Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – September 9-15, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
September 9-15, 2017
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of September 8-14, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 12 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 243 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 28 times with heavy weapons.
2. Russia sentences Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz to 8 years in openly lawless trial
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on September 11, “Russia has sentenced Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz to eight years’ imprisonment for upholding Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty during a demonstration that took place on Ukrainian territory and under Ukrainian law.  Chiygoz’s imprisonment since January 29, 2015 and this ‘trial’ are therefore demonstrations of the most cynical legal nihilism, in which Russia is even in breach of its own criminal code. […]
           The invading country has, without any right to it, staged this judicial travesty, and Chiygoz was in no doubt about the true aims of those who had commissioned this trial. He had no grounds for expecting the court to show objectivity and independence.
            He was, tragically, correct.  ‘Prosecutor’ Anastasia Supryaga, and ‘judges’ Viktor Zinkov, Igor Kryuchkov and Alexei Kozyrev did not merely continue a judicial farce that should have been terminated immediately.  They also openly ignored the lack of any evidence for the charges, and the overtly discriminatory, anti-Crimean Tatar, nature of this lawless prosecution.” The full report from KHPG is available at Russia sentences Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz to 8 years in openly lawless trial
3. Ukraine’s President: Price for aggression must keep rising so that it is unbearably hard to keep what was unlawfully taken
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated on September 15, “History teaches us that Russia cannot be trusted. Under any circumstances. With Moscow, one should always be prepared for the worst. You can hear it from tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who are persecuted in the Crimea and Donbas. Hundreds of them have perished at the hands of the killers and torturers only for the Ukrainian language, the Ukrainian flag or the Ukrainian passport […]
           Sanctions against Russia must be in force until full implementation of Minsk Agreements and restoring the sovereignty of Ukraine over the Crimea and Donbas. I would like to thank the United States for its leadership in strengthening the sanctions against the aggressor. The price for aggression must keep rising. It must be unbearably hard to keep what was unlawfully taken, or, more bluntly, cynically stolen.[…] Almost two years ago I put forward the initiative to establish an international mechanism for restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Crimea. We are talking about gradual – peaceful – pushing Russia out of the Crimea […]
           The fact that at the highest international level – UN General Assembly – Russia was recognized as an occupying power proves that we are on the right track. We count on coordinated and targeted support of our international partners.”
           Poroshenko also suggested the idea of creating an international group of friends of de-occupation of Crimea aimed to coordinate common steps and actions. “I plan to discuss this initiative in details in New York at the UN General Assembly,” Poroshenko said.
4. Canadian Armed Forces combat engineer on his experience training Ukrainian soldiers on Operation UNIFIER
Canadian soldier instructs Ukrainian soldier on prodding techniques. Photo – Joint Task Force-Ukraine

 In an article published by Canada’s Department of National Defence, a CAF combat engineer shared his experience on training Ukrainian soldiers. The CAF member wrote, “Canada and Ukraine have maintained strong ties for decades. In the military realm, Canada most recently brought its battle-tested knowledge and training experience to Ukraine under Operation UNIFIER. I am a CAF combat engineer and have been deployed on this operation for almost seven months. […]

          My job here as a combat engineer was, and continues to be, to work with the Ukrainian Army’s Rotational Training Unit (RTU) during their 55-day training cycle at IPSC. In so doing, my fellow engineers and I found ourselves teaching a wide variety of engineering skills to a large and diverse audience. Our primary focus was to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) engineers attached to the Canadian-led company.
           Starting from the basics and working our way up, we worked with the UAF to develop their skills and adapt their techniques to a high standard. Topics such as minefield laying and breaching, obstacle construction, basic demolitions, tactical explosive breaching, building and personnel search are just a handful of the skills we were tasked to deliver in a short period of time.  […]
           When the mission began, Canadians were teaching and delivering lessons to the UAF members directly, while working with the in-house UAF instructors of the IPSC’s Combat Training Center. Since arriving, our transition from Canadians teaching material to enabling the Combat Training Center instructors to teach has seen progress. We have shifted to the background, being here to support the CTC when needed, but letting them steer the ship, so to speak. The past two years have taught them valuable skills including a new methodology for teaching soldiers.
           Our rotation wraps up in the coming weeks. It is hard to believe this many months have passed so quickly. The stories and experiences that I have had here will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have made a lot of good friends here and many of those friendships will come back to Canada with me.”
The full article is available HERE
5. Exercise Rapid Trident 2017 begins in Ukraine
US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch speaks at opening ceremony of Rapid Trident 17. Photo – US Army Europe

Exercise Rapid Trident 2017, which involves approximately 1800 military personnel from 14 nations, including Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States, began in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Rapid Trident supports joint combined interoperability among Ukraine, NATO and partner nations.
           Speaking at the opening ceremony on September 11, US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch stated, “This is an important occasion for Ukraine, but also Ukraine’s partners. Military forces spanning continents and oceans, stand in solidarity with Ukraine, for Ukrainian security, Ukrainian sovereignty and for Ukrainian territorial integrity.”
           US Army Europe stated that the training opportunities during Rapid Trident 17 “greatly enhance professional relationships, contribute to the security of the Black Sea region and Europe as a whole and highlight the commitment to deter any real or potential aggression. Developing combined standard operating procedures on a variety of different platforms helps all participating Armies think through and mitigate problems in real-world training scenarios, and continues to improve combat readiness for each nation as a collective force.”
6. Bloomberg: Ukraine coming back to international capital markets
Bloomberg stated on September 14, “Ukraine is coming back to the international capital markets for the first time since the $15 billion restructuring in 2015. A potential flood of investors into this one makes a lot more sense than the flurry of demand we’ve seen in some recent deals.
           A 10- to 15-year bond for as much as $2 billion could price this week. The timing couldn’t be better for the country, as yields on existing 10 year debt have plummeted from 9.3 percent in March to 7 percent now. Interest already seems substantial. […]
          The key is the presence of the International Monetary Fund. This deal is the next step in its plan to help Ukraine recover from a recession bought on by revolution and conflict. The arrangement calls for $1 billion in new money to be raised from outside investors this year, rising to $2 billion next year and $3 billion in 2019. A successful transaction this month will instill investor confidence that Ukraine is fulfilling its side of the bargain.
         The plan seems to be taking hold — about half the money raised in the new bond deal will be new money. Ukraine is tendering to buy back probably up to $1 billion of its existing 2019 and 2020 debt, which is trading a little above 5 percent. It looks like holders of these notes are keen to keep them so they can participate in the tender on Friday, and be assured of an allocation in the (higher yielding) new deal. It’s all to the better, as success will ease Ukraine’s struggle to make repayments due before the end of the decade. […]
        As the IMF has Ukraine’s back, with $8.4 billion already committed, investors can take a more considered view. The fund has said it will release a further tranche of $1.9 billion after pension reforms are put into law, and the government sees that happening in the coming weeks, according to Reuters.”
7. EU extends sanctions over actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity until 15 March 2018
On September 14, the European Council “prolonged the restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 March 2018. The measures consist of asset freezes and travel bans.
           An assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime. The list was reviewed and the Council removed four deceased persons from the list of persons subject to these restrictive measures. Following a merger involving three listed entities, these entities were removed from the list and the entity into which they have merged was added in order to maintain the existing level of sanctions. The restrictive measures now apply to 149 persons and 38 entities. […]
          Other EU measures in place in response to the Ukraine crisis include:
  • economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the  Russian economy, currently in place until 31 January 2018;
  • restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until 23 June 2018.”

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