Ukraine: Daily Briefing – March 19, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 19, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
Photo courtesy @Canadian Forces of OpUnifier
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on March 18, one service member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was killed in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire three times on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk sector using heavy weapons in three instances.
According to the Ukrainian military intelligence report two invaders were killed and another two were wounded, as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on March 18.
2. Canadian Armed Forces Transfer 56 Vehicles to Ukrainian Military Police
 
Canadian Forces transfer over 56 vehicles to Ukrainian Military Police training program. Photo – Tyzhden.ua
On March 18 the Military Police (MP) units of Ukrainian Armed Forces received 56 vehicles from the Canadian Armed Forces as part of operation UNIFIER.
Canada has purchased 56 Ford vehicles of various modifications allowing Ukrainian counterparts to perform a wide range of tasks – from transportation of personnel to patrolling, as reported by the Military Police officer of Canadian Forces, Bernie Caron, MMM, CD. The list includes: 13 4×4 Ford Rangers; 9 Ford Transit 15-seater Minibuses; 9 Ford Transit 9-seater Minivans; 12 Ford Kugas, 1 Ford Transit Van; 12 Ford Focuses.
“This is much more than transferring cars worth $1.2 million. This is the completion of a comprehensive two-year program to fully restart the Military Police training system,” commented the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk on his Twitter.
Notably, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced yesterday that the Government of Canada was extending Operation UNIFIER, the Canadian Armed Forces military training mission in Ukraine, for another three years until the end of 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 multiple locations throughout Ukraine.
3. ReliefWeb: After Aghanistan and Syria, Ukraine is Third Globally for Overall Casualties and First in Anti-Vehicle Mine Incidents
A worker with the Danish Demining Group clears an abandoned farm field near the frontline in Myrna Dolyna Ukraine. Pierre Crom/Getty Images
On March 18, ReliefWeb, humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters, reported that approximately 7,000 sq. km. in the government controlled areas (GCA) of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine are contaminated with mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs). This area is so big that if the minefield were to measure only 1 meter wide it could extend longer than Canada-US border if to exclude the border with Alaska.
There is a map that has been put together by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, in cooperation with humanitarian organizations showing surveyed areas where mine contamination has been confirmed. “However, vast areas of land have not yet been surveyed so it is difficult to know the full extent of mine contamination. It is also difficult to assess the scale of contamination in non-government controlled areas (NGCA) as no coordinated mine action has been taken there, whilst the situation is understood to be acute,” reads the report.
The civilian death toll because of landmines and ERWs goes beyond 1,000 people. “In 2018, 43% of civilian casualties were attributed to mine and ERW-related incidents. Mine related incidents remained the leading cause of child casualties in 2018,” reads the background note of the Protection Cluster bulletin of the UNHCR.
“Experts say it costs around €2.5 to lay a mine but around €900 to clear it. After the end of the conflict, Ukraine will need at least 15 years to clear anti-personnel, anti-tank mines, unexploded missiles and other explosive remnants of war. This is only a prediction: the security situation does not allow any of the three NGOs to operate either directly on the line of contact, nor in territories occupied by the separatists. And that’s where the situation might be worst,” wrote Natalia Liubchenkova for the Euronews in January 2019.
“We have now established that there are 200 minefields across the Luhansk and Donetsk region, and there are obviously much more than that. The security situation prevents us from accessing the densest contaminated areas along the line of contact,” noted Nick Smart, HALO Trust regional director for Europe in his interview.
According to the latest report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees “on 23 February, 2 people died and 1 was severely injured when a minivan exploded on a landmine at Olenivka checkpoint (Donetsk region). On 26 February, 3 people were wounded by a landmine when collecting firewood in the forest near Hrodivka (Donetsk region).”
4. Opinion: Letter from the Crimean Border
 
Euronews video screenshot
In his long read Maxim Edwards writes about the Crimean Tatars who had to flee Crimea and stayed in Ukraine. The Crimean community strongly opposed the peninsula’s annexation in 2014. The political leaders from the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar representative body, had to come to mainland Ukraine as the organization was banned in Russia in 2016.
In the series of interviews Edwards uncovers numerous issues that still haunt the Crimean Tatar community including Russia’s attitude toward Crimean Tatars and approach to resolving “extremism” issues with protestors.
“Russia’s attitude to the Crimean Tatars hasn’t changed much since the days of Catherine the Great,” said Ruslan Ibragimov, a humanitarian worker in Kherson, in his interview to Edwards. “All that’s new is that they have better gadgets to spy on us.”
“When you first enter Ukraine, you’re seized with paranoia,” continues Ibragimov. “You don’t know who to trust, then gradually you calm down. It’s a consequence of intense surveillance in Crimea.”
The interviewees’ stories draw parallels between the current situation and the events of 1944 when the tatars were deported. With time the Kremlin rehabilitated the Crimean Tatars, but denied them the right to return home.
“In 1944, they accused us of treachery, when we betrayed nobody. In 1783 they annexed us, when nobody asked us whether we wanted to live under Moscow. You can’t humiliate a nation like that and expect them to trust you implicitly” commended imam Usein Tokhlu.
Read the full story here

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