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UKRAINE WRAP | Russia further raises ceiling for cross-border transactions for individuals

07 June 2022 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
Police comb through rubble as they investigate a missile strike on June 06, 2022 in Druzhkivka, Ukraine. The missile hit a residential neighborhood in the early morning hours of June 5, killing one woman and damaging or destroying 80 buildings including a church. Ukraine's Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, has seen intense fighting in recent weeks as Russia has concentrated its war effort there.
Police comb through rubble as they investigate a missile strike on June 06, 2022 in Druzhkivka, Ukraine. The missile hit a residential neighborhood in the early morning hours of June 5, killing one woman and damaging or destroying 80 buildings including a church. Ukraine's Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, has seen intense fighting in recent weeks as Russia has concentrated its war effort there.
Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

June 07 2022 — 21:10

Russia further raises ceiling for cross-border transactions for individuals

The Russian central bank said on Tuesday Russian residents and non-residents from "friendly" states will be able to channel foreign currency abroad equivalent to up to $150,000 a month, up from the previous limit of $50,000.

All the non-residents are still be able to send foreign currency abroad to the value of their salaries, the bank said. 

-Reuters

June 07 2022 — 20:23

Russia further raises ceiling for cross-border transactions for individuals

he Russian central bank said on Tuesday Russian residents and non-residents from "friendly" states will be able to channel foreign currency abroad equivalent to up to $150,000 a month, up from the previous limit of $50,000.

All the non-residents are still be able to send foreign currency abroad to the value of their salaries, the bank said.

-Reuters

June 07 2022 — 19:41

Ukrainian forces finding it hard to hold centre of Sievierodonestk -official

Ukrainian forces are finding it hard to stave off Russian attacks in the centre of Sievierodonestk, but Moscow's forces do not control the city, the governor of Luhansk region said on Tuesday.

In an online post, Serhiy Gaidai also said Russian troops were constantly shelling Sievierodonetsk's twin city Lysychansk, which lies across the Siverskiy Donets river.

-Reuters

June 07 2022 — 19:00

US Treasury monitoring any moves to circumvent Russian sanctions through use of gold-Yellen

The U.S. Treasury Department has made clear that gold-related transactions involving Russia may be sanctioned, and is closely monitoring any efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions through the use of gold, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday.

"This is an important matter," Yellen told a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Treasury's budget.

"We're closely monitoring any efforts we can see to circumvent our Russia-related sanctions through the use of gold.

"Such transactions may be sanctionable under an executive order issued by President Joe Biden to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine."

-Reuters

June 07 2022 — 16:32

Fresh shelling of Ukraine's Kharkiv kills one -mayor

A Russian strike on Ukraine's second city Kharkiv killed one person and wounded three more on Tuesday, local mayor Ihor Terekhov said on television.

Russia "does not leave Kharkiv alone and constantly keeps people in fear", Terekhov said.

Kharkiv, in Ukraine's east, experienced intense shelling in the first two months of the war as battles raged near its outskirts, but the situation in the city has calmed somewhat over the past weeks as Russian forces retreated in the region.

-Reuters

June 07 2022 — 15:24

Russia suspends agreement with Japan on fishing near disputed islands

Russia's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was suspending an agreement with Japan that allowed Japanese fishermen to fish near the disputed Southern Kuril islands, saying Tokyo had failed to make payments required under the deal.

"In the current situation, we are forced to suspend the implementation of the 1998 Agreement until the Japanese side fulfills all its financial obligations," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

A territorial dispute over the islands, known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories, dates back to the end of World War Two when Soviet troops seized them from Japan. The row has prevented the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty.

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 15:13

Russian parliament votes to scrap parallel import penalties

 Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved a bill in the first reading that removes legal liability for parallel imports of a range of goods and intellectual property after sanctions were imposed by the West over the war in Ukraine.

The bill is designed to protect Russian companies from liability if they import specific goods approved by the trade ministry as well as a range of intellectual property.

Russia legalised parallel import at the end of March this year. The move permits suppliers of foreign products to resell them in Russia without the permission of the trademark owner, said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

In early May, the Ministry of Industry and Trade approved a list of goods whose import does not require the consent of foreign copyright holders. The list includes goods from 56 different sectors, including cars, electronics, clothing and footwear, cosmetics, equipment, chemical products, and raw materials.

Foreign imports into Russia have been jeopardised after Russia deployed troops to Ukraine on February 24, in what it calls a "military special operation" with the aim of "demilitarization" and "denazification" of Ukraine.

The West responded with large-scale sanctions against Russia, and many foreign companies announced they were halting operations in the country. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 14:55

UK calls for investigation into alleged Ukraine grain theft by Russia

Allegations that Russia is stealing grain from a wide variety of areas in Ukraine are very serious and must be investigated immediately, British farming minister Victoria Prentis said on Tuesday.

World food prices have soared to record levels since Russia invaded Ukraine, triggering protests across developing countries6

.Black Sea ports in Ukraine, the world's fourth-largest grains exporter, have been blocked since the invasion, with some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in the country at present.

Prentis, speaking at an International Grains Council (IGC) conference in London, said she had heard allegations of grain theft by Russia first-hand from sources in the Kherson region in south Ukraine.

The United Nations is trying to broker a deal to enable Ukraine's grain to be shipped from Black Sea ports such as Odesa while Russia has said it wants Western sanctions lifted as part of a deal.

Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of weaponising food supplies. Russia blames the situation on what it says are Ukrainian mines in Black Sea waters and on international sanctions against its own economy.

Ukraine last week said that Russia was shipping stolen grain to Turkey out of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014. It also accused Russia of sending its ally Syria 100,000 tonnes of stolen Ukrainian wheat.

Reuters

June 07 2022 — 14:40

Putin orders new budget rules to boost Russia's growth

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the government on Tuesday to draw up new budget rules by the end of July to boost growth and help protect the economy from a serious downturn.

"Work has already started on the federal budget for the next three years. A fundamental issue here is the construction of budget rules that not only ensure the stability of public finances, but also contribute to increasing the growth rate of the Russian economy," Putin said in a televised meeting.

Russia has suspended a budget rule under which it was channeling extra oil and gas revenues into the National Wealth Fund (NWF) during the coronavirus pandemic two years ago.

The finance ministry planned to reinstate the rule, under which it also was also buying foreign currency for the NWF, this year but decided against it after the imposition of Western sanctions that have prevented Moscow from accessing around half its gold and forex reserves.

The sanctions were aimed at stopping what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine. Instead of boosting the NWF, additional oil and gas revenues can now be spent on any purpose government may choose.

Putin did not provide details of new rules but said corporate and mortgage lending needed a boost, suggesting guidelines could be further relaxed to allow for more state funding to revive economic activity.

The existing rule puts a limit on how and where Russia's $198-billion NWF can be spent, as the government increasingly needs cash to meet Putin's promises of higher pensions and social payments and support for large businesses.

In May alone, the NWF spent $4 billion to buy preferred shares of Russian Railways, the country's biggest employer. Other state entities, including the flagship airline Aeroflot , are awaiting cash support to cope with sanctions.

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 14:22

Russian parliament votes to exit European Court of Human Rights

 The Russian State Duma on Tuesday passed a pair of bills ending the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction in Russia, after Russia announced plans to exit the court amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian parliament approved two bills, one removing the country from the court’s jurisdiction and a second setting March 15 as the cut-off point, with rulings against Russia made after that date not to be implemented.

Appeals to the ECHR had become a last resort for plaintiffs in several high-profile cases that had been rejected by Russian courts. In 2017, the court ordered Moscow to pay compensation to survivors of the 2004 Beslan school siege, who alleged failings on the part of the security services.

On March 15, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to expel Russia from the organisation, of which the ECHR is part, in response to Russia’s deployment of troops to Ukraine in February.

Russia has said that it independently decided to leave the Council of Europe, with former President Dmitry Medvedev saying that Russia’s exit from the organisation represented an opportunity to restore the death penalty, which the Council of Europe’s rules prohibit. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 13:28

Russia punishes officers after conscripts were sent to Ukraine, prosecutor says

Russia has prosecuted around a dozen army officers after hundreds of conscripts were sent to fight in Ukraine, a military prosecutor said on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied that Russia is using conscripts, young men who are drafted by the state to serve in the army, saying only professional soldiers and officers are taking part in its military operation.

However the defence ministry acknowledged in March that some had been mistakenly sent to fight.

"According to supervision of the Western Military District ... about 600 conscript soldiers were drawn into the special military operation, all of whom returned as soon as possible," prosecutor Arthur Yegiev said, speaking to Russia's upper house of parliament.

The officers who allowed this to happen have faced disciplinary proceedings including the prospect of dismissal, he said, without giving any more details.

The issue of conscripts' involvement in the war is highly sensitive in Russia. Although Russia has stopped publishing statistics about how many of its soldiers have died in Ukraine, estimates have run into the thousands.

Some associations representing mothers of Russian soldiers have raised concerns about conscripts being drafted to fight despite a lack of adequate training. All sides in the Ukraine conflict have systems of conscription, where young men are required by law to do military service.

Moscow, which sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, says that it is engaged in a "special military operation" to demilitarise its neighbouring country and rid it of dangerous nationalists threatening its Russian-speaking population.

Ukraine and its allies dismiss Russia's claims as a baseless pretext to launch an unprovoked war of aggression that has killed thousands, flattened cities, and driven more than 6 million people to flee abroad. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 11:47

Ukraine grain exports will be capped at 2m tones per month if ports remain blocked

Ukraine could export a maximum of 2 million tonnes of grains a month if Russia refuses to lift its blockade of the country's Black Sea ports, Taras Vysotskyi, Ukraine's first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, said on Tuesday.

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 10:54

Ukraine slams planned IAEA mission to Russian-occupied nuclear plant

Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom on Tuesday criticised an IAEA plan to send a delegation to a Russian-occupied nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, saying it "did not invite" such a visit.

"We consider this message from the head of the IAEA as another attempt to get to the (power plant) by any means in order to legitimise the presence of occupiers there and essentially condone all their actions," Energoatom wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

On Monday, IAEA head Raphael Grossi said the organisation was working on sending an international mission of experts to the Russian-held nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, Europe's largest. 

Reuters

June 07 2022 — 10:50

Bodies of some Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol handed over to Kyiv -families

The bodies of some Ukrainian fighters killed defending the city of Mariupol from Russian forces at a vast steel works have been handed over to Kyiv, the families of Ukraine's Azov unit of the national guard said.

Ukrainian forces defending Mariupol were holed up in the Azovstal steelworks for weeks as Russian forces tried to capture the city. The Ukrainian soldiers eventually surrendered last month and were taken into custody by Russian forces.

There has been little information about the fate of the estimated 2,000 Azovstal defenders. Kyiv is seeking the handover of them all in a prisoner swap, but some Russian lawmakers want some of the soldiers put on trial.

It was not immediately clear how many bodies had arrived in Kyiv in this first such transfer. They appear to have been handed over as part of an exchange of 160 bodies between Russia and Ukraine that was announced last week by Ukraine's Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories."

It's important to note that a third of the bodies (handed over) were Azov fighters, the affiliation of the other fighters to different units is being clarified," the families said in a statement released late on Monday.

Russia casts the Azov Regiment, which led the defence of the steel works at Mariupol, as a "Nazi" militia with radical far-right origins.

Ukraine denies that, saying the unit has been reformed and integrated into its armed forces and is outside politics.

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 10:00

Ukraine agriculture exports rise 80% in May, still below 2021 level

Ukraine's grain, oilseed and vegetable oil exports rose 80% in May month on month 1.743 million tonnes but the volumes are still significantly below the exports in May 2021, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said corn dominated the shipment with 959,000 tonnes, while exports of sunflower oil totalled 202,650 tonnes.Ukraine exported 2.245 million tonnes of corn and 501,800 tonnes of sunoil in May 2021. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 08:00

Russia calls for co-ordinated BRICS action against global economic risks

Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to co-ordinate measures to stabilise the economic situation, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday.

Siluanov told a ministerial and central bankers' meeting of the BRICS countries, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA, that global monetary tightening and the unprecedented sanctions' policy carried out by the West create risks of global stagflation and a food crisis.

Siluanov also noted risks of a global economic crisis amid undermined trust in the world's forex and financial systems. 

Reuters

June 07 2022 — 07:45

US moves to seize Russian oligarch Abramovich's planes

US authorities have obtained warrants to seize two US-origin planes owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich for flying to Russia without a license required due to US sanctions imposed on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine, a Department of Justice official said on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also filed administrative charges against Abramovich, who it said in February named his Russian children the beneficiaries of the “shell entities” that owned the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Gulfstream G650 ER aircraft, but that he continued to control them.

The charges come as US authorities seek to pressure business leaders close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to convince Moscow to halt what Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Abramovich has not personally been sanctioned by the US.

The Commerce Department said that the Gulfstream flew from Istanbul to Moscow on March 12, and the Boeing flew from Dubai to Moscow on March 4, both after its export restrictions went into effect on February 24. Because the planes were US-made Abramovich would have needed a license to fly them to Russia.

No licenses were applied for or issued for the planes to fly to Russia, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said in their seizure warrant. The restrictions are among the sweeping export controls the US has put in place since the invasion.

Commerce is seeking administrative sanctions against Abramovich, including a fine of up to $328,121 and the denial of further export privileges.

Abramovich, who has denied having close ties to Putin, has been sanctioned by the European Union and Britain, and last month sold his stake in London soccer team Chelsea. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 07:23

Fierce street fighting in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk, a pivotal battle for Donbas

Ukrainian troops were engaged in fierce street fighting with Russian soldiers in the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, in what is a pivotal battle in the Kremlin's attempt to control the eastern Donbas region.

Sievierodonetsk has become the main target of the Russian offensive in the Donbas, comprising Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, as the invasion grinds on in a war of attrition that has seen cities laid waste by artillery barrages.

“In the city, fierce street fighting continues,” Ukraine's president said in his nightly video address on Monday.

June 07 2022 — 07:00

With war close by, Finnish women prepare to fight

These women in Finland are learning how to move in the battlefield. Their aim is to defend their country in case of a military attack.

June 07 2022 — 06:20

Ukraine may give English status of business language -prime minister

The Ukrainian government is working on legislation that would designate English as the language of business communication, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said late on Monday.

“English is now used in business communication throughout the civilised world, so giving it such a status in Ukraine will promote business development, attract investment and accelerate Ukraine's European integration,” Shmyhal wrote on the Telegram messaging app without detailing what the law would entail.

Ukrainian is the sole official language of the country. About a half of the population speaks mostly or only Ukrainian and some 30% speak mostly or only Russian, according to a 2019 survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

English proficiency has been improving in the country, which before the Feb. 24 Russian invasion had a population of 44 million, but Ukraine still trails some of its East European peers.

According to the Sweden-based international education company EF Education First, English proficiency in Ukraine is only “moderate.” In 2021, the country placed 30 out of 35 surveyed countries in Europe, lagging behind Poland and Belarus.

Russian plays a large role in business and the media. And it is still very widely spoken in many cities, including Kyiv, although the use of Russian has been increasingly restricted. Legislation obliges businesses and other institutions to use Ukrainian.

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 06:10

Zelensky says UK providing Kyiv with 'exactly' the right weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that the United Kingdom has been providing weapons Kyiv needs to fight the war with Russia and thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for “complete” understanding of the needs.

Britain said on Monday that, in co-ordination with the US, it will supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that can strike targets up to 80km (50 miles) away as part of a new UK military aid for Kyiv.”

I am grateful to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the complete understanding of our demands and preparedness to provide Ukraine with exactly the weapons that it so needs to protect the lives of our people,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

On Monday, Ukrainian and Russian troops fought street by street for control of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk in a pivotal battle of the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

Zelensky and Johnson held a phone conversation in which, Zelensky earlier said, the two were “looking for ways to avoid the food crisis & unblock (Ukraine's) ports,” referring to Russia's naval blockade of Ukraine which has left the latter unable to export much of its agricultural produce. 

Reuters 

June 07 2022 — 06:00

Japan to freeze assets of two more Russian banks, one Belarusian bank

Japan will freeze the assets of two more Russian banks and one more Belarusian bank as part of additional sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, Japan's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Reuters 

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