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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

13.08.2014

Risks for Russian-Ukrainian economic relations (by Ambassador Yakovenko)

There has been much speculation lately about the reasons for Russia’s negative stance on the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. Much has been said about politics, but not enough on the economics of the matter. Still, Russia sees the implementation of the Agreement as a source of considerable, tangible and immediate risks to its market, something that should be discussed by all sides involved, instead of rush into implementation. Listed below are some of the specific possible effects, covering areas of tariffs, customs control, technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
The Agreement stipulates that 80% of export tariffs are to be cancelled or lowered right away and further 15% - within 5 years. As a result we expect the Ukrainian market to be saturated with European goods and components quite quickly, which can lead to Russian goods being displaced from Ukraine and EU. At the same time some Ukrainian goods, including metal products, glass, certain types of equipment, farm produce, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, etc., can be forced out to the Eurasian Economic Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, EEU). There is also a risk that Ukraine will be used as a low-cost transit channel for European goods, for example used cars or rolling stock, bypassing the agreed tariff schedule.
Another area of concern is customs control. According to the Agreement, Ukraine has to adopt some of the EU customs control standards, procedures, software, etc. That can easily ruin the co-ordination between Russian and Ukrainian customs authorities (for example, disrupt the systems of advance data exchange, of mutual customs checks recognition), decrease their efficiency for an extended period, at the very least while the new systems are being introduced. There is also a risk that certain customs data might be purposefully altered in Ukraine in order to re-export European goods to the EEU, or even conceal disparities in standards.
Technical regulations and standards are one of the most serious issues for us in terms of trade with Ukraine. The move to the new rules, in accordance with the Agreement, would mean that Russian exporters will no longer be able to use certificates, issued in Russia and currently accepted by the Ukrainian authorities, including lab and test results. It would also become impossible to use the Russian GOST system – while effective, it seriously differs from the EU methodology. At the same time, there are no agreements between EU, Russia and the EEU on mutual recognition in this area. All this would impose huge financial costs on Russian companies just to keep exporting to the Ukrainian market.
One more area of concern is sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Some of the articles of the Agreement mean that the system of control in the Ukraine, together with labeling standards, will become somewhat more relaxed, and that can possibly lead to exports to Russia of Ukrainian and European goods of inappropriate quality.
Some of the other topics include energy (e.g. obligation to lift export duties for natural gas which can apply in certain circumstances to Russian gas, as well as the obligation to adopt European electricity regulations which can disrupt the concurrent operation of our energy systems within the relevant bilateral Agreement) and migration (imbalances of the Ukrainian economy and unemployment growth can lead to a surge of labour migrants to Russia, especially considering eased border controls).
Russia and Ukraine are long-standing trade partners, with thousands companies and their employees involved in day-to-day mutually beneficial business projects. The risks that concern us are not theoretical, they will create real boundaries that some of the businesses will simply be unable to overcome. It remains our strong conviction that while Ukraine certainly has all the rights to strive for further integration into the EU market, a more thorough discussion of all the risks and consequences of the Association Agreement could have been more than welcome. And I am sure that it is never late for a dialogue. All the more so, that Brussels admits that it will take time and efforts for Ukraine to be prepared to implement its obligations under the Agreement.




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03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.


26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.


29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.


19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?


18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

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05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.


05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.



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