Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – January 12-18, 2019

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
January 12-18, 2019
 
Radio Svoboda report on Canada’s Postcards for Prisoners Campaign. To view video please click on image above
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of January 11-17, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and 17 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 65 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 20 and wounded 9 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Statement by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Russia’s illegal decision to prolong pretrial detention of 24 Ukrainian POWs
 
UATV report on Russia's illegal detention of Ukrainian POWs. To view video please click on image above
UATV report on Russia’s illegal detention of Ukrainian POWs. 
To view video please click on image above
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on January 16, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its resolute protest over the illegitimate decision taken by the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow to prolong the pre-trial detention of 24 Ukrainian servicemen who were seized as prisoners of war by the Russian Federation in the Black Sea on November 25, 2018.
           The trial of these Ukrainian servicemen runs counter to international humanitarian law. The closed-door court hearing today is clear evidence that the Kremlin is fully complicit in this sham trial.
           According to the 1949 Third Geneva Convention, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, there can be no dispute that these captured Ukrainian sailors have the legal status of Prisoners of War. We therefore strongly demand that the Russian Federation treats them in full accordance with their status and with full respect to their rights under international humanitarian law.
          In addition, we urge the Russian side to promptly provide medical findings on the health of these wounded prisoners of war and to provide treatment.
Ukraine is grateful to our international partners whose representatives came to the court premises to support the Ukrainian servicemen. We greatly appreciate this manifestation of solidarity with Ukraine and its captured servicemen.
          We call on the international community to condemn Russia’s actions and to consolidate pressure on Moscow that will lead to the release of all 24 prisoners of war, currently incarcerated in Russia.”
3. EU Statement on the continued illegal detention of Ukrainian servicemen by Russia
 
Image – Andriy Yermolenko
The EU spokesperson for foreign affairs stated on January 17, “The Lefortovo Moscow City Court has extended until late April the detention, initially ordered by the court of Simferopol in the illegally-annexed Crimean peninsula, of 24 Ukrainian servicemen. The European Union Delegation in Moscow along with 15 EU diplomatic missions were denied the right to observe the proceedings at the Lefortovo Moscow City Court.
           The servicemen have been held since 25 November 2018, when Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews and fired shots at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen, near the Kerch Strait. As we have repeatedly said, we expect Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. Further, this use of force by Russia is unacceptable.
          We expect Russia to immediately and unconditionally release the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors, to respect their right to legal representation and unhindered access by consular authorities, and to ensure that the injured crewmen receive appropriate medical treatment.”
4. Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes Tomos of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Image – Orthodox Church of Ukraine


The Ecumenical Patriarchate published the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, received by Metropolitan Epiphaniy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in Istanbul on January 6. The document states, “our Holy Great Church of Christ blesses and declares the Orthodox Church in Ukraine as Autocephalous, invoking the abundant gifts of God and boundless treasures of the All-Holy Spirit upon the venerable Hierarchy, the righteous clergy and pious people throughout the land of Ukraine, and praying that the First and Great High Priest Jesus Christ-through the intercessions of our all-holy and most blessed lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary; the holy and glorious prince Vladimir, equal to the apostles; the holy and glorious queen Olga; our venerable and God-bearing Fathers, the ascetics and monastics of the Kyiv Lavra and all the Monasteries-may forever support the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, now reckoned in the body of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and grant it stability, unity, peace and increase for His glory and that of the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
5. Ukraine’s Parliament adopts bill setting procedure for changing affiliation of religious communities
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on January 17, “The Ukrainian parliament has adopted a bill setting the procedure for changing the affiliation of religious communities in the country. […] Earlier this year, the [Orthodox Church of Ukraine] was formally granted independence, or autocephaly, despite fierce opposition from Moscow.
           A total of 229 Ukrainian lawmakers voted in favor of the amendment to the law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations, while 35 voted against it, and two abstained. Under the proposed legislation, religious congregations will be able to vote to choose what teaching or branch they belong to.”
6. U.S. warns German companies of possible sanctions over Russian pipeline
Reuters reported on January 14, “The United States has warned German companies involved in the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that they could face sanctions if they stick with the project.
           U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Germany of being a ‘captive’ of Moscow because of its reliance on Russian energy and urged it to halt work on the $11 billion gas pipeline.
           The pipeline, which would carry gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea, has also been criticized in some quarters because it would deprive Ukraine of lucrative gas transit fees, potentially making Kyiv more vulnerable in the future.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell addressed the issue in a letter sent to several companies, the U.S. Embassy said on Sunday.
           ‘The letter reminds that any company operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector is in danger under CAATSA of U.S. sanctions,’ the embassy spokesman said, adding that other European states also opposed the planned pipeline.”
7. Ukraine optimistic foreign judges will force Gazprom to pay $2.6 billion settlement
Ukraine Business News reported on January 18, “Naftogaz is ‘very optimistic’ that it will soon recover from Gazprom last year’s $2.6 billion settlement imposed by the Stockholm arbitration court, Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz CEO tells Novoye Vremya magazine. Noting that Naftogaz has filed law suits in six countries, he said: “In three of them – in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK – we will soon have a hearing on forced sales.” He added: ‘Gazprom has overseas assets worth tens of billions of dollars. We have already arrested them for an amount in excess of the amount of Gazprom’s debt to us. I think it’s realistic to do this in about a year.'”
8. Ukraine procures military drones from Turkey
 
To view video from Ukroboronprom, please click on image above
To view video from Ukroboronprom, please click on image above
Ukraine’s state defense concern, Ukroboronprom, reported, “State company Ukrspetsexport, a part of Ukroboronprom, signed an agreement with Turkish company Baykar Makina on the procurement of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles.
            According to the agreement, the Ukrainian military will soon receive a shipment of Bayraktar TB2 drones, a significant stock of precision and regular armaments for the drones, training services for operators and technical personnel, and warranty service for several years.”
           Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “As we agreed with Turkish President Erdogan, an agreement was signed for the purchase of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones for the Ukrainian army. These drones can be equipped with high-precision missiles that can destroy armored vehicles, fortifications, as well as marine targets.”

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