The ephemeral nature of duties on Russian energy resources allows interested parties in Ukraine to continue trade with the aggressor state in previous and even larger volumes.
Under these conditions, it is difficult to expect the Kremlin to stop supporting separatist regimes in Donetsk and Luhansk without mentioning the departure of the Russian military from the Crimea. It turns out that Ukraine itself pays for those who occupied its land…
Сommercial interests of the Ukrainian "elite" continue to prevail over the state ones, and the desire for maximum self-profit – over patriotism.
Lukashenko begins - Medvedchuk wins
The oil conflict of Belarus and the Russian Federation in January of this year led to the cessation of supplies of raw materials from the Russian Federation to the Mozyr and Novopolotsk refineries. They, in turn, were forced to stop exporting products (in particular diesel fuel) – including to Ukraine.
The Wexler group took advantage of the situation. The media associates it with godfather of Putin's child Viktor Medvedchuk, informal leader of the OPFL party, known for its pro-Russian views.
Wexler controls operation of the liquid bulk terminal in Novohrad-Volynskyi, through which the Russian diesel fuel is selected from the Samara-Western Direction oil products pipeline. Through it, the diesel fuel is delivered to Ukraine and then transported to Europe.
The owner and operator of Ukrainian part of the "pipe" is PrykarpatZahidTrans. V.Medvedchuk is also considered its unofficial beneficiary. The politician himself denies connection with these companies.
Officially, PrykarpatZahidTrans LLC was acquired by graduate of the Kyiv National University and now Belarusian businessman Nikolai Vorobei.
Import of diesel fuel from the Russian Federation increased by 40% by the end of February of this year compared to January, up to 200.8 thousand tons. This way, the volumes returned to the level that had been before the introduction of special duties on deliveries of diesel fuel from the Russian Federation through the pipeline, the A-95 consulting group notes.
Let us recall that from August 1, 2019, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (CMU) set a special duty on the import of diesel fuel from Russia in the amount of 3.75% of the customs value (increased to 4% from October 1, 2019).
It was clear back at that time that the adopted rate is not protective and only imitates sanctions against the Russian fuel imports.
The February statistics confirmed this thesis. "The growth of imports from Russia made it possible to compensate for the majority of volumes of Belarusian fuel that "fell out" of the balance sheet", - A-95 review noted in March.
In monetary terms, the import of diesel fuel from the Russian Federation in January-February amounted to $262.4 million, or 38.5% of the total volume for the period.
Ukrainian importers "sponsored" the economy of the aggressor country for this amount – instead of diversifying supplies by means of manufacturers from Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania.
In physical terms, the Russian Federation in January-February accounted for 45% of all Ukrainian import of diesel fuel.
It is curious that the Russian Rosneft state-owned company is the only supplier of diesel fuel through the Samara West Direction pipeline.
Its chief executive Igor Sechin, the closest ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is under the sanctions of the USA and the European Union, imposed... because of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine!...
Sanctions also apply to the Swiss Rosneft Trading AG company, which sells the Rosneft products in Europe.
This is a real nonsense: Ukrainian oil market operators buy the resource from the Russian structure, "punished" for the anti-Ukrainian policy of the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, gasoline also went to Ukraine by rail in late April-early May, which has not been supplied here since 2016.
The recipients were Western Oil & Gas Company and Eurostandard, the exporter was Moscow Oil Refinery owned by the Gazprom Neft state-owned company, which is also sanctioned by the US and EU.
Earlier, in 2016, the same companies, WOGC and Eurostandard traded Russian gas in Ukraine. They supplied about 22 thousand tons to the market, about 1% of all gasoline sales in Ukraine. It seems to be not much. But on the other hand, when the price of gasoline on the wholesale market of the Russian Federation fell below cost just at the end of April of this year and each ton was sold at a loss of several thousand rubles – even relatively small sales to Ukraine in such conditions are a lifeline for Russian oil refiners. They are at war with us, and we are helping them…
CMU "honored" Akhmetov
No less interesting is situation with a 65% duty on coal imports from Russia, introduced by the CMU on April 1 of this year – i.e. already under current Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
Here the duty is already protective. But… As it turned out, it does not apply to anthracite and lean coal (A and T grades), as well as to coking coal.
DTEK company of Rinat Akhmetov imports anthracite from Russia to Ukraine – mainly from its mines in the Rostov oblast. Thermal power plants, also owned by DTEK, use coal T to work.
Having exempted the import of Russian coking coal from duties, the CMU took into account the business interests of R.Akhmetov and his Metinvest holding, which unites most of the metallurgical enterprises of Ukraine, again.
As it is known, metallurgists are the main consumers of coke and metallurgical coal. Therefore, Metinvest is not interested in increasing their value – inevitable with the introduction of duties.
As a result, only coal of the gas group falls under their action – it is in excess supply among Ukrainian miners and therefore not imported.
Of course, the coking coal supplies can also be diversified. But it is much more profitable and cheaper to bring it from the Russian Federation than, for example, from the USA or Australia.
The fact that Akhmetov's company indirectly "helps" the aggressor to continue war in the Donbass in this way is simply not taken into account by its owner and top managers.
The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, headed by Denys Shmyhal, who previously worked at DTEK, actually supported this approach: having made exceptions to commodity items that are important for R.Akhmetov's energy and metallurgical business.
At the end of 2019, imports of metallurgical coal to Ukraine totaled 10.428 million tons, of which 5.015 million tons accounted for Russian supplies.
The indicator in January-March of this year amounted to 2 million tons. Of these, about 50-75% falls on Russian products again.
It is interesting that the same N.Vorobei from Belarus appeared in the schemes of coal imports to Ukraine, which, according to the participants of the fuel market, can represent the interests of V.Medvedchuk.
So, in mid-December 2019, the media became aware of the allocation by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation of a quota for the export of more than 600 thousand tons of Russian coal to Ukraine.
The quota is allocated to the Estonian NT Marine company, which is part of the sphere of interests of N.Vorobei. According to the expert estimates, NT Marine's revenue for 2020 may amount to $50 million.
Thus, we can assume that all export/import of energy resources from the Russian Federation to Ukraine is more or less consolidated in a single pair of hands…
Putin's concern for V.Medvedchuk could be called touching, if it there had not been obvious political interests. But the carelessness of Ukrainian government, which essentially sponsors the aggression against its own state, including the internal one, is, to put it mildly, surprising.
Vitaliy Krymov, OstroV