Ukraine: Daily Briefing – April 26, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
April 26, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
Canadian and Ukrainian personnel participate in opening ceremony of Military Law Enforcement training course. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that attacks by Russian-terrorist forces escalated in the last 24 hours. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action in the last 24 hours. Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 65 times in total, including at least 20 times with heavy weapons in the last 24 hours. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Svitlodarsk, Horlivka, Zaytseve, Pisky and Avdiivka with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions along the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line, Krasnohorivka and Maryinka with mortars.  Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist force shelled Ukrainian positions at Zhovte, and Krymske with mortars. At Novooleksandrivka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Popasne and Stanytsia-Luhanska.
2. Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, illegally imprisoned by Russia, honoured by PEN America
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “PEN America’s honouring of Ukrainian filmmaker and political prisoner Oleg Sentsov at its 2017 PEN Literary Gala would have been a very special event under any circumstances.  It was made particularly poignant by the letter from Oleg that was heard for the first time, together with a powerful address from his cousin Natalya Kaplan who accepted the award on his behalf. The recognition from PEN America and calls for Oleg’s release from the many renowned guests at the Gala, including Meryl Streep, Salmon Rushdie and Stephen Sondheim, send an important message of support for the imprisoned artist and a clear statement to the Kremlin.  We hope, with PEN America’s vital help, to ensure that the calls for his release gain momentum over the following months.  They are urgently needed to help put pressure on the Kremlin to #FreeSentsov and all other Ukrainians held in Russian imprisonment, whether in occupied Crimea or, as in Oleg’s case, thousands of kilometres from family in Crimea. […] Oleg Sentsov has been in Russian custody since May 2014, just months after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea.  […] It was specifically because of his peaceful opposition to Russian occupation and his refusal to stay silent and passive, that he was arrested, together with three other opponents of annexation – Oleksandr Kolchenko; Gennady Afanasyev; and Oleksiy Chirniy. Sentsov faced vicious torture, with the Russian FSB ‘investigators’ openly threatening that if he didn’t ‘confess’ to insane charges that they would make him the ‘mastermind’ of their ‘terrorist plot’ and he would rot in prison.” In his letter, Sentsov wrote, “The last time I went to the Maidan, where people had already begun perishing, my mother said, ‘Why are you going there? You have two children!’ I answered that it was precisely because of that that I was going there-I don’t want them to live in a country of slaves. We won then, but it proved not to be the end. And the struggle continues, but now without me. I’m in prison and like any prisoner it is very difficult for me to answer a simple childish question: ‘Daddy, when are you coming home?'” The full report from KHPG and the full letter Sentsov sent is available at
3. EU ambassadors approve visa liberalization for Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “EU ambassadors have approved visa liberalization for Ukraine, a key step toward closer ties and visa-free travel to the EU for Ukrainians. EU ministers are now set to rubber-stamp the decision on May 11, and the signing ceremony for the deal is expected to take place in Strasbourg on May 17. EU diplomats have told RFE/RL they hope the visa-free regime will enter into force in mid-June. […] The decision will apply to all Ukrainian citizens who have biometric passports. They will be able to enter all EU member states apart from Ireland and the United Kingdom for up to 90 days during any 180-day period.”
Opening ceremony, Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine training course. Photo – US Army Europe
4. Ukrainian Airborne Unit begins training with Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine
US Army Europe reported on April 25, “This week, Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine welcomed the 1st Airborne Battalion, 79th Air Assault Brigade to the Combat Training Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine. The airborne battalion earned the moniker ‘cyborgs’ from their relentless defense of the Donetsk Airport in 2014. Over the next 55 days, the cyborgs will test their mettle completing a training program led by Ukrainian CTC trainers and U.S. mentors from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 45th IBCT is also working alongside partners from Canada, the U.K., Poland, Lithuania, and Denmark whose missions complement that of JMTG-U. ‘Our exchange of experiences and techniques will ultimately make all of our armies stronger,’ said Col. David Jordan, commander of the JMTG-U and the 45th IBCT, ‘That will ultimately make our nations stronger, and our world safer and more peaceful.'”
5. Canadian military police to train Ukrainian military law enforcement staff in Lviv
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported on April 25 that the new Military Law Enforcement training centre hosted an opening ceremony of a military law training course. “Col. Vasyl Maksymenko, Deputy Chief of Central Directorate of Military Law Enforcement, stressed that the Ukrainian army was undergoing development under active support of international partners and in compliance with NATO standards. […] During several weeks 16 Ukrainian specialists will undergo training in the framework of the course which agenda was jointly developed by Ukrainian and Canadian experts,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence stated.


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