Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 6, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 6, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
OpUNIFIER mentors work on section attack training exercises with Ukrainian soldiers (Photo – CAF Operations)

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of front 31 times in total, including at least 7 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Yevhen Panov faces huge sentence for not ‘confessing’ to Russian FSB ‘Crimea sabotage’ plot
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Russia’s FSB are most brutal with those political prisoners who refuse, even under torture and threats, to ‘confess’ to non-existent crimes.  This was seen with Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov whose FSB torturers warned him from the outset that he would get 20 years and rot in a Russian prison, if he didn’t provide the ‘testimony’ they demanded.
           He refused, was sentenced to 20 years and sent to the harshest and most isolated prisons in the Russian Federation.  It appears likely that the same is planned for Yevhen Panov, the Zaporizhya driver who was seized and tortured in August 2016, and then held for two months without access to a lawyer.
           Panov turns 41 on 6 June, his second birthday held in the Simferopol SIZO [remand prison] in occupied Crimea.  His brother Ihor Kotelyanets has spoken of the ways Russia has tried to force Panov to cooperate and of the farcical ‘trial’ which began in April this year. […]
           There has been intense pressure on his brother during the almost two years that he has been imprisoned.  Kotelyanets explains that Panov was directly told that if he made a deal with the investigators and ‘confessed to being a Ukrainian terrorist’, they’d get him a 5-year sentence somewhere close to Ukraine.  If not, he’d get a sentence like Sentsov’s, of 20 years and be sent very far away.  ‘Yevhen did not agree to any deal and we therefore fear that he’ll be sentenced to the maximum 20-year term.’ […]
          After two full months of total isolation, Panov was able to briefly meet with the lawyer.  He immediately retracted all testimony, confirming that it had been obtained under torture.  He has since described the torture methods, which form part of his application to ECHR [European Court of Human Rights], with these including severe beating; being suspended in handcuffs; mock executions; electric shocks and clamps applied to his genitals.”
3. U.S. pushes NATO to ready more forces to deter Russian threat
Reuters reported on June 5, “The United States is pressing European allies to ready more NATO battalions, ships and planes for combat, officials say, in a fresh move to shore up NATO’s deterrence against a potential Russian attack.
          U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will seek broad agreement for the plan in Brussels on Thursday when alliance defense ministers meet, laying the ground for endorsement by NATO leaders at a summit in July, four U.S. and NATO officials and diplomats told Reuters.
          The plan would require NATO to have 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons and 30 navy ships such as destroyers ready to deploy within 30 days of being put on alert, although the proposal does not discuss specific troop numbers or a deadline for setting up the strategy.
         The size of battalions vary across NATO, from 600 to 1,000 soldiers. This lays down a challenge for European governments, pilloried by U.S. President Donald Trump for slashing military spending after the Cold War, to remedy long-running problems with helicopters and jets that are grounded for lack of parts.
         ‘We have an adversary (Russia) that can move quickly into the Baltics and Poland in a ground attack,’ said one senior NATO diplomat who was briefed on the U.S. plans. ‘We don’t have the luxury of taking months to mobilize,’ the diplomat said, saying the U.S. idea was known as 30-30-30-30.
         One U.S. official said the initiative was primarily aimed at countering Russia and fitted with the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which accuses Moscow of seeking to ‘shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.'”
4. G-7 Ambassadors encourage Ukraine’s Parliament to pass law on ant-corruption court
The G-7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, US, UK) stated, “G7 Ambassadors encourage the Verkhovna Rada to pass a law establishing an independent and credible High Anti-Corruption Court. We believe the Expert Panel must play a central role in the selection of qualified judges. We support the IMF’s assessment on this and whether other key features of the law fulfill its conditions. The Anti-Corruption Court should be a crucial part of the wider anti-corruption effort in Ukraine.”

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