Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – April 28-May 4, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
April 28-May 4, 2018
Ukrainian Armed Forces armored units training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of April 27-May 3, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 19 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 366 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 85 times with heavy weapons – artillery and mortars.
2. Russia denies medical care to Ukrainian political prisoner illegally imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on May 1, “Volodymyr Balukh, a pro-Kyiv activist jailed by the Russia-imposed authorities in Crimea, has been on hunger strike for 43 days and his health is reportedly in decline.
            Akhtem Chiygoz, deputy chairman of Crimean Tatars’ Mejlis self-governing body, told RFE/RL on April 30 that Balukh has been on hunger strike since March 19.
           Lyudmyla Denysova, the human rights ombudswoman for Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, said on April 30 that Balukh needed an urgent medical examination and that his health was deteriorating with each passing day.              She said a court of the Russia-imposed authorities in Crimea had denied a request by Balukh’s lawyers that he be afforded medical care.
          Balukh was sentenced in January to three years and seven months in a penal colony […]
          Balukh is one of dozens of Crimeans prosecuted by Russia in what rights groups say has been a persistent campaign to silence dissent since Moscow annexed the Ukrainian region in March 2014.
         He was arrested in December 2016, after the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said explosives and 90 bullets were found in the attic of his home. The search was conducted shortly after Balukh planted a Ukrainian flag in his yard and affixed a sign to his house that read Heavenly Hundred Street, 18.”
        Russia has ignored repeated calls by the international community for the immediate release of Ukrainian political prisoners illegally imprisoned in Russia, Russian-occupied Crimea and Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
3. Ukraine’s President: Tomos of Autocephaly for Ukrainian Orthodox Church is actively supported in the world
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on May 4, “President Petro Poroshenko informed the National Security and Defense Council members of the course of negotiations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the initiative to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
           ‘You see that this initiative has been actively supported in the world – our Ukrainian Diaspora, political figures, church hierarchs supported these initiative,” President Petro Poroshenko emphasized. He thanked every member of the parliament who had voted to support the Appeal of the President to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
           Petro Poroshenko emphasized that the given Appeal was in no way an interference of the authorities and the state in the affairs of the church: ‘I would like to emphasize again that this is by no means an interference of the state in the church affairs. I emphasize again that I am a strong opponent of state interference in church affairs.’
          ‘Especially when this state is foreign. Especially when it is an aggressor. Especially when there is the announcement of the Ukrainian territory a canonical territory of the church of another state. This is an encroachment on our territorial integrity,’ the President emphasized.
          The Head of State expressed hope for a positive decision on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. ‘Ukrainians have won their right to the Autocephalous Church. And today, we hope that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will make efforts and after the ongoing consultations they will be approved by the Synod, and this process will be completed by granting the Tomos to Ukraine,’ he said.
          Petro Poroshenko called on all Ukrainians: ‘Fight and pray. Pray that this will happen as soon as possible’.”
4. US Assistant Secretary of State: US remains strongly supportive of the Open-Door policy and Ukraine’s path to NATO
US Embassy video report on Assistant Secretary Mitchell's visit to Ukraine. To view video, click on image above
US Embassy video report on Assistant Secretary Mitchell’s visit to Ukraine. To view video, click on image above
US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia A. Wess Mitchell visited Ukraine May 1-3. In a press conference on May 2, Mitchell stated, “I just had a very productive meeting with President Poroshenko. We discussed Ukraine’s security situation including the situation in the East as well as the political and economic front. I underscored America’s unbending dedication to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and political sovereignty.
           I underscored America’s unbending dedication to Ukraine and its territorial integrity and political sovereignty.  I made it clear that the United States continues to reject Russian aggression against Ukraine and I expressed the United States’ appreciation to President Poroshenko and his team for the leadership that they are showing in providing defense for Ukraine and all of Europe at such a critical moment.
            I just came from the NATO Ministerial in Brussels and Secretary Pompeo expressed his strong support for the open-door policy of NATO in general and in particular for continuing Ukraine’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
           We discussed political and economic reforms and I expressed America’s support for President Poroshenko’s ongoing efforts to comply with IMF requirements for next tranch of funding.
           And finally, we discussed cybersecurity and I am happy to announce that the United States is doubling our assistance to Ukraine for strengthening its cyber defenses from 5 million to 10 million dollars. […]
          Since January of last year this Administration has brought sanctions against 189 individuals and entities.  We are open to dialogue with the Russian Federation, but we will continue to impose costs until Russia makes the choice to not pursue an aggressive foreign policy. […] We’re imposing new sanctions now and will continue to coordinate with our allies to impose additional sanctions if needed. […]
           The United States remains strongly supportive of the open-door policy and Ukraine’s path to NATO.  And we are in talks with other allies now to coordinate on exactly what form that will take in the communique and forms of deliverables for the Summit. But I think the Alliance continues to stand behind Open Door and stand behind Ukraine.”
5. US confirms delivery of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on April 30, “The United States has confirmed to RFE/RL its delivery of American-made, Javelin antitank missile systems to Ukraine. […]
           ‘They have already been delivered,’ a U.S. State Department official confirmed on April 30 in response to an RFE/RL query on the handover of Javelins. […]
          State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in December that U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was intended to bolster that country’s ability to ‘defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.’ […]
Since 2015, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with $750 million in nonlethal aid, including Humvees, night-vision equipment, and short-range radar systems.”
6. Ukraine, Israel initial Free Trade Agreement
Ukraine Business Journal reported on May 1, “Ukraine and Israel have completed talks on the signing of a free trade area agreement and technically initialed it, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Trade Representative of Ukraine Natalia Mykolska has announced.
             According to UNIAN, it foresees ‘the annulment of import duties for 80% of industrial goods from Ukraine to Israel and some agricultural products within quotas.’ For its part, Ukraine ‘will open 70% of the industrial goods market for Israeli producers and also abolish duties on a number of agricultural products.’  It will partially reduce tariffs for certain seasonal vegetables and fruits from Israel.”
7. Shell Game: It is time to shine the light on Russian dark money
Edward Lucas, Senior Vice President at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), wrote, “When we are attacked, we are quick to call on other countries for help. Fixing our own problems is a lot harder. That is the story of the West’s response to the Russian ‘hybrid war’-the intensifying mixture of cyber, diplomatic, economic, military, and propaganda attacks.
           After the attempted assassination last month in Salisbury of a retired British spy, Britain was quick to call on its allies to join it in the symbolic but impressive coordinated expulsion of Russian intelligence officers from embassies and other diplomatic missions. The response was gratifying.
           But now the British authorities face more painful, non-symbolic decisions, about how to clean up the financial system. Russian and other dirty money gains respectability in the City of London and through the luxury end of the real estate market.
           According to the anti-corruption group Transparency International, more than $5 billion-worth of properties in the UK were purchased with criminal money, and more than one in five of these are owned by Russians. Bankers, lawyers, and accountants have for years feasted on this lucrative business. […]
          Cleaning up the City of London and the offshore network which sustains it should be a national-security priority for Britain. Dirty money corrodes our public life. It also discredits us in the eyes of our allies. How can we tell Latvia to clean up its non-resident banking system, or lecture our brave Ukrainian allies on corruption, when we will not take politically painful decisions at home? […]
         If we really want Russia and other adversaries to take us seriously, we first have to show that we take ourselves seriously too. The West cannot be both brave and greedy.”
        The full article is available here Shell Game: It is time to shine the light on Russian dark money

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