UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine – June 15-21, 2019

UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine
June 15-21, 2019
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of June 14-20, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and fifteen Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors of the front 162 times in total, including at least 29 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 5 and wounded 9 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Prosecution of four suspects for downing Flight MH17
Image- Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands
On June 19, the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands announced that it will prosecute four suspects for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
          The Public Prosecution Service stated, “This decision was made on the basis of the investigation conducted by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands. […]
         The Public Prosecution Service will prosecute the following people: Igor Vsevolodovich GIRKIN (48); Sergey Nikolayevich DUBINSKIY (56); Oleg Yuldashevich PULATOV (52); Leonid Volodymyrovych KHARCHENKO (47).
The Public Prosecution Service alleges the four cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason they can also be held jointly accountable for downing flight MH17. Today the Public Prosecution Service will issue international arrest warrants and placed them on national and international Lists of Wanted Persons.
        This is why the full names of the suspects have been announced and their photos shown. Three of the suspects have Russian nationality, the fourth is Ukrainian. […]
           Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov or Perviy, is a former colonel of the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service. On the 17th of July 2014, Girkin was Minister of Defence and commander of the army of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Flight MH17 was shot down from this area. As the highest military officer he maintained contact with the Russian Federation.
           Sergey Dubinskiy, [also known as] Khmuriy, is a former military officer of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service. Dubinskiy was one of Girkin’s deputies in 2014 and also head of the intelligence service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He also maintained regular contact with officials in Russia.
           Oleg Pulatov, also known as Giurza, is a former military officer of the Russian Spetznaz-GRU, the special units of the Russian military intelligence service. In 2014, Pulatov was deputy head of the intelligence service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and one of the deputies of Dubinskiy.
          Leonid Kharchenko, also known as Krot, is the only Ukrainian suspect. He has no military background. He received his orders directly from Dubinskiy and in July 2014 he was commander of a combat unit in the Donetsk region. At that time, there was an armed conflict in that area between pro-Russian fighters and the Ukrainian armed forces.
           The Dutch Public Prosecution Service will summon the four suspects, in order to account for their role in bringing down flight MH17 in court. They will be prosecuted for causing the crash of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all persons on board, punishable pursuant to Article 168 of the Dutch Criminal Code; the murder of the 298 persons on board of flight MH17, punishable pursuant to Article 289 of the Dutch Criminal Code. […]
           The criminal investigation of the JIT has been ongoing since 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskyi in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system – with 1 missing missile – went back to the Russian Federation.
           On the 24th of May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.
3. Ukrinform: Constitutional Court declares decree on parliament dissolution constitutional – source
Ukrinform reported on June 20, “Ukraine’s Constitutional Court has recognized President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s decree on the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada as constitutional. A respective decision was taken during a closed session of the court’s grand chamber on Thursday, June 20, a well-informed source in the court told Ukrinform.
          ‘The court has recognized the presidential decree on the parliament’s dissolution as constitutional,’ the source said. Viktor Kryvenko was the judge-rapporteur in this case.
           As was reported earlier, Zelensky announced the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada in his inaugural speech on May 20. On May 21, he signed a decree on the dissolution of the parliament and the calling of snap elections on July 21.”
4. US Department of Defense announces $250 million to Ukraine
The US Department of Defense stated on June 18, “The Department of Defense announced today plans to provide $250 million to Ukraine in security cooperation funds for additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts to build the capacity of Ukraine’s armed forces.
           This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine and will bring total U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to $1.5 billion since 2014.
           The new funds will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including capabilities to enhance: maritime situational awareness and operations as part of ongoing U.S. efforts to increase support for Ukraine’s Navy and Naval Infantry; the defensive capacity and survivability of Ukraine’s Land and Special Operations Forces through the provision of sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and counter-artillery radars; command and control; electronic warfare detection and secure communications; military mobility; night vision; and, military medical treatment.
           This security cooperation is made possible by Ukraine’s continued progress on the adoption of key defense institutional reforms to align Ukraine’s national security architecture with Euro-Atlantic principles.
           The United States remains committed to helping Ukraine implement provisions of Ukraine’s 2018 Law on National Security to strengthen democratic civilian control of the military, promote command and control reforms, enhance transparency and accountability in acquisition and budgeting, and advance defense industry reforms. These reforms will bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure, prosperous, democratic, and free Ukraine.”
5. Canada supports Ukrainian parliamentary elections through election observer mission under the direction of Lloyd Axworthy
On June 19, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stated, “Free and fair elections are a fundamental part of democracy. They foster transparency and promote accountability. I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, who led the Canadian delegation of election observers for Ukraine’s presidential elections, will be returning as the head of Canada’s election observation mission during Ukraine’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
           In April, as the senior representative, Dr. Axworthy led Canada’s election observation mission and provided a thorough assessment of the electoral process in Ukraine. His stakeholder engagement and his work on issues such as foreign interference, cyber threats and women’s participation in the electoral process, shared in his report, proved to be invaluable for Ukraine and Canada. We are so pleased that Dr. Axworthy has accepted to continue in this capacity.
           Today, we also mark the deployment of 65 long-term observers to Ukraine ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. They will continue to establish contact with local authorities and civil society, including women’s organizations and minority groups, in their areas of deployment to collect a wide range of views on all the steps of the electoral process and provide an in-depth analysis for the reports on the parliamentary elections.”
           Now is the time to seize on the momentum achieved by the recent and successful presidential elections in Ukraine. In this context, we look forward to hosting the Ukraine Reform Conference on July 2 to 4, 2019, in Toronto, Ontario. The conference comes at an important time and will allow Ukraine’s international friends and partners to continue supporting Ukraine in advancing democratic and economic reforms.
          Canada can be relied upon to stand up for the people of Ukraine and for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
6. Ukrainian MP Dmytro Tymchuk found shot dead at home
Dmytro Tymchuk. Photo – BBC

The BBC reported on June 19, “Prominent Ukrainian MP and military affairs analyst Dmytro Tymchuk has been found shot dead at his home in the capital Kyiv. It is unclear whether he was murdered, killed himself deliberately or shot himself accidentally with his pistol, the interior ministry says.
            A fellow MP from the People’s Front party said his friend had been found with a gunshot wound to the head. Mr. Tymchuk had blogged extensively about the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Just a day before his death, he summarised on Facebook (in Russian) the latest fighting along the line […] Tributes on Facebook speak of his ‘invaluable contribution to the fight for Ukraine’ and question how a man from a military background could have accidentally shot himself.
           Asked what lines of inquiry police were pursuing, interior ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko said: ‘It is one of three things: Murder, suicide or negligent handling of a weapon.’
          Mr Tymchuk was a former naval officer who came to national prominence in 2014 with his blogging on Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
          In particular, he set up the Information Resistance blog, which seeks to expose Russian military involvement in the ongoing conflict. He was elected to parliament in October 2014 as a member of then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party.
           At the high point of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Dmytro Tymchuk was one of the main newsmakers for Ukrainians. In the information vacuum, chaos and panic of the war that had just broken out, he positioned himself as an independent military analyst with his own intelligence sources and access to leaks.
           But actually his role was seen by many as that of a person who said out loud what Ukrainian officials could not for diplomatic and other reasons. Journalists often referred to Tymchuk as a person who was able to explain what was really going on on the battlegrounds of the hybrid war from the Ukrainian viewpoint.
He came out with the toughest criticism of Russia and always blamed it for this war.
          Once he was elected to the parliament, he switched to legislative work. Given he was a newsmaker during the war who knew a lot, his strange death raises concerns and suspicions in Ukraine.”
7. EU extends sanctions on Russia over war in Ukraine
The EU extended economic sanctions against Russia for another six months over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. An EU spokesperson stated on June 20, “Russia sanctions are unanimously extended for another six months because of a lack of Minsk Agreements implementation.” Separate EU sanctions banning European business and investment in Russian-occupied Crimea were extended for another year.
8. Ukraine wins Under-20 World Cup with final win over South Korea
photo – Reuters

The BBC reported on June 15, “Ukraine came from behind to beat South Korea 3-1 and win their first Under-20 World Cup. The match – in Lodz, Poland – featured two teams playing in the final for the first time in their history.
            South Korea led through an early penalty, which Lee Kang-in fired past Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. But Vladyslav Supriaha scored either side of half-time and Dynamo Kiev club-mate Heorhii Tsitaishvili sped away to add a late third.

Korea almost equalised at 2-1 but 20-year-old Lunin, who spent last season on loan with Leganes in La Liga, brilliantly tipped Lee Jae-ik’s header on to the crossbar. Ukraine – who did not qualify in 2017 – topped a group containing the USA, Nigeria and Qatar, before beating Panama 4-1 in the last 16, Colombia 1-0 in the quarter-final and Italy 1-0 in the semis.”

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