Ukraine: Daily Briefing – July 26, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time

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Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 26, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian soldiers in battalion field training exercise, Yavoriv. 
Photo – US 45th Infantry Brigade
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 Pisky with mortars. At Luhanske village and Kamyanka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Krasnohorivka with mortars and tanks. At Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces attacked a Ukrainian position near Katerynivka. Ukrainian forces repelled the attack. At Popasne, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Popasne with mortars. At Stanytsia Luhanska, Krymske and Novotoshkivske, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions.
2. US House overwhelmingly passes new Russia sanctions bill
The New York Times reported, “The House on Tuesday approved a sweeping package of sanctions against Russia, clearing a key hurdle in Congress’s effort – long opposed by the Trump administration – to punish Moscow for its aggression toward its neighbors and its interference in last year’s American presidential election.
The 419-3 vote brings President Trump one step closer to a choice he has strained to avoid: whether to sign legislation embraced by Republicans in both the House and the Senate that undercuts his attempts to ratchet down tensions with Moscow, or to veto the bill even as Russia-related scandal consumes his administration.
The measure would sharply limit the president’s ability to lift or suspend sanctions. It also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea, two countries the administration has been more eager to hold to account.
The legislation must be taken up by the Senate before being sent to the president’s desk. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has not said whether that might happen before the August recess.”
The full text of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (HR 3364) passed by the House yesterday is available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3364/text
3. US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman’s statement ahead of vote on Russia sanctions bill
Speaking on the floor of the House ahead of the vote on the House sanctions bill on July 25, Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated, “This bill represents broad bipartisan, House-Senate agreement that the United States must enforce tougher sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.  […]
These three regimes, in different parts of the world, are threatening vital U.S. interests and destabilizing their neighbors. It is well past time that we forcefully respond.
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has invaded its neighbor Ukraine, seizing its territory and destabilizing its government. It poses a threat to our NATO allies in Europe, as Moscow works to undermine democratic values with determination and sophistication. As U.S. intelligence agencies have made clear, this former KGB agent attempted to interfere with our own election.  Left unchecked, Russia is sure to continue its aggression.
Putin’s forces continue to prop up the murderous Assad regime in Syria, prolonging a deadly conflict that has driven millions from their homes while enabling the use of chemical weapons and other systematic human rights abuses against the Syrian people.
The Russia sanctions in this bill are substantially similar to those that overwhelmingly passed the other body. They give the administration important economic and diplomatic leverage by targeting the things that matter to Vladimir Putin and his allies the most: their corrupt efforts to profit from the country’s oil wealth and their ability to sell weapons overseas.
To focus their impact, we clarified several provisions that could have inadvertently handed Russian companies control of global energy projects and impacted pipelines that our European allies rely on in an effort to end their dependence on Russian gas. This strengthens the bill.
To ensure these economic sanctions remain in place as long as Russian aggression continues, this bill empowers Congress to review and disapprove any sanctions relief.  This strong oversight is necessary and appropriate. After all, it is Congress that the Constitution empowers to regulate commerce with foreign nations.”

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