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

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 26, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
UAF military training Photo courtesy of 95th Airborne Brigade Press Service
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on March 25, two service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire seven times on Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sector using heavy weapons twice.
According to the Ukrainian military intelligence report three invaders were killed and five wounded as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on March 25.
2. Russia plans to deploy nuclear weapons in occupied Crimea – Ukraine intel
Missile range infographic. Picture courtesy of AP
Russia has put together another missile brigade on the territory of the southern military district, which would be armed with Iskander missile systems and new increased range cruise missiles that may carry nuclear warheads, as reported by the Ukrainian military intelligence.
It looks like Russia plans to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea and is preparing them for combat use, said the representative of the main intelligence directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Vadym Skibitsky. Ukraine watches closely Russia’s preparations for the transfer of nuclear weapons to the territory of occupied Crimea, he said.
3. Kyiv Institute of Sociology National Poll Update 
Screenshot of the presidential candidates rating from the KIIS press release
The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) released a major public opinion poll of data gathered between March 14 and 22.
When asked about Ukraine’s foreign policy orientation almost half of the respondents [49 %] suggested that Ukraine should carry on with European integration compared to 12,9% who believe in the accession to the Customs Union [run but the Russian Federation]. Less than the third of the respondents – 27.3% – believe that Ukraine should not be joining any unions and 11% refused to answer.
An all-Ukrainian public opinion poll is based on the data received from 2004 respondents who lived in 126 settlements of all regions of Ukraine (except Crimea) who were interviewed personally. In Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the poll was conducted only on the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. The statistical sampling error (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed: 3.3% for indicators close to 50%, 2.8% – for indicators close to 25%, 2.0% – for indicators close to 10%, 1,4% – for indicators close to 5%.
According to the poll data the names of the top three presidential candidates are the same as several months ago – Volodymyr Zelensky, a political novice and comedian, Petro Poroshenko, current President of Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister of Ukraine. The data suggests during the first round of presidential election Zelensky will occupy a strong leading position with 19.5% of voter support among all respondents compared to Poroshenko’s 10.3% and Tymoshenko’s 7.6%. The ration is not too much different among those who plan to vote – Zelensky – 20.7%, Poroshenko – 11% and Tymoshenko – 8.1%.
The largest gap in the voter support for the candidates has been recorded among the voters who have decided on their candidates: Zelensky – 32%, Poroshenko – 17.1% and Tymoshenko – 12.5%.
The data suggests that the second round of election is highly likely and Volodymyr Zelensky carries over an advantage over both runner ups.
Click here to see the KIIS press release in Ukrainian.
4. Canada’s short-term election observers arrive in Ukraine 

As part of #MissionCanada, Canada’s short-term elections observers and Lloyd Axworthy, head of mission, arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, joining long-term election observers in their work observing Mar 31 presidential election

On March 26, 110 Canadian short-term election observers, including Head of Mission Lloyd Axworthy, arrived in Ukraine as part of Canada’s election observation mission run by CANADEM.
“Election observers directly support democracy, and today, “Canada’s short-term election observers will join their long-term observer counterparts and the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, recently named head of Canada’s election observation mission to Ukraine, to begin their work observing all aspects of the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine,” reads the statement released by the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality.
“Canada has committed up to $24 million to support initiatives in Ukraine that advance electoral reforms, the participation of women and minorities, and inclusive governance. This assistance includes $11 million in support of the Canadian election observation mission and the secondment of Canadian observers to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observation mission. In total, Canada will support up to 500 long-term and short-term observers in Ukraine’s elections this year.
#MissionCanada CANADEM_UKR2019. Deputy Head of Mission Olya Grod with Mission Canada Short-term Observers
The statement released by Canadian officials emphasized that another $2.8 million has been committed to “counter the negative impact of disinformation propagated by malign actors in the context of Ukraine’s elections.”
Read the full statement by Global Affairs here
5. Ukraine offers EU 12 billion cubic meters of underground gas storage facilities for rent 
Photo courtesy of AFP
A ten-year gas transport contract between Naftogaz Ukrainy and Russia’s Gazprom is to expire on January 1, 2020. If Russia stops transporting natural gas across the Ukrainian territory in 2020, Ukraine may offer European customers about 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) of its underground storage facilities, as reported by the Ukrtransgaz.
The unused capacity of the Ukrainian gas transportation system would make it possible to accumulate the necessary amount of gas in the storage facilities and guarantee uninterrupted supply to consumers during the 2019-2020 fall and winter period without threats to the EU’s energy security, the statement said.
The company cited Hungary, which consumes about 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually, as an example. Two-thirds of this amount is shipped to Hungary from Russia across Ukraine, about 20% is produced by Hungary itself, and the rest is imported from Austria. About 60% of gas shipped to the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria also comes through the Ukrainian gas transportation system.
The Ukrainian underground gas storage system comprises 12 underground gas storage facilities with an aggregate capacity of 31 billion cubic meters. The maximum daily amount of gas that can be taken from underground storage facilities may reach 260 million cubic meters.
Gazprom is currently not holding active negotiations to sign a new contract to ship gas across Ukraine and is actively promoting the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipeline projects. Naftogaz believes it is highly likely that Gazprom will halt gas transportation via Ukraine in 2020 after completing construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

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