Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 12, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 12, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. Photo – US Army Europe

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors of the front 17 times in total, including at least 6 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 2 and wounded 7 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Next up for U.S. weapons supplies to Ukraine? Possibly Surface-To-Air Missiles
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Last year, after years of internal debate that preceded his administration, President Donald Trump began supplying Ukraine with sophisticated anti-tank missiles known as Javelins. […]
          Now, U.S. lawmakers are moving to up the ante again, with legislation that would authorize supplying Kyiv with surface-to-air missiles.
          The effort comes in an amendment being attached to legislation providing funding for the Defense Department; the amendment removes existing language prohibiting the sale of such missiles, known as man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.
          Sponsored by the two top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — Democrat Eliot Engel and Republican Michael McCaul — the measure, which is expected to pass easily, does not mean that the weapons will be supplied right away. Any final decision would have to go through multiple approval processes at various U.S. agencies, including the U.S. Defense Department. […]
          The move sends a clear message to the Kremlin of where Congress stands regarding the war in Ukraine. And, according to Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, it’s a logical next step after the U.S. decision to supply Javelins to the Ukrainian armed forces. […]
         The move comes as part of a broader effort in Congress to increase military support for Ukraine. Two separate pieces of legislation making their way through the House and the Senate call for authorizing up to $300 million in annual military support for Ukraine, an increase from past years.
         And the House legislation calls for the first time for supplying anti-ship missiles and coastal-defense weaponry to Ukraine in response to an incident in November 2018, when Russian Coast Guard ships seized three Ukrainian boats and 24 sailors in the Kerch Strait near the Crimean Peninsula.”
3. Russia arrests and terrorizes entire Crimean Tatar families
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on June 11, “The Russian FSB has carried out new armed searches and arrests of Crimean Tatars, with an elderly mother, whose second son has been taken from her, threatened with a pistol, and told that the FSB will get around to shooting them all.  This new ‘operation’ came the day after hearings ended at the UN’s International Court of Justice where Russia is trying to claim that it is not carrying out a policy of discrimination against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in occupied Crimea.
          The searches by armed and masked men began, as has become standard, very early on 10 June.  This time, however, they seemed to be targeting whole families.  As well as Eskender Suleymanov, the brother of Crimean Solidarity civic journalist Ruslan Suleymanov, the FSB also seized Riza Omerov and his father, Enver.  The latter was stopped at around 2 a.m, while travelling to Rostov with his daughter Fatma Ismailova, whose husband, Rustem Ismailov is one of five political prisoners now on trial.  He became very unwell and the ambulance brigade confirmed that he had extremely high blood pressure and needed to rest.  The enforcement officers ignored this and insisted that he come with them to the Kerch police station.  When Fatma remonstrated and said that she would bring her father there after he had rested, an FSB officer threatened to handcuff her to the generator if she didn’t stop ‘getting in their way.’
          Riza Omerov’s wife, Sevil, who is in her seventh month, became so distressed during the armed search and seeing her husband taken away, that she began going into labour early.  She was taken to the local clinic, however they lack facilities for premature births and with the life of the baby in danger, she was moved to the Simferopol perinatal clinic.  There she had to sit waiting for hours because this proved to be an operating day and all the doctors were busy.
         All of these armed raids have, from the outset, been carried out in homes where there are small children and elderly parents.  The small children of Fatma Ismailova have now been put through this trauma twice, and have lost not only their father, but their uncle and grandfather.
        Not one of the armed searches produced anything illegal, nor was it ever expected to.  The men in all of this specifically Russian conveyor belt of repression are accused of involvement in the peaceful Hizb ut-Tahrir movement which is legal in Ukraine.  Russia has never given any justification for labelling as ‘terrorist’ a movement which has never committed acts of terror or violence anywhere in the world, yet since 2014, it has been sentencing men to huge terms of imprisonment on unproven charges of ‘involvement’.  No crime is required, nor any actual proof of ‘involvement’, since the FSB has its own ‘experts’ who find alleged proof of involvement in ordinary words or conversations on innocuous subjects.  It is also allowed to use ‘secret witnesses’, whose testimony is accepted without question by judges who know that they will get into trouble if they do not provide guilty verdicts and the sentences demanded.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
4. Ukraine Finance Ministry roadshow on Euro-denominated Eurobond
Ukraine Business News (UBN reported, “The Finance Ministry’s 4-day, 4-city roadshow for a new 7-year, Euro-denominated Eurobond is getting good reviews – even before bids are made for what could be a €500 million placement. ICU writes: ‘We expect the pricing will be set close to 6.5%… This EUR-denominated placement looks like a good idea, as it will widen the investor base. Currently, EUR accounts for just 9.2% of the total debt portfolio of Ukraine, versus 42.4% of USD-denominated debt.’
          With the hryvnia exchange rate stable and interest rates expected to drop, the Finance Ministry debuted Tuesday the longest bond of its portfolio – a 6-year hryvnia note.  In the weekly auction, these long bonds placed for a yield of 15.85%. Reflecting strong demand, $128 million in equivalent were sold, accounting for 51.5% of the total value sold.”

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