- EU leaders will agree tomorrow to prolong economic sanctions on Russia, Reuters reports from Brussels. Sanctions were imposed over the annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Due to expire next month, the sanctions now will be extended through mid-summer.
- Turkey has closed its ports to ships from Russia-occupied Crimea, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko reports. In October, Lutsenko and a representative of the Crimean Tatar community visited Turkey and asked that maritime links with Crimea be cut. “Turkey adopted a rather tough decision afterwards,” Lutsenko told UNIAN. “It was immediately introduced and is being implemented to prevent the entry into Turkish ports of ships that violate economic sanctions over Crimea occupation.”
- Hyundai Corp, Ukrsotsbank and several Ukrainian banks were victims of a fraudulent scheme for $30 million, according to a joint press release by Hyundai and Ukrsotsbank. The companies say that OOO Rona Company of Ivano-Frankivsk received loans based on fraudulent real estate documents. The release says: “The guarantors for loans were companies that provided security on real estate objects that exist only ‘on paper’ and registered in the state real estate registry on the basis of counterfeit documents.” Hyundai lawyer Yeo Young-Chan told a press conference Tuesday that formal complaints were made in March to Ivano Frankivsk law enforcement agencies. But no action was taken and “the scammers walked quietly around the city.” Hyundai, now with the support of Lee Yang-goo, South Korea’s Ambassador to Ukraine, is asking the General Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the case.
- Moody's forecasts Ukraine GDP growth will rise to 3.5% next year, from 2% this year. By contrast, the Ukraine government prediction is 3% for 2018.
- Prices in November were 13.6% higher than in November 2016, according to the National Bank of Ukraine. Earlier in the year, the central bank predicted that Ukraine’s 2017 inflation rate would be 12.2%
- Andriy Kobolev, chairman of the Naftogaz board, lobbied extensively in Washington last week against Russia’s North-Stream 2 bypass pipeline. Meeting with Trump Administration officials and members of Congress, he warned that pipeline would cost Ukraine more than $3 billion in annual transit revenues. The Russia-Germany pipeline “would increase the dependence of America's European allies on Russia and make them far more susceptible to Russian influence,” he warned. No longer dependent on Ukraine’s gas transportation system, he said: “Moscow will be able to deploy a full-scale war in the east of Ukraine. The United States should not allow this."
- A fiery explosion Tuesday at a gas pumping station in Baumgarten, Austria, resulted only “in a slight decrease in gas supplies from Ukraine in the Hungarian direction,” Ukrtransgaz reported.
- Naftogaz, the nation’s largest taxpayer, paid the equivalent of $3.8 billion in taxes and dividends to the national budget of Ukraine through November, the state gas company’s press service reports. That is the equivalent of 15% of total revenues for the budget.
- JKX Oil and Gas, a major private producer in Ukraine, is about to appoint three non-executive directors “in the wake of two boardroom overthrows in the last two years,” the Telegraph newspaper reports. The new directors of the London-listed energy company are to be: Adrian Coates, a director at Canada’s Thor Exploration, Michael Bakunenko, chairman of Ukrnaftoburinnya, and Vladimir Rusinov, a managing director at Proxima. Ousted are: Tom Reed as chief executive and Russell Hoare as CFO.
- A Lithuanian company, Global BOD Group, plans to make solar panels in Kherson, Serhiy Savchuk, head of Ukraine’s department of Energy Efficiency, said after meeting with Widmantas Janulevičius, chairman of the board of the Lithuanian company. After the 2014 loss of Crimea, Kherson, its northern neighbor, has become a focus for solar energy investment. This year, Ukraine is expected to install over 200 mw of solar power, double the solar capacity installed last year.
- In January, the EU will start funneling EUR 100 million into the Energy Efficiency Fund of Ukraine, Prime Minister Groysman said. Fresh from a trip to Brussels, Groysman said he “talked about expanding the EU funding of our energy efficiency programs.”
- The Ukrainian Association of the Gaming Industry is offering to open a ‘pilot’ casino at the Premier Hotel Palace Kharkiv. Such a casino would demonstrate the benefits of legal gambling, such as taxes and jobs, said Elena Derevyanko, press advisor to DCH, owner of the hotel. Gambling has been illegal in Ukraine since 2009.
- Tomorrow, SkyUp, a new Ukrainian discount airline, will be launched, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan told Interfax. Separately, Omelyan told Direct TV program that Ryanair and Boryspil Airport have found “common ground.” Last summer, Ryanair reversed a decision to enter Ukraine, citing intransigence by the management of Boryspil, where Ukrainian International Airlines is the principal tenant. On Nov. 24, UIA President Yuri Miroshnikov predicted that a national discount airline “will soon die.” Undeterred, Omelyan told Direct TV: "2018 will definitely be a year of cheap air transportation.”
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UBJ a.m. is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at email@example.com