Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – February 25-March 3, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
February 25-March 3, 2017
Kharkiv Oblast Thanks Canada for Ambulances
Ambulances for Ukraine Project
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of February 24-March 2, six Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 60 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 648 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sector of the front, including at least 236 times with heavy weapons – mortars, artillery and tanks.
2. Globe and Mail: Bitter Harvest – A forgotten history, finally told
Lubomyr Luciuk, professor of political geography at the Royal Military College wrote in the Globe and Mail on March 2, “My godmother, Nina, told me the truth. When I shared it with my history teacher, he said she was mistaken, or had lied. I was upset. I asked my parents who was right. They gave me a book, Russian Oppression in Ukraine, which included firsthand accounts about the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Soviet Ukraine. […] What brought this decades-old high-school memory to mind was a new film, Bitter Harvest. As it ended, I glanced around the screening room. Some cried quietly. Others seemed uncertain about how to react. I know why. It’s a beautifully filmed love story about Natalka (Samantha Barks) and Yuri (Max Irons), set in an almost Edenic landscape saturated with colours evoking a verdant and fruitful life. Very soon, however, almost imperceptibly, it begins to soil, as the brutality of the Bolshevik occupation of Ukraine metastasizes Europe’s breadbasket into a modern-day Golgotha, a place of skulls. Can love survive such corrupting foulness? I don’t know. […]  Stalin’s successors in the Kremlin remain Holodomor-deniers while fellow travellers in the West call upon the world to turn a blind eye to continuing Russian imperialism against Ukraine, lest we offend the ‘Great Russians.’ Director George Mendeluk’s film will challenge those fake news peddlers. […] Millions of Ukraine’s best sons and daughters were disposed of unceremoniously, tipped into collective boneyards. The survivors were leavings, entombed in a postgenocidal society, victims of a crippling legacy still unexorcised.” The full article is available at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/buried-history-of-ukrainian-famine-finally-told-in-film-bitterharvest/article34183392/
For more information on Bitter Harvest show times in Canada, see
Foreign Secretary of UK, Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Poland in Kyiv,  March 1
3. UK Foreign Secretary, Foreign Minister of Poland visit Kyiv to reiterate unwavering support for Ukraine
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Witold Waszczykowski, Foreign Minister of Poland were in Kyiv on March 1 for meetings with President Poroshenko, PM Groysman, Deputy-PM Klympush-Tsynsadze and Foreign Minister Klimkin. Foreign Secretary Johnson stated, “This visit reinforces our unwavering support for Ukraine. The UK remains committed to defending Ukraine’s sovereignty. We are adamant that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal and we urge Russia to return it. I welcome the progress made on implementing reforms and tackling corruption. The UK-Ukraine reform conference in July will enable us to showcase the great work that is being done in Ukraine.” Foreign Minister Waszczykowski stated, “Poland and the UK since the beginning of Revolution of Dignity have supported Ukraine on its pro-European path. I’m extremely happy that together with Minister Boris Johnson we will be able to reiterate our commitment to Ukraine’s European choice, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
4. Ukraine’s President: Confiscation of Ukrainian assets by Russia is more evidence of Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine
During a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski, on March 1, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “Another brutal and dreadful violation of international law took place – Russia de-facto confiscated Ukrainian state and private assets located in the occupied territory. This is another evidence of Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine.” President Poroshenko added that this is taking place against the background of putting these territories into the “ruble zone,” gas and power supply from Russia and introduction of direct budget transfers. Poroshenko stated, “This is an absolutely clear confirmation of the fact of occupation of this territory by Russian troops along with full control over the state border in the uncontrolled area. In this regard, we emphasize that Russia bears full responsibility for ceasefire violation, murder of Ukrainian military and civilians, illegal detention of hostages both in the occupied territory and in Russia.”
5. Russia and its proxies not allowing Red Cross to visit Ukrainian hostages held in Russian-occupied territories
On February 28, Ukraine’s representative to the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine-OSCE-Russia) humanitarian subgroup Iryna Herashchenko stated that Russia and its proxies, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” are not allowing representatives of the International Red Cross to visit Ukrainian hostages held in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s east, Radio Svoboda reported. Herashchenko stated that the Red Cross “was allowed into prisons even by the odious dictatorial regimes of Hussein and Qaddafi, today the Red Cross is working in Syria, providing humanitarian aid to the civilian population. The only ones  not allowing the Red Cross into prisons, not allowing the Red Cross to search for those who have disappeared, not allowing the Red Cross to see hostages or pass letters to family – is Russia and the [Peoples’ Republics]. Despite all the promises of Putin in the Normandy Format meetings, despite all calls by world leaders, despite all calls by Ukraine that the apolitical, neutral mission of the Red Cross should be doing this work […] The question ‘why they’re not allowed in’ is rhetorical, probably – they are hiding something from the world.”
6. US statement on Russia’s Continued Occupation of Crimea
Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on March 2, US charge d’affaires Kate Byrnes stated, “Three years have passed since Russia launched its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.  On February 27, 2014, Russian troops in unmarked uniforms seized the parliament building in Simferopol, and then proceeded to hold Crimea hostage until the illegitimate, so-called ‘referendum’ could take place on March 16.President Putin confirmed those soldiers were Russian military personnel operating under his orders to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and intimidate the population of Crimea, despite initially misleading the international community by denying Russia’s involvement. Moscow organized the sham ‘referendum’ held under the threat of violence in an attempt to justify Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.  The people of Crimea have never freely accepted Russia’s occupation – not then, and not now.  Russia subsequently followed through on its threat of violence through the systematic oppression of those who oppose Russia’s occupation.  Moscow fears exposing the truth behind its rule by force, and has created a climate of fear and intimidation to shore up its control. […]Russia continues to subject ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars to systematic discrimination, including through severely limited access to education in Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages.  In May 2016, Russian authorities banned the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, a democratically-elected body representing the Crimean Tatar population, claiming it was an extremist organization.  This is a laughable claim, and a sad indication of how far Russia is willing to go to punish those who will not assent to its attempted annexation. […] The ability to freely assemble has nearly ceased to exist under Russian occupation, and authorities routinely deny Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians permission to hold political or cultural public gatherings. […] Russia has dangerously undermined international peace and security by occupying and attempting to annex the territory of its neighbor.  Russia’s violation of international law and our shared Helsinki principles, and its rejection of the commitments that are the basis of 70 years of post-war international order, have made the world more dangerous for us all. The United States affirms its full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders.  As we have said before, the lifting of Crimea-related sanctions on Russia is tied to Russia returning control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” The full statement is available at https://osce.usmission.gov/russias-continued-illegal-occupation-of-crimea/

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