Ukraine: Daily Briefing – May 25, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 25, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
 
Ukrainian soldiers, instructed by NCOs from US 7th Army Training Command complete the Basic Leader Course in Ukraine. PHOTO – US 7th Army
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 two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka, Pisky and several other locations on the Donetsk sector of the front. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Avdiivka, damaging several residential buildings. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions on the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line with mortars and artillery. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka and several other locations on the Mariupol sector of the front. Twoardds Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Stanytsia Luhanska and Popasne.
 
2. Ukraine’s President speaks with Canada’s Prime Minister
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko held a phone conversation with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. President Poroshenko’s press service reported, “President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko held a phone conversation with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. Petro Poroshenko informed on the developments in Donbas and the ongoing violation of the Minsk agreements by Russia. The President of Ukraine expressed confidence that the leaders of NATO and G7 will deliver an appropriate assessment of the given situation, particularly in the issue of continuation of sanctions’ pressure on Moscow. Prime Minister Trudeau assured that the G7 and NATO coalition is committed to support Ukraine. The parties also discussed future intensification of bilateral relations. The leaders praised recent ratification of the Free Trade Agreement by the Canadian Senate that paves the way to its full application in the nearest future. Petro Poroshenko thanked Canada for its stance in the issue of development of defensive cooperation, the evidence of which is continuation of UNIFIER training mission and signature of the agreement on defensive cooperation. Petro Poroshenko noted that the adoption of the EU’s decision as regards visa waiver for Ukrainians provides conditions for intensification of dialogue on visa liberalisation between Canada and Ukraine.”
 
3. Over 20 former high-ranking tax officials arrested in corruption crackdown in Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported, “Ukrainian law enforcement agents have arrested 23 former high-ranking tax-administration officials suspected of helping the government of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych to defraud the state of nearly 97 billion hryvnyas ($4 billion) in what authorities called the largest-ever operation of its kind here. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoliy Matios told reporters that the former officials were taken into custody over the course of 454 raids in 15 regions across Ukraine on May 24. They said the operations involved 1,700 National Police officers and about 500 military prosecutors. Matios said the raids and arrests were part of an inquiry into the operations of Ukraine’s Income and Tax Ministry under its former minister, Oleksandr Klymenko. Klymenko, like his ally, Yanukovych, fled to Russia at the height of antigovernment protests in February 2014. He is believed to be living in Moscow. […] Activists praised authorities for the arrests, but noted that the bigger challenge will likely be prosecuting them.”
 
4. Atlantic Council: It’s Counterintuitive, but Arming Ukraine Will Save US Taxpayers Money
Writing for the Atlantic Council, Stephen Blank, senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council stated, “In April, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked, ‘Why should US taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?’ Now, the United States does not always provide assistance or help defend other victims of aggression, so the answer must go beyond the simple observation that Ukraine is the victim of premeditated aggression. I see five reasons why.
First, we defend our allies and interests by helping Ukraine defend itself. Every Ukrainian soldier who fights for his country represents one less American who is needed for the defense of Europe. Ukraine is fighting our war and that of our allies. Helping Ukraine defend itself actually saves taxpayers money.
Second, Ukraine is fighting our war and that of Europe because Moscow has essentially declared war on Europe and the international order. Russia has waged information warfare against every European government from the Baltic states to Spain. Moscow openly subsidizes political parties  all over Europe in an effort to undermine democratic governments. […]
If Ukraine is denied the means to help defend itself, it will likely to fail to dislodge the nefarious manifestations of Russian influence from its polity and the rest of the former Soviet Union, and that influence will spread westward. […] Ukraine is the keystone in the arch of European security. Therefore, its fall or disintegration entails the disintegration of European security. […]
Third, we gave Ukraine assurances that we would protect its territorial integrity and security in the 1994 Budapest Agreements, and the Obama administration did not honor that commitment. […]
Fourth, our earlier failure to help Ukraine defend itself has encouraged Moscow to escalate further. Today, there are three Russian armies mobilizing against Ukraine with a full complement of ground, armor, and artillery capabilities, not to mention air defenses and naval threats. […]
Fifth, as the strongest power in the world, the United States cannot simply avert its eyes whenever aggression occurs, especially aggression involving a nuclear power. The Trump administration may promote an ‘America first’ foreign policy, but as the underwriters of the international order for seventy years, we have a vital interest in sustaining it. Throwing Kyiv under the bus might lead to lucrative financial deals or rhetorical support against terrorists, but it opens the door to a new terror of permanent war. Supporting Ukraine’s defense, however, may deter others from breaking the rules.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/it-s-counterintuitive-but-arming-ukraine-will-actually-save-us-taxpayers-money

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