Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – April 21-27, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
April 21-27, 2018
Ukrainian soldiers participate in Operation UNIFIER training exercises. Photo – Canadian Armed Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of April 20-26, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 37 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 354 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 125 times with heavy weapons – Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Russian-terrorist forces shell civilian areas near Svitlodarsk with artillery, mortars
Damage caused to civilian areas of Luhanske village as a result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces. 
Photo – Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that on April 24, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Luhanske and Novoluhanske village (near Svitlodarsk) with artillery and mortars. The Ministry of Defense stated, “the enemy is deliberately shelling civilian buildings and objects of critical infrastructure in the area. […] The supply of electricity has been partially affected, as has natural gas supply.” No civilian casualties were reported.
3. Ecumenical Patriarchate starts procedures required to provide Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on April 23, “The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted for consideration the appeal of the President of Ukraine to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada’s resolution on its support (the Appeal), as well as the corresponding appeals of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches. Also, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to initiate the procedures necessary for the provision of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. In particular, other local Orthodox churches will be informed accordingly.
           Pursuant to the instruction of President Petro Poroshenko, on April 20, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Rostyslav Pavlenko visited Istanbul and handed over to His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the Appeal of the President of Ukraine on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
          He also handed over the Verkhovna Rada’s resolution on the support for the President’s Appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also received the appeals of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.”
4. G7 Foreign Ministers Communique
Following meetings in Toronto, the Foreign Ministers of the G7 countries(Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US) and the High Representative of the EU, issued a joint communique on April 23. They stated, “We reiterate our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This includes our non-recognition of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We decry the degraded human rights situation in the peninsula, and the violations and abuses committed against its population by Russia in Crimea. We fully support the efforts within the Normandy format and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
           We are convinced that the only way a sustainable solution to the conflict can be reached is through the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Given Russia’s responsibility in the conflict, we urge Russia to stabilize the security situation in the Donbas without delay. We recall that the duration of Donbas-related economic sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s complete and irreversible implementation of the Minsk Agreements. These sanctions can be rolled back only if Russia truly fulfills its commitments, but we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures should Russia’s actions so require.”
The full communique is available here
5. Members of European Parliament call for stronger EU sanctions on Russia
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on April 27, “Dozens of lawmakers in the European Parliament have called on the European Union to adopt legislation that would punish Russian businessmen for money-laundering activities within the bloc that they said are used to back the Kremlin’s ‘antidemocratic’ moves.
           The lawmakers made the call in a letter dated April 26 and addressed to European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini, and the heads of states and governments of the 28 EU member states. […]
          They called for an EU version of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, originally introduced in 2012 to target Russians deemed by Washington to be complicit in human rights abuses. […]
         The EU lawmakers said a European Union version of the U.S. law should target ‘Russian tycoons and oligarchs, who shelter and launder illicit funds in Member States helping [President Vladimir] Putin to enable his antidemocratic activities.’ They cited ‘election meddling, cyberattacks, fake news, and propaganda campaigns.’
          The lawmakers said that ‘strong measures’ should be taken to fight against ‘illegal money laundering activities and schemes’ in EU member states that enable ‘Russian tycoons and oligarchs to attack our European democracies from within.’
          The letter also called on the European Union to start consultations both internally and with the United States aimed at ‘synchronising the lists of additional EU restrictive measures’ with those recently adopted by the United States under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).”
6. Ukraine exports to EU increase
Ukraine Business Journal reported on April 24, “During the first two months of 2018, exports of Ukrainian goods grew to $7.4 billion, up 17.9% compared to last year, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman posted on Facebook. Exports to the EU shot up by 36.2% and totaled $3.3 billion. Exports to Singapore, Belarus, Turkey, Moldova and Iraq also increased.
Bilateral EU-Ukraine trade up by 27%. Ukraine and the EU are pleased with the bilateral trade growth rate stimulated by the implementation of the Ukraine-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade – Trade Representative of Ukraine Natalia Mykolska said this after a meeting with EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström in Brussels, Ukrinform reports. The agreement has brought the liberalization of free trade, entailing the mutual elimination of duties.”
7. Naftogaz Ukrainy reports 48% net profit increase in 2017

On April 26, Naftogaz Ukrainy as a stand-alone entity reported a net profit for 2017 of $39.3 billion UAH (approximately $1.5 billion USD), a 48% increase over 2016. Naftogaz stated, “A significant portion of the net profit posted by Naftogaz as a separate legal entity in 2017 (almost UAH 12.6 billion) relates to Gas Sales and Gas Transit Arbitrations. Increased profits from gas transit activities partially offset by higher losses per result of gas sales activities contributed to a general increase in net profits in 2017 comparing to 2016.”
8. US Ambassador to NATO: We support Ukraine’s NATO aspirations
US Permament Representative to NATO Ambassador Hutchison. Photo – US Mission to NATO

On April 26, speaking ahead of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison stated, “We support Ukraine’s aspiration to NATO. I was in Ukraine just the week before last and had a very good meeting with the President, with the Vice Minister, and with several members of the parliament.  […]
           They do have a way to go.  They have to assure that there are courts, independent courts; rule of law; anti-corruption laws; a civilian control of the military.  They know that these are the tenets of NATO membership, and they must make progress in those areas, and we will be there to help them make progress in those areas.”

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