UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine – August 3-9, 2019

UCC Weekly Bulletin on Ukraine
August 3-9, 2019
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises.
 Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
 
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of August 2-8, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 56 times in total.
2. Ukraine’s President tries to initiate urgent meeting of Normandy format state leaders
 
photo – Office of the President of Ukraine


The Office of the President of Ukraine reported on August 7, “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a meeting with military leadership on the situation in the east of Ukraine. The parties discussed the shelling that took place on August 6 near Pavlopil’ despite the ‘Khlibne’ truce declared earlier as a result of which 4 Ukrainian servicemen were killed. […] During the meeting, the military reported on the situation in the area of hostilities and at the border. Future steps were also discussed.
           Volodymyr Zelenskyy informed that he had held a phone conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in the morning. ‘I called him immediately and said that it did not bring us closer to peace. I urged him to influence the other side so that it stops killing our people,’ the President said. In addition, speaking with the Russian side, the Head of State stressed the need to accelerate the construction of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska and the return of Ukrainian captives.
          The President of Ukraine also initiated phone conversations with state leaders of the Normandy format. ‘It is necessary to meet with the leaders of the Normandy four as soon as possible. To look into each other’s eyes and to end this war,’ he emphasized.
          Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans to have a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the Republic of Turkey, which begins today. He also expressed readiness to return home immediately in case of aggravation of the situation in the east.
         ‘I want to contact Mrs. Merkel shortly and arrange an urgent meeting, so that we no longer tell each other that there should be a meeting in the Normandy format this year. How many more people can be killed this year?’ the Head of State stressed.
         For his part, Chief of the General Staff – Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak informed that the Armed Forces reserves were currently located in certain positions in the state of combat readiness. ‘The Armed Forces are ready to respond appropriately in the event of an unforeseen situation,’ he said.
         The Chief of the General Staff noted that the Armed Forces continued to fulfill their tasks in the area of the Joint Forces Operation. After the beginning of the indefinite ceasefire from 00:01, July 21, Ukrainian troops adhere to the agreements arranged. According to him, since then, the number of shellings of the positions of the Armed Forces has been significantly decreased and the shelling is aimless. At the same time, in some places of the JFO area, there were frequent occasions of precision fire.
        ‘Six servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been killed and nine soldiers have been wounded since the beginning of the declared ceasefire in the JFO area,’ Ruslan Khomchak said.”
3. Portnikov: It’s time for President Zelenskyy to wake up
On August 7, Ukrainian journalist and writer Vitaliy Portnikov wrote for espreso.tv, “After the attack of occupation forces on Ukrainian positions and the death of four Ukrainian servicemen, President Zelenskyy called his Russian counterpart and asked him to ‘influence the other side.’ It’s time for the Ukrainian president to wake up and give up his dangerous illusion. There is no ‘other side’ – this is a fabrication of the Kremlin’s propaganda.
           Only Putin exists. It is his armies and special services that are occupying the Donbas. It is he, as the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces, who is responsible for any escalation in the occupied territory. Putin doesn’t influence ‘the other side’ – he gives it commands. He is not a mediator but a party to the conflict. And when Zelenskyy asks Putin to influence the Russian side, he is removing him from responsibility, turning an occupier into a ‘parliamentarian.’ This is what Putin needs to continue the war.
          Putin does not need any steps towards peace. He didn’t start the war in order to end it peacefully. He started the war so that the war would end with Ukraine’s defeat. Our destruction. Today the war doesn’t interfere with Putin, it only helps Putin. It helps him keep Ukraine on the hook, to feel himself an influential leader, to have negotiations with the West. Why does Putin need peace?
         Volodymyr Zelenskyy, you are no longer a candidate in an election campaign. You are a president of a country that finds itself at war with a brutal aggressor. And the rulers of that aggressor don’t want peace. The inability by you to understand this basic fact will only lead to more victims and more losses – both people, and territories.”
The article is available in the original Ukrainian here
4. New Parliament to hold first meeting on August 29
 
Radio Svoboda reports from the training seminar for MPs elected from the Servant of the People party (in Ukrainian). To view video, please click on image above
Radio Svoboda reports from the training seminar for MPs elected from the Servant of the People party (in Ukrainian). To view video, please click on image above
The first meeting of Ukraine’s new Parliament will take place on August 29. Ukrinform reported,”This decision was made during the first meeting of the preparatory deputy group in the Parliament on Friday, August 9, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
           ‘Our political force proposes to hold the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of the ninth convocation on August 29 in order not to delay this process, so that the Parliament starts working as soon as possible and so that we can show the effective work of the new Parliament,’ Chairman of the Servant of the People political party Dmytro Razumkov who led this group said.”
5. Zelenskyy appoints tainted officials to oversee judicial reform
The Kyiv Post reported on August 7, “As President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s team is announcing large-scale judicial reform, the people who will be entrusted to work on such reform include many tainted officials mired in corruption scandals.
           Zelenskyy on Aug. 7 issued a decree to create a commission in charge of legal reform. The commission will be in charge of constitutional amendments, judicial reform, criminal law reform, legal education and re-integration of Russian-occupied territories.
          Apart from a few reform-minded experts, the commission includes numerous controversial individuals who face accusations of corruption and other wrongdoing. Zelenskyy’s press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Roman Maselko and Mykhailo Zhernakov – members of the Public Integrity Council, the judiciary’s civil society watchdog – lambasted the commission’s composition, arguing it will not be able to reform anything.
          The legal reform commission includes five judges who have been vetoed by the Public Integrity Council because they do not meet integrity and professional ethics standards. These include Supreme Court judges Bohdan Lvov, Stanislav Kravchenko and Mykhailo Smokovych, as well as lower-level judges Vadym Butenko and Roman Boyko.”
The full report from Kyiv Post is available here: Zelenskyy appoints tainted officials to oversee judicial reform
6. Poland warns EU countries against rapprochement with Russia
Reuters reported on August 8, “Poland wants to make sure a new European Commission stays tough on Russia and is concerned that some European Union countries are growing increasingly friendly toward its eastern neighbor, even as the Kremlin cracks down on dissent.
           ‘It seems that some European leaders are unaware that their activities are read as an attempt to warm up relations, and if they are, their politics are misguided,’ Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told Reuters in an interview. […]
          Warming relations with Russia could signal to the Kremlin that Europe will let it get away with escalations, such as the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, over time, setting a dangerous precedent, said Przydacz.
          ‘There is no reason to invite Russian leaders to different parties or dances together…measures were put in place to encourage Russia to move away from its aggressive politics to the east of Europe…and it hasn’t even taken half a step back.’
           Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm-in-arm with Austria’s foreign minister at the time Karin Kneissl at her wedding, sparking condemnation by opposition critics that said it undermined the West’s stance against Russia.
           Earlier this year, Heinz-Christian Strache was forced to step down as Austrian vice chancellor and head of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) after German media published secretly filmed footage from a 2017 dinner party at which Strache met a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece. In the footage, Strache appears to offer to fix state contracts in return for political or financial help.
          Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini also denied last month that his League party sought millions of euros from Russian investors through a secret oil deal.
          Przydacz said the bloc under new leadership should listen to the concerns of central and eastern European countries as well as the Baltic states, given their proximity to Russia and their historical experiences with the country. […] Poland’s foreign and defense policy is built largely on Russian deterrence, especially in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
          Przydacz said a Kremlin decree fast-tracking Russian passports for those living in Donbas […] was another recent step showing Russia’s increasing escalation in aggression.
          He added that, once the new European Commission is finalised in the autumn, a more concrete joint European Union position on Russian passports in Donbas could be possible. Several EU countries, including Poland and Estonia, have either condemned Russia’s actions or individually said they will not recognize the passports.”
7. U.S. Ambassador: Ukraine asks to buy more Javelin missiles
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on August 5, “A senior U.S. official says Ukraine has requested to purchase more Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States. […] William Taylor, charge d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, told RFE/RL in an interview that Ukraine would acquire the Javelins from the U.S. Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales program for defensive purposes as the violence continues in a war that has killed more than 13,000 people.
          ‘They would like to buy more Javelins,’ he said. Taylor’s comments are the first confirmation of Ukraine’s desire to add to its stock of 210 Javelin missiles and 37 launchers that the United States provided in April 2018.
         The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to comment on the request and the Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for information.
         Taylor announced on July 7 that Ukraine had formally requested to purchase U.S. military equipment for the first time, but he and the embassy did not specify which equipment. […]
          Since 2014, Washington has provided Ukraine with about $1.5 billion of military support. The Defense Department announced in June that it would provide $250 million for Ukraine to acquire sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counter-artillery radar, and night-vision equipment, among other items.”

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