Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yanukovych, Medvedev meet outside Kyiv

KYIV, April 27, 2011 (UKRINFORM). President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who arrived in Kyiv to participate in commemorative events marking the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster, met at the Zalissia state house outside Kyiv. Viktor Yanukovych noted that the meeting was a good opportunity to discuss topical issues of bilateral relations between Ukraine and Russia, in particular, issues of the 5th Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental commission meeting in June. "We still have a lot of questions that we have to solve together with you," the president of Ukraine said. As UKRINFORM learned from the press service of the President, Viktor Yanukovych thanked his Russian counterpart for the active participation of the Russian delegation in the events timed to the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl tragedy. The Russian President, in turn, assured that Russia would continue to cooperate with Ukraine in overcoming the consequences of the Chornobyl accident, in particular on the issue of construction of a new shelter facility. Dmitry Medvedev also noted the need to discuss current issues and new projects that emerged in connection with the positive developments in relations between the two countries. "One thing is absolutely certain: our relationship has got out of crisis, both interpersonal and economic," the Russian President said.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fleet will never quit Crimea, Russian says

MOSCOW, April 23, 2011 (United Press International). Russia's Black Sea Fleet will stay in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol "forever," its former commander says. Adm. Igor Kasatonov made the vow to the Ukrainian magazine Expert, RIA Novosti reported Saturday. A year ago, Russia and Ukraine extended the fleet's lease on the Crimean base until 2042. "The year 2042 is not the final date of the Black Sea Fleet's presence in Crimea. The Russian navy will stay in Sevastopol forever," Kasatonov said. "Russia will never give up either Sevastopol or the Kuril Islands," he said, referring to the Far Eastern island chain captured from Japan at the end of World War II and still claimed by Tokyo. Kasatonov also said the fleet needs updated weaponry to meet present and emerging global threats. The Black Sea Fleet has about 40 operational vessels, but most are slated for decommissioning. Russia's navy chief, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said last year it would be reinforced with 15 new ships and submarines by 2020.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chief of General Staff invites Finnish military to exercises

KYIV, April 16 (UKRINFORM). Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Hryhoriy Pedchenko invited representatives of the Finnish Defense Forces to participate in the Ukraine-U.S. tactic exercise Rapid Trident 2012.

As the press service of the Defense Ministry informed, he handed over a relevant invitation during a visit to the Finnish Republic. The military exercises are planned to be held since July 23 and till August 3 next year in Yavoriv district of Lviv region (Ukraine's west). During the visit, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces held negotiations with the Chief of the Finnish Defense Forces, General Ari Puheloinen, on the issues of reformation and development of the armed forces of both countries, as well as on the state and perspectives of the Ukraine-Finland military cooperation. In addition, members of the Ukrainian delegation visited the Karelia Brigade, familiarized with reforms, held in the Finnish Army, shared experience of peacekeeping activities and determined the ways for further cooperation.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strategic Flexibility a Key Issue for Ukraine in Trade Relations with Russia and the EU

April 9, 2011 (Foreign Policy Journal). The Russian government has been increasing pressure on Ukraine to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan and halt the process of negotiating the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU, expected to be completed by year’s end. While the Ukrainian delegation holds the talks on the EU-Ukraine association agreement in Brussels this week, expected Prime Minister Putin’s visit to Kyiv next week could offer both a “stick” and a “carrot” for Ukraine. A closer look reveals that the risk of a trade war with Russia is not critical, while the benefits of strategic flexibility and strong degree of economic sovereignty are more beneficial for Ukraine.

On 16 March, Vladimir Putin said that “Russia may proceed to tighten up its borders if the free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU goes ahead.” Alongside the threat of trade sanctions, Russia may also present certain economic preferences encouraging Ukraine to suspend the process of EU trade agreement and join the Customs Union. Ukrainian officials’ responses have emphasized the priority of reaching agreement on DCFTA with the EU and finding a plausible solution on cooperation with Russia and the Customs Union through entering the CIS Free Trade Area Agreement, which according to consensus estimates could be signed in May. Russia’s most radical offering would be the reduction of the natural gas price and the levy of export duties for the exports of Russian oil and fuel products to Ukraine. The levy of oil export duty according to Ukrainian Ministry of Economy estimates could create $3-3.5 billion per year benefits for Ukraine and halving the Russian price would result in $4.5 billion benefit. It is likely that Russia could take such costly steps, if at all, only demanding substantial commitments from Ukraine, which would decrease the degree of strategic flexibility and economic sovereignty that the country presently enjoys.

Friday, April 1, 2011

AeroSvit doubles Kyiv-Stockholm flight frequency

KYIV, April 1, 2011 (UKRINFORM). AeroSvit has doubled the frequency of Kyiv-Stockholm flights since the beginning of summer navigation (March 27 through October 29), the company said in a statement. The number of flights between the capitals of the two countries rose to ten flights a week - daily flights from Kyiv in the daytime were complemented by three flights in the evening - on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.