Ukraine: Daily Briefing – February 26, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
February 26, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
Operation Unifier training. Photo – JMTG-U
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on February 25 one Ukrainian service member was killed in action and one was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire seven times on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors, including three times with heavy weapons.
According to the military intelligence two invaders were killed and three were wounded on February 25 as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
2. Canada asked to send ‘strong signal’ to Russia by extending Ukraine military mission
Ukraine is looking forward to hearing from Canada the news about the renewal and expansion of Operation Unifier whose mandate is up at the end of March, as reported by the Canadian Press after the interview with Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko.
“One of the ideas behind this Operation Unifier from the very beginning was to send a very strong signal to Russia to deter them and to make sure that they understand that Ukraine has very strong support at the international level,” Shevchenko said. “So, the earlier we send this signal and the louder we say this, the stronger the signal should be. That is why we have always encouraged our Canadian partners to go ahead with the announcement of the renewal as quickly as possible.”
Ukraine is hoping that Canada will widen the mission even further by working with larger units and higher-level officers, Shevchenko said, “which means the training that we get can provide much greater impact on the ground.”
Read more here
Notably, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has recently addressed Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland and Minister Sajjan with request to extend its commitment to train Ukraine’s military and security personnel, at current or increased levels of participation, through to 2025.
3. Ukraine celebrates the Day of Crimean resistance to Russian occupation
On February 26, Ukraine celebrates the Day of Crimean resistance to Russian occupation. On this day in 2014, thousands of people held a rally under the walls of the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Simferopil in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. This rally, organized by the Mejlis [governing body] of the Crimean Tatar people, witnessed the falsifications of Russian propaganda, which tried to convince the world that all the inhabitants of the peninsula want reunification with Russia.
Unfortunately this was a desperate gesture since Russian troops began landing on the peninsula on February 20 and until the 26th most of the facilities were under their control.
4. Ukraine’s Changing Gas Fortunes
Photo – AFP
“On December 31, 2019, the existing long-term Russian-Ukrainian gas contracts and Gazprom’s deadline for completion of two bypass pipelines, Nord Stream Two and TurkStream expire,” reports Jo Harper of Forbes.
He surmises that such a double deadline is intended by Moscow to maximize its pressure on Kyiv either to lose all transit and revenues from it or accept Russian terms for using Ukrainian pipelines as a residual, backup option. Obviously, Moscow wants to prolong the existing transit contract, signed in 2009 by Ukraine on Gazprom’s terms.
Ukraine wants to hold the next meeting in March while Russia wants to wait until May or June hoping to leverage more power after the Ukrainian elections.
The article offers some backgrounder on energy relations between Kyiv and Moscow contemplating various option that are preferable for each side.
Read more here
5. USIP Releases “Preventing Violence during Ukraine’s 2019 Elections” Report
  
“Ukraine’s 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections will take place against a tense backdrop of Russian aggression, ongoing conflict in the Donbas region, and a momentous split in the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches,” states the risk assessment conducted between September and December 2018 by the Center for Applied Conflict Transformation at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).
The report identifies key conflict dynamics, models regional scenarios for election violence, and provides policymakers with recommendations for preventing and mitigating election-related violence.  “Though the risk of intense, widespread election violence is low, voter and candidate intimidation is likely. Both the presidential and parliamentary elections will likely see interference from Moscow and post-election protests. […]
The extensive presence of right-wing extremist groups also poses the threat of physical violence, while collusion among politicians, law enforcement personnel, and criminal networks at a local or regional level may lead to harassment and violent competition,” contemplate the authors.
Read more here
6. Dr. Bohdan Kordan releases “Strategic Friends” Report
McGill-Queen’s University Press has recently released its “Strategic Friends” report by Bohdan Kordan which covers Canada-Ukraine Relations from Independence to the Euromaidan. The author talks about challenges Ukraine was facing while transitioning to independence and explains the role Canada played in the international response in view of different governments.
In his report, Bohdan Kordan “examines the intersections between global developments and Canada’s evolving foreign policy in light of national interests, domestic factors, and political agency. His historical-comparative narrative follows the post-Cold War aspirations and ambitions of the Mulroney, Chrétien, Martin, and Harper governments as they worked to minimize conflict, increase security, contextualize the independence movement, manage bilateral relations, and promote election monitoring, as well as defend liberal democracy and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Consulting media reports, official speeches, statements, published government documents, and archives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Kordan highlights both continuities and shifts in policy during the leadership of four prime ministers, and reveals the undercurrents of contemporary Canadian foreign affairs.”
Bohdan S. Kordan is professor of international relations and director of the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage at St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, and the author of No Free Man: Canada, the Great War, and the Enemy Alien Experience.
To learn more click here

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