- Ukraine Steel: From London’s Shard to Panama Canal Locks
- Ukraine to Sell Europe’s Largest Titanium Mine
Ukraine’s government imposed wideranging sanctions against Dmytro Firtash, owner of much of Ukraine’s nitrogen, titanium and regional gas distribution companies. President Zelenskiy’s decree is a frontal attack on one of Ukraine’s top 10 oligarchs. As posted on the presidential website, the decree blocks assets, restricts trade operations, stops money transfers and flights through Ukraine, prevents the withdrawal of capital from Ukraine, suspends financial obligations, and cancels subsoil use permits.
Ukraine’s trade with China, its largest trading partner, jumped by 48%, to $7.4 billion, during the first five months of this year, compared to January-May last year, Fan Xiangong, China’s ambassador to Ukraine told reporters. He said Ukraine is the top supplier to China of wheat, sunflower oil and sunflower meal. Speaking at a press conference dedicated to 10 years of the China-Ukraine strategic partnership, Fan said the two countries will sign “in a couple of days…a new form of Chinese participation in the construction of infrastructure in Ukraine.”
To celebrate Metinvest’s 15th anniversary, Ukraine’s largest steel producer, came up last week with a list of projects where Metinvest steel is used: London’s tallest building, The Shard; New York’s Hudson Yards real estate development; Genoa’s new highway bridge; locks on the Panama Canal; Caribbean cruise ships and Great Lakes cargo ships. In Ukraine, Metinvest steel was used in the sarcophagus over Chornobyl’s damaged nuclear reactor, and in Olimpiskiy Stadium, Lavina Mall and the ‘Klitschko’ pedestrian bridge.
With revenues last year of $10.54 billion, the steel and mining company had a net profit of $526 million. One new goal: to cut air pollution at its Mariupol steel plants to meet EU standards by 2025. Metinvest CEO Yuriy Ryzhenkov said at a press conference: “In the last seven years, the pollution levels of Metinvest’s plants in Mariupol have halved.” To cut pollution, Metinvest plans to invest $500 million over the next five years at the company’s 11 iron mining and steel producing units in Ukraine.
Iron ore concentrate production rose 10.4% yoy at one of Metinvest’s largest iron mines, Central Iron Ore Enrichment Works, or CGOK, reports SteelOrbis news site. For the first four months of this year, production hit 1.7 million tons at the mine, located in Kryvyi Rih.
Responding to high world steel prices, Interpipe has increased its production of steel and steel products by 10.6% yoy, the company reports. From January to May, Interpipe produced 368,200 tons. Top sales regions are: Europe – 29%; Middle East North Africa – 25%; Ukraine – 17%; CIS – 12%; and North America -14%.
Ukraine plans to auction Europe’s largest titanium and zirconium miner on Aug. 31, Dmytro Sennychenko writes on Facebook. With a starting price of $137 million for United Mining and Chemical Company, the sale will be the first large privatization since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. One of the world’s top 10 miners of titanium and zirconium ores, the company had these global market shares last year: rutile – 6.2%; ilmenite – 2.3%, zirconium – 1.4%. The company produces 350,000 tons of concentrates and exports to 35 countries.
Four titanium, three hydrocarbon and two ore licenses were revoked by the National Security and Defense Council, council secretary Oleksiy Danilov told reporters. Held for as long as four years, the licenses were never used. Danilov believes companies sat on the licenses to prevent rivals from producing. The Council is auditing all mining licenses issued since 1994. By Sept. 1, all 3,000 mining licenses are to be posted on the government’s Geoinformation Portal.
- Iron Exports Double to $3 billion
- Iron Miners Protest Plan to Boost Royalties
- Covid’s Delta Variant Comes to Kyiv
- Brits and Russians Could Be Barred
- China-Ukraine Food Trade Up by 33%
Through May, Ukraine’s iron ore exports dipped by 2% in volume, but doubled in value, to $3.1 billion, compared to the first five months of last year. The revenue rise accelerated in May, hitting $788 million, three times the level of one year earlier, reports SteelOrbis news site. The main markets are: China – 45.5%; Czech – 9.4%; and Austria – 8.4%.
Prices for ore and metal products have peaked, Yury Ryzhenkov, general director of Metinvest, Ukraine’s largest integrated metals company, told reporters at a press conference marking the company’s 15th anniversary. “Prices peaked at the end of May-June,” he said. “Now we are already seeing a decline in the market price for ore and metallurgical products. Most likely, the decline in prices for metallurgy will continue in the coming months.”
Metinvest and ArcelorMittal object to the Rada’s move to raise royalties on iron mined in Ukraine. Metinvest’s Ryzhenkov says that the company paid $370 million in taxes during the first half of the year – seven times more than in the first half of last year. “The budget is getting more money today than before,” the company general director told reporters. “This whole super-cycle translates into net profit, from which we pay the rent.”
If royalties go up, ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih may abandon a plan to $1 billion in new production, Mauro Longobardo, the company CEO, tells Ekonomichna Pravda “[If royalties go up] it creates an additional financial burden in the production of iron ore and runs counter to the possibility of investing $1 billion,” he said.
In Ukraine, Metinvest is planning to make high quality steel at its Illyich plant in Mariupol. Due to the lack of high quality steel, “there is no development of machine building or home appliances,” Ryzhenkov said. “It is impossible to attract a car manufacturer here.” In Italy, Metinvest is in advanced talks with Italian firm Danieli to build a rolling mill. Metinvest already has two steel plants in Italy – Metinvest Trametal and Ferriera Valsider, with a total annual capacity of 1.2 million tons.
The central bank council decided Wednesday not to renew its 5-year contract with Dmytro Sologub, a deputy bank governor, after it expires July 10. Sologub, a stalwart of the post-Maidan banking reform, is responsible for the Monetary Stability unit of the National Bank of Ukraine. This includes monetary policy, statistics, and international integration. On leaving the bank, Sologub will join the IMF to work in the Monetary and Capital Markets Department in Washington, he tells Ukrinform.
Timothy Ash writes from London: “Massive, massive loss to the NBU… Dima has become the point person for investors to understand the Ukraine macro story and how the NBU thinks about these things… It seems very much that the NBU will now move in a different direction with looser policy.”
Two-way China-Ukraine trade in farm goods jumped by one third, to $5.7 billion, during the first four months of this year, compared to January-April of last year, reports Ukraine’s Economy Ministry. Chinese investment in Ukrainian fisheries and food processing plants was discussed at a bilateral agricultural cooperation meeting in Kyiv. The meeting was co-chaired by Ma Yusyan, China’s deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and by Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s Trade Representative.
China’s first container train to Odesa arrived Saturday at DP World TIS Pivdennyi container terminal. Moving 50 containers, the train took 20 days to travel 8,408 km from Guangzhou (Canton) to Odesa. The train is to operate on a regular basis, Uni Laman Group, the Ukrainian freight forwarding company tells Rail.insider news site.
This year, 13 Chinese container trains have arrived in Ukraine, and 67 Chinese trains have moved in transit across Ukraine. Ukrzaliznytsia and freight forwarding companies are working to fill trains returning to China with exports from Ukraine. In the 10 years since the first Chinese freight train traveled to Europe, 40,000 trains have made this trip, carrying goods worth more than $200 billion, reports Rail.insider.
The highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant has come to Kyiv. A woman and a teenager who arrived from Russia tested positive and were hospitalized in Kyiv, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, told TSN news. The variant has spread to 92 countries and is expected to soon become the dominant strain in the US, UK and EU.
Ukraine is considering strengthening border controls over travelers from the Britain, India, Portugal and Russia to prevent the spread of Delta variant, the Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said. Only two weeks ago, as new infections started to dip below 1,000 a day, Ukraine relaxed travel requirements. With the Delta variant spreading in the UK, Britain recently delayed by one month a loosening of curbs, The Wall Street Journal writes in a piece headlined: “Covid-19 Delta Variant Threatens to Set Back Europe’s Recovery.”
Vaccinations seem to be effective against the Delta variant, or at least they minimize the impact. After a slow start, Ukraine is now vaccinating about 50,000 people a day at 90 mass vaccination centers across Ukraine. So far, 2.15 million vaccinations have been administered, covering about 6% of adults. About 7.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine are to be delivered to Ukraine in July, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin said at a panel titled “Why Ukrainians Don’t Want to Get Vaccinated.” U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer promises to deliver to Ukraine 20 million doses of vaccine over the next six months.
With Ukraine and rest of Europe racing to vaccinate as many people as possible, health officials warn there could be a fourth wave of the pandemic this fall. In April, at the height of the last wave, the number of deaths in Ukraine was up 48.5%, compared to April 2020, when the pandemic was only starting. Through June 18, the number of deaths in Ukraine this year was up by 24%, compared to the same time last year.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Ukraine 15 months ago, Kyiv Boryspil airport is opening all five of its passenger entrances and exits at Terminal D, the main terminal. “Summer is in full swing,” Georgy Zubko, the airport director, said. “The airport serves about 260 flights daily. The average daily passenger traffic exceeds 37,000 people.” All five entrances will be open from 8 am to 8 pm. At all times, only passengers with boarding passes may enter the airport. Boryspil handles about two thirds of Ukraine’s air traffic.
Air traffic in and out of Lviv airport this week exceeded pre-crisis numbers of June 2019, reports avianews.com. Last Tuesday, the airport handled 53 flights – two more than on June 22, 2019. On Wednesday, the airport handled 54 flights, four more that on the corresponding day in 2019. Last year, Lviv displaced Kyiv Sikorskiy as Ukraine’s second busiest airport, after Boryspil.
- Forecast: 100 Million Ton Harvest
- For the First Time in a Century, Ukraine Get A Farmland Market
- Britain Builds Ukraine’s Navy
- Bond Sales Jump
Well-timed rains are pushing this year’s harvest to a record 100 million tons of grains, oilseeds and beans, Nikolay Gorbachov, president of the Ukrainian Grain Association predicted at the recent International Grains Council’s Grain Conference. “What I can tell you about Ukraine is the conditions are just perfect,” Gorbachov told the online conference, The Western Producer reports from Saskatchewan, Canada. Ukraine’s previous harvest record was 98.3 million tons set in 2019-20. Twenty years ago, this combined harvest was 9.5 million tons.
Gorbachov’s predictions for this year’s harvests: corn – 37 million tons, up 22%; wheat – 30 million tons, up 20%; sunflower seeds – 16.5 million tons, up 28%; and canola – 2.5 million tons, unchanged. The headline on the farming news site from Western Canada was: “Ukraine develops into major grain competitor.”
Moving a bumper harvest to the sea ports will not be a problem, says Gorbachov. Ukraine now has 28,000 rail hopper cars, almost triple the 10,000 of three years ago. “We have no more deficit of these hoppers, and we can move grain easily to the ports,” he said. “Now we can load without any problem 70 to 80 million tons of grain per year.” Transport modes to the ports are: rail – 65%; road – 25%; and river – 10%.
With the grain marketing year ending this week, Ukraine’s exports in tons are down by 22% yoy, to 43.4 million tons. But with global food prices up 40% yoy, Ukraine’s grain exports in dollars are expected to be unchanged from one year ago. Total grain production for the marketing year, ending June 30, is pegged at 65 million tons, with exports totaling 45.8 million tons, the Agriculture Ministry estimates.
The start of a limited farmland market on July 1 should boost Ukrainian harvest yields, Bloomberg reports in a story: Ukraine will introduce long-awaited land reforms next month just as food prices rise to the highest in almost a decade. Harvest yields for corn, Ukraine’s largest crop, are one third below US levels. Starting July 1, Ukrainian individuals will be able to buy and sell up to 100 hectares a year. Trade by corporations is expected to be allowed in coming years. Public opinion polls indicate low support for farmland sales to foreigners, a step that is to be decided by a referendum after 2024.
The farmland market is designed to be transparent, Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko writes in an Atlantic Council essay: “Land reform can make Ukraine an agricultural superpower.” “Once Ukraine’s land market opens, all transactions will be tracked to record buyers and sellers, along with the price and the source of payment,” the Minister writes. “An open data portal will allow anyone to view detailed information about the ownership and usage of Ukrainian farmland…Anyone will be able to participate in e-auctions, with bidding taking place via the government’s Prozorro digital platform.”
Two British Sandown-class minesweeping ships are to be transferred to the Ukrainian Naval Forces in coming months, part of a wider, £1.25 billion UK-Ukraine agreement to upgrade Ukraine’s navy. In a memorandum signed Monday aboard the HMS Defender, a British destroyer docked in Odesa, Ukraine is to receive the Sandown minesweepers, a class also used by navies of Estonia and Saudi Arabia.
Under the larger agreement, Britain is to help Ukraine build two naval bases, one in the Azov and one in the Black Sea. In August, a production agreement is to be signed to build the first two of eight new missile patrol boats. In a 5-year deal, Britain is committed to restoring Soviet-era shipyards in Ukraine for manufacture of the six other patrol boats. Separately, the U.S. is providing Ukraine with five Island-class patrol boats.
In the first auction since the central bank decided to keep the prime interest rate unchanged at 7.5%, sales of Ukrainian government bonds jumped by 39%, to the equivalent of the $416 million, the Finance Ministry reports on Facebook. Cut off rates remained the same: 6 months – 9%; 13 months – 10.99%; 18 months. – 11.3%; 2-year – 12%; 3-year – 12.3%; and 5-year – 12.59%. In the only foreign currency bond offering, $112 million worth of one year dollar denominated bonds sold at last week’s rate: 3.7%.
To keep the hryvnia from strengthening above 27 to the dollar, the National Bank of Ukraine last week made net purchases of $93 million. Since the start of the year, the central bank has purchased $729 million. Last year, net purchases totaled $1 billion for the whole year.
Ukraine’s foreign currency payments on public and publicly guaranteed debt will exceed $10 billion over the next year, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. In addition, payments on hryvnia debt will be around $5 billion in the second half of this year. With no disbursements over the last year from Ukraine’s IMF program, relief could come from a new issue of special drawing rights, a move now under discussion by the IMF. “If the issue is approved by the IMF Board of Directors, Ukraine will increase its international reserves by about $2.7 billion,” Ukraine’s central bank reports on its website. “However, there is a high probability that these funds will come after the period of peak payments in September.”
Yuriy Vitrenko is still CEO of Naftogaz. The National Agency on Corruption Prevention is appealing a ruling that suspended the Agency’s own suspension order. With Prime Minister Shmygal backing Vitrenko, it appears that the three government members of the Naftogaz Supervisory Board are blocking an attempt to hold a meeting and vote him out.
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “This development illustrates a strong political will to retain Vitrenko as Naftogaz CEO. That allows us to expect a Naftogaz Supervisory Board meeting to consider Vitrenko’s dismissal will not take place due to sabotage by the three board members appointed by the government…The situation once again shows that scandals and tensions between Vitrenko and some members of Naftogaz supervisory board are unavoidable, which promise nothing good for the company.”
Quote of the day: “Without radical reforms, energy blackouts will become a feature of everyday life in Ukraine in the years to come…Ukraine should adopt competitive, full-cost pricing by integrating comprehensively into EU energy markets.” – “Ukraine’s choice: corruption or growth” by Willem Buiter, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
- US-UK Companies Build $150 Million Wind Farm
- Policy Zig Zag Forces Investors to Freeze Wind Projects
- Housing Prices up 10%
- Summer Construction Squeezes Road to Boryspil Airport
VR Capital Ltd. and Ukraine Power Resources inaugurated Friday a $60 million 40 MW wind farm in Odesa’s Bessarabia. Near the 10 new towers, the two foreign-owned companies are building a second $90 MW million phase for their Dnistrovska wind project. “The modernization of Ukraine runs through green energy,” Richard Deitz, the London-based president of VR capital, said to reporters and wind industry leaders gathered to the base of a turbine in a wheat field 70 km west of Odesa city, near the Moldovan border.
Despite this ongoing $150 million investment, Deitz said he has frozen four wind projects totalling 260 MW. “The biggest problem is that we don’t see stability,” said Deitz, an American with over 20 years experience investing in Ukraine. “The rules seem to change every day.” He cited the government’s failure to live up to last summer’s payment schedule to wind and solar producers, a debt that approaches $1 billion. Then, after lowering power rates and then failing to pay the lowered rates, some Rada members want to impost an excise tax on renewable energy.
Ukraine’s erratic treatment of wind and solar producers threatens the EU’s choice of Ukraine as a major hydrogen producer, Deitz said. “We can replace Russian gas in the EU with Ukrainian molecules,” he said. “But to do that, we need stability – hydrogen investments will take 10 to 15 years.”
On the other side of Ukraine, in southern Zaporizhia region, Norway’s NBT starts construction this summer of Zophia, a 75-wind turbine farm with a capacity of 338 MW. Coupled with NBT’s 246 MW Syvash wind farm, operated in Kherson region with France’s Total Eren, NBT says it will have attracted €1 billion in foreign investment into Ukraine. “Every project that is successfully financed and implemented in Ukraine will create trust from international investors, leading to reduced country risks and cost of capital,” NBT officials Magnus Johansen and Ingrid Sara Grimstad Amundsgård write in the Kyiv Post. “This is the main reason why the Ukrainian government should comply with its obligations toward renewable energy investors.“
This year, renewables will account for 70% of total investments worldwide in electricity, the International Energy Agency says in a new report. Renewables, largely wind and solar, will get $530 billion, the Agency says in the 64-page study. This year, for the sixth year in a row, investment in renewables will exceed investment in oil and gas. For European investors, Ukraine is attractive because of untapped wind potential and because sites for onshore wind turbine towers are increasingly hard to find, largely due to population densities.
Ukraine imposed sanctions on Dmytro Firtash on Friday for allegedly selling titanium products to Russian military enterprises. Firtash became rich as a middleman for Gazprom. Today, he owns a gas distribution network and fertilizer plants in Ukraine. In 2014, he was arrested in Vienna on U.S. charges that he led a conspiracy to win a deal in India. The U.S. Justice Department has described Firtash as an associate of “Russian organized crime.” In Austria, he is free on $174 million in bail and is fighting extradition to the US.
The Biden administration is preparing to impose additional sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN. “We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case. We’ve shown all along the way that we are not going to pull our punches, whether it’s on Solar Winds, or election interference, or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia’s harmful activities.”
Ukravtodor’s Eurobonds, offered under sovereign guarantees, were three times oversubscribed last week, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov writes on Facebook. „Ukravtodor received applications for nearly $2.4 billion and placed $700 million. With the yield on the 7-year bonds priced at 6.25%, the “Big Construction” bonds “received a historically low rate compared to previous Ukrainian sovereign placements in US dollars,” he wrote. Dragon Capital, a joint lead manager with JP Morgan, said bids came from about 140 investors – UK – 41%; US – 28%; and Europe – 28%.
Ukrainian housing prices increased by 10% during the first half of this year, reports 1+1 TV’s Tyzhden. In Dnipro prices rose 21% and in Khmelnytsky by 22%. Analysts cite several factors for the buying pressure: low supply, low interest rates, the hryvnia’s 5% appreciation against the dollar, and restrictions on foreign travel due to coronavirus.
This week, Ukreximbank puts up for electronic auction an 1895 building at Mala Zhytomyrska 3 – 150 meters from Kyiv’s Maidan. The starting price is $10 million for the 3,347 square meter building. The auction will be held today on SETAM, the Justice Ministry’s electronic auction, reports the Ministry’s press office. The release includes a link to the lot, and a link to a promotional video.
Ukraine plans to spend almost $4 million to mark the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence on August 24, reports the Finance Ministry. In addition to a military parade down Kreshchatyk, air force flyovers, a naval flotilla down the Dnripro, and fireworks displays, there are several infrastructure projects scheduled for completion by Aug. 24. They include the renovation of six regional airports and the completion of a rail link to Lviv airport.
All traffic to and from Kyiv’s Boryspil airport will be restricted to the lanes heading into Kyiv. For the next two months, the east bound lanes – leaving the city – on the 18 km highway will be closed for road repairs, Ukravtodor reports on Facebook. With the city peak summer travel season underway, travelers should allow more time for the trip. Ukrzaliznytsia has increased the frequency of Boryspil Express trains from Kyiv Central Passenger Station to almost once an hour.
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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