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  • Ukraine Could Displace China as Rare Minerals Supplier to EU
  • Rada Gives Green Light to Electric Car Production
  • Saakashvili Cuts Red Tape
  • Kyiv Metro Trains Run Half Full

 

Ukraine could displace China as the EU’s top “supplier of raw materials and components for these technologies of the future for Europe,” said Maroš Šefčovič. The European Commission vice president, said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine. “You can do better than China. I understand [Ukraine’s] President, Prime Minister and your business leaders who want to ensure that Ukraine builds the entire vertically integrated supply chain around critical raw materials and added value stays in Ukraine as much as possible.”

Culminating a three-year effort, the Rada gave final approval to two bills designed to stimulate in Ukraine the manufacture of electric cars, components and chargers. For the next five years, VAT taxes are suspended on the import cars powered by electricity, methane or biogas. For the next 10 years, VAT taxes are suspended on the import of equipment to produce electric cars and components. Corporate income taxes will be waived for companies that produce electric vehicles, chargers, motors and lithium and lithium-ion batteries for electric cars for the next fifteen years.

According to GMK Centre, Ukrainian steelmakers will need to invest $25 billion in order to meet the new low carbon standards of the EU and the US. Speaking at an international forum: “Decarbonization of the Steel Industry: a Challenge for Ukraine.” Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest said: “Metinvest is developing a detailed roadmap to reduce CO2 emissions.” “We are very careful in working out each step that will eventually lead our production to carbon neutrality, because such a large-scale transformation should not harm the sustainability of our business.” Last week, the EU Commission announced an aggressive plan to cut carbon emissions, including a “carbon border tax” on imports of ‘dirty steel.’


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Over the next three years, Interpipe, the Dnipro-based steel pipe and railway wheel manufacturer, is investing $100 million in carbon reducing projects, Denys Morozov, First Deputy Director General of Interpipe, announced to the GMK forum. In an indicator of how far Ukraine has to go he said the share of steel produced by electrometallurgy, a low carbon method, “does not exceed 5%,” he said. By contrast, electrometallurgy shares are higher elsewhere: the Middle East – 94%; Mexico – 83%; the US – 71%; Turkey – 69%; India – 56%; Canada – 46%; and the EUnion – 42%.

Marking the first year of the National Reforms Council, Mikheil Saakashvili, the Head, lists in an essay several red-tape cutting changes instigated by the unit:

Mining: Currently, mining is carried out only on 35% of all explored deposits of industrial significance in Ukraine. The subsoil user’s path to the immediate start of mining is a complex and bureaucratic process that takes 1–2 years and involves obtaining several permits from eight bodies. After the draft law has been endorsed in the second reading by Verkhovna Rada, it will take only 4-6 months to obtain those [permits].”

Electricity hookups: Ukraine ranks 128th out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking in terms of getting connections to electricity networks. A new draft law supported by the Rada on first reading “will change the procedure for getting [electricity] and, critically, reduce it from 290 days to 97.”

Sailors: Sailors had to reconfirm their diplomas by taking examinations, a process that cost each sailor six months salary and engendered a useless recertification industry that extracted $120-150 million a year from sailors. The Rada endorsed a bill abolishing the requirement. Saakashvili, the former governor of Odesa region, wrote: “Annually sailors are bringing $2-3 billion to the Ukrainian economy so it is crucial to make it easier for them to work.”

The Rada approved in its first reading a bill designed to speed up privatizations of state companies. The bill ensures that large privatizations will now undertaken through online auctions and 10% of all funds raised from small scale privatizations will be allocated to local budgets. Dmitry Sennychenko, the Chairman of the State Property Fund, sees passage of the bill as essential for selling off most of Ukraine’s 3,000 state companies.

In other legislative news, the Rada also approved 3-year parameters for the national budget. The Budget forecasts for the next three years: the GDP will rise by 5% a year, unemployment will fall from 9.2% to 7.8%, and the dollar exchange rate will weaken from 27.3 today to 29.2 in 2024.

The IMF has welcomed the Rada’s recent approvals of judicial reform bills, but “more progress is needed in other sectors, said Gerry Rice, the IMF spokesman at the regular briefing in Washington. “Discussions with the authorities will continue.”

In Kyiv, Yuriy Geletiy, the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, predicted in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine: “This year we can get a tranche.” He said „an IMF tranche would trigger the release of €600 million from the EU and $350 million from the World Bank.”

Integration into the EU’s TEN-T highway network can bring $4.5 billion in investments to Ukraine by 2030, Economy Minister Oleksiy Lyubchenko announced at an investment conference. EU standard highways would generate more investment in Ukraine’s seaports and export industries, he said.

With work on the highway to Kyiv Boryspil incomplete, the westbound lanes – to Kyiv – closed Sunday and traffic will be temporarily routed on the eastbound lanes. Until work on the highway is completed in mid-August, air travelers should allow extra time to get to Boryspil, Ukraine’s busiest airport. “We are upgrading the road to the main airport of the country for the first time in 17 years – currently there are 164 units of equipment and over 150 employees in the mode of 24/7,” the Infrastructure Minister, Alexander Kubrakov, wrote on Facebook. “The 17-kilometer Kiev Boryspil highway has one of the largest traffic indicators in Ukraine – about 85,000 cars a day.”

Passenger levels on the Kyiv Metro is slightly more than half the level of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. During the first half of this year, the Metro carried 140 million passengers, compared to 244 million in 2019. Daily passenger numbers are now 775,000, compared to 1.4 million in 2019, the mass transit system has reported.

 

 

  • EU Sets Ambitious Green Goals
  • Ukraine To Assist as a Key Mineral Supplier
  • Ukraine Considers Import Ban on Diesel and Gasoline Cars after 2030
  • EU Reopens to Tourists from Ukraine
  • Kyiv’s Scooters Hit the Brakes

 

The EU would tax jet fuel, ban new gasoline and diesel cars after 2035 and impose a ‘carbon border tax’ on imports of ‘dirty’ steel, the BBC reported from Brussels. The plan, which has to be approved by the European Parliament, would implement a 10-year goal set last fall by the EU Commission to cut carbon emissions by 55% from 1990s levels. The biggest impact on Ukraine would be exports of steel. Steelmakers in Ukraine already are announcing multi-billion dollar investments to comply with expected EU norms.

Raw materials for batteries and renewable energy equipment promise a “a new chapter” for EU-Ukraine cooperation in the 2020s, said Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice President, at a forum in Kyiv. “Batteries are the main component of the entire field of electric mobility and storage for renewable energy,” he said. With electric car production expected to hit 6-8 million units by 2025, the battery market for these cars will be at least €250 billion a year, he forecast.

Critical raw materials, essential for decarbonising our economies, can be found in abundance in Ukraine, which holds deposits of 20 out of 30 such materials“, said Šefčovič, a politician from neighboring Slovakia. “Engage with us on the EU’s flagship strategy, the European Green Deal – in particular on clean game-changing technologies, such as batteries and the resources they need.”

EU mining and metals processing investments in Ukraine could win insurance cover from the new European Fund for Sustainable Development, said Kateryna Maternova, an EU official responsible for neighboring countries. “The idea is that the EU covers investment risks that may arise in certain countries,” she said, referring to the €40 billion fund.

Long term investment in Ukraine’s mining sector could generate $400 billion over the next decade, said the Prime Minister, Shmygal. Goals should be: double exports, cut imports by two thirds, and expand mineral processing. He said, Ukraine should aim to be a full partner of the EU in the extraction and processing of critical raw materials, rather than a “raw material donor.”

Prime Minister Shmygal said that Ukraine will need €100 billion in capital investment over the next decade to reduce emissions to 35% of 1990 levels. Ukraine’s 2030 emissions target is not considered very ambitious given the nation’s industrial contraction since 1990, as well as the loss of half of the Donbas in 2014.

To promote electric cars, the import of diesel and gasoline cars would be banned by 2030, under a bill of the Infrastructure Ministry. A ban on imports of used diesel cars would start earlier, on Jan. 1 2027. This year, about 7,000 new and used electric cars are expected to be imported into Ukraine, about the same number as last year. This would represent 1.4% of the 500,0000 cars expected to be imported this year.

Nibulon, Ukraine’s largest river shipping company, increased its cargo by 9% during the recently completed grain marketing year. In 219 barge trips, the company moved 4.3 million tons. Nibulon calculates this eliminated the need for 180,000 truck trips to the Black Sea ports. This year, the company aims for another 9% river cargo increase.

The Rada overwhelmingly approved the acceptance of a €340 million low interest credit line from the European Investment Bank to restore social and transport infrastructure in regions affected by the war in southeast Ukraine. The funds will also be directed to regions affected by an influx of internal refugees from the war-affected areas.

From today, the central bank will allow businesses to buy up to €100,000 a day without providing supporting documents. The move is part of multi-year liberalization of for foreign exchange laws. “We have decided to abolish this requirement gradually,” Yuriy Geletiy, deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, says in a bank press release.  “This will make it possible to assess the impact of each such liberalization step on the state of the market.”

President Zelenskiy will appeal a decision of the Supreme Court which invalidated his decision to cancel a 2013 decree by then-President Viktor Yanukovych to appoint Oleksandr Tupytsky as a judge of the Constitutional Court. Last fall, as head of the court, Tupytsky eliminated criminal liability for lying on mandatory asset declarations, destroying a key pillar of Ukraine’s anti-corruption reform. Judicial reform is a major demand of the IMF, business associations and clean government citizen groups.

Ukraine is to be added to the EU’s ‘green list’ of non-EU nations not subject to Covid travel restrictions, according to a decision taken in Brussels by ambassadors of the 27 nations to the European Council. The listing is a recommendation and is not legally binding. Prime Minister Shmygal welcomed the decision, writing on Telegram: “The final decision is up to Member States, but in fact the EU has greenlighted so that Ukrainians can freely travel to Europe.” New Covid cases have fallen to about 500 a day in Ukraine, the lowest level in one year.

Air passengers in Ukraine have returned to half the level of 2019, reports the State Aviation Service. During the first half of this year, all of Ukraine’s airports handled 5.5 million people, 51% the 10.7 million handled in January-June 2019. So far this year, 90% of passengers are flying international.

Ukrzaliznytsia has restored 80% of the passenger trains that ran in the summer of 2019. Last month, long distance passenger traffic was 63% of the level of June 2019. During the first half of this year, UZ carried 9.5 million passengers on long distance routes, almost half the level of 2019, says Ivan Yuryk, acting CEO of the state railroad.

A Mitsubishi elevator is to be installed next spring in the main hall of the Kyiv’s Central Rail station. The new $500,000 elevator is to be capable of handling 7,300 passengers an hour, said Ivan Yuryk, Ukrzalinytsia’s acting CEO. The new escalator is the centerpiece of a nearly $2 million overhaul of elevators and escalators in a station notorious for its steep stairs down to platforms. Separately, a disability access audit is to be performed of the Kyiv and Kharkiv main rail stations, the busiest in the country. Supervised by UNICEF, the audit also will be performed of Lviv and Kyiv Boryspil airports.

All seven electric scooter rental operators in Kyiv have lowered their top speed to 20 km/h, reports the Konstantin Usov, deputy chair of the Kyiv City Administration. Following a June 24 agreement with the city, operators are marking their scooters with four digit licenses. By using GPS mapping, four companies have set 14 km/h zone and no movement zones. Bills in the Rada would ban scooters from sidewalks and require helmets.

 

 

  • Chinese and Ukrainian Presidents Discuss Highway Construction
  • EU Wants to Access to Ukraine’s Rare Minerals
  • Central Bank Leadership, Rada Vote, Talks in Washington – All Lead to IMF Deal
  • Avakov Resigns

 

The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, congratulated President Zelenskiy on his “Big Construction” project and “expressed China’s readiness to cooperate in this direction,” Ukraine’s presidential office reported on the first telephone call between the two leaders. “In addition, the parties paid attention to the potential of cooperation in the field of trade and the possibility of increasing its volume,” Zelenskiy’s office reported on the call. Two weeks ago, China and Ukraine signed an agreement in Beijing to promote more Chinese construction of highways, railways, bridges and seaports in Ukraine, much of it financed by its national bank.

For his part, Zelenskiy called China “Ukraine’s No. 1 trade and economic partner in the world.” He expressed the hope that Ukraine will become “a bridge to Europe for Chinese business.” He thanked the Chinese leader for delivery of anti-coronavirus vaccines, saying: “These vaccines have saved the lives of many Ukrainians.” Finally, both leaders agreed to conclude a visa-free travel agreement between Ukraine and China.

Washington considers growing trade between Ukraine and China to be “normal,” but warns loss of control over strategic enterprises, such as the Motor Sich aviation engine factory. Speaking to Ukraine 24 TV channel, George Kent, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said: We believe that Ukrainian civil servants and companies need to be very vigilant to avoid this potential loss of control over production information.” Referencing intellectual property theft. “But this is a different thing than normal economic activity. So, there are opportunities, but there are also threats.”

Of an EU list of 30 critical raw materials, 21 are in Ukraine, said Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission’s Vice President.  Speaking at the signing of a co-operation agreement in Kyiv (EU-Ukraine batteries and raw materials cooperation agreement): “We’re talking about lithium, cobalt, manganese, rare earths – all of them are in Ukraine.” At present, China provides 98% of the EU’s supply of rare earth elements, a key component for magnets used in electric car batteries, smartphones and wind turbines.

Next year the EU will spend €750,000 to secure Ukraine’s place in the EU battery supply chain. Šefčovič said that the funding is “to help Ukraine to align its regulatory mining framework to that of the EU, committing to the highest environmental, social and governance standards.”

Work already has commenced on the preparation of the legal environment for EU mining investment.  At the EU-Ukraine forum, Matti Maasikas, EU Ambassador to Ukraine, told reporters that: “Our common carbon-free future requires the widespread use of electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels and energy storage facilities.” He said about the new need for strategic materials in the 2020s: “This technological shift depends on reliable access to the critical raw materials used for these devices.”

Ukraine’s central bank appointed Serhiy Nikolaychuk, to be the new Deputy Governor responsible for monetary policy. Nikolaychuk has worked for 15 years at the National Bank of Ukraine, rising to head the monetary policy department. In 2019-2020, he was the Deputy of then Economy Minister, Timofey Milovanov. For the last year, he has led the macroeonomic research department of ICU investment bank.

“This is good news for our international partners,” Viktor Kozyuk, a member of the central bank’s council, told Bloomberg. “Serhiy has experience of cooperating with them. They’ll speak the same macroeconomic language.” Nikolaychuk succceeds Dmytro Sologub, a familiar interlocutor of international financial institutions. His five-year term expired. Sologub is moving to Washington to work for the IMF.

Timothy Ash wrote that with the Nikolaychuk appointment by President Zelenskiy is sending “a clear signal to the IMF that he wants to put the NBU back on a reform path or do whatever it takes to make peace with the IMF this side of a Biden meeting.”

Removing an obstacle to an IMF agreement, Ukraine’s Rada approved a bill that gives external advisors authority over the selection of judges. Last week, Zelenskiy vetoed a version that removed this power. The law is seen as key to building an honest judiciary.

As the Finance Minister’s visit to Washington continues into its second week, Minister Serhiy Marchenko said he is having “very good” talks with the IMF and the US Treasury Department. “We will be able to fulfill all our commitments under the IMF program and be able to continue it, as well as receive support directly from the United States.” He said, referring to the $5 billion IMF program that stalled after disbursement of the first $2 billion tranche one year ago. Speaking on a Center for European Policy Analysis program, Marchenko added that he is also meeting with US contractors to discuss road building projects in Ukraine.

The Finance Ministry has tripled proceeds from its weekly bond auction, netting the equivalent of $361 million. This figure compares with $113 raised million the week earlier, the Ministry reports on Facebook.  Yields were virtually unchanged for the six bonds offered. The most popular hryvnia bond, the 2-year, offered a yield of 12.09%. Investors also bought $65 million worth of 1-year dollar bonds, which carried a yield of 3.7%, the Ministry reports on its website.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s longest-serving minister, resignedDenis Monastyrsky, a ruling party Rada member, has accepted President Zelenskiy’s invitation to succeed him. In the Rada since February 2014, the culmination of the Revolution of Dignity, Avakov served under two Presidents and four Prime Ministers. Commanding 200,000 law enforcement officers, he was often seen as the second most powerful political figure in Ukraine. No reason was given for his resignation.

 

 

  • Ukraine to Feed EU’s Fast-Growing Electric Car Battery Marked
  • Pfizer Vaccines Arrive from US
  • Israel’s Iron Dome to Protect Mariupol Airport?

 

Highlighting growing EU interest in Ukraine as a source for raw materials for electric batteries, the EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, traveled to Zhytomyr to tour the large scale state-owned titanium-zirconium mine which will be privatized on August 31. The parent company, United Mining and Chemical Company, Europe’s largest titanium producer, has attracted EU based firms as qualified bidders, according to Dmitry Sennychenko, Chairman of the State Property Fund.

The photo opportunity at the open pit mine came as Šefčovič prepares to sign the EU-Ukraine strategic partnership on raw materials and batteries in Kyiv. Parallel to the signing of the partnership, an all-day forum will be held: Conference on Critical Raw Materials and Batteries.” Šefčovič, who held the commission’s Energy portfolio for five years, said that: “Securing a sustainable supply of raw materials is an essential prerequisite for delivering on green and digital transition objectives.” With batteries and energy storage seen as key technologies for the 2020s, the EU is investing billions of euros to develop its own production capacity to avoid dependence on China.

During the 2020s, South Korea plans to invest $35 billion in the development of electric car batteries, reports 3dnews. “LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI are key players in the battery market and are planning to invest both in battery technology research and in manufacturing itself,” the South Korean government said. During the decade, the world car battery market is expected to grow almost 8-fold, from $46 billion in 2020, to $352 billion in 2030. In the first five months of this year, China’s Amperex Technology, accounted for 31% of global battery sales, according to Korea’s SNE Research.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said hackers linked to the Russian government attacked the website of the Ukrainian Naval Forces, posting fake reports about the international Sea Breeze-2021 military drills. The official website was restored within hours. The two-week naval exercise involved units from 32 countries, including 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, and 18 special operations and dive teams. An annual Black Sea military exercise, Sea Breeze concluded at 11th of July.

Ukrzaliznytsia is auctioning 22 ‘non-core’ real estate properties in six cities this week, Ivan Yuryk, the Acting CEO of the state railroad, said. Through the Prozorro.Sales electronic platform, UZ is selling properties in Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Sinelnikovo, Smela and Chop. Joining a national movement to give dead state properties a new life under private ownership, UZ plans to sell 182 such properties this year. “All objects offered for sale are located in attractive places for doing business, potential buyers will be able to see them in person,” Yuryk tells the UZ press service. “We will provide unimpeded access to them. Therefore, we invite everyone to participate in the auctions.”

The American Pfizer vaccine, expected in Ukraine in coming days, will be available to all Ukrainian adults who sign up for anti-coronavirus vaccinations, the Health Ministry said. Ukraine is to receive 1 million Pfizer vaccines, part of 8 million vaccines expected this month. Over the last five months, 3.3 million Ukrainians – about 10% of the adult population – have received at least one shot. Daily new Covid cases have dropped from 5,000 in May to 500 today. However, health experts warn the country is in a race against time, racing the expected spread this fall of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Air passenger volumes at Kyiv Sikorsky, the capital’s right bank airport, have fallen to fourth place nationwide, after Kyiv Boryspil, Lviv and Kharkiv. From January to June, Kyiv Sikorsky, a Wizz Air hub, carried 337,344 passengers – 25% the 1.3 million carried during the first half of 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic year. Planning for better days, the Kyiv City Council last week approved the transfer of 13 hectares to allow Sikorsky a 500-meter runway expansion. The airport is to be closed for much of 2023 for construction.

Cherkasy airport is to become Ukraine’s latest regional airport to reopen. A $5 million airport and runway rehabilitation project will be completed this fall, said Oleksandr Skichko, head of regional administration, tells Ukrinform, the state news agency. SkyUp has said it is interested in operating flights to Turkey and Egypt from the airport, which is located 160 km south of Kyiv Boryspil.

Israeli security experts are to visit Mariupol to study installing an Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ system to allow commercial airlines to use Mariupol’s airport, Deputy Mayor Sergei Zakharov told the city news site “Mariupol.’ Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts short range rockets fired from less than 70 km. By rocket, Mariupol International Airport is 20 km west of the frontlines. Occasionally used for military flights, the airport with its 2.5 km asphalt runway was closed in June 2014 to commercial aircraft.

One Iron Dome battery costs $50 million. During April-May of this year, Hamas, the Palestinian group fired 4,500 rockets at Israel, prompting Israeli authorities to briefly close Tel Aviv airport. The Iron Dome producers, Rafael Advance Defense Systems together with Israel Aerospace Industries, face strict export controls. A cheaper alternative for Mariupol would be to build a new airport. To serve Ukraine’s largest city on the Azov, with 500,000 inhabitants, city officials are studying two sites, further west from the city, Mayor Vadim Boychenko told the city news portal.

Till August 20, Kyiv’s Funicular is closed for annual maintenance, reported Kyivpastrans, the city public transport company. During the summer, ridership falls to 2,000 a day, half normal levels. Built in 1905, the Funicular connects the lower city – Podil – with the upper city – St. Michael’s Square.

 

 

  • From IMF With Love: $2.7 billion
  • SBU Tells Vinnytsia Power Co. of Ukraine’s Biggest Crypto Farm Next Door
  • Chornobyl’s Future: Energy Plantation?

 

Ukraine should receive $2.7 billion from the IMF by late August, in time for $3 billion in debt payments due in September, Vladislav Rashkovan, Ukraine’s Alternate Executive Director to the IMF, writes on Facebook from Washington. The funds will be Ukraine’s portion of a $650 billion distribution of IMF money approved Thursday by the IMF Board. “This is a very positive step by the IMF, including for Ukraine, as it will help the government to calmly manage public finances,” Rashkovan wrote.  The IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a statement: “We expect the SDR allocation to be completed by the end of August.”

Separately, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko reported that Ukraine and the IMF have reached a compromise on anti-corruption and corporate governance reforms. Last week, Marchenko had a series of meeting with IMF officials in Washington to try to restart the IMF lending program that stalled one year ago. The Finance Ministry statement concluded: “The parties agreed on close communication and joint work to be able to reach the Staff level agreement in the near future.” Economy Minister Oleksiy Lyubchenko said Ukraine’s government expecting to receive the $700 million loan tranche before the end of this year.

During the first half of this year, Ukrainians sold a net $1.25 billion in dollars to banks, Bohdan Danylyshyn, Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine Council writes on Facebook. Citing “a steady predominance of foreign currency supply over demand,” he said that net foreign currency sales to bank in June totaled the equivalent of $329 million. Fueling the supply of dollars, Ukraine is enjoying high prices for its export commodities – iron, corn and wheat – and the Covid pandemic has curbed foreign travel to the EU.

Ukrzaliznytsia’s $300 million Eurobond at 7.875% is getting poor reviews. Dragon Capital, co-organizer with JP Morgan, reports that 94% of the investors were from large asset management funds and 91% were from Europe and the UK.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy wrote: The placement rate implies a spread to the sovereign curve of 247 bps, which looks too high for a quasi-sovereign issuer. Two years ago, Ukrainian Railways issued a new bond with a 155 spread to the sovereign curve. In fact, this is the third-worst issue spread in Ukraine’s quasi-sovereign universe over the last 10 years.”

Last month the rate of Inflation slowed, falling to a 0.2% rise over May, reports the State Statistics Service. However, compared with June 2019, prices were up by 9.5%. The main driver is a 175% yoy increase in the price of natural gas. Prices also rose for two products where Ukraine is self-sufficient: sugar prices increased by 70% and sunflower oil prices rose by 80%.

“The largest crypto farm in Ukraine” was discovered last week in a warehouse adjacent to facilities of Vinnytsiaoblenergo, a regional electricity provider, reports Ukraine’s State Security Service, or SBU. The service released photos of the warehouse, with 3,800 PlayStation 4 consoles stacked from floor to ceiling. The SBU estimated that the operation to mine cryptocurrencies was stealing about $200,000 worth of electricity every month, enough to power one quarter of Vinnytsia, a city of almost 400,000 people.

Vinnytsiaoblenergo, a publicly held company, said on Facebook that it was shocked by the media reports. We officially declare that our company has nothing to do with any unlawful activity,” the company said in the release, also posted on its website. “Our company’s premises never worked equipment designed for mining cryptocurrencies.” After the July 7 raid by the SBU, the company check its books and concluded: “During the examination, no facts of electric theft were found by representatives of the control authority. Therefore, information on multi-million dollar electricity thefts does not correspond to reality.”

Parts of the Chornobyl exclusion zone could become a plantation for growing crops for biogas, Economy Minister Oleksiy Lyubchenko told Ukraine’s international reform conference in Vilinius last week. “Ukraine has the Chornobyl zone, where a huge amount of land is not used,” he said. “There, you can grow crops such as corn, then process it into biogas, and make electricity from biogas.”

Lviv’s airport passenger flow during the first half of this year was only 54% the level of January-June 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. So far this year, passengers total 512,370. This was up 37% over the first half of last year, a time when most commercial air traffic was suspended for the second quarter. Catering largely to outbound travelers, the most popular destinations this year are: Antalya, Istanbul, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Kyiv.

An early summer surge in air travel is prompting UIA to increase slight to southern destinations, the airline reports. More flights are being added from Kyiv Boryspil to: Athens, Baku, Cairo, Larnaca, and Yerevan. On resumption of flights to New York, Ukraine International Airlines writes: “UIA has canceled all direct flights to/from New York until November 2021.”

With electric scooters proliferating on the sidewalks of central Kyiv, two bills are before the Rada to limit electric vehicles – scooters, Segways, and unicycles – to bicycle lanes or the edges of streets. Riders must be 16 years or older, wear a helmet and ride alone. Violator would incur a fine of $9.30. Riding while drunk would risk a fine of $18.60.

The original English version is from our partner UBN – Ukraine Business News. For more information and news archive, go to: www.ubn.news.

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