Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – March 10-17, 2017

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Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
March 10-17, 2017
#OpUNIFIER training. Photo – Canadian Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of March 10-16, seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 50 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 634 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 238 times with heavy weapons – mortars, artillery and tanks.
2. Ukraine suspends cargo traffic with Russian-occupied territories in Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts
On March 15, the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine (RNBO) suspended cargo traffic with the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. RNBO Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov stated, “Acknowledging the sharp escalation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the forcible seizure of Ukrainian enterprises located in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, realizing the aggravation of threats to economic and energy security of Ukraine triggered by deliberate actions of terrorists, and given the fact that Russia has started to recognize the ‘documents’ of self-proclaimed republics at the state level, with a view to protecting the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens and to ensure national security of Ukraine, the [RNBO] decided: to temporarily stop the cargo movement along the delimitation line, [until] paragraphs 1-2 of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements as of February 12, 2015 are implemented, and [until] the seized enterprises are returned under Ukrainian jurisdiction. […] The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the National Police of Ukraine, the National Guard of Ukraine with the participation the Security Service of Ukraine were assigned to immediately stop the cargo movement along the delimitation line by rail and by road.”
3. Statement by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister on the Third Anniversary of Illegal Annexation of Crimea
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland issued the following statement on March 16: “Today we mark three years since Russia’s illegal annexation and invasion of Crimea. We condemn unreservedly this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Since the occupation of Crimea, there has been a severe suppression of human rights, including freedom of expression and association. Canada is deeply troubled by the politically motivated application of ‘anti-terrorist’ and ‘anti-extremist’ legislation; ongoing harassment of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers; arbitrary detentions; disappearances; and the persecution of Crimean Tatars and other minorities. We denounce the banning of the Mejlis, the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, and have called on Russia to reverse this illegal and immoral decision. It is shameful that Russia impedes access to Crimea for international human rights groups, including the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The importance of this access was endorsed on December 19, 2016, in a UN General Assembly resolution co-sponsored by Canada. Canada is steadfast in its support for the people of Ukraine. Together, the international community must maintain its pressure, including through economic sanctions, until Russia respects international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
4. European Commission approves disbursement of 600 million Euros in assistance to Ukraine
On March 16 the EU stated, “The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has today adopted the decision to release the second tranche of Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine, a loan which amounts to €600 million. With this disbursement, the total Macro-Financial Assistance that the EU has extended to Ukraine since 2014 will reach €2.81 billion, the largest amount of Macro-Financial Assistance the EU has disbursed to any non-EU country. […]Ukraine has largely fulfilled the policy commitments agreed with the EU for the release of the second payment of Macro-Financial Assistance. This included taking important measures to step up the fight against corruption, to foster greater transparency in public finance management, to modernise the public administration, to advance the ongoing reforms of the energy and financial sectors, to improve the business environment and to strengthen social safety nets. These structural reforms will benefit Ukraine’s citizens – the ultimate aim of the EU’s assistance. […] Commission services will now raise the €600 million on international capital markets, in order to then lend the funds on to Ukraine in late March or early April. The EU will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to further the country’s reform agenda.”
5. European Parliament calls on Russia to release all illegally imprisoned Ukrainian citizens
The European Parliament adopted a resolution, on Ukrainian Prisoners in Russia and the Situation in Crimea on March 16. The resolution states that the European Parliament “Supports the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and strongly reiterates its condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation; fully supports the firm and sustained determination of the EU and its Member States not to recognise this annexation and the restrictive measures taken in this respect;  […] Condemns the discriminatory policies imposed by the so-called authorities against, in particular, Crimea’s ethnic Tatar minority, the infringement of their property rights, the increasing intimidation of this community and of those that oppose the Russian annexation, and the lack of freedom of expression and association in the peninsula; Calls on Russia to release without further delay all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens, both in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, and to provide for their safe return, including Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klykh, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksiy Chyrniy, Oleksandr Kostenko, Serhiy Lytvynov, Valentyn Vyhivskyi, Viktor Shur, Andriy Kolomiyets, Ruslan Zeytullayev, Nuri Primov, Rustem Vaitov, Ferat Sayfullayev, Akhtem Chiyhoz, Mustafa Dehermendzhi, Ali Asanov, Inver Bekirov, Muslim Aliyev, Vadim Siruk, Arsen Dzhepparov, Refat Alimov, Zevri Abseitov, Remzi Memetov, Rustem Abiltarov, Enver Mamutov, Artur Panov, Evheniy Panov, Roman Suschenko and Emir-Usein Kuku, human rights defender, and others, and to allow all the above-mentioned people to travel freely, including Mykola Semena, who is being prosecuted for his journalistic work for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Stresses that the decision of the Russian Federation on 21 March 2014 to annex Crimea remains illegal, and strongly condemns the subsequent decision of the Russian authorities to give all inhabitants of Crimea Russian passports; […] Calls for further restrictive measures to be imposed on individuals responsible for gross human rights violations, including the freezing of their assets in EU banks; […] Requests that the possibility be explored of establishing an international format for negotiations discussing the de-occupation of Crimea, with the participation of the EU and which would be based on international humanitarian law, human rights and international principles” The full text of the resolution is available athttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0087+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
6. Ukraine’s Parliament ratifies Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement
On March 14, Ukraine’s Parliament ratified the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko praised the ratification, and called it a historic moment for Canada-Ukraine relations. President Poroshenko stated, “Conclusion of FTA Agreement with Canada is the recognition of progress of our state on the track of reforms. It is a symbol of trust in principles and values of doing business that are being formed in Ukraine under the best standards and practices. […]This Agreement initiates a symbolic Transatlantic bridge of free trade. Thus, Ukrainian business will get access to the North American market. And this provides for the increase of the Ukrainian exports. […]The Agreement is a very important response to the Russian hybrid aggression, which threatens not only Ukraine, but also the EU countries, Canada and the whole Free World, which is the evidence of our unbroken Transatlantic unity and solidarity.”

 


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