Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 2, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
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 and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 55 times in total, including at least 14 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery. Russian-terrorist forces shelled civilian areas of Troitske with artillery. No civilians were injured.
2. Ukrainian Patriarch calls on EU to maintain Russia sanctions
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Patriarch Filaret, the head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, has called on the European Union not to treat the conflict in his country’s east as Kyiv’s internal problem and urged the bloc to maintain sanctions against Moscow. […]
Filaret said Russia has underestimated the courage of the Ukrainian people, without which Russia would have continued on ‘to Poland and the Baltics and would not [have stopped even] there.’ He told lawmakers that Ukraine was ‘saving Europe.’
The Patriarch urged the European Parliament to keep up the pressure on Russia by continuing the sanctions regime imposed after the annexation of Crimea.”
3. Ukraine’s Health Ministry purchasing medicines through reformed procedures
Ukraine Business Journal reported, “Health Ministry purchasing medicines for UAH 6 billion through reformed procedures. By purchasing transparently through international organizations with the proper procurement standards, in 2016 up to 40% of the allocated funds were saved. Acting Health Minister Ulana Suprun announced this during the signing of new contracts, Ukrinform reports.
This year, the purchases will be carried out in 40 directions of the state’s programme in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, and the British agency Crown Agents. The new procurement contracts for medicines and medical equipment are worth UAH 5.9 billion.”
4. Ukraine’s Finance Minister addresses economic reforms
Ukraine’s Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk was in Washington in mid-April, where he attended an event at the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council reported, “According to Danylyuk, reforms led to economic stabilization defined by strengthening growth, slowing inflation, fiscal consolidation, and reserves accumulation. These achievements, he said, allowed Ukraine to return to the capital markets in September 2017.
However, the reforms put forth by the current government are not yet complete. Therefore, the results have not yet been tangible enough to avoid a certain vulnerability ahead of next year’s election, said Danylyuk. In the context of a pre-election year, volatility and uncertainty have been the main deterrents for international investors, further complicating the implementation of reforms and creating the vulnerability that Danylyuk described.
Confidence in Ukraine’s economy remains fragile, and potential investors seem to have switched into ‘wait and see’ mode, delaying investment decisions due to a level of caution that is typical ahead of elections.
Ultimately, Danylyuk insisted on the current government’s ability to achieve its stated objectives, in terms of economic growth, for the shorter and longer-term transformation of the country by implementing the planned reforms and following through on their application.
Danylyuk suggested Kyiv press ahead with short-term and long-term transformations that remain to be carried out, even as the political landscape becomes more complex ahead of the election. He said that land market reform, competition in the energy sector, and health care reform remain high on the political agenda, and must be implemented with care. However, population fatigue (declining popular support after a slew of government reforms), disbelief in institutions, and the danger of populism cannot be underestimated. ‘Populists can fill the pockets of Ukrainians with promises. That is usually what populists do,’ said Danylyuk.”
5. US Assistant Secretary of State visits Ukraine
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell visits Ukraine on May 1-3. The US State Department reported, “He will meet with senior government officials, other political leaders, and civil society representatives to underscore U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stress the importance of Ukraine implementing economic and anti-corruption reforms.”