Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – April 14-20, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
April 14-20, 2018
Beginning of 55-day training cycle for 450 Ukrainian soldiers at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Ukraine_ where Canadian Forces personnel are deployed on the Operation UNIFIER training mission. Photo – Canadian Armed Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of April 13-19, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 19 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 344 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 70 times with heavy weapons – Grad rockets, artillery and mortars.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament backs President’s move to obtain Autocephalous Status for Orthodox Church
President Poroshenko addresses Ukraine's Parliament. To view video, please click on image above
President Poroshenko addresses Ukraine’s Parliament. To view video, please click on image above
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on April 19, “Ukrainian lawmakers have backed President Petro Poroshenko’s appeal to the worldwide head of the Orthodox Church to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s independence from Moscow.
          The vote in the Verkhovna Rada came days after Poroshenko met with the archbishop of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during a trip to Istanbul. The resolution was supported by 268 lawmakers — more than the minimum 226 votes needed.
          In a speech to parliament on April 19, Poroshenko called the move an act of ‘restoring historical justice.’
          Poroshenko said earlier on April 17 that the issue of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s getting autocephalous status may be considered by the Council of Constantinople by July 28.”
3. US calls on Russia to immediately release Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh
The US Mission to the OSCE stated on April 19, “Russia’s oppression of those opposing its occupation of Crimea continues unabated. We call on the Russian Federation to permit Ukrainian doctors to visit Volodymyr Balukh who has been on a hunger strike since March 19 while incarcerated in Simferopol on fabricated charges. Mr. Balukh should be released immediately.
           The United States is also following the trial, which began this week, of Ukrainian Yevhen Panov. Human rights organizations have called the case politically-motivated and expressed concern about the apparent use of torture against him in order to coerce a confession. Panov was targeted for founding an organization to support Ukrainian war veterans, including those, like himself, who fought against Russian aggression in the Donbas. […]
          The United States fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s 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.”
4. Ukraine, EU sign 50 million Euro agreement to fund Energy Efficiency Fund
The European Union’s Delegation to Ukraine reported on April 18, “Today Vice Prime Minister Hennadii Zubko and the Head of the Support Group for Ukraine Peter M. Wagner, in the presence of Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, have signed a Financing Agreement of €50 million to support the Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund.
           The agreement will contribute to energy savings and to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Ukraine. The EU, together with Germany, will also support the activities of the Energy Efficiency Fund in providing grants to the energy efficient renovations of multi-apartment houses across Ukraine. […]
           The Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund has been set up by the Ukrainian government earlier this year in close cooperation with the EU and Germany. The €50 million Energy Efficiency support programme is part of this effort.
           Germany will additionally contribute €15 million to the programme, while the Ukrainian government has also committed close to €50 million to the Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund in 2018. Since 2014, the EU has pledged €965 million in the European Neighbourhood Instrument grants to support Ukrainian reforms.”
5. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister to visit G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in Toronto
Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers reported, “On April 22, 2018, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin will take part in a special outreach session devoted to the situation in Ukraine in the framework of a meeting of G7 Foreign Affairs Ministers which will be held in Toronto, Canada.
          The participation of the Foreign Minister will contribute to the proper reflection of the ‘Ukrainian issue’ in discussions and outcome documents of the G7 in 2018. Ukraine is interested in receiving the staunchest support of the G7 states, in particular, in countering ongoing Russian aggression, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state, de-occupation of  Crimea, countering propaganda and hybrid threats, energy security issues, sanctions against the Russian Federation and support for reforms in Ukraine.”
6. IMF improves forecast for Ukraine’s GDP growth
Ukraine Business Journal reported on April 19, “Ukraine’s GDP growth reached 2.5% in 2017, 0.5% higher than the previous forecast published in the autumn of 2017, the IMF reports its latest World Economic Outlook. For 2018 it is projected at 3.2%, and in 2019 – at 3.3%. In the previous edition of October 2017, the forecast for 2017 was 2%, for 2018-2019 – 3.2% per year. The World Bank’s forecast for Ukraine’s GDP growth in 2018-2019 has remained unchanged, at 3.5% and 4% respectively.”
7. Joint Statement by US and UK on malicious cyber activity by the Russian government
In a joint statement on April 16, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom said, “Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released a joint Technical Alert about malicious cyber activity carried out by the Russian Government.
             The targets of this malicious cyber activity are primarily government and private-sector organisations, critical infrastructure providers, and the internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors. Specifically, these cyber exploits are directed at network infrastructure devices worldwide such as routers, switches, firewalls, and the Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS). […]
             Russian state-sponsored actors are using compromised routers to conduct spoofing ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations. Multiple sources, including private and public-sector cyber security research organisations and allies, have reported this activity to the U.S. and UK governments.”
            Deputy Assistant of the FBI Howard Marshall stated, “The activity highlighted today is part of a repeated pattern of disruptive and harmful malicious cyber action carried out by the Russian government. As long as this type of activity continues, the FBI will be there to investigate, identify and unmask the perpetrators, in this case, the Russian government.  The joint Technical Alert released today underscores our commitment to working with our partners, both at home and abroad, to combat malicious cyber activity and hold those responsible accountable.  We do not make this attribution lightly and will hold steadfast with our partners.”
8. Japan traders ask Russia’s Rusal to stop shipping aluminum after U.S. sanctions
Reuters reported on April 17, “Major Japanese trading houses have asked Russia’s United Company Rusal to stop shipping refined aluminum and other products in light of U.S. sanctions on the world’s No.2 producer and are scrambling to secure metal elsewhere, industry sources said.
            The United States imposed major sanctions on April 6 against seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, saying they were profiting from a Russian state engaged in ‘malign activities’ around the world. This included Oleg Deripaska, his Hong Kong-listed company Rusal and his new holding company En+ Group. […]
            ‘We have requested Rusal stop shipments of aluminum for our term contracts as we can’t make payment in U.S. dollars and we don’t want to take the risk of becoming a secondary sanction target by the United States,’ said a source at a trading house, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
             Another source with direct knowledge of the matter also said major Japanese trading houses have asked Rusal to stop shipments for the same reason. Rusal in Moscow declined to comment on the matter. […]

Japan buys about 300,000 tonnes of refined aluminum from Russia, about 16 percent of the nation’s total import, according to the Japan Aluminium Association.”

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