Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – February 23 – March 1, 2019

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
February 23 – March 1, 2019
 
Ukrainian military training Photo – MOD
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of February 22-28, three Ukrainian service member were killed in action and eight service members were wounded in action on the eastern front.
Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 83 times including 51 times using heavy weapons on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front which marks 25% increase in ceasefire violations and 150% increase in heavy weapons use compared to the previous week.
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that while returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 16 and wounded at least 26 enemy troops in the last week.
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. Canada’s Freeland Joins EU Foreign Ministers Condemning Russia’s Aggression
The Guardian Newspaper has published the statement from the group of 11 Foreign Ministers condemning Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, which continues to jeopardize international peace.
“Five years ago, Russia gravely challenged the idea of a peaceful and free Europe,” stated the heads of foreign offices of Latvia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Romania, Great Britain and Czech Republic. With its aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia openly demonstrated its contempt for the principles of international law and presented a serious threat to European security.”
The statement includes the justification for the introduction of sanctions, pointed at grave human rights violations in Crimea by the Russian Federation as well as called on Russia to release the arrested Ukrainian sailors, return the captured vessels and comply with international commitments by ensuring free navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch strait. It also reiterated that providing help and assistance to Ukraine was crucial as Ukraine’s security is linked to the security of the whole of Europe. “The policy of coordinated international sanctions sends a clear message to Russia that disregard for international law has consequences. We will neither forget nor abandon Crimea,” concluded the statement
Read the full statement here
4. Pompeo Calls on Russia to Return Occupied Crimea to Ukraine
 
Photo – Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a press statement on February 27 calling on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea and return it to Ukraine’s control, to release all of the Ukrainians, including members of the Crimean Tatar community, to cease all its abuses immediately and comply with its obligations under international law.
“Five years ago, Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula fueled an escalation of Russian aggression. Russia attempted to upend the international order, undermined basic human freedoms, and weakened our common security. The world has not forgotten the cynical lies Russia employed to justify its aggression and mask its attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory. Russia’s use of force against a peaceful neighbor must not be tolerated by reputable states. The United States reiterates its unwavering position: Crimea is Ukraine and must be returned to Ukraine’s control,” started the statement.
Click here to read the full statement
5. U.S. Congressional Committee reviews if Russia may be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Picture – Radio Lemberg
On February 13, 2019 Senator Graham, 63, a republican from Central, South Carolina, together with his colleagues introduced the bill S.482 designed to “strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to combat international cybercrime, and to impose additional sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.”
This bill covers multiple issues including the call to Russia to return Crimea to the control of the Government of Ukraine, to end its support for Russian-led forces violence in eastern Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova, immediate release the Ukrainian sailors detained following an attack by Russian forces on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and abide by its commitments to freedom of navigation in international waters and allow for passage of Ukrainian vessels through the strait.
One of the most important parts of the bill is the Section 701 – “Determination on designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” which requires the Secretary of State to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism no later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Read the full Bill here
6. Reuters: Ukraine President Tries to Salvage Corruption Law as Tough Election Looms
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko proposed new legislation on February 28 aimed at fighting corruption, following a ruling of the constitutional court of Ukraine cancelling the previous anti-graft law, which raised concerns that the country was moving backwards on the issue.
“Ukraine passed a law criminalizing illicit enrichment in 2015 as a condition of it receiving bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund that kept the country afloat during a steep recession. It was also a precondition for the European Union to grant visa-free travel to Ukrainians. But the constitutional court overturned the law this week on the grounds that it contravened the presumption of innocence, sparking concern in the EU and among anti-corruption campaigners and the anti-corruption bureau,” reads the

article

Because of the court ruling the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) halted 65 criminal investigations of top officials and will not be allowed to resume these investigations even if the new bill is approved by the parliament.
7. Forbes: As Russia Closes in on Crimea’s Energy Resources, What Is Next For Ukraine?
Photo – oilgas.org
With thousands of lives lost, and millions of lives disrupted because of Russia’s aggression, Ukraine has also experienced tremendous economic losses since 2014. According to the Ukrainian Energy Ministry, Ukraine lost 80% of oil and gas deposits in the Black Sea and a significant part of the port infrastructure due to the annexation of Crimea.
The Black Sea contains enough hydrocarbon resources to last for decades for Ukraine at the current rate of production according to numerous reports by BNP and Deloitte. By grabbing onto them Russia has gained new supply and cut Ukraine’s resources.
“Moscow’s intent to exploit Ukraine’s natural gas deposits is not just idle speculation; it is currently underway. When Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014, they seized subsidiaries of Ukraine’s state energy conglomerate Naftogaz operating in the Black Sea. The Kremlin appropriated these companies – and billions of dollars of equipment – and delivered them to Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant. In one fell swoop, Russia ended Ukraine’s offshore oil and gas operations and bolstered its own,” writes Ariel Cohen with Forbes.
Read the full article here
8. Ukraine celebrates the Day of Crimean resistance to Russian occupation
Crimean resistance flag
On February 26, Ukraine celebrated 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.
9. 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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