UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine – April 6, 2019

UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine
April 6, 2019
UCC Special: Ukraine’s Presidential Elections Updates
After the last weeks voting on March 31 none of the top candidates gained the vast majority of the votes. Therefore, the top two condidates – Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Petro Poroshenko – continue to run against each other until the second round of election on April 21.
The results of the votes among the top three candidates:
Volodymyr Zelenskiy   30.24%     5,713,892 voters
Petro Poroshenko       15.95%     3,014,611 voters
Yulia Tymoshenko       13.40%     2,532,452 voters
Below please find an assortment of this week’s top articles and a video:
  • Kyiv Post: Ukrainian diaspora overwhelmingly supports Poroshenko
  • Reuters: Comedian rips up the play book in Ukraine election success
  • Interim Report from Mission Canada 2019 Elections Observation Mission
  • Interim Statement: Ukrainian World Congress International Observation Mission (Video)
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Training of 72nd mechanized brigade. Photo JMTG-Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of March 29 – April 4, three Ukrainian service members were killed in action and 12 service members were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 75 times including 50 times using heavy weapons on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front.
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that while returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 17 and wounded at least 31 enemy troops in the last week.
2. Ukrainians vote at Ukrainian Consulate in Edmonton for the first time
First voter arrives at the polling station at the Consulate General of Ukraine in Edmonton on March 31, 2019, to vote in the presidential election. Photo Brad LaFoy
March 31, 2019, was an important day for Ukraine – Presidential Election Day. Ukrainians in 72 countries including Canada cast their votes in 101 polling locations for the future leader of the democratic independent country. Three of those polling stations were in Canada: Ottawa, Toronto and for the first time ever in the the newly opened consulate in Edmonton, that serves the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.
Edmonton is second to the last constituency that voted on Ukraine’s Election Day. Casting ballots here lasted until 5 a.m. Kyiv time on Monday, April 1. The last in the world to vote were Ukrainians living in San Francisco.
Click here to read the full article by Olena Goncharova in the Kyiv Post
Note on elections results from Canada:
A majority of Ukrainians voting in Canada supported Petro Poroshenko who had 152 votes in Ottawa, 432 in Toronto and 110 in Edmonton. The first runner up was Anatoliy Hrytsenko with 223 votes overall followed by Volodymyr Zelenskiy with 213 votes overall. According to preliminary exit polls Zelenskiy is leading with over 30% voter support in Ukraine.
3. Globe & Mail: Russia Abusing Rights of Ukrainian Voters, Charges Head of Election Monitoring mission
Lloyd Axworthy. Photo courtesy of the University of Winnipeg
Lloyd Axworthy, who is leading the 160 Canadian volunteers monitoring Ukraine’s presidential elections stated in his interview with the Globe and Mail that Russia was abusing the human rights of people living in Crimea and other Kremlin-backed parts of eastern Ukraine by using landmines, border delays and online propaganda to discourage them from voting in the Ukrainian election.
“There were no voting stations for Ukrainian citizens in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, and the Russian-controlled parts of the eastern Donbass region,” said the former Liberal cabinet minister  amplifying that “Ukrainians in those areas should be allowed to cross the border to vote, but Russian occupiers have employed aggressive tactics to prevent them from doing so.”
“Russia should also be “called to account” for using online propaganda to tell Ukrainian citizens in the Russian-controlled regions the election is not legitimate. He said the Russian interference is a “wake up call” to other democracies, including Canada.
When asked about the current leader of presidential election Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Lloyd Axworthy commented that since Ukraine was a country at war the new president would have to deal with some of the really serious issues. “It’s a country that’s being highly pressured by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russians. […] They need a strong president,” concluded Dr. Axworthy.
4. Canadian Soldiers Land in Ukraine
Photo by Catherine Bouchard
More than a hundred soldiers from Valcartier flew to Ukraine on Wednesday as part of Operation Unifier, which aims to support the Ukrainian security forces, as reported by Le Journal De Quebec.
The military, mainly from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, will be deployed for six to seven months. They will take over after the previous team that has been in Ukraine since September 2018 and will be back in the country in a few weeks. The Canadian military will carry on with the training mission focusing on joint training, military engineering, logistics, military police and medical training.
Read the full Le Journal De Quebec article here
5. National Post: After Returning from Ukraine, Ex-Foreign Minister Warns Russian Disinformation will be Factor in Canadian Election
Lloyd Axworthy. Photo courtesy of UCMC
Lloyd Axworthy, former Liberal foreign minister and head of Canada’s election monitoring mission to Ukraine made a statement warning that Canadians would be vulnerable to Russian disinformation during the federal contest scheduled for this October.
“There’s some lessons to learn for Canadians. I think Ukraine’s on the front line, and there’s a wake-up call that anybody’s election, including ours in six months, could be altered, disrupted or problems could be created in terms of disinformation if you’re not very watchful about it,” he said in an interview with the National Post on Thursday.
Commenting on Russian interference in Ukraine’s elections he said that Ukrainians “did a very effective job and there weren’t a lot of disruptions.”
Read the full interview of Lloyd Axworthy with National Post here
6. PBS News Hour: As NATO turns 70, Alliance Increases Aid to Ukraine to Confront Russia
Kurt Volker and Nick Schifrin. Screenshot from the interview video
On April 4, in a meeting in Washington, D.C., NATO foreign ministers approved a series of measures aimed at countering Russia in the Black Sea region and agreed to provide Georgia and Ukraine with increased maritime co-operation, patrols and port visits. They also renewed demands for Russia to end its annexation of Crimea, release Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized in a confrontation last year in the Sea of Azov and respect the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Kurt Volker, former ambassador to NATO and current special representative for Ukraine and Nick Schifrin with PBS News Hour discuss NATO’s major steps to support Ukraine, including stepped-up presence of NATO ships, surveillance of the Russian navy, and training of Ukrainian troops, $250 million of assistance in the U.S. defense budget, as well radar systems, refurbished Coast Guard cutters, and tactical vehicles.
In addition, they also talk about the unification of NATO, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, consequences of “poking the Russian bear”, a threat to security in Europe as a whole and Ukraine’s presidential candidates.
Click here to watch the interview (5:48)
In the meantime, Ukraine and NATO will carry out joint actions to strengthen the military presence in the Black Sea region, as well as monitor freedom of navigation through the Kerch Strait, regardless of the opinion of the Russian Federation, stated Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
7. StopFake: Always Blame the West! – and Six Other Disinformation Trends
Picture by StopFake.org
This week’s special from StopFake.org is the detailed explanation of seven narrative templates that the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine uses for different stories and adapts to different audiences. “These categories range from the usual – “The West did it!” and “It wasn’t us!” – to the outrageous “I can’t believe I’m reading this”, which contains lies so blatant that even the most hard-boiled disinformation aficionado might need to take a seat,” reads the website.
Check the details at StopFake.org
8. Clearing Landmines in Ukraine, One Careful Step at a Time
Deminer Tetiana Nikiforova, 37, searches for landmines. Photo by UNHCR/Marta Iwanek
April 4 is the International Mine Awareness Day introduced by the UN General Assembly in 2005.
“According to the 2018 Landmine Monitor Annual Report, Ukraine ranked third globally for overall casualties behind Afghanistan and Syria, and landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) continue to kill or injure people,” stated UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo during the press briefing in Geneva on April 2.
Ukraine estimates that about 7,000 square kilometers in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk are contaminated with mines and ERWs but the full extent of the contamination is not clear.
The UNHCR has even featured a story of one elderly couple from eastern Ukrainian town of Pivdenne to showcase the dangers of mines in the everyday life in the war zone. It is about Volodymyr Zayika, 71, who tripped over a mine in his own backyard and was immediately rushed to the nearby hospital to be treated for his 31 wounds. His wife followed him shortly. A month later they had no home to return to becoming IDPs and receiving shelter in the relatives’ flat in another town.
“Ukraine remains one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, with over 1,000 mine-related casualties recorded since 2014. In 2018, 43 per cent of civilian casualties were attributed to mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) incidents. Mine incidents remained the leading cause of child casualties in 2018,” reads the piece. Read the full story here

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