Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 8, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 8, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
 
Marksmanship training, Ukraine. Photo – US Army Europe
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, shelling by Russian-terrorist forces escalated. In the last 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 11 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces fired almost 900 mortar shells, over 130 artillery shells, 25 tank shells, as well as Grad rockets, at Ukrainian positions. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka with mortars and artillery. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at several locations along the Donetsk sector of the front. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Chermalyk with mortars and Grad rockets. At Krasnohorivka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrianian positions with mortars. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions on the Krymske-Zhobolok-Novoshkivkse line, where shelling by Russian-terrorist forces lasted almost 15 hours.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament makes Ukraine’s integration with NATO a foreign policy priority
Ukraine’s Parliament passed amendments to several laws governing Ukraine’s foreign policy, defining cooperation with NATO and the ultimate goal of Ukraine joining NATO as a top priority. 276 MPs supported the legislative amendments. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “The amendments, which must be signed by President Petro Poroshenko to become law, say that Ukraine’s foreign policy will be focused on steps to promote cooperation with NATO in order to ‘achieve the criteria needed to gain membership in this organization.'”
The amendments state that “The experience of a number of countries neighboring Ukraine shows that they consider structures of collective security that function on the basis of progressive democratic values…to be the most effective way to ensure security and to secure territorial integrity and sovereignty,” RFE/RL reported.
3. US Senator McCain calls for strong Russia sanctions amendment
 
Senator McCain, photo – Getty images


Speaking on the US Senate floor on June 7, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke about the need for a strong Russia sanctions amendment to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. McCain stated, “In just the last three years under Vladimir Putin, Russia has invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, threatened NATO allies, and intervened militarily in Syria, leaving a trail of death, destruction, and broken promises in his wake. And of course, last year, Russia attacked the foundations of American democracy with a cyber and information campaign to interfere in America’s 2016 election.[…]
But in the last eight months, what price has Russia paid for attacking American democracy? Hardly any at all. […] What has Russia’s reaction been to America’s tepid reaction to its aggressive behavior? More of the same. More aggression. More meddling. […]
We must take our own side in this fight-not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans. It’s time to respond to Russia’s attack on American democracy with strength, with resolve, with common purpose, and with action. Together with Senator Graham and a number of other senators, I am prepared to offer an amendment to this legislation that will begin to do just that. […]
The amendment would impose mandatory sanctions on transactions with the Russian defense or intelligence sectors, including the FSB and the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency that was primarily responsible for Russia’s attack on our election.
The amendment would impose mandatory visa bans and asset freezes on any individual that undermines the cybersecurity of public or private infrastructure and democratic institutions. And it would impose mandatory sanctions on those to assist or support such activities. The amendment would codify existing sanctions on Russia by placing into law five executive orders signed by President Obama in response to both Russian interference in the 2016 election and its illegal actions in Ukraine. And it would take new steps tighten those sanctions.
For example, Russia’s ability to issue new sovereign debt essentially allows Russia to borrow money from global capital markets to offset pressure from existing U.S. and European sanctions. So this amendment would impose mandatory sanctions on U.S. and third party investment in sales of Russian sovereign debt as well as in the privatization of Russian state-owned assets.
The amendment would target the Russian energy sector, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin’s cronies, with sanctions on investments in Russian petroleum and natural gas development as well as Russian energy pipelines. […]
            We need a strong Russia sanctions amendment. We need it now. And we need it on this piece of legislation. We need this amendment because we have no time to waste. The United States of America needs to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy. There is no greater threat to our freedoms than attacks on our ability to choose our own leaders free from foreign interference. And so we must act accordingly, and we must act now.” McCain’s full statement is available at  https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/6/mccain-on-senate-floor-today-we-need-a-strong-russia-sanctions-amendment

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