You've probably heard the phrase "Black Friday". This is a big sale day when people get the opportunity to buy different goods at a big discount. Ukraine has its own version of "Black Friday". On this day, those who were engaged in the "big sale" of strategic enterprises, natural resources, high government positions, traded security, stability and the future of Ukraine get what they deserve. Ukrainian "Black Friday" is held not once a year, but almost every week. And today, after the regular meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, "Black Friday" has come for a number of individuals and legal entities.
First of all, we are talking about smuggling. This is economic terrorism against Ukraine. According to experts, the losses due to smuggling reach 300 billion hryvnias not received by the state budget.
More than 100 billion of them are due to inefficient customs operations.
Today, for the first time in the history of Ukraine, personal sanctions have been introduced, in particular assets and property of persons who, according to the Security Service and the National Security and Defense Council, can be called the top ten Ukrainian smugglers were blocked. I want to emphasize that the fight against smuggling will be continued, today it is the top ten, but certainly not the last.
In addition, dozens of customs officials were suspended from duty. We are also preparing legislative changes, which will result in the criminalization of inaccurate customs declarations.
Next. In pursuance of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of February 19, the strategic oil pipeline illegally expropriated from the state was returned. During the transfer, it turned out that in 2017-2019, almost 400 kilometers of the pipeline were destroyed. This is a sabotage that will result in criminal cases and criminal liability.
I will tell the people involved in this briefly, with a quote from the famous comedy: "You are in trouble!"
The Center for Countering Disinformation, which has already started its work, was also presented today. It will become an information shield of Ukraine and will do everything to make Black Friday come for all propagandists and information saboteurs both outside and inside the country.
Finally, the most important thing - the situation in Donbas.
Preserving a complete ceasefire is a guarantee of continuing difficult yet much-needed negotiations in the Minsk and Normandy formats. I would like to emphasize once again that our army is able to repel anyone. And this strengthens our position to resolve the situation through the diplomatic path chosen by Ukraine for the reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories and the return of our people.
On this path, we enjoy the full and unwavering support of international partners, including Europe and the United States. And a proof of that is the conversation I had today with President of the United States Joe Biden. We discussed the situation in Donbas in detail. President Biden assured me that Ukraine would never be left alone against Russian aggression.
Recalling the events of January 6 in the United States, President Biden noted the importance for the United States and Ukraine to defend democracy in our countries today. Especially when it is threatened by a large number of oligarchs interested in destabilizing and weakening state institutions.
The implementation and continuation of reforms in Ukraine, including anticorruption, judicial and Constitutional Court reform, was noted and supported. According to President Biden, the United States and Ukraine are brothers-in-arms in the fight against corruption.
We also talked about US participation in the Crimean platform and President Biden's upcoming visit to Ukraine.
To sum up, fellow Ukrainians, I traditionally wish you all good health, 36.6 and a great, not black, but sunny, light, pleasant Saturday and Sunday. Actually, like all other days of the week.
Take care of yourself, your loved ones and our Ukraine!