Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 14 February 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
14 February 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka with mortars. Near Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krymske with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Popasne and Stanytsia Luhanska. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Vodyane and Shyrokyne with artillery, mortars and tanks. At Maryinka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars.  In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 72 times in total, including 13 times with heavy weapons.
2. Russia extends detention for illegally imprisoned Ukrainian journalist
A Moscow court upheld the illegal detention to April 30 of Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, the Paris-based correspondent of Ukraine’s Ukrinform new agency, who has been held illegally in detention since September 30, 2016 on fabricated espionage charges. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its decisive protest at the decision, and stated, “The psychological pressure exerted by the judges on Sushchenko and the political expediency of the case underscore its fabricated nature. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs demands that the Russian authorities immediately desist the reprisals against Ukrainian citizen Roman Sushchenko, release him and ensure his return to Ukraine.”
Roman Sushchenko in Russian court. Photo -UNIAN
3. Bloomberg: Agriculture new “locomotive” powering Ukraine economy
Bloomberg reported, “Ukraine is starting to live up to its reputation as Europe’s breadbasket.Bottom of Form Exports of wheat, barley and sunflower oil are at or near all-time highs […] Agriculture has become ‘a locomotive of the Ukrainian economy,’ central bank Deputy Governor Dmytro Sologub said in an interview. ‘The numbers are really stunning.’ Agriculture’s ascent may only be starting. Irrigation projects could help boost the grain harvest to 100 million metric tons from 66 million tons, according to Agriculture Minister Taras Kutovyi, who hasn’t provided a timescale for the increase. Other potential drivers include canceling a ban on selling farmland, a requirement of the nation’s $17.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund. […] Agriculture has been key to Ukraine’s recovery from a two-year recession, with the economy surging 4.7 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter, the most since 2011. While the government is lagging behind in some reform efforts, favorable rainfall in the fall and winter mean there could be another record harvest this year, according to Tetiana Adamenko, head of the National Weather Center’s agriculture department.”
Chart – Bloomberg
4. US National Security Advisor resigns over Russia ties
The New York Times reported, “Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resignedon Monday night   after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Mr. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given ‘incomplete information’ regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. Mr. Flynn previously had denied that he had any substantive conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Mr. Pence repeated that claim in television interviews as recently as this month. But on Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. […] The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused. […]Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement late Monday that Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not close the question of his contact with Russian officials. ‘General Flynn’s decision to step down as national security adviser was all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador,’ said Mr. Schiff, noting that the matter is still under investigation by the House committee. Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland – called for an immediate briefing by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the ‘alarming new disclosures’ that Mr. Flynn was a blackmail risk. ‘We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security,’ they said in a statement.”
5. US Senator McCain: Flynn’s resignation raises further questions about Trump administrations intentions towards Russia
Following Mike Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor, US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated, “General Flynn’s resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections. American policy toward Russia must be made clear and unequivocal: we will honor our commitments to our NATO allies, we will maintain and enhance our deterrent posture in Europe, we will hold Russian violators of human rights accountable for their actions, and we will maintain sanctions on Russia so long as it continues to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”


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