13:40 PM Wednesday, November 14, 2018 Monday, July 23
US provides additional $200m for security; Tesla Gigafactory unlikely; Additional Russia sanctions over Azov Sea interference; ProZorro to be enhanced with AI; Ukraine NATO aspirations complicated by extensive China links.
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The Pentagon said Friday it will provide an additional USD $200 million to Ukraine to boost its security as it struggles with a Russia-backed insurgency, as reported by the Washington Examiner. The funding will go to more training, equipment and military advising so the former Soviet republic can “defend its territorial integrity,” the Pentagon said in its statement.

On the other hand, sales of small arms from Ukraine to the United States have grown over the past year. The U.S. market now accounts for the largest share of small arms exports from Ukraine. Assault rifles, submachine guns, grenade launchers and even anti-tank weapons were shipped to the U.S. last year. Some observers have drawn attention to the fact that Ukraine's arms manufacturing industry is heavily driven by lucrative export contracts, meaning that much of their best weapon tech doesn't go to the Ukrainian armed forces. Last year, the United States bought at least 790 Ukrainian anti-tank weapons and Thailand acquired 16 BM Oplot main battle tanks, official records show.

Tesla appears to have no plans to enter Ukraine at the moment, sources tell the UBJ. Minister for Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan said he plans to officially invite Elon Musk's company to Ukraine to open a Gigafactory for the production of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Ukraine has some of Europe's largest proven reserves of lithium. But a source close to Tesla says the company doesn't plan to enter Ukraine at the moment. A Tesla company source declined to comment on any strategy for Ukraine and the possibility of opening a Gigafactory here in Ukraine, but pointed the UBJ to recent statements from Elon Musk that suggested France or Germany would likely be priority destinations for new, European Gigafactories.

Ukraine and the EU could be planning further sanctions against Russia in relation to the worsening maritime stand-off in the Sea of Azov. Since April, Russian border forces and military vessels have been detaining hundreds of ships headed to and from Ukrainian ports as they transit the Sea of Azov. The number of detained ships has been increasing and Russian search and seizure activities show little sign of relenting. Authorities say that every ship delayed by Russian border forces costs the affected shipping company somewhere in the region of USD $10,000. Ukraine and the EU will now look to possible legal action to solve the issue before it deteriorates further.

India is hungry for Ukrainian apples and one company is actively looking for new producers here, according to Ukraine's Export Promotion Office. "This Indian company is interested in the following main varieties of apples: Royal Gala, Gala must, Red delicious, Red Jonaprince, Jonagold, etc. The company is also considering the possibility of acquiring other varieties of red apples grown in Ukraine" the Export Promotion Office has said in a written statement. The planned volume of purchases is from 4 to 5 containers per week and companies have until August 19 to register their interest for the contract.

ProZorro could soon be enhanced and reinforced by artificial intelligence, according to Transparency International Ukraine. They presented a new version of the public procurement monitoring system in Kyiv late last week that they say will significantly enhance ProZorro. The main task of the new artificial intelligence is to assess the risks of each tender, Transparency International Ukraine says, as reported by Ukrinform. "If earlier the portal used to be a site for collecting feedback on suspicious purchases in the ProZorro system, now it will be based on artificial intelligence capable of independent learning. In particular, the system will evaluate each purchase on a combination of risk factors and select the most dubious ones," reads the TI statement. ProZorro couldn't be reached for comment over the weekend.

Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council has said it supports the regulation of cryptocurrencies, pushing the country towards legalising and regulating crypto. The status of cryptocurrencies in Ukraine is still vague. Three bills designed to legalise and regulate them and the related economic activities have been filed in the Rada since October but no significant progress has been made toward their adoption, UNIAN reports.

The National Bank of Ukraine has been inspecting currency exchange providers and continued its crack down on unapproved, illegal traders. So far this year, they've inspected 506 such businesses and identified that about 8 percent are operating illegally. Inspections have been taking place in most major cities. The number is down slightly from last year, according to NBU data. In 2017, they inspected 1,018 such money changers and determined that 10 percent were shady and operating illegally.

Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium are the only countries that don't support Ukraine in its opposition to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a deputy foreign minister has said in a TV interview. "There are only four countries that do not support us. These four countries are interested in the construction of Nord Stream 2, as they will obtain benefit from its functioning,” said deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal in an interview with TV Channel 5 on Saturday. "All other countries understand that the construction of this gas pipeline will in fact change the gas market in the European Union, and Germany will dominate this market," she added.

UBJ Special Report: Is Ukraine's path to NATO complicated by deepening ties with China? Kyiv recently passed a new law that aims to push the country closer to Europe and further along the path to eventual NATO membership. But are deepening ties with Beijing – Moscow’s close military ally – pull the country in a different direction? Jack Laurenson reports for the South China Morning Post and the Ukraine Business Journal.

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