Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – April 1-7 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
April 1-7 2017
 
 
Honour Guard for the arrival of Ukraine’s Defence Minister Poltorak to Ottawa. 
Photo – DND
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of March 31-April 6, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 34 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 338 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 94 times with heavy weapons.
 
 
Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan and Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak sign the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement, Ottawa, April 3.
 
2. Canada, Ukraine sign Defence Cooperation Arrangement
On April 3, Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan and Ukraine’s Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak signed the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement. The Government of Canada stated, “This bilateral arrangement further exemplifies Canada’s commitment to Ukraine by identifying areas of mutual cooperation such as defence policy; defence research, development, and production; and military education. The Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement is a key part of the Canadian Government`s multifaceted support for Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty, security, and stability. This arrangement is focused on providing a framework for cooperation on important defence-related issues.” Minister Sajjan stated, “Today’s signing of the Defence Cooperation Arrangement shows Canada’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. It strengthens the ties between our two nations and helps us continue to develop our rich, mutually beneficial relationships.  Canada remains fully committed to providing assistance to Ukraine, helping to preserve and protect its sovereignty through Operation UNIFIER, and to supporting the implementation of key reforms.”
3. European Parliament approves visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens
European Parliament approved visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine on April 5. The Parliament stated, “Under the new law, Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes. […] The legislation, approved by 521 votes to 75 with 36 abstentions, still needs to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers. It is likely to enter into force in June, 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal.”
4. IMF Executive Board approves disbursement of $1 billion to Ukraine
On April 3, the IMF Executive Board completed the third review of Ukraine’s program under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), enabling the disbursement of $1 billion US, which would bring total disbursements to about $8.4 billion US. David Lipton, IMF First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, stated, “The Ukrainian economy is showing welcome signs of recovery. Growth is returning, inflation has been brought down, and international reserves have doubled. This progress owes much to the authorities’ decisive policy actions, including sound macroeconomic policies. The recent stabilization provides a promising basis for further growth. […] A start needs to be made with privatization and developing a market for agricultural land. Corruption needs to be tackled decisively. Despite the creation of new anticorruption institutions, concrete results have yet to be achieved. Notwithstanding the large fiscal adjustment, public debt remains high. The urgency of structural fiscal reforms to ensure medium-term sustainability has increased, as pressures to raise wages and pensions are building. […]Impressive progress has been made in rehabilitating the banking system, but efforts need to continue to restore banks’ soundness and reinforce their ability to support growth.”
5. Ukraine’s President signs law on ratification of Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement
On April 3, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed the Law “On Ratification of the Free Trade Area Agreement between Ukraine and Canada,” which was passed by Ukraine’s Parliament on March 14. Canada’s legislation on the implementation of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) is currently in committee in Canada’s Senate.
6. Foreign Affairs Committee tables report to Canada’s House of Commons calling for adoption of Magnitsky amendment to sanctions legislation
On April 6, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development tabled a report to the House of Commons – A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada’s Sanctions Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond. The report recommends that “In honour of Sergei Magnitsky, the Government of Canada should amend the Special Economic Measures Act to expand the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted, including in cases of gross human rights violations.” Committee Chair Robert Nault stated, “The goal was to ensure that the recommendations we put forward to the government reflect today’s global realities and are done in such a way that when we consider placing sanctions, they can be properly monitored and enforced. It’s also important that we expand the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted, including in cases of gross human rights violations.” The report is available at
 
7. Peter MacKay: It’s time for Canada to get tough with Putin and his thugs. Here’s how we can do it
Writing in the National Post on April 5, former Canadian Minister of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Justice Peter Mackay stated, “What kind of country assassinates the opposition leader virtually on the steps of their legislature; puts hits out on citizens who speak out against them, even outside its borders; orders the persecution of government employees; foreign politicians and governments to cyber attacks; sends troops across sovereign borders and generally behaves like a 16th century dictatorship? The answer, of course, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. […] Opponents and critics are silenced and murdered. The media is controlled. Government propaganda deceives the public. […] Abroad, the picture is just as bad. Russia commits war crimes in Syria and props up the Assad regime, while threatening NATO and annexing parts of Ukraine. The invasion of Crimea is the worst example of their aggression, but the reach of their cyber warriors is felt everywhere, including right here in the democratic West. […] It is incumbent upon civilized nations to push back when the rule of law is abrogated in such a blatant way, and Canadians now have a historic opportunity. In addition to making the investments required to meet our NORAD and NATO commitments, we can pass the Magnitsky Act and hold those responsible for the abominable and disruptive behaviour of Russia. This would send a clear signal of solidarity to the long-suffering Russian people and to our allies who have taken action. Shared values is a lovely expression, but it must be an actionable item if it is to have meaning. […] Efforts to sanction officials involved in illegal activity would bring some measure of justice. Barring travel, denying visas, and seizing assets are just a few proper steps in that direction that Canada has already taken. The American and British governments have already gone further. […] Canada has taken some similar steps, but can put in place tougher measures. A few years ago a motion was adopted in Parliament unanimously with the clear intent of signalling to Russia our determination to impose meaningful penalties on those who commit crimes and violate rights and the rule of law. This was a rare showing of complete non-partisan support for an international justice initiative in our Parliament. A Canadian Magnitsky law would sanction Russian officials involved in human rights abuses, importantly allowing for the seizure of their ill-gotten millions abroad. Such a tool restricts the movement, freedom and impunity of those named individuals in positions of power who abuse and steal from the Russian people. […] Canada needs legislation to signal its revulsion at Russia’s crimes and to punish those responsible. Denying visas, seizure of assets and in some cases, working with other like-minded democratic allies to bring these thugs to the International Criminal Court may, in time, bring justice to Russia’s many victims, especially those in Russia itself.” The full article is available athttp://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/peter-mackay-its-time-for-canada-to-get-tough-with-putin-and-his-thugs-heres-how-we-can-do-it

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