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

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
August 25, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Canadian soldiers march in Ukraine’s Independence Day Parade. Kyiv, August 24
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 three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka. Near Svitlodarsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Chermalyk with mortars. Near Taramchuk and Vodyane, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne with mortars. At Zhovte and Stanytsia Luhanska, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions.
2. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko addresses the nation on Ukraine’s Independence Day
On August 24, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko addressed the nation on the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence. To view President Poroshenko’s address, please click on the image below.
3. US Defense Secretary: US “actively reviewing” providing Ukraine lethal defensive weapons
Speaking at a press conference with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv on August 24, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated, “Mr. President, it’s an honor to stand alongside you on your independence day.  Have no doubt the United States also stands with Ukraine in all things.  We support you in the face of threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to international law and the international order writ large.
         We do not, and we will not, accept Russia’s seizure of the Crimea.  And despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe. […]
          In 1994, Russia signed the Budapest memorandum, as the president said, and alongside the United States, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.  And that provided Ukraine with assurances that all parties — all parties would respect its independence, its sovereignty and its existing borders. […]
          Unfortunately, Russia is not adhering to the letter, much less the spirit, of these international commitments.  The U.S. and our allies will continue to press Russia to honor its Minsk commitments, and our sanctions will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered them.  […]
           Mr. President, we continue to support Ukraine and remain committed to building the capacity of your armed forces to defend their country and to defend — protecting the Ukrainian people.   […]
           I look forward to continuing to build on that partnership, which we strengthened in June, when President Trump hosted you, Mr. President, at the White House, and we reinforced today during our meetings, here in the beautiful, historic city. […]
           Regarding the relationship that we have — the strategic relationship, I believe that no relationship stays the same.  It either gets weaker or stronger.  And by being here, I’m making a statement that we intend to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.  I need to come here and to better understand the situation your soldiers face on the front lines.
          This permits me, better informed, to go back and advocate for what I believe you need, as brought to me by your minister of defense and, certainly, your president.  For example, we’ve just approved — just very recently, last couple of weeks, another $175 million worth of equipment, including some specialized equipment that can be used to help defend the country, bringing to a total of nearly $750 million in the last several years.
           So we are in this very, very much in support of you.  I would also point out that, on the defensive lethal weapons, we are — we are actively reviewing it.  I will go back, now, having seen the current situation, and be able to inform the secretary of state and the president in very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead.  […]
          Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you’re an aggressor, and clearly, Ukraine is not an aggressor, since it’s their own territory where the fighting is happening.”

The full transcript of the press conference is available here

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