Ukraine: Daily Briefing – February 20, 2019, 8 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
February 20, 2019, 8 PM Kyiv time
Photo – JMTG
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on February 19 three Ukrainian service member were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 16 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors, including 15 times using heavy weapons.
2. U.S. Navy’s missile destroyer to arrive in Ukraine’s Odesa on February 25
USS Donald Cook Photo – stripes.com
The USS Donald Cook, the U.S. Navy missile destroyer, will arrive at the port of Odesa, Ukraine, on February 25, as reported by UNIAN. Reportedly, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the Alliance was considering the possibility of strengthening its presence in the Black Sea region to support Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak NATO military ships will enter Ukrainian ports almost every month in 2019.
3. CBC: ‘This is soul-destroying’: Families of captured Ukrainian sailors fear the world has forgotten them
Photo – Corinne Seminoff/CBC
“To Russia’s government, Ukrainian sailors Yuri Bezyazichny and Sergei Chuliba are criminals, flanked by thuggish-looking guards in balaclavas and kept in a cage with steel bars during their infrequent court appearances. But to their families, they and 22 other Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia as they sailed through disputed waters in the Kerch Strait incident in November are more like hostages of President Vladimir Putin’s government,” writes Chris Brown, a foreign correspondent based in the CBC’s Moscow bureau. Brown is a part of a team from the CBC’s Moscow bureau who was invited by the families of two sailors to visit them in Ukraine.
“The families of the sailors – whose ships were rammed, shot at and then seized by Russia’s navy – have mostly remained silent out of fear of reprisals. But as their captivity drags on with little indication their release will come soon, some relatives fear the world has abandoned Ukraine’s captured sailors. […]
Families share their life stories, offer an opinion over the incident and contemplate on Russia’s actions and the sentence that their sons are facing.
The circumstances brought the families together. Now they communicate almost daily through online chat groups. “We’ve basically become friends, like our boys were all friends,” said Lyuba Chuliba. “Each of our pain is the same. This unites us all.”
And yet until her son is home, she says she will have no peace.”
Read more here
4. Five Years Have Passed, and Russia is Still Occupying Territory in Ukraine
 
Picture – the Washington Post
“This month marks five years since Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula was invaded and subsequently occupied by Russia,” starts Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister his opinion piece in the Washington Post.
In his article Klimkin reminds how Russia occupied Crimea, raises the issue of persecutions of Crimean Tatars, including the abductions and kangaroo courts. He emphasized that the release of Ukraine’s 24 captured servicemen, as well as the 70 Ukrainian political prisoners who are suffering in Russian jail cells is a top priority for Ukraine right now.
“We urge the international community to acknowledge the inherent dangers of a weak response to Russian aggression. If you value democracy and the rule of law, and if you genuinely believe the international rules-based system makes us all safer, you will increase pressure on the Kremlin to start adhering to international law. Increasing sanctions is the next logical step. Russia should be dealt with from a position of strength, not from a position of appeasement,” concludes Ukraine’s foreign minister.
5. Maidan Massacre Anniversary: Ukraine Remembers Bloody Day of Protests
Photo – Bulent Kilik/AFP
“Bricks, safety helmets and remnants of barricades are piled in makeshift memorials in the cobbled streets near Kiev’s main square,” goes the article on NBC news retelling the string of events that took place in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and then throughout the country five years ago. The author, Yulia Talmazan, touches upon some key events in 2014 while trying to convey the emotion of that period including the hopes and expectations of some of the witnesses of those events.
“…What became important since then was the direction that we took as a country. We are taking our own path. And in this way, my expectations were satisfied – the simple fact that we didn’t become part of Russia or its satellite state,” said Yevgen Nasadyuk, 33, who was among the protesters.
While a recent poll found that 70 percent of Ukrainians think the country is in need of “radical changes,” Ukraine seems to be moving in the right direction overall, said Victoria Savchuk who was 20 and in her third year of college when the rallies got underway.
“But the positive changes that we have seen came about because of the pressure from the people,” she said. “We have to always keep an eye on what’s happening and make sure we are not going backwards. We have to constantly protect these changes.”
Read more here

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