Ukraine: Daily Briefing – July 24, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time

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Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 24, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
 
Ukrainian Army training exercises,Yavoriv. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
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 Kamyanka with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Maryinka and Pavlopil. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krymske and Novooleksandrivka with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Stanytsia Luhanska and Popasne.
2. US Congress reaches deal on new Russia sanctions legislation
CNN reported on July 23, “The House and Senate reached a deal Saturday to slap Russia with fresh sanctions and give Congress new veto power to block any easing of those sanctions — an agreement that could send a new bill to President Donald Trump’s desk before the end of the month.
House and Senate negotiators announced an agreement was reached Saturdaymorning for a bill that would include new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. […] The House will vote on the bill on Tuesday, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s schedule, and the Senate is likely to take it up after that, although Senate leaders haven’t said when they will bring it to the floor.
Congressional aides say they expect Trump will sign the bill because it will likely pass both chambers with strong, veto-proof majorities. The agreement on the sanctions was the result of an often contentious, month-long back-and-forth between the House and Senate after the Senate passed a bill for new sanctions against Russia and Iran 98 to 2 in June.
The US House Foreign Affairs Committee stated on July 23, “Vladimir Putin’s Russia has actively undermined U.S. national security for years. Putin has a long record of aggressive acts that threaten global stability. Russia’s disgraceful bombing campaign shored up the Assad regime, lengthening a civil war that has killed or displaced millions of people. It also continues to prevent peace by helping rebels in eastern Ukraine. While doing all of this, Putin has used disinformation and cyberattacks as weapons against democratic states, seeking to undermine elections – including here in the United States – and splinter the NATO alliance. Putin and his cronies must face serious consequences for these dangerous and threatening acts.”
3. US Envoy: Russia to blame for war in Ukraine
US special envoy Volker speaks with media, Photo – US Embassy to Ukraine


Reuters reported on July 23, “Russian aggression is to blame for violence in eastern Ukraine, where people are dying in what should be seen as a ‘hot war’ rather than a ‘frozen conflict’, the U.S. special envoy to the Ukraine peace talks said on a visit to Ukraine on Sunday.
Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, was appointed to his current role on July 7 to help resolve the conflict […]
On a visit to the Ukrainian-held town of Kramatorsk, 690 km (430 miles) southeast of Kyiv, Volker said he would prepare a set of recommendations on how Washington can better engage with the peace process.
‘This is not a frozen conflict, this is a hot war, and it’s an immediate crisis that we all need to address as quickly as possible,’ he said. […]
Volker replied in the affirmative when asked whether he saw the conflict as being as the result of Russian aggression rather than internal Ukrainian factors.
‘We’ve seen what’s happened, we understand the way this conflict has begun, we understand the way it is being managed today, and that’s why it’s important that the United States become more engaged.'”
4. Ukraine’s President holds “Normandy format’ phone call
Ukraine’s President spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone today.
President Poroshenko’s press service reported, “The President called the last days of July one of the bloodiest in 2017 and urged Russia to immediately cease aggressive actions and supply of weapons to the occupied territories.
The parties noted the importance of full ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weaponry and troops, as well as 24/7 monitoring by the OSCE SMM. Petro Poroshenko emphasized the importance of deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas.
The Head of State once again noted that the liberation of hostages is blocked by the Russian party: Ukraine insists on the immediate liberation of all hostages, including those illegally kept in Russia, particularly Oleg Sentsov and Roman Sushchenko.
The President of France and the Chancellor of Germany emphasized the inadmissibility of any statements that undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity, particularly as regards the establishment of the so-called ‘Malorossiya.’
In the course of the two-hour conversation, the parties agreed to coordinate the final steps as regards security and continue working over the roadmap of the Minsk agreements’ implementation. To that end, foreign policy advisors of the Heads of State of the Normandy format will meet in the second part of August.”

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