In this week in review, Kyiv not Kiev dissects Ukraine’s hopes for arms from Germany and ongoing Nordstream woes, allegations that the National Bank governor laundered 1 billion UAH, repercussions of the crisis in Belarus, and Zelenskyy’s plans to build a university for “people of the future.”
President Zelenskyy expects increased support from Germany, especially in arms supplies
In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, President Zelenskyy said he expected more support from Germany, including in the Normandy format. Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that Germany has not yet supplied Ukraine with lethal weapons, although it has “powerful ships, missile boats, patrol boats.”
Zelenskyy thanked Angela Merkel for everything Germany is doing for Ukraine. However, he noted that there might be more of these actions, especially in geopolitical terms, in structures such as NATO, the EU, and regarding the Nord Stream issue.
At the same time, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rejected a request for weapons supplies and stated, “I am convinced that the conflict can only be solved by political channels, and that should be clear to all involved.” Germany’s position is quite clear: to supply Ukraine with weapons means to disrupt relations with Russia, with which they are cooperating in the construction of Nord Stream-2. So, until Germany realizes the security threat from the Nord Stream-2 project and such an unplanned approach to Russia’s influence, Ukraine should not expect any change of beliefs in Berlin.
Let us remind you that during a recent visit of a co-chairman of Germany’s Green Party, Robert Habeck, he supported possible arms supplies to Ukraine. Right before that Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andrij Melnyk stated that the Bundestag reacted positively to the possibility of providing Ukraine with lethal weapons. Ambassador Melnyk emphasized that this idea was personally supported by the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Bundestag Norbert Röttgen.
Вперше впливовий 🇩🇪політик, член президії ХДС, голова Комітету у закордонних справах Бундестагу Норберт Рьоттген підтримав ідею надання Україні оборонної зброї! Вдячний @n_roettgen, що дослухався до 🇺🇦голосу 🙏🏻Чекаєм на конкретні дії Берліна 👉🏻https://t.co/aVX85jUkLk pic.twitter.com/xW5DarGYUV
— Andrij Melnyk (@MelnykAndrij) April 24, 2021
The President did not miss the issue of Nord Stream-2. Zelenskyy believes that the project of the Russian Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is a political weapon that threatens the energy security of Ukraine and Europe.
“Nord Stream 2 is a trump card today. In reality, they have a royal flush in their hands, which is also partially supported by Europe. If they complete Nord Stream 2, it is a threat to the energy security of Ukraine and Europe. Russia will definitely shut us off,” emphasized President Zelenskyy.
On June 3, it became known that Ukraine had asked to join the US-German talks on the gas pipeline project.
“It would be an absolute catastrophe, especially for mutual trust, if this deal between Berlin and Washington was achieved at the expense of Ukraine,” said Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk.
2/2 «Ще у вівторок 🇺🇦сторона висловила відповідне прохання до уряду ФРН. Було би абсолютною катастрофою, передусім для взаємної довіри, якщо цей гешефт буде досягнуто між Берліном і Вашингтоном – за рахунок України»
Коментар газеті @welt Danke #KlausGeiger https://t.co/ONmh2sKfcw
— Andrij Melnyk (@MelnykAndrij) June 3, 2021
National Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko is involved in laundering 1.1 billion hryvnias of depositors of Terra Bank, – journalist investigation
A journalistic investigation by the Ukrainian media thepage.ua proves that the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine was involved in the criminal scheme of laundering money from Terra Bank in 2011-2012.
According to the investigation, Kyrylo Shevchenko together with the ex-member of the Party of Regions Vadym Kopylov got control over the bank in 2010. Despite changes in the Bank’s Management Board, Shevchenko held senior positions, at various times being Chairman of the Management Board, Member of the Supervisory Board, and President of Terra Bank.
Back at that time, Terra Bank wrote a letter to an Austrian Meinl Bank that was a tool in a very common scheme to launder depositors’ money from Ukrainian banks. It was a letter of deposit for Tosalan Trading Ltd.—an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands—in the amount of $40 million (UAH 1.1 billion at the current rate,) under a pledge agreement. According to the agreement, Terra Bank undertook to Meinl Bank to hedge this loan.
Aсcording to Panama Papers, the owner of the offshore Tosalan Trading Ltd was Ruslan Tsyplakov. Later, he bought Terra Bank from Vadym Kopylov and Kyrylo Shevchenko in 2012 “for the funds laundered from it earlier,” according to the authors of the investigation. They insist that “a year before selling Terra Bank, the bank management controlled by Kyrylo Shevchenko and Vadym Kopylov laundered $40 million from the bank through Tsyplakov’s offshore company. And in 2012, Shevchenko and Kopylov sold Terra Bank to Tsyplakov for the same money they took out of the bank a year earlier.”
Let us remind you that in 2014, the NBU declared Terra Bank insolvent. By the decision of the NBU, the bank was liquidated and its banking license was revoked.
In July 2020, Kyrylo Shevchenko was appointed Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine.
The crisis in Belarus continues to escalate and affect Ukrainian interests
Ukraine has closed its airspace to Belarusian airlines. This was a reaction to the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk, which the Belarusian authorities used to detain oppositionist Roman Protasevich. According to Lukashenko, Belarus and Russia will work out the issue of opening flights. They already are discussing the possibility of arranging flights from Belarus to Crimea over Russia’s airspace.
“I think there will be no problems here. They have closed the sky – well, there are more open states, through which we can always get to Crimea,” Lukashenko said.
Apparently, the self-proclaimed President Lukashenko was very outraged – he even took a step towards recognizing the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. He invited militants from these regions beyond Ukraine’s control to interrogate Roman Protasevich, whom they accuse of participating in the Azov Battalion. The battalion commander has already stated that Roman was in Donbas only as a journalist.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia, OSCE) and an adviser to the head of the Office of President, has already said that if representatives of these uncontrolled regions interrogate Protasevych, it will be the end of talks in Minsk, and Belarus will no longer mediate in these negotiations.
Zelenskyy announces creation of a new university for “the people of the future”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the idea to build a presidential university that will train “people of the future.” The university will prepare specialists in the following areas: informational and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, aerospace, and biotechnology.
“ It is a higher education institution that will train people of the future. Which will gather in one place the best lecturers and train specialists who will be able to solve important tasks to protect our country in very important, priority, most relevant areas – areas of today and tomorrow’s challenges,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy
It is planned to build this educational institution in three years on 16 hectares on the territory of the National Complex “Expocenter of Ukraine.” The stated price of this project is UAH 7.2 bn ($2.6 mn).
Now, Ukrainian society is wondering why we have to create another university when their number in the country already exceeds the required level, which cannot be said about the quality of education. Why is it necessary to create a new university, if what Ukraine really needs is to reform higher education overall?
Polina Boichuk is an Associate at TRUMAN Agency, co-founder and co-host at KYIV NOY KIEV