Ukraine: Daily Briefing – March 18, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 18, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
UAF training Picture – JMTG-Ukraine video screenshot
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on March 17, one service member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was killed in action and two service members were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire ten times on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors using heavy weapons in seven instances. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed three and wounded four enemy troops in the last 24 hours.
On March 16 and 15 the Russian-terrorist forces somewhat decreased the number of ceasefire violations, opening fire eight times on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sector, using heavy weapons in five instances. One Ukrainian service member was killed in action and one was wounded in action on Saturday, March 16. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed four and wounded two enemy troops on March 15 and 16.
2. Canada Renews Ukraine Military Training Mission for Another 3 Years
Minister Freeland and Minister Sajjan at the press conference announcing renewal of operation UNIFIER. Photo – UCC
Ukraine can count on Canada’s continued support assured Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland during her opening statement at the press conference on March 18. Minister Freeland together with Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan announced that Canada will continue its military training mission to Ukraine also known as operation UNIFIER for another three years through March 2022.
Approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel will continue to be deployed in Ukraine to provide higher flexibility training through Operation UNIFIER in eight locations throughout Ukraine. “Besides training efforts, Canada takes an active part in Ukraine’s military capacity building through Defence Cooperation Agreement and assists reforms in the military sector,” said Minister Sajjan.
During her speech Minister Freeland highlighted that the announcement comes at a very important time in Ukraine’s history – the fifth anniversary since Crimea’s illegal annexation by the Russian Federation.
Since the start of the mission in September 2015 more than 10,300 Security Forces of Ukraine (SFU) candidates have participated in the training provided via 230 course serials.
3. NATO and the UK Condemn Russia’s Illegal Annexation of Crimea
Picture – NATO-pa.int
Today is the fifth anniversary since Crimea has been invaded and illegally annexed by the Russian Federation in one of the most audacious land grabs in recent history.
The North Atlantic Council of NATO has issued a statement in which it called on the Russian Federation to return Crimea to Ukraine, to stop all violations and abuses, free Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages, and give international organizations access to Crimea.
Mentioning the 2018 Russia’s attack of Ukrainian vessels, the statement called on Russia to “to unconditionally release the Ukrainian crew members it detained, to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation.”
The British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt urged Russia to put an end to illegal control over Crimean Peninsula and attempts to redraw European borders saying that the UK will never recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Minister Hunt reminded that it was Russia who initiated a conflict in eastern Ukraine and then provided weapons and personnel to keep it going, who illegally built a bridge between Russia and Crimea, monopolized the Kerch Strait and continues to violate human rights.
“We join NATO and the EU in condemning Russia’s unjustified use of force on Ukrainian vessels in November last year. The UK, along with our EU and G7 partners, remains unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Crimea is Ukraine,” concluded the statement
4. Australia imposes financial sanctions, travel bans over Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine
Australia released a statement condemning the aggression and called on Russia to release the detained Ukrainian sailors and seized vessels without delay.
“Australia stands united with our partners in opposition to Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, five years after its illegal annexation of Crimea. Together with the United States, the United Kingdom and other European Union member states, and Canada, we are strong supporters of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne in her statement.
“Today I announce targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against seven Russian individuals for their role in the interception and seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels that were attempting to pass through the Kerch Strait,” noted Minister Payne. She also called on the Russian Federation to allow free passage of Ukrainian and international ships through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.
Minister Payne reminded that Australia did not “recognise any actions seeking to legitimise the annexation of Crimea or the secession of parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”
5. CNN’s Global Public Square: Cybersecurity lessons from Ukraine
Screenshot from Jared Cohen’s interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria
Ukraine has become a target practice country for Russia and it is the best place to learn the latest in the field of disinformation and hacking into traditional systems and infrastructure, said Jared Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw, and former State Department Official in his interview to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
“There is nothing that Russia would do to the U.S. that it won’t do to Ukraine first and worst,” highlighted Cohen. During the interview he also mentioned that in order to learn how to protect the 2020 elections from hacking it is no longer enough to analyze the present or the past but to forecast what’s going to happen in the future.
Jigsaw is a strategic arm of Google that among other things combats fake news and hack attacks.
6. BBC: How Russia’s elite troops were unmasked
Screenshot of the interview with BBC Russian reporters Oleg Boldyrev and Olga Ivshina
On the fifth anniversary since Crimea’s illegal annexation by the Russian Federation the BBC has put out a video interview with several of its journalists who witnessed the events in Crimea and who uncovered the clues suggesting that the invading military force belonged to none other than Russia.
In the video below Maria Jevstafjeva speaks to BBC Russian reporters Oleg Boldyrev and Olga Ivshina.

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