22 of 2022: The main events of the outgoing year in Ukraine
What determined the life of the country in 2022: there are, surprisingly, positive things in the list
2022 has come to an end – its last 10 months will forever remain in history as the largest war on the European continent since the Second World War. That Ukraine became a bridgehead and an active combat zone determined the lives of its citizens for years to come.
The war has affected all industries, sectors, state institutions and, most importantly, people from all parts of the country without exception. Mind, however, also tried to identify narrower sectoral factors or social events that made 2022 what it was, reducing their quantity to the symbolic number 22.
Further is a list of these events.
February 24 (the full-scale invasion)
Rocket debris at a playground in Kharkiv after the February 24 attack.
In the early morning hours of February 24, the russian federation launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, bombarding military and civilian infrastructure across the country and attempting to land troops in the capital. The result of this plan is known to the whole world. The "small victorious war" turned into a long, exhausting and, as is already apparent, failed campaign, and the forecast to "take Kyiv in three days" became synonymous with a historically unprecedented force overestimation. By the end of the year, the number of russians killed in Ukraine passed the 100-thousand mark.
Read also: Long story short: What does russia demand in negotiations and where is the borderline for the compromise?
Destruction of the Mriya aircraft
They thought they had destroyed the Ukrainian Dream, but it is simply impossible!
The world's largest transport aircraft, An-225 Mriya (“Dream”), was burned on the first day of the war, on February 24. At the moment of the invasion, the aircraft was based at the airfield in Gostomel, around which one of the fiercest battles in the Kyiv Oblast unfolded. It was at this airfield that the russian force tried to make a landing. Although, formally the plane burned down not completely, it cannot be restored.
The question of why the unique aircraft and one of Ukraine's symbols was not moved to an alternative airfield in Leipzig in February remains unanswered.
Destruction of industril giants in Mariupol
Azovstal was simply wiped off the face of the Earth.
The two largest metallurgical plants in Mariupol, Azovstal and Ilyich Iron and Steel Works, were ruined more seriously than during the Second World War. Even after the inevitable liberation of the city, the prospects of their full recovery are near zero – the enterprises were severely ruined by air raids and artillery shellings.
Rinat Akhmetov's Metinvest, Ukraine's largest steel producer, estimates the losses from the attack on the metallurgical sites at $17-20 billion. The holding intends to seek compensation in court.
Azovstal was to celebrate its centenary in 2033.
Read also: Olenivka-2022: Why "Ukrainian Katyn" became possible in 21st century
Occupation of ZNPP
Rafael Grossi shows the situation at ZNPP on the map. Briefing in Vienna, Austria, 4 March 2022.
Zaporizhzhia NPP, located in Energodar, is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Since March 4, it has been occupied by russian troops, who mined the perimeter of ZNPP, brought heavy weapons to the turbine halls of the power units, set up a military base at the very plant, as well as torture chambers for Ukrainian personnel in the underground premises of the station.
Since August, russia has repeatedly shelled the premises of ZNPP, blaming it on Ukrainian troops. The goal is to prevent ZNPP from operating in the integrated Ukrainian power system, to which Zaporizhzhya NPP supplied electricity from its units No. 5 and 6 until August. Since then, the russian occupiers have regularly destroyed power lines, which ZNPP uses to supply electricity to Ukraine's grid when it is operating, and consumes for cooling reactors and other own needs when, as now, the power units are in the "cold shutdown" mode. Several times the power plant was without external power supply, which created a serious nuclear hazard. The whole world was watching the situation with bated breath – the memory of Chornobyl and Fukushima is too fresh. Only thanks to the professional work of Ukrainian personnel it was possible to save the world from nuclear disaster.
Several meetings of the UN Security Council were dedicated to resolving this crisis. On September 1, an IAEA team of 14 international nuclear inspectors arrived at the station. Subsequently, it was decided that the external observers would stay there permanently. The situation remains tense not only due to the risk of shelling, but also due to the shortage of spare parts, spent nuclear fuel storage conditions at the on-site storage facility, pressure and torture of Ukrainian personnel by the russian invaders. In particular, Ukrainian personnel are tortured, forcing them to sign contracts with a russian company established allegedly to operate ZNPP. From January 1, Energodar, ZNPP satellite city, is going to be switched to russian rubles by the occupiers.
Read also: Will it explode or not: What is going on at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Station
Disconnecting the Ukrainian power system from russia and belarus
At midnight on February 24, Ukraine's grid was disconnected from the power systems of russia and belarus. Ukraine has remained in the common energy system with these countries since Soviet times.
Despite the symbolism of the date, this disconnection was planned and conceived as a trial and temporary one, within the framework of all ENTSO-E procedures. It was supposed to check how the domestic system would work in the autonomous mode and in a single block with Moldova, so that later Ukraine could connect to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.
Russia's attack allowed Europe and Ukraine to speed up the process, refusing to follow all the formally required procedures, and on March 16, Ukraine became a member of the "energy European Union" by joining the ENTSO-E system.
Read also: Transparent electricity: Why implement REMIT in Ukraine
Targeted energy terrorism
Russia has been actively employing tactics to destroy energy infrastructure since October 10. An exact assessment of its consequences scale is not disclosed; according to some reports, 60% of the power system is affected to some extent.
The main assault was received by the capital, which has already experienced several large-scale blackouts. The main purpose of the attacks is to cause protests inside the country, so that the population began to put pressure on the authorities to start negotiations. The very assumption of the possibility of such a scenario once again demonstrates the total lack of understanding of the sentiment of Ukrainian society by the russian side.
In addition, the historical record of the wars that took place in the second half of the 20th century indicates that the energy blockade, subject to external support, does not ease the situation at the front for the aggressor. The only guaranteed consequence of these attacks is the forced modernisation and construction of a new, modern and highly efficient energy system in place of the destroyed Soviet heritage.
Read also: Kyiv is experiencing its first full-fledged blackout: Water and electricity are being restored faster than expected, mobile communication is more difficult
Replacement the of the NBU Governor
On October 4, the Governor of the National Bank Kyrylo Shevchenko asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to sign his resignation, referring to health problems. Within a week, the request was granted, and the first chair of the banking regulator was taken by the former Oschadbank top manager Andriy Pyshny.
For bankers, this rotation was not a surprise; talks about its inevitability had been circulating for at least six months.
What was unexpected was Kyrylo Shevchenko's further fate, who began to be "caught up" by anti-corruption agencies. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office indicted Shevchenko, accusing him of embezzling more than UAH 200 million during his tenure as the head of the state-owned Ukrgasbank (2015–2020). In early November, Kyrylo Shevchenko was put on the international wanted list, and in December, the High Anti-Corruption Court (VAKS) arrested him in absentia.
After that, the restrained rhetoric of the ex-chief banker changed dramatically: he claimed almost two years of political pressure, as he was not a "convenient Head of the NBU." Shevchenko is currently abroad; he left Ukraine the day before his resignation.
Read also: The New Deal: How will change the policy of the National Bank with Andriy Pyshny
Case of Alfa Bank
The management of Alfa Bank did everything to dissociate itself from its russian, and, as a result, sanctioned co-owners – Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman. As of January 1, 2022, they owned more than 45% stake in the bank.
Alfa Bank was renamed to Sense Bank, Mikhail Fridman promised to recapitalise the institution by $1 billion. Thus, he tried to negotiate with the Ukrainian authorities that this money would be spent to finance the national economy, and even offered to give the bank to the state for free.
However, he did not receive any reciprocity.
In autumn, the law No.2643-IX on the withdrawal of systematically important banks from the financial market appeared, providing for their redemption by the state for 1 UAH. MPs from the Servant of the People party did not hide the fact that the law was passed specifically for Alfa Bank.
Ex-Alfa occupies more than 1.1% in the assets of the banking system and it concentrates more than 42 billion UAH of the private funds.
Read also: Gentle nationalization: How Alfa-Bank shareholders are trying to make Sense of it
Death of Nibulon founder Oleksiy Vadatursky
The Hero of Ukraine, Nibulon LLC CEO Oleksiy Vadatursky and his wife Raisa were killed on the night of July 30-31 by massive shelling of Mykolaiv. A russian S-300 missile hit the house.
The company's new CEO, Andriy Vadatursky, hired a private foreign company to investigate the circumstances of his parents' death. And, in particular, to refute or confirm the version of a targeted
strike at the house, which appeared almost immediately after the tragedy.
Nibulon, the same age as independent Ukraine, widely celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021, ranking 20th in the country in the ranking of the largest private companies according to Forbes. Vadatursky's fortune was estimated at $430 million.
Read also: Mind nominations 2022: Companies and people who impressed during the year. Part .1. Agro-industrial complex
Lost irrigation in the south
The area of Kakhovka town, the "golden triangle" for niche crops and vegetable growing in Ukraine, came under occupation on the first day of the full-scale war.
While for agricultural land in general the estimate of occupied areas is 30%, then irrigated areas, traditionally concentrated in the south and mainly in the Kherson province, this figure is close to 70%.
The degree of damage to the systems is yet to be assessed, and the restoration cost is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. However, "restoration" is not quite the right term: the Ukrainian irrigation system was worn out and needed to be replaced long before February 24.
Port blockade and the Istanbul Agreement
Before February 24, Ukraine exported 95% of its agricultural products by sea, which occupied 40% in the export structure. After the sea routes were blocked, all this enormous volume (more than 20 million tonnes of grain) was locked in the domestic market.
The railway began to quickly develop logistics, the Danube ports showed unprecedented volumes of transshipment. However, it proved impossible to compensate for the dominant sales channel.
Prices on world markets soared to historic highs – the cost of wheat in May reached $ 500 / t. This sharply reduced the solvency of humanitarian missions, the budgets of which did not allow to buy food for starving countries (primarily African) in the previously agreed volumes. With pressure from the international community and with the mediation of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, an agreement was reached in July on the export of Ukrainian grain – the so-called Istanbul Agreement.
It provides for the inspection of all vessels leaving and entering the ports of Greater Odesa by a quadripartite inspection group on the Bosporus consisting of representatives of Ukraine, russia, the UN and Turkey. Exports are not going smoothly, primarily due to the tacit delaying of the processes by the russian side. However, monthly volumes are already close to the pre-war 5 million tonnes.
In 2021, 153 million tonnes of cargo passed through Ukrainian ports, of which 118 million tonnes were transshipped for export. Most of all, grain cargos and ore were handled – 49.9 million and 37.75 million tonnes, respectively.
Read also: Ammonia-flavoured grain: What russia received for the extension of the Istanbul agreement
Returning (for the period of martial law) some strategic enterprises to state ownership
"In pursuance of the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and due to military necessity," on November 6, five enterprises were alienated in favour of the state: "Motor Sich, Zaporizhtransformator, AvtoKrAZ, Ukrnafta, and Ukrtatnafta.
The seized assets acquired the status of military property, their management was assigned to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The relevant decision to ensure the compulsory alienation of public companies' shares was made by the National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC).
The companies are associated with oligarchs Igor Kolomoysky, Kostiantyn Zhevago, Vyacheslav Boguslayev and Kostiantyn Grygoryshyn.
Despite the fact that Ukrainian society does not feel any sympathy for these persons, the very procedure was also perceived ambiguously and as an alarming precedent.
Moreover, the shares of these companies were used to be bought by investment funds and unit investors – their rights were limited by nationalisation. After unequivocal statements that such moves do not contribute to the investment attractiveness of Ukraine, the authorities quickly adjusted their rhetoric: now it is about temporary alienation for the period of martial law.
Read also: Shares of five strategic enterprises transferred to the state. Who will the plants of Kolomoisky, Boguslayev, Zhevago and Grigorishin work for now?
Read also: Shares of five strategic enterprises were passed to the state. Who will the plants of Kolomoisky, Boguslayev, Zhevago, and Grygoryshyn work for now?
Attempt to redraw the building market (Bill No. 5655)
On December 13, the Verkhovna Rada adopted Bill 5655 by 228 votes, which introduced radical changes to the rules of urban development. The developers call this document "urban planning reform", while others, including representatives of local governments, call it "the developers' dream" and "urban rape."
The main and most ambitious innovation is the construction of a single, potentially corrupt window within the Ministry of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, which will be joined by MinRegion following the reform of the Cabinet of Ministers.
For this purpose, a new body is being created, the Urban Planning Chamber, which will control all participants of the construction market and register expert organisations, authorised persons of urban planning control, certify architects and engineers, withdraw certificates, impose fines, etc. This body will also have the right to stop any construction. These are enormous powers that do not have any cross counterbalance.
Even seemingly irreconcilable opponents opposed the document. It was also strongly criticised by mayors of the largest Ukrainian cities.
The situation was further aggravated by Olena Shuliak, the leader of the Servant of the People group in the parliament. Being the main "driver" of the bill, she inexplicably visited one of the critics of the innovation, veteran Oleg Symoroz, who is in hospital and has lost both legs, to discuss the norms of the document.
The likelihood of the presidential veto is estimated to be higher than average, but a quiet signing of the draft law on the eve of December 31, when "everyone will be busy", can not be ruled out.
Read also: Battle over the city: The bill 5655 on urban planning norms was adopted despite the outrage of the industry. Why the authorities did it and what will happen next
Read also: Battle over the city: Draft law 5655 on urban planning norms was adopted despite the outrage of the industry. Why the authorities have done it and what will happen next
Record-breaking migration of Ukrainians
As of November 15, 2022, 7.68 million refugees from Ukraine were registered abroad, according to the UN. This figure includes Ukrainians who are in russia and belarus (2.87 million people), including due to forced removal, and Ukrainian citizens registered in European countries.
The EU has an open door policy towards Ukrainian refugees. Out of 7.68 million, 4.8 million people have been granted temporary protection in the EU.
This number is expected to increase in the winter: due to russian attacks on energy infrastructure, wintering in Ukraine is an ordeal not for everyone.
There are no places left in Ukraine that are 100% safe. However, the western regions are still perceived as a "safe haven." At the beginning of the invasion in February–March, at least 2–2.5 million people moved to the west of the country. Some of them continued their way further – to Europe, but at least one third of the displaced persons stayed permanently.
Most of them moved to Lviv, Transcarpathia, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi provinces.
Not only people, but also businesses relocated. This applies to both small entrepreneurs – sole proprietors, owners of cafes, shops and small-scale production, as well as large IT companies that evacuated their staff to protect employees and ensure uninterrupted operation. Some of them continue to stay in Western Ukraine even now. To find a free place in a Truskavets sanatorium of any price category has been a task close to impossible since May.
By the end of the year, internal migration will provide significant changes in the ranking of regions in terms of gross regional product. Lviv Oblast, which traditionally was the fifth, is likely to be among the top three – after Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
Introduction of national roaming
In March, the "Big Three" telecom operators in Ukraine – Vodafone Ukraine, Kyivstar and lifecell – launched nationwide roaming. The purpose of this project was to provide Ukrainians with relatively stable mobile communication in wartime, if one of the operators is unavailable.
The launch occured gradually, starting with the zone of active hostilities. In essence, this means merging networks for subscribers. As Mind wrote, Kyivstar on average receives about 400,000 subscribers of other mobile operators in its network every day,
Read also: Alternative 4G power: Mobile operators switch their towers to solar power plants. Who, where and how is doing it?
In 2022, according to Mind, 54 deals were recorded on the Ukrainian startup market. The amount of funding for 16 of them has not yet been disclosed. More than $724.4 million was invested in the remaining 38 startups. In 2021, national teams broke the record and received investments totaling $2.347 billion.
Two Ukrainian companies this wartime year have acquired the unicorn status, that is, they have overcome the $1 billion mark in attracted funding (cumulative total). One of them is Unstoppable Domains, whose team creates short NFT domains to which the user can bind the addresses of all their crypto wallets. The effect for the buyer is that each wallet consists of more than 30 random characters that are difficult to remember, unlike a simple domain. The domain cost starts from $5, 2.5 million if they have already been sold. This year the company has received $65 million in funding.
The largest case is Near Protocol, which attracted $500 million in investments in 2022. The company has launched a blockchain platform that helps developers create decentralised services (dapps). NEAR claims their product is faster, easier to use and cheaper than its competitors. Near processes more than 100,000 transactions per second. The company earns on transaction fees (a few cents for each).
National marathon United News – actual monopolisation of TV content
We should immediately make a reservation that censorship during the war is a necessary and justified measure. In early March, it was the information policy concentrated in one hand that allowed to avoid panic and maintain an optimistic mood among citizens even when things were very bad.
The United News marathon was launched on February 24, 2022. It is produced by the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine, three private media holdings 1+1 Media, Starlight Media and Inter Media Group, the Directorate of Television and Radio Programmes of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and since November 8 – the former team of Ukraina Media Group.
However, the temptation to use control over TV content for political purposes may be great. Television traditionally remains the most popular source of information in Ukraine. And representatives of political actors, even ones that are tentatively loyal to the authorities, are increasingly saying that the principle of freedom of speech is no longer fully recognised.
Steps aimed at narrowing the presence of the Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox Church in Ukraine
On December 2, President Vladimir Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council to ban the activities of "religious organisations affiliated with centres of influence of russia" in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was not directly named, but there was no doubt who the attack was aimed at. On the eve of a full-scale war with russia, the UOC-MP had more than 12,000 parishes and was the largest in the country.
In the fall, law enforcement officers actively began to investigate the UOC's ties with russia and searched dozens of its objects.
Counterintelligence measures even reached the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra of the Holy Dormition – the investigation was conducted, in particular, for the purposes of "preventing using the Lavra as a centre of the 'russian world' and using the UOC premises to hide sabotage groups, foreign citizens, weapons caches, etc."
And at its plenary session on December 27, the Constitutional Court concluded that the law requiring to change the name of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to indicate its affiliation with russia complies with the Constitution.
The Kyiv-Pechersk National Historical and Cultural Reserve did not extend for 2023 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's lease agreement for the Assumption Cathedral and the Refectory Church on the premises of the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, which is under its jurisdiction.
In late May, the UOC declared independence from moscow at its Council in Kyiv. The appropriate additions and amendments to its statute were approved. But it had no fundamental impact on public opinion; the UOC-MP is still perceived as an element of kremlin's soft power.
The complexity of the situation is that the church is more influential the more it is oppressed.
The phenomenon of Valeriy Zaluzhny
In Ukraine, there were very rare cases when career military and security officers became famous. And even more so – popular outside their professional circle. Exceptions only confirmed this rule. Former Defense Minister Anatoliy Grytsenko, former heads of the Security Service of Ukraine Igor Smeshko and Valentyn Nalyvaichenko – that's probably all.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhny broke this trend.
Zaluzhny is the first professional military officer who has sincere and well-deserved popularity both inside and outside the country. Time included him in the list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the American edition of Politico published a material calling him the "iron general" and "legend." Informally, there is a version circulating that it is Zaluzhny, not Zelensky, who receives massive military assistance from the West.
Zaluzhny is in second place after the President in terms of trust of Ukrainians (according to the Rating Sociology Group), while the collective Armed Forces even leave behind the head of state.
In unofficial polls on presidential prospects, Zaluzhny's result is already higher than that of the active leader of the opposition, Petro Poroshenko. The general himself vigorously rejects any interest in politics.
Victory at the Eurovision Song Contest
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. The hip-hop group Kalush Orchestra with the song "Stefania" received 631 points. This is a Eurovision record by viewers' votes – 439 points (93.8% of all possible).
There is no doubt that the musical talents of the performer and the song – though undoubtedly high – did not play a decisive role. The world once again unanimously demonstrated support for Ukraine and the heroic struggle that the country is waging.
The participant from russia was not admitted to the contest.
Read also: Mind Nominations 2022: Achievements, defeats, failures and breakthroughs of the year. Part 5. Ukrainian culture
Ukraine is the No. 1 country
The Economist named Ukraine the country of the year in 2022 for the heroism of its people and resistance to the aggressor. President Volodymyr Zelensky and the "Ukrainian spirit" are Time's Person of the Year.
The popularity of Ukraine has reached a maximum in the history of the country. Moreover, this popularity is full-strength positive.
The times when foreigners asked: "Is Ukraine somewhere near russia?" are gone forever. Now, "Ukraine is an unprecedentedly heroic country with courageous people who were not afraid to fight back against an aggressor whose forces are many times greater than their own" is a narrative that will be relevant for many years to come.
The Mind team wishes all readers a Happy New Year and wishes the main event of 2023 – the Victory – to come as soon as possible!
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