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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Live Day 497

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian Military Reports Attacks East Of Volnovakha Today

Mariupol news site 0629.com.ua reports that Yaroslav Cherpurnoy, a press officer for the Ukrainian military operation in the area, has told the site that Russian-backed forces have been shelling Ukrainian positions east of Volnovakha today with heavy artillery.

The Interpreter translates:

From 5 am, illegal armed groups from the 'DNR' began shelling Ukrainian security forces' positions outside Mariupol.

As of this time, 4 attacks have been conducted. Three of them in the Starognatovka area, one near Granitnoye. In three of the incidents, 122 mm self-propelled artillery was used, in the other, small arms.

Chepurnoy said that there had been no casualties today but that one soldier was wounded yesterday and hospitalised.

According to the press officer, six attacks were conducted yesterday, three on Starognatovka and three on Shirokino. 

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Earlier this month, we reported on evidence of Russian forces deployed in Razdolnoye, around 20 kilometres from both Starognatovka and Granitnoye. The area is of considerable strategic importance for any future attack on the Donetsk-Mariupol highway, essential for flanking the port city and mounting an assault.




Earlier today, residents of Granitnoye reported hearing fire from the nearby hills, and the Interior Ministry announced that one civilian had been wounded by shelling in Chermalyk yesterday.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Svoboda Party Office Torched In Kherson

An office of the far-right Svoboda party was torched last night in the city of Kherson.

Leviy Bereg's Oleksandr Rudomanov reported that the office was located in a residential building but, thanks to the fire brigade's actions, no one was hurt and the fire failed to spread to other homes.

Leviy Bereg published photos taken by one Evgeny Matkovsky:

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Rudomanov noted that this was the second Svoboda office to be set on fire over the past year. 

Ukrainska Pravda reports that the party has claimed that witnesses saw two teenagers circling outside the windows of the office.

-- Pierre Vaux

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Will Russia Increase or Decrease The Price of Ukraine's Natural Gas?

There are at least three different, and conflicting, headlines emerging from talks held in Russia this morning about the price of natural gas sold to Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia will reduce the price of gas sold to Ukraine according to RFE/RL:

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says natural-gas prices for Ukraine will be reduced to $247 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Medvedev said during a meeting with Gazprom head Aleksei Miller and Energy Minister Aleksandr Novakov in Moscow on June 29 that the price for gas will be reduced by $40 because of falling global energy prices.

Reuters is running a different headline, however -- that the price reduction would only apply to the second quarter:

Russia proposes keeping the gas price for Ukraine unchanged in the third quarter, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday, a day before Russia's energy minister goes to Vienna for gas talks.

"Despite all the difficulties in our current relations with Ukraine, we should within reason make concessions," Medvedev told Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller.

Gazprom had said Ukraine would be charged $287 per 1,000 cubic metres with no discount in the third quarter. That compares to the $247 charged in the second quarter, including a discount of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres.

Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission are meeting on June 30 to discuss gas supplies, the day a winter price deal expires.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, has a completely different headline -- that Russia is cuttings its discount:

Russia offered Ukraine a new deal on gas prices through September, cutting its discount by 60 percent amid efforts by the indebted former Soviet republic to build stockpiles before the cold season.

The government in Moscow agreed to lower the contract rate by about $40 per 1,000 cubic meters during the third quarter, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow on Monday. That leaves the price unchanged against the current quarter at about $247, OAO Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said. The current $100 discount expires Tuesday.

We're not 100% sure how to reconcile those various reports, though we think that Bloomberg got it right. Their story has more details and they are more widely cited as a news outlet that covers economics. Also, the current price is $248 per cubic meter, meaning that gas prices are set to increase.

However, this may also be posturing designed to lower expectations ahead of the next round of gas talks in Vienna. If Russia sets its price at lower than $287, they will spin this by saying that this is lower than what they originally wanted to charge.

Many market analysts say that natural gas prices are in the middle of a long-term downward trend.

-- James Miller

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Finance Minister Jaresko Invites Creditors To Negotiations On Debt Restructuring

The Ukrainian finance minister, Natalie Jaresko, is prepared to meet the country's creditors for negotiations over debt after securing a confidentiality agreement.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that Jaresko has invited the creditors' committee to work with the government to reach an agreement on a restructuring of Ukraine's debts.

A statement, posted today on the Ministry of Finance website, reads:

The Ministry of Finance regrets that for the last three months the members of the ad hoc Creditors Committee have consistently refused to enter direct negotiations with Ukraine under standard confidentiality terms. Concerns about the impact of receiving confidential information on their trading activities has been used as an excuse not to meet with the Ukrainian representatives, including Minister Jaresko, to negotiate the terms of a debt operation that meets the three targets in Ukraine’s IMF program.

In addition, and despite previous statements to the contrary, the proposal by the ad hoc Creditors Committee does not meet the three criteria agreed with the IMF. That proposal includes utilizing $8 billion from the international reserves of the National Bank of Ukraine for no consideration. This measure has been strongly rejected by the IMF in their statement of 12 June 2015.

The Minister has repeatedly stated her desire to meet with the Committee and enter into direct negotiations. The Minister once again calls upon the Committee to seek a collaborative solution with the Ukrainian authorities as soon as possible.  If the Committee enters into confidentiality agreements, the Minister remains ready to meet with the Committee without preconditions. The Minister looks forward to bridging the current differences and at last starting direct negotiations.

Earlier today, UNIAN reported that Jaresko had said that a possible "technical default" on the Ukrainian national debt would not have any adverse effect on local banks and Ukrainian citizens' accounts.

Jaresko said that Ukraine might also suspend payments as a temporary solution in order to protect the Ukrainian economy.

"Yes, this is equivalent to a technical default. One shouldn't be afraid of this word. It won't affect our banking system in any way. Because our banks do not record this external debt on their balance sheets. It means it doesn't influence their ability to pay. It has no impact on deposits of our citizens. Neither has it any impact on the currency, our hryvnia," she said.

Should such a decision be made, the population doesn't have to get into a panic about this, the same way as they stayed calm in 2000.

"This is a technical default. People should not be afraid that all our crediting programs are about to end. That's not the case. The IMF demonstrates public support that they are aware that a No. 1 goal is to finance our country. We can achieve it by either proper restructuring or perhaps temporary suspension of payments, to be followed by restructuring," the minister said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the Ukrainian government is seeking opportunities to reach a deal to cut the country's debt burden and boost economic growth, but could place a moratorium on foreign debt payments until acceptable restructuring conditions are agreed with creditors.

-- Pierre Vaux


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Five Ukrainian Soldiers Wounded Over Last 24 Hours

Ukrainska Pravda reports that Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Presidential Administration on the military operation in the south-east, has told reporters at a briefing this afternoon that five Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded over the last 24 hours.

-- Pierre Vaux

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