The New York Times writes that Ukraine is moving quickly to avoid a repeat of the ongoing Greece crisis and restructure its debt. The article contends that the Ukrainian government, along with the IMF, is attempting to strong-arm creditors into accepting “big losses” in the process of negotiating a bailout deal. The government currently stands accused of using funds allocated to helping Ukraine pay back interest on bonds to finance the ongoing military conflict in east Ukraine, a charge that Kiev does not dispute.
The terms of the bailout stipulate that Ukraine save approximately $15 billion over the next four years, according to the article a possibility only if Ukraine reduces its payments to creditors. Kiev is currently asking for a 40% reduction in the principal amount borrowed in order to meet obligations set forth by the IMF, while creditors are instead asking for an extension on payments until 2019 in order to recoup the entirety of funds lent to the Ukrainian government during the Yanukovych and Poroshenko administrations. Debt is a serious source of concern for the Ukrainian government as illustrated by recent reports that its public debt will reach 95% of GDP by the end of the year.
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- Azerbaijan stated that it has formally protested the presence of the leader of Armenian enclave Nagorno-Karabakh to London this week. The Azeri foreign ministry sent a letter of protest to the UK foreign ministry as Bako Sakakyan plans to visit the country, saying that it presents a direct affront to the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. Sakaryan is expected to speak at Chatham House on July 8.
- A shootout in the southwest Russian region of Dagestan ended in three deaths. Russian news media reports that two members of an alleged extremist group called Kizilurt were killed along with a Russian special forces soldier. The counterterrorism operation was carried out in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan after Russian forces came under fire while combing villages for suspected extremists.
- Kyrgyzstan has opted to extend environmental permits to Canadian gold mining company Centerra Gold. The nature of the permits allows for the release of “emissions” into the atmosphere and for the disposal of waste in an artificial pond created for the purpose of waste removal. The permit will remain valid until the end of 2015.
- The India Times publishes a piece on the increasing influence of China in Central Asian markets. Already, much has been made of ambitious Chinese spending on large-scale government infrastructure development projects, though the focus of the article focuses primarily on the growth of Chinese consumer goods. Bazaars in Tajikistan, for instance, now feature more Chinese than products than ever and may threaten to replace the previous preponderance of Russian goods throughout the country.
- Chinese transportation company Huawei recently won a contract from the Turkmen government to funnel passengers between the Turkmen cities of Bereket and Ak Yayla on the Iranian border. The new 265 kilometer line was signed off on by Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan in December and is one of a growing number of lines filled by Huawei in Turkmenistan.