Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – July 21-27, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 21-27, 2018
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of July 20-26, one Ukrainian soldiers was killed and eight Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 169 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front.
2. United States Crimea Declaration
On July 25, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo stated, “Russia, through its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, sought to undermine a bedrock international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force. The states of the world, including Russia, agreed to this principle in the United Nations Charter, pledging to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. This fundamental principle – which was reaffirmed in the Helsinki Final Act – constitutes one of the foundations upon which our shared security and safety rests.
            As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law. In concert with allies, partners, and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.
            The United States calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea. As democratic states seek to build a free, just, and prosperous world, we must uphold our commitment to the international principle of sovereign equality and respect the territorial integrity of other states. Through its actions, Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.”
3. Canada’s Minister of International Development announces support to Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative in Ukraine
Minister Bibeau with delegation, Kyiv, July 23. 
Photo – Global Affairs Canada
Global Affairs Canada reported on July 23, “Canada believes that society is more prosperous, peaceful and secure when women’s rights are respected, their voices are heard and they can exercise their leadership. Women’s rights organizations and local women’s movements in Ukraine are key agents of change in advancing Ukraine’s democratic and economic reform, strengthening the rights of women and girls, and advancing progress towards gender equality.
         On the last day of her visit to Ukraine, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, announced up to $4.75 million in funding over five years to support a Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative in Ukraine.
The project will strengthen the capacity of local women’s organizations to promote and defend human rights and empower Ukrainian women and girls.”
         Minister Bibeau stated, “Women’s rights organizations and movements have invaluable experience in driving global and national action on gender equality. Local and national advocates often have the greatest understanding of the challenges that women and girls face, and essential knowledge of how to advance their rights and bring about systemic changes. That is why Canada supports women’s organizations and movement in Ukraine and across the world in tackling gender inequality.”
4. US Department of Defense to provide $200 million in security cooperation funds to Ukraine
The United States Department of Defense stated on July 20, “The Defense Department announced today that it will provide $200 million to Ukraine in security cooperation funds for additional training, equipment and advisory efforts to build the defensive capacity of Ukraine’s forces.
           This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine, and brings the total U.S. security sector assistance to Ukraine to more than $1 billion since 2014.
           The added funds will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including capabilities to enhance Ukraine’s command-and-control, situational awareness systems, secure communications, military mobility, night vision and military medical treatment.
           The security cooperation builds on Ukraine’s recent adoption of the Law on National Security. This law, which provides a legislative framework for aligning Ukraine’s national security architecture with Euro-Atlantic principles, constitutes a major step toward Ukraine’s goal of achieving NATO interoperability. The implementation of these reforms will bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure and democratic Ukraine. A timeline for delivery and fielding of equipment will be determined at a later date.”
5. IMF backs Ukraine anti-corruption court plan
Reuters reported on July 26, “The International Monetary Fund has given its backing to Ukraine’s revised plans for an anti-corruption court, fulfilling one condition for unlocking the next $2 billion installment of aid to Kyiv. The court is being set up as part of Ukraine’s $17.5 billion bailout package and has become a symbol of its efforts to stamp out high-level corruption that has blighted the country for decades.
            ‘The legislative framework for the High Anti-Corruption Court, once the recently adopted amendments are signed into law, will be consistent with the authorities’ commitments under Ukraine’s IMF-supported program,’ an IMF spokeswoman told Reuters.
            Ukraine’s parliament approved amendments to the new law needed to set up the court on July 12 after a previous version was deemed by the Fund to be too loose. […]
            A number of other issues remain to be resolved, however, before Kyiv finally receives the next installment of IMF money. There is a standoff over plans to raise gas prices as well as over implementing additional spending cuts or money-raising measures needed to plug some shortfalls in revenues earlier in the year.
            Kyiv has received only half the $17.5 billion earmarked for its aid program which is due to run out next year. It has not had any fresh money since April last year and needs to repay around $15 billion of foreign currency debt over the next two years. ‘Discussions on other outstanding issues, including gas prices and the government budget, are ongoing,’ the spokeswoman said.”
6. Ukraine prepares to put 44 gas fields, with 150 billion cubic meters of gas stocks, up for sale
Ukraine Business Journal reported on July 27, “Ukraine is ready to put 44 gas fields, home to 150 billion cubic meters of gas stocks, up for sale, the government has said. ‘Today we are making a decision to open information about geospatial data and about holding auctions.’ the Prime Minister said, opening a government meeting on Wednesday. ‘Our task is to open all the geological information about the deposits and to provide opportunities for Ukrainian and world business on the basis of transparent auctions and extract Ukrainian gas so that we refuse to import it. As soon as we refuse to import gas, we would immediately decisively reduce gas prices, and we would not depend on the global gas price,’ he added.
7. US Envoy on Helsinki: no “gifts to Russia at Ukraine’s expense”
US Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker.
 Photo – US State Dept.
Voice of America reported on July 25, “The top U.S. official for Ukraine negotiations doubled down on recent assurances from the State Department and White House that President Donald Trump did not reach any agreements on Ukraine during last week’s two-hour private meeting with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki, Finland. […]
          In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Ukrainian service, Kurt Volker, U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations, said that Kremlin remarks about the referendum were not only misleading but also blatantly implausible.
         ‘There was no move toward recognition of Russia’s claimed annexation of Crimea. No support for a referendum. No movement toward Russia’s position on a protection force for [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] monitors that would effectively divide the country,’ said Volker. […]
          ‘So, a lot of things that people were worried about or had predicted might happen [in Helsinki] did not happen. So, I don’t think there’s really any basis to be worried here,’ he said, noting that the administration has continued to maintain sanctions on Russia in concert with European allies and approved weapons sales to Kyiv. […]
         ‘Let me just say this – that on all of the issues that Ukrainians would care about, nothing was given away,’ he said. ‘No handing over of gifts to Russia at Ukraine’s expense.’
         Volker’s comments supplemented initial reactions by Garrett Marquis, U.S. National Security Council spokesman, who said the White House was ‘not considering’ supporting a referendum in eastern Ukraine, and a statement by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who said an eastern Ukraine referendum ‘would have no legitimacy.’
         The comments by the trio of U.S. officials followed days of speculation about what was discussed at the rare one-on-one meeting between the U.S. and Russian leaders with only their translators present.”

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