Despite Russian Invasion, Ukraine’s Economy Registers Growth In 2023

(RFE/RL) — Despite the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s economy registered a spike in growth this year, the economy minister said on December 28.

“The main figure that characterizes this year in the economy is an almost 5 percent GDP growth. Our economy not only did not fall but grew at a pace that no one expected,” Yulia Svyrydenko, the economy minister, said on Facebook.

Ukraine is looking to strengthen its financial resources for what could be a protracted war as fighting grinds on through the winter and likely into a third year after Russia launched its unprovoked, full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Svyrydenko’s comments come after a civilian cargo ship struck a Russian mine in the Black Sea near Ukraine’s Danube ports earlier on December 28, injuring two sailors, officials said.

The Panama-flagged vessel struck the floating mine during stormy weather as it went to pick up grain, according to Ukraine’s southern command.

After Russia pulled out of a UN-brokered export agreement last summer, Ukraine launched a new Black Sea shipping corridor to get grain and other cargo to world markets. That has given a boost to Ukraine’s agriculture-dependent economy.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the alternative Black Sea export corridor had sent out 12 million tons of cargo so far. He added in his nightly video address on December 28 that the corridor had produced “particularly significant results for December, and this is felt at the level of our entire economy.”

The mine incident occurred about 130 kilometers southwest of Chornomorsk, which is near Odesa on Ukraine’s southern coast, according to Ambrey, a global maritime-risk-analysis company. Quoted by AP, Ambrey said the ship with 18 crew was on its way to Izmayil, a Ukrainian port on the Danube.

The mine detonated at the ship’s stern, causing equipment and machinery failure and resulting in the vessel losing power, Ambrey said. The captain reportedly maneuvered into shallow water to prevent the ship from sinking.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force said air defenses shot down seven out of eight Shahed drones launched by the Russian military overnight. Drones were downed in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, and Zaporizhzhya regions, it said early on December 28.

Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive last summer largely failed to shift the front line, giving confidence to the Kremlin’s forces, especially as further Western aid is in question.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that the United States and European Union countries plan to continue sending help to Kyiv.

“Neither Washington nor Brussels refrain from assisting the Kyiv regime (Ukrainian government) because they realize it would be doomed without such assistance,” Lavrov said in an interview with state news agency TASS that was released on December 28.

North Macedonia, however, announced on December 28 that it would be unable to comply with a fresh Ukrainian request for military aid submitted a month ago.

Speaking at an annual press briefing, Defense Minister Slavjanka Petrovska said North Macedonia needed the equipment requested by Kyiv.

Petrovska did not say whether North Macedonia was ready to train Ukrainian soldiers on its territory.