Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – July 29-August 4, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 29-August 4, 2017
Platoon movement training exercises, Yavoriv, Ukraine. Photo – US Army Europe
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of July 28-August 3, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 20 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 163 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 36 times with heavy weapons.
2. Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement comes into force

The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) came into force on August 1. For opportunities offered by the CUFTA, please see the Government of Canada’s website,Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement

3. US President signs Russia sanctions bill into law

On August 2, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. For an analysis and overview of the law from the Atlantic Council, please see The Russia Sanctions Bill is a Decisive Moment for US Policy – Now What? 

4. Human rights group report: Jailed in Russian-occupied Crimea for a Ukrainian Flag
Volodymyr Balukh, Photo – KHPG
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on August 4, “46-year-old Volodymyr Balukh, a Ukrainian farmer, activist and recognized political prisoner, has been sentenced to 3 years, 7 months after a gravely flawed trial which human rights groups have condemned as reprisals for his open opposition to Russia’s occupation of his native Crimea – and, effectively, for a Ukrainian flag.  The de facto judge at the Razdolne District Court  – Maria Bedritskaya – claimed that all evidence had been gained lawfully, and also imposed a 10 thousand rouble fine.
         Bedritskaya was warned by the defence from the outset that even under Russian legislation a judge faces criminal liability for imprisoning people on the basis of overtly rigged evidence.  She chose to ignore the weight of proof that the charges against Balukh are politically motivated and fabricated, and merely accelerated the final verdict in order to go on holiday.
          Balukh was arrested on Dec 8, 2016 after 90 bullets and several trotyl explosive devices were allegedly ‘found’ in his attic.  He had no record of violence and the constant searches and series of administrative prosecutions he had faced since Russia’s invasion of Crimea for his openly pro-Ukrainian position made it inconceivable that he could have held anything illegal in his home.  This was one of the grounds for the Memorial Human Rights Centre’s decision to declare the 46-year-old a political prisoner well before the trial.  There were many other compelling reasons, including scarcely concealed falsifications and procedural irregularities which the ‘judge’ has not only refused to consider, but has even taken part in.” The full report from KHPG is available at Jailed in Russian-occupied Crimea for a Ukrainian Flag
5. EU adds 3 individuals and 3 companies to sanctions list over violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity
The European Union stated on August 4, “The EU has added 3 Russian nationals and 3 companies involved in the transfer of gas turbines to Crimea to the list of persons subject to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
         The EU has not recognised the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation. As part of its non-recognition policy, the Council has prohibited the supply of key equipment for infrastructure projects in Crimea and Sevastopol in important sectors, including gas turbines in the energy sector. Establishing an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol supports their separation from Ukraine, and undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Gas turbines are a substantial element in the development of new power plants.
         The 3 persons have been added to the sanctions list for their responsibility in supplying Crimea with gas turbines from Russia. The turbines were originally sold by Siemens for use in the territory of the Russian Federation. The subsequent transfer of the turbines to Crimea was in breach of contractual provisions covering the original sale by Siemens. The companies placed under sanctions are the contracting party which purchased gas turbines and is responsible for the transfer, the current owner of the gas turbines, and a company specialising in control and communication systems for power plants, including in Sevastopol and Simferopol.” The list of sanctioned individuals and entities is available at the Official Journal of the EU
6. Pentagon, State Department Propose Plan to White House for Providing Arms to Ukraine
The New York Times reported on August 1, “The Pentagon and State Department have proposed to the White House a plan to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other arms, according to Defense Department officials.
         The proposed transfer – which also would include antiaircraft arms that would be defined as defensive weaponry – comes as fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists has increased in recent days, and the United States is taking steps to deter aggressive military actions by Moscow.
         The plan by the Pentagon and State Department has been presented to the White House, but no decision has been made, said a Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a proposal still under review. It was not clear if President Trump had been briefed on the proposal. […]
         Two years ago, eight former senior American officials urged the Obama administration to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire. President Obama ultimately decided against providing such lethal assistance. […]
        Under the new proposal, which was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, the administration would provide anti-tank weapons, most likely Javelin missiles, as well as possibly antiaircraft weapons, in addition to other arms.”

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