Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was 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 the front 37 times in total, including at least 8 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 2 and wounded 6 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. President on the decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church: The reaction of Russian spiritual and secular authorities shows that Ukraine is on the right track
photo – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration

Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “In a meeting with the Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine – Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton and the Western Eparchy of the UOC in Canada and Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia and the Western Eparchy of the UOC in the United States of America, President Petro Poroshenko once again thanked for the decision of the Holy Synod to provide autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
            ‘At the same time, at the behest of the Kremlin, the leadership of the aggressor country, the Russian completely dependent church authorities declared they will break off the Eucharistic communion with the Constantinople Mother Church. I am sure that such a reaction of the spiritual and secular Russian authorities, as well as of the church leadership completely dependent on the Russian authorities only confirms that we are on the right track,’ the Head of State emphasized.
             The President added: ‘Just as Russia has now opposed itself to the whole world in the issues of Russian aggression in the east of our state, illegal annexation of Crimea, position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, position on Transnistria and the rest, unfortunately, the Russian Church has also set itself on the path of self-isolation and conflict with the whole world Orthodoxy.’
             ‘I hoped this would not happen, but we should have been prepared for this process,’ he said. The President recalled that almost simultaneously with the meeting of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, on October 14, more than 30,000 Ukrainians took part in a grateful prayer on St. Sophia’s Square for the fact that the Lord provided autocephaly with the hands of His All-Holiness.”
3. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister meets with NATO Secretary General
photo – NATO

On October 15, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers reported, During the meeting, the sides discussed the common security challenges faced by NATO member states and Ukraine, in particular the security situation in  the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
             The NATO Secretary General confirmed that measures within the framework of enhanced advanced presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region, adaptation and creation of new military structures, and significant increase in military expenditures are a clear response of the he North Atlantic Alliance to Russia’s growing aggressive policy.
            While touching upon the spheres of practical cooperation, Pavlo Klimkin urged to intensify the work of the NATO Trust Fund projects aimed to contribute to the strengthening of the safety of ammunition depots in Ukraine, which is of significant importance due to the events in Ichnia, Chernihiv region. The parties agreed with the necessity of joint constant control over the effectiveness of using the Alliance’s assistance to our country.
           The sides exchanged opinions on the working mechanisms of the special partnership between Ukraine and NATO, in particular the meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the ministerial level. According to Jens Stoltenberg, the key to unlocking the Commission’s work lies in the agreement between Ukraine and Hungary on the issue of ensuring the rights of the Hungarian minority.
          The full implementation of the official opinion of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on provisions of the Law of Ukraine on Education will be an important step forward.  The Foreign Minister stressed that the goal of the state is to guarantee equal rights to the inhabitants of Zakarpattia region, to create conditions for full development as citizens of Ukraine, support of their languages, traditions and culture.”
4. EU paves way for Russia sanctions over chemical weapons
Deutsche Welle reported, “The European Union on Monday unveiled a legal framework to allow sanctions against the use of chemical weapons. The framework gives the EU the power to place restrictive measures on people or entities identified as being involved in the development or deployment of chemical weapons, regardless of their location or nationality, EU foreign ministers said in a press release.
                It is important ‘to make clear that something like this can’t be left unpunished,’ said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The measure would also apply to anyone helping or encouraging chemical weapons attacks, and includes the ability to impose travel bans, freeze assets, and ban EU citizens or groups from making money available to anyone on the sanctions list.
               ‘This decision contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons which poses a serious threat to international security,’ the ministers’ statement said.
            The new legal framework would allow the EU to sanction Russia for its reported role in a near-fatal nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury in March. Britain, along with countries such as Germany, France, Canada and the US, as blamed the attack on Russia, and in September, the UK accused two Russian intelligence officers of being responsible for the poisonings. […] British prosecutors charged the two suspects in absentia with conspiracy to murder and possession of a chemical weapon.”

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