Ukraine: Daily Briefing – January 9, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
January 9, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
Operation UNIFIER training exercises. 
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 or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk sector of the front one time.
2. IMF publishes Ukraine report following new Stand-By Arrangement adopted in December
Following the agreement on a $3.9 billion, 14 month Stand-By Arrangement approved by the IMF in December 2018, the IM published its Country Report on Ukraine. The report states, “The Ukrainian authorities have been able to restore macro-economic stability and growth following the severe economic crisis of 2014-15.
      However, efforts to create a more dynamic, open, and competitive economy have fallen short of expectations, and the economy still faces important challenges. Investment, particularly foreign direct investment, is held back by a difficult business environment, while large numbers of worker seek job opportunities abroad as economic growth is too low for incomes to noticeably close the gap with regional peers. Reserves have recovered, but remain relatively low, while the economy is still vulnerable to shocks.” The full report is available here
3. Ukraine expects to get Canadian sniper rifles this year
Ukrinform reported, “Ukraine expects to receive the first batch of Canadian sniper rifles this year.
       ‘We have already received a permit from the Canadian government for the purchase of high-quality sniper rifles with the best range capability in the world. I expect that the first batch of these rifles will be delivered to Ukraine this year,’ Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Andriy Shevchenko said in an interview with Ukrinform.
      He underscored the need ‘to look for different forms of cooperation in the segment of arms with Canada.’ ‘We view it as a joint investment in security and new technologies, which Canada is also interested in. The arms market likes silence, therefore I cannot say more, but it seems to me that we have every chance to see the first practical results of cooperation soon,’ the ambassador noted.
      In 2017, Canada included Ukraine in the so-called Automatic Firearms Country Control List, thus lifting an arms embargo on Ukraine.”
4. Former US Ambassador to Ukraine: US should help Ukraine reinforce its naval presence in Sea of Azov
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, wrote, “Six weeks ago, Russia attacked Ukraine in the Straits of Kerch and it made international news. US President Donald Trump canceled a high-level meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in response. Other governments denounced the Kremlin’s actions. Then the news faded. Right now, the weak Western response means that Putin has gained a tactical advantage, which makes it more likely that Moscow will escalate further in the future. […]
      The smartest way for the United States to thwart Putin’s efforts is to make him pay a heavy price for his war against Ukraine. This can be done at a very low cost to us: sanctions on Russian leaders and the economy and weapons for Ukraine. […]
       We should provide at least six, and as many as twelve, Mark V PT boats. They should be equipped with at least fifty and as many as 100 Hellfire missiles. The United States should also provide at least 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Mark V’s can be transported by air to Mariupol and Berdyansk, Ukraine’s two port cities in the Sea of Azov, where Russia fired on Ukrainian boats on November 25.  […]
       The United States has a large number of 1970s Harpoon anti-ship missiles that are sitting in storage. These can be provided gratis and save us storage expenses. US forces use newer Harpoons. Harpoons have a range of over fifty miles and would be a problem for Russian ships approaching Mariupol or Berdyansk and, of course, for any amphibious operation against Ukraine’s coast, whether in Azov or the Black Sea.
       The United States should also help Ukraine reinforce its naval presence in the Sea of Azov by providing Mark V PT boats. The Ukrainian navy cannot match Russian firepower in the Sea of Azov. But fast patrol boats would provide a punch that would put larger Russian vessels at risk. The Mark V’s carry torpedoes and the United States could make the boats much more of a threat to the Russian navy by providing nautical Hellfire missiles, which can be launched from the Mark V.
       Finally, we should also provide the radar and intel systems that would help Ukraine’s military keep track of the Russian navy in the Sea of Azov. This would be essential to gauge the threat of that navy and would be important for targeting those ships. The purpose, of course, is not to encourage Ukraine to shoot at the Russian navy, but to give it the capability to shoot back once provoked, which would establish a measure of deterrence in the Sea of Azov. Today, Moscow exploits the lack of any naval deterrence. […]
       The United States could give Ukraine assets to provide an asymmetric challenge to Moscow in the Sea of Azov. This would be similar in some ways to the US provision of Javelins to Ukraine, which did much to neuter Moscow’s tank advantage in the Donbas and convince Kyiv that the US position remains firm.
      The US response to Moscow’s escalation in late November has been underwhelming, and Putin is likely to interpret it as a green light if we do nothing but cancel meetings. Putin is a menace to the international order and he’s only getting bolder. Now is the time to act.”

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