, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian soldiers conduct battalion field training exercise, Yavoriv.
Photo – US Army Europe
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 54 times in total, including at least 16 times with heavy weapons – artillery and mortars.
2. Government of Canada tables response to House of Commons Defence Committee report on Ukraine
The Government of Canada has tabled its response to the report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence – Canada’s Support to Ukraine in Crisis and Armed Conflict, presented by the Committee in December 2017. The Government’s response is available here: Full Government Response to the Report of the Standing Committee on National Defence “Canada’s Support to Ukraine in Crisis and Armed Conflict“
3. Israel and Ukraine complete negotiations on Free Trade Agreement
Ukraine Business Journal reported, “Israel and Ukraine have completed negotiating a Free Trade Agreement and the document is ready for ratification by Israel’s Knesset and Ukraine’s Rada. […]
The Israel-Ukraine FTA will cancel import duties on 80% of Ukraine’s industrial goods going to Israel and will cut duties on many agricultural products Natalia Mikolskaya, Ukraine’s chief trade negotiator, told reporters. Last year, Ukrainian exports accounted for 80% the nearly $1 billion in two-way trade. Food products, largely grain, accounted for 54% of Ukraine’s exports to Israel. The FTA could increase volumes enough to justify a regular, direct Odesa-Haifa shipping line.”
4. UK PM considers banning City of London from selling Russian debt
The Guardian reported on March 28, “Theresa May has agreed to look into imposing a ban on the City of London from helping Russia to sell its sovereign debt, which prop ups the Russian economy.
Last month, City clearing houses, working alongside a major sanctioned Russian bank, helped issue $4bn (£2.83bn) of eurobonds to finance Russian sovereign debt, of which nearly half was sold in London markets. Nearly half the debt was bought by London-based investors, predominantly institutional investors.
A loophole in EU and UK legislation has allowed sanctioned Russian banks, primarily VTB bank, to act as the main organisers – known as book runners – for the issuance of Russian debt.
A public call for the loophole to be closed has been made three times in the past week by the foreign affairs select committee chairman, Tom Tugendhat. On each occasion ministers seemed to be unaware of the issue, but the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, last week described the idea as interesting. Speaking to the liaison committee of MPs on Tuesday, the prime minister said she would report back on the policy options.
The foreign affairs select committee is setting up an inquiry into how the UK financially props up Vladimir Putin’s allies, and the measures the UK has taken to clamp down on corrupt Russian money in London. […]
Tugendhat has been briefed by a British research fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, Emile Simpson, who has argued Russia’s greatest weakness is its dependence on western investors. He contends a policy blindness leads the west to sanction individuals, and sometimes sectors, but not to look at sanctioning the Russian state as a whole.”