Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 4, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 4, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
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 at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were 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 27 times in total, including at least 5 times with heavy weapons – artillery and mortars.
2. Russia sentences Roman Suschenko to 12 years for being a Ukrainian journalist
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “The Moscow City Court has, behind closed doors, found Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko guilty of ‘spying’ and sentenced him to twelve years in a maximum security prison.            The 49-year-old journalist denies any wrongdoing, and his lawyer has confirmed that they will be lodging an appeal.
          The secrecy around Sushchenko’s ‘trial’ and the guilty verdict had been viewed as inevitable from the outset, with the main difference from other highly questionable FSB ‘Ukrainian spying cases’ being Sushchenko’s profession, and the publicity that gave his arrest and imprisonment.
          Sushchenko was seized by FSB officers on September 30, 2016, while in Moscow visiting close relatives.  There was typical secrecy about the arrest, with his family only learning what had happened after a human rights activist came upon the Ukrainian in Lefortovo Prison. […]
         There have been demands for his release from European structures, democratic countries and media and human rights NGOs.  On 10 December 2017 (International Human Rights Day), the Andrei Sakharov Committee on Journalist as an Act of Conscience announced  hat it was awarding Sushchenko their prize ‘For Courage’.
        Sushchenko has not once seen his 11-year-old son Maxim since his arrest, and has only been allowed a very small number of visits from his wife Angela and adult daughter Julia (also a journalist).  The visits have been short, with Sushchenko held behind a glass wall and a guard present throughout.   Russia clearly has a lot to hide.”
3. Ukraine’s President speaks with US Secretary of State
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 2. Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “The interlocutors discussed enhancement of cooperation in security and defense sector. The President thanked the American side for providing Ukraine with anti-tank Javelin systems. They also discussed security challenges posed by implementation of Nord Stream 2 project.
          Petro Poroshenko and Mike Pompeo coordinated positions in the context of announced conclusions on downing of MH17 flight and highlighted the importance to keep sanctions policy vis-à-vis Russia. The President of Ukraine emphasized on the importance to maintain pressure on Russia in order to get all Ukrainian hostages released.
         The Head of State informed the Secretary about reforms implementation in Ukraine in the context of cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, in particular with regard to building efficient anti-corruption infrastructure.”
4. US close to imposing sanctions on European companies over Nord Stream 2 pipeline
Foreign Policy reported on June 1, “The Trump administration is edging closer to imposing sanctions on energy companies from Germany and other European countries in a bid to scuttle the construction of a politically contentious Russian gas pipeline across the Baltic, according to three sources familiar with the issue.
          Officials are still looking at other ways to block to project, known as Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline project meant to bring Russian gas into the heart of Europe. But key figures in the administration now view sanctions as an increasingly likely option. […]
          Successive administrations opposed the pipeline since it was first broached in 2015, fearing it would undercut Ukraine in its lucrative middle-man position for energy flows between Russia and Europe. Congress passed a bill last summer making sanctions possible.
          Many Central and Eastern European countries also oppose the project, which they fear will tighten Moscow’s energy stranglehold on Europe by doubling the amount of natural gas that flows directly from Russia to Germany.
          The State Department would not respond directly to the matter but said companies working on the project were doing so at their own peril. ‘We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy export pipeline sector are engaging in a line of business that carries sanctions risk,’ a State Department spokeswoman said.  […]
         National Security Advisor John Bolton and other top U.S. officials see the project as a threat to the United States and European security and are determined to stop it, the source said. ‘Everything is on the table. … The administration is taking a whole of government approach to stopping the Nord Stream project.’
          In response to a query, a National Security Council spokesman said the administration wanted to reduce Russian economic leverage over Europe. ‘There is consensus across the U.S. government that Nord Stream 2 deepens this dependence at a time when Russia’s activities have become increasingly dangerous and unpredictable,’ the spokesman said.
          One of the officials leading the push for sanctions is Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. He raised the issue repeatedly on a visit to Europe in recent weeks, according to U.S. diplomats and one former senior U.S. official. […]
          The sanctions would affect several companies, including Wintershall Holding and Uniper of Germany; Engie of France; Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil company; and Austria’s OMV. Nord Stream 2 has secured nearly all the permits it needs for the $11 billion project from countries around the Baltic.”
5. Operation UNIFIER committed to lasting change for the Ukrainian Military Law and Order Service
Captain Jean Barrett, Joint Task Force-Ukraine’s Training and Development Officer, provides guidance to the participants of the Occupational Specification Board in April 2018. (Photo Joint Task Force, Ukraine)

The Maple Leaf reported, “Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have been helping to implement lasting change in the Ukrainian Military Law and Order Service (MLOS) during Operation UNIFIER.
          The CAF is assisting the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) to transform their MLOS into a professional and effective military police force that meets their needs and is in line with common NATO standards. To do that, the CAF partnered with the AFU to co-chair the Military Police Subcommittee. Its task is to determine and implement the best practices to bring the newly formed Military Police Service in line with those of more western nations.
          One of those best practices has been the creation of a 12 week Transition Course, run out of the newly opened 25 Military Police Training Centre in Lviv, Ukraine. This course provides new standards in Military Police training and methodologies to Ukrainian troops who are already doing the work. This allows them to transition to a new way of conducting operations.
          The course is run with the help of interested and engaged partners, like Denmark, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence. It provides expertise and assistance to Ukraine in flexible modules that can be modified and adapted based on their needs. Sixty students participated in the third iteration of the course, which started at the end of May 2018.
        While the Transition Course was an important step, the real focus is on the development of the Military Police basic and advanced courses to provide the necessary organizational foundation towards professionalization.
         In April 2018, the first ever Occupational Specification Board was conducted for the MLOS. Experts came from units across Ukraine and from Operation UNIFIER to lay out the training needs and identify the main MLOS tasks.

In the coming months, CAF members will continue to work with Ukrainian partners on a number of developments. For instance, the Training Centre is building a plan to run a Basic Military Police course in early 2019. Partners are also working on an Advanced Military Police Course targeted towards senior sergeants, similar to a qualification available to Canadian military members. There are further plans to integrate a Military Police Officer course into Ukrainian military academies.”

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