Ukrainian news round-up – Mar 10 2009

Top news stories about Ukrainians, Ukraine and beyond!

Economy

    Politics

    • Armed units of the Security Service late last week conducted raids on the headquarters of Naftohaz. During the raid, members of Tymoshenko bloc rushed to the building to intervene with the armed SBU unit and prevent them from seizing the original signed copy of the  contract with Gazprom on gas purchases and transit. The original contract was needed in order to clear customs for Russian gas bound for Europe and for domestic Ukrainian consumption. The key question in the dispute is why Gazprom, an interested party, is not contesting the legality of Naftohaz taking possession of the gas. The peace is likely to be short lived and the troubles will spill over, amid a dispute over who controls the rights to vast gas reserves held in a storage facility in Western Ukraine.
    • During her first official visit to Europe last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned “a fresh start” with Russia but also pushed for holding NATO’s door open to “European countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.”
    • What price would secure Russian cooperation on Iran? Who exactly is going to tell Ukraine or Georgia that we have returned to a "Russia first" policy? Does anyone believe that saying nothing about Kremlin crackdowns on domestic opponents would keep Moscow on board? And what if all this isn’t enough? Moscow is likely to keep raising the fee for its cooperation — in effect, extorting the United States.
    • Poland approved the local cross-border traffic agreement between Poland and Ukraine. Residents of Polish-Ukrainian border regions will be able to cross the state border, which is also the European Union and Schengen area’s eastern border, using special permits instead of visas. The agreement effectively improves the situation for Ukrainian citizens wanting to visit Poland, as Polish citizens are not required to produce a visa at the border with Ukraine.

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