Ukraine: Daily Briefing – July 8 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 8 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
Mortar training, part of Exercise Sea Breeze 2019. Photo – US Navy

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 16 times in total, including at least 6 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 2 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. EU-Ukraine Summit begins in Kyiv
European Council President Donald Tusk and Ukraine's PM Volodymyr Groysman press statements. To view video (in Ukrainian), please click on image above
European Council President Donald Tusk and Ukraine’s PM Volodymyr Groysman press statements. To view video (in Ukrainian), please click on image above
The European Union stated, “The 21st summit between the European Union and Ukraine will take place in Kyiv on Monday 8 July 2019. President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, will represent the European Union at the Summit. Ukraine will be represented at the summit for the first time by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose first visit as new President was to Brussels on 4-5 June 2019.
           The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn will also participate in the Summit.
           Leaders will discuss the way ahead for EU-Ukraine relations and the next steps in the implementation of the Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA). Leaders will also discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the implementation of the Minsk agreements, the consequences of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, and regional and foreign policy issues.
          The summit takes place against the background of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. At the end of the summit, leaders are expected to adopt a joint statement.”
3. Ukraine applies to purchase military equipment through US Foreign Military Sales program
Charge d’affairs William B Taylor speaks at Exercise Sea Breeze. Photo – US Embassy Kyiv

Speaking at a press conference at Exercise Sea Breeze 2019 in Odesa on July 7, US Charge d’Affaires a.i. William B. Taylor stated, “I’m very pleased to announce today that Ukraine has requested for the first time the purchase of military equipment through a special U.S. Defense Department program, called the Foreign Military Sales program. So this is the Ukrainian government purchasing equipment – very important equipment from the United States that will have an effect on deterring Russian aggression. […] The United States stands with the people of Ukraine in support of a stable, prosperous, democratic and European, free Ukraine.”
           Exercise Sea Breeze is a multinational exercise co-hosted by Ukraine and the US “designed to enhance interoperability among participating nations and strengthen regional security by focusing on a variety of security and stability scenarios in the areas of land, sea, and air.” 17 other countries, including Canada, are participating in Exercise Sea Breeze.
4. Ukraine authorities arrest man allegedly tied to shooting down MH17
Tsemakh. Photo – Kyiv Post

The Kyiv Post reported on July 7, “Ukrainian authorities arrested a militant who allegedly took part in covering up the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines passenger flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 that killed 298 people.
           The arrested man is Volodymyr Tsemakh, 58, a Ukrainian citizen from Snizhne, a town in Donetsk Oblast close to the Russian border. The town has been controlled by the Russian-backed militants fighting against Ukraine since 2014. Tsemakh joined them in 2014.
          Tsemakh disappeared from his home in Snizhne on June 27, his daughter told BBC Ukraine. It’s not clear how he was moved into the territory controlled by Ukrainian authorities, but on June 28 he was brought to Kyiv, where a court arrested him for two months. He is being accused of terrorism.
         Ukrainian authorities have been refusing to comment on Tsemakh. His daughter told BBC Ukraine she thought he could have been detained in connection to the downing of MH17.
         The flight MH17 was shot down by Russia-backed militants near Snizhne on July 17, 2014, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed. The majority of them were Dutch citizens.
         The investigation of the attack is still on. The Joint Investigation Commission (JIT) led by the Netherlands Ministry of Justice, found that the plane was shot down by a missile from a Buk, a Russian service-to-air launcher system, that was brought from Russia.  After the attack, the weaponry was transferred back to Russia to cover Russian involvement. Tsemakh may have helped transport the Buk launcher back to Russia.
           In 2015, Tsemakh gave an interview to a local television channel where he hinted at his involvement in the coverup. The Current Time, a joint project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, found the video after Tsemakh’s arrest.
          In it, Tsemakh says that he oversaw the air defense of the region where the Malaysian flight was shot down. Tsemakh says that he helped hide something. The name of the object that he helped hide was bleeped in the video, but Tsemakh looks like he could be pronouncing ‘Buk.’ […] If found guilty for participating in a terrorist group, Tsemakh will spend between 8 and 15 years in prison.
           On June 19, the Joint Investigation Commission revealed four suspects responsible for shooting down the plane. Three of them are Russian citizens fought against Ukraine in Donbas, with the fourth one being a Ukraine national fighting against Ukraine. Tsemakh wasn’t among the suspects named.”
5. Amid protests, Medvedchuk-linked NewsOne channel cancels TV link-up with Russia 24
Ukrinform reported, “Ukraine’s NewsOne television channel has stated that it canceled a TV link-up with Russian propaganda channel Russia 24. […]
         As Ukrinform reported, Ukraine’s television channel NewsOne, which belongs to Taras Kozak, an ally of Viktor Medvedchuk, and Russian state-owned channel Russia 24, are to hold a TV link-up entitled ‘Need to Talk.’ TV host Dmitry Kiselyov announced this during the Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week) program.
        Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy called on the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting to urgently hold a meeting to consider the issue of revoking the license of NewsOne.”
       Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko stated that the owner and anchor of NewsOne TV have been called in for questioning. Lutsenko stated, “In connection with the intentions of the TV channel NewsOne to hold a joint TV link-up with a sanctioned Russian channel, the Office of the Prosecutor General has today filed an investigation into an attempt to commit state treason by providing informational support to subversion activities against Ukraine.” According to Lutsenko a lawsuit on the arrest of assets of NewsOne is currently being prepared.
        The announcement of the planned TV link-up with the aggressor state Russia was met with public protests in Kyiv and outrage across Ukraine.

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