Ukraine: Daily Briefing – February 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
February 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Canadian Armed Forces members “train the trainers” at Odesa Military Academy on NATO map symbols, part of OpUNIFIER. Photo – Canadian Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 10 times in total, including at least 7 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery.
2. February 26 – Worldwide Day of Action for Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, illegally imprisoned by Russia
Video by PEN America about Oleg Senstov, illegally imprisoned by Russia. To view video, please click on image above
Video by PEN America about Oleg Senstov, illegally imprisoned by Russia. To view video, please click on image above
PEN America reported, “Ukrainian writer, filmmaker, and 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Awardee Oleg Senstov, an outspoken critic of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and takeover of Crimea, is serving a 20-year sentence in a penal colony with notoriously harsh conditions after his arrest on terrorism charges that have been condemned by human rights groups as fabrications by a Russian government intent on silencing dissent.
           On February 26, the Day of Crimean Resistance to Russian Aggression, PEN America and a number of partners around the world will express their support for Sentsov with readings, rallies, and special events across the globe. Follow the hashtag #FreeSentsov to learn more about these events.” To learn more, please see here
3. US White House – “NotPetya” cyberattack launched by Russia will be met with international consequences
The US White House stated on February 15, “In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history. The attack, dubbed ‘NotPetya,’ quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
           It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict.  This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attack that will be met with international consequences.
4. US Mission to the OSCE on Russia’s violations in Ukraine
On February 15, the US Mission to the OSCE stated, “As we gather this week, as our esteemed Ukrainian colleague reminded us, we mark the passing of three years since the signing of the Minsk Package of Measures. The agreement was signed just as Russian-led troops, tanks, and artillery were pushing further and further west into sovereign Ukrainian territory.
           The sides agreed to ‘an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire’ on February 12, 2015, but Russia-led forces promptly ignored the ceasefire and launched a ferocious artillery barrage against the city of Debaltseve, eventually capturing it and over 1,500 square kilometers beyond the agreed Minsk Line of Contact, while killing numerous Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in the process.
            For over three years now, we have had this and other agreements that outline a path out of this conflict. And, for three years, we have watched Russia-led forces contravene the most fundamental element of the agreement, namely an immediate and full ceasefire along the line of contact, while Russia continues to stoke the conflict. […]
           According to conservative figures released by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, in 2017 occupying Russian security forces killed at least four people, took 16 political prisoners, caused 16 disappearances, detained 286 people, conducted 62 searches, made 46 arrests, and levied 104 fines against people simply for speaking out against Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Most of the victims were Crimean Tatars. Russia should end its repeated baseless attempts to paint this brave, principled, and peaceful community as a group of ‘terrorists’ and “extremists.’ […]
          In conclusion, Mr. Chair, the United States fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. The United States does not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of Crimea.
        Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine. And we join our European and other partners in restating that our sanctions against Russia for its aggression in eastern Ukraine will remain until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements.”

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