Ukraine: Daily Briefing – August 21, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
August 21, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Armored personnel carrier training, Yavoriv, 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, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka with mortars and Grad rockets. At Opytne and Nevelsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. At Pisky, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars, tanks and artillery. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka, Chermalyk and Pavlopil with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on several Ukrainian positions along the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne. At Krymske and Novotoshkivsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions.
2. US Secretary of Defense travels to Ukraine for Independence Day
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit Ukraine on August 24, the Department of Defense reported. During a media availability on August 20, Mattis stated, “In Ukraine, I’m going there to commemorate the Ukraine’s Independence Day, and just to make certain that, you know, that they know we’re aware of the values and what they’re trying to put together coming out of the history they’ve had in the past.
         It’s not easy making a democracy.  It’s not easy making a sovereign state, especially right now with the way Russia has been violating territorial integrity.  So I’m going to go to the parade there on their Independence Day, and I’m scheduled to meet with President Poroshenko and the minister of defense, that’s Poltorak, and underscore our commitment to a strategic partnership and our support for their sovereignty and territorial integrity and highlight the U.S. train, equip and advise efforts to build the capacity of their forces.”
3. US Special Representative Volker to travel to Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine
The US State Department reported on August 18, “United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker will travel to Minsk, Belarus, where he will meet with a representative of the Russian government to discuss Russian-Ukrainian relations on August 21.
         He will then travel to Vilnius, Lithuania, to meet with senior government officials to discuss the way forward in Ukraine.
         On August 23, he will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he will join Secretary of Defense James Mattis in meetings with senior Ukrainian government officials to discuss next steps in diplomatic negotiations to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
4. Russia again flouts European Court to hide Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Ruslan Zeytullaev has, fortunately, ended the hunger strike declared in protest at his increased sentence and the persecution of the Crimean Tatar people, but for a worrying reason.  The 31-year-old Crimean Tatar, whose release has been demanded by European bodies as well as human rights NGOs is being sent to the Russian republic of Bashkiria (Bashkortostan) thousands of kilometres from his wife, three small children and elderly mother.  If the conditions in the remand prison in Rostov are bad, those during the grueling journey are even worse, and it would be an act of suicide to continue the hunger strike.
          The plan to imprison him so far from Crimea is in direct breach of a European Court of Human Rights judgement which is binding upon all member states, including Russia.  In the Case of Polyakova and others vs. Russia, the Court in Strasbourg considered four cases where prisoners had been held between 2 and 8 thousand kilometres from their homes, and stated unequivocally that imprisoning people thousands of kilometres away from their families is a violation of their right to family ties.
         The four prisoners which that judgement concerned were Russian.  In Zeytullaev’s case, as well as those of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and many others, Russia is also in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law in general.  It has no right to try people according to Russian legislation in illegally-occupied Crimea and it has sentenced Zeytullaev to 15 years’ imprisonment for unproven involvement in a peaceful organization which is legal in Ukraine. […]
         Zeytullaev and three other Crimean Tatars were the first Ukrainian Muslims to be arrested after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, but there are now 15 other men facing similar charges and held in indefinite detention. […]
           Zeytullaev’s case will now, like the other men’s, be the subject of applications to the European Court of Human Rights.” The full report from KHPG is available at

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