World

UKRAINE UPDATE: 26 OCTOBER 2022

Zelensky says country needs $17bn for immediate recovery; Russian court rejects jailed US basketball star’s appeal

Zelensky says country needs $17bn for immediate recovery; Russian court rejects jailed US basketball star’s appeal
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal (left) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shake hands at the end of a joint press conference during the International Expert Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Berlin, Germany, 25 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Clemens Bilan)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his government needs $17bn in immediate financing to cover Ukraine’s budget gap as global leaders met in Berlin to map out the nation’s postwar reconstruction.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who hosted a conference of global leaders in Berlin, reinforced his message about creating a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine as delegates work to support the war-battered nation for decades to come.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will develop funding for around €18-billion for next year, with the Ukrainian government estimating overall needs at $38-billion. Talks on the EU funding are ongoing, even as the disbursement of loans for this year has been halted — partly because of resistance from Germany.

Key developments

On the ground

Russian troops shelled the Nikopol district of the Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, local authorities said on Telegram. Analysts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said that the slower pace of Russian air, missile and drone strikes may reflect “decreasing missile and drone stockpiles and the strikes’ limited effectiveness of accomplishing Russian strategic military goals”.

Putin chairs first meeting of special war needs council  

President Vladimir Putin chaired the inaugural meeting of a new coordination council on military needs — and conceded it had missed its first deadline.

“I remind you that today the coordination council was to have fixed the targets for individual areas of activity,” Putin said. “These targets aren’t ready yet, but I have no doubt they will be soon.”

The Russian leader has escalated his faltering invasion of Ukraine after a series of reverses, mobilising at least 300,000 reservists, declaring martial law in certain regions and carrying out a devastating bombardment aimed at crippling Ukrainian power and other infrastructure.

 

 

Ukraine’s former central bank chief says graft probe is politicised

Ukraine’s former central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko, who is being sought by anti-corruption investigators for his alleged involvement in embezzlement, called the probe against him politically motivated.

In his first comments after Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau placed him on a wanted list, Shevchenko told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that being added was “further evidence of the prosecution being biased and politicised”. He didn’t elaborate. NABU, as the bureau is known, wasn’t immediately able to comment on his statement.

Ukraine documents Russian hacks, eyes international charges

Ukrainian officials are documenting suspected Russian hacking incidents as part of a plan to prosecute Moscow in an international court, according to Victor Zhora, chief digital transformation officer of Ukraine’s special communications and information protection service. The government in Kyiv is collecting evidence of malicious cyber activity and sharing the data with the International Criminal Court, he said.

“Our intention is to bring this to justice after the war, and perhaps this will be the first prosecution of the first global cyber-war and cybercrimes that were conducted with kinetic operations and war crimes in Ukraine,” Zhora said during an interview at a cybersecurity conference in Singapore.

Russian envoy says Moscow backs nuclear plant safe zone

A Russian diplomat said that Moscow in principle backs a United Nations proposal to set up a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

“It’s a reasonable idea, which we support in general,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organisations in Vienna, said on state television on Tuesday. “The devil, as always, lies in the details.”

The Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest atomic energy station, has been occupied by Russian troops since March and heavy fighting around the facility has raised fears that power disruptions could endanger its safety.

Russian court rejects appeal of jailed US basketball star Griner

A Russian court rejected an appeal by Women’s National Basketball Association star Brittney Griner against her nine-year sentence for drug smuggling. The ruling means Griner (32), a two-time Olympic gold medallist, will leave pre-trial detention near Moscow and be sent to serve her prison term in a penal colony elsewhere in Russia.

President Joe Biden has made a priority of securing the release of Griner and another jailed American in Russia, former US Marine Paul Whelan. Amid a vocal campaign from the basketball star’s supporters, the US leader has denounced Griner’s prison sentence as “unacceptable”.

Metinvest sues Russia in European court

Ukrainian steel company Metinvest, owned by the country’s richest tycoon, Rinat Akhmetov, filed a case against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights, according to an emailed statement.

Metinvest is suing for damages caused by Russian forces in its eight-month invasion of the country, including for the destruction of the company’s steel mills in the port city of Mariupol. Akhmetov also filed a case against Russia in June.

IMF chief says Ukraine manages well, but needs huge sums  

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that while Ukraine had managed its economy “responsibly,” huge sums would be needed to support the country.

Ukraine would require $3-billion a month in a “best-case scenario”, though with additional gas imports and reconstruction funding, that figure could climb to $5-billion, Georgieva said at the Berlin conference of global leaders.

Lviv region announces rolling blackouts 

Ukraine’s electricity distributor in the western region of Lviv announced rolling blackouts for households on Tuesday, according to a statement on its website.

Rolling blackouts are expected to hit the whole region that borders Poland. Earlier in the day, the electricity grid operator Ukrenergo said it had limited power to industries in all regions of the country to stabilise the functioning of the energy system.

Ukraine needs $17bn for immediate recovery 

Zelensky urged allies to provide his country with financial support “now, when the war is on — and for the postwar period”.

The country needed $17-billion immediately for a quick recovery “as we have not got a single cent”, Zelensky told the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine in Berlin in a video address. Speaking at the same conference, his premier said the amount doesn’t include the latest widespread damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

On the whole, Ukraine needs $38-billion of aid next year to fill the budget gap opened by the war — and it won’t manage without external help, he said.

Dimon says Russia invading Ukraine was a ‘massive pivot’

Poland mulls over border wall with Kaliningrad to stave off migration  

Poland will reinforce its border with Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and may consider building a fence along the 210km frontier, ruling party official Krzysztof Sobolewski said on public radio.

Poland has also accused the Kremlin of masterminding the artificial flow of thousands of people from countries including Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan on to the border, hoping to cross into the EU late last year.

Lithuania calls for more EU sanctions against Iran

The EU should consider more sanctions against Iran to match those imposed against Belarus to prevent the country from producing drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

Iran is effectively a participant in the war against Ukraine, Landsbergis told radio LRT.

“It seems to me that similar sanctions that apply to Belarus should at least be considered for Iran, limiting its ability to continue supplying weapons,” he said.

Yakunin appeals arrest by authorities in Norway

A Russian-British citizen who’s the son of a long-standing Putin ally has appealed against his arrest by Norwegian authorities last week for flying a drone on the Svalbard islands. Andrey Yakunin, who was held on 17 October during a boating holiday in the Arctic archipelago, said he was using the drone to take landscape photographs and check for weather conditions on hiking routes, according to an emailed statement by his lawyers.

His lawyers said the sanctions regulations, which prohibit Russian nationals from flying drones in Norway, do not apply to British citizens, and they also argued the sanctions do not apply to the recreational flight of drones. Yakunin’s father, Vladimir, was among Putin’s closest allies until leaving his post as the head of the national railways in 2015.

 

 

Investigation identifies alleged Russian missile programmers

An investigation published by Bellingcat, in partnership with The Insider and Der Spiegel, identified dozens of members of a “secretive” group of military engineers in Russia’s Defence Ministry that it said were linked to the programming of cruise missiles “that have killed hundreds and deprived millions in Ukraine of access to electricity and heating”.

Phone metadata records showed contacts between the specialists and their superiors “spiked shortly before” the strikes, according to the six-month investigation, which found that members of the group are mostly young men and women, including a husband-and-wife couple, with IT and even computer-gaming backgrounds working in centres in Moscow and St Petersburg.

World Bank disburses additional $500m to Ukraine 

The World Bank announced the disbursement of an additional $500-million to help Ukraine meet urgent spending needs.

The money will be used to maintain essential government services, the lender said in a statement. The bank has already mobilised $13-billion in emergency financing for Ukraine, including commitments and pledges from donors. So far, $11.4-billion has been fully disbursed, according to the bank’s data.

German president visits Ukraine 

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his visit aimed to show solidarity with Ukraine and convey a message his nation stands by the war-torn country.

“Our solidarity is unbroken and it will stay that way,” he said in a statement posted on his website. DM

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