Ukraine: Daily Briefing – September 27, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
September 27, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan meets with Canadian Forces personnel deployed to Ukraine on #OpUNIFIER

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 fired on Ukrainian positions on the Kamyanka-Avdiivka line. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Vodyane with grenade launchers. At Maryinka, Hnutove and Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Novozvanivka, and shelled Ukrainian positions near Krymske with grenade launchers.
2. Russia jails Crimean Tatar leader for speaking out against Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea
A “court” in Russian-occupied Crimea has sentenced Ilmi Umerov, deputy head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, to two years in a prison colony under “separatism” charges. Umerov has consistently opposed Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea.
            The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “On the eve of the verdict, Ilmi Umerov reiterated that he will challenge anything but total acquittal, all the way to the international courts.
           In his final address to the court, he said that it was Russia that was guilty before him.  ‘It is Russia who committed an act of aggression against Ukraine, having occupied and annexed my native land – Crimea.'”
           Umerov suffers from Parkinson’s disease and high blood pressure. His lawyer, Mark Feygin, stated on social media that his dispatch to a prison colony would mean his death.
           Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “The ‘judicial ruling’ against Ilmi Umerov is shameful. A courageous hero of his people, who faced Moscow’s worst methods of the Soviet repressive machine, including punitive psychiatry and settlement colonies. I call on partners to intensify the pressure on the Russian occupation authorities by combined efforts to stop the persecution of Ukrainian citizens in Ukrainian Crimea.”
3. Canada deeply concerned by human rights violations in Crimea
Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated on September 26, “We are unreserved in our condemnation of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and will continue to call for the protection of the rights of all those residing in the Crimean peninsula.
           On September 25, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its first report dedicated entirely to the situation of human rights in Crimea, despite not having been provided access to the peninsula by Russian authorities since March 2014. The report documents grave human rights violations committed by state agents of Russia in Crimea, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture.
           Canada is deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations committed against the residents of Crimea. We call on Russia to respect its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. We call for the release of all political prisoners that it holds, including Oleg Sentsov, Mykola Semena and all those others who have bravely spoken out against Russia’s actions in Crimea.
           We also reiterate our recent call on Russia to release Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz, who serves as a powerful reminder of the disproportionate targeting of the Crimean Tatar community by Russian authorities.”
4. UK: Sentencing of Umerov demonstrates Russia’s systematic persecution of those opposed to illegal annexation of Crimea
The UK Embassy in Kyiv stated, “The sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, to two years imprisonment for ‘separatism’ is deeply concerning. Once again, this demonstrates the Russian Federation’s systematic persecution of those who voice their opposition to the illegal annexation of Crimea. […]
          Ilmi Umerov’s view that the annexation of Crimea is illegal has been widely supported by the international community, including through the UN General Assembly and the EU’s package of sanctions on Russia. From the beginning, Umerov’s case, including his detention in a psychiatric unit in 2016, has fallen well short of international standards.
         We do not, and will not, recognise Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. Russia must return Crimea to Ukraine and immediately release all those who have been detained or imprisoned for opposing Russian control of the peninsula.”
5. US Military Chief says he recommends providing Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford. Photo – AFP

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “The top U.S. military commander has said he recommended that the United States provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine to help the country ‘protect [its] sovereignty’.  […]
         General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 26 that a proposal to provide lethal aid to Ukraine was awaiting a decision from the White House.
          ‘In my judgment, from the military perspective, Ukraine needed additional capabilities to protect their sovereignty,’ Dunford said when asked why he supported the provision of lethal weapons.
          In particular, Dunford said, ‘we felt [that the] ability to stop armored vehicles would be essential for them to protect themselves.’ […]
          Ukrainian authorities have urged the United States to send weapons and have asked in particular for portable Javelin antitank missiles, which soldiers in the conflict say are needed to fend off attacks from tanks and self-propelled artillery.
           Dunford said that the Pentagon, in reviewing Ukraine’s defenses against fighters equipped by Russia, detected a ‘gap’ between Ukraine’s defensive capabilities and its needs.
           ‘We just looked at it as a military gap that existed, and if that gap was filled, it would increase the probability the Ukrainians could defend themselves,’ he said.
          The U.S. special envoy for negotiations on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has also advocated providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.”
6. Invictus Games Update
Canadian, American and Ukrainian soldier-athletes on the podium at Invictus Games. Photo – Invictus Team Ukraine

On September 26, Team Ukraine won two gold and two bronze medals at the Invictus Games. Team Captain Oleskandr Pysarenko won a gold in indoor rowing IR6; Vasyl Pashkevych won gold in men’s mid-weight powerlifing; Vadym Svyrydenko won bronze in indoor rowing IR1 and Pavlo Mamontov won bronze in indoor rowing IR3.
           The Invictus Games are an international multi-sport competition in which wounded, ill and injured military personnel and veterans take part. The Games are being held in Toronto until September 30.
           For more information on how to attend the Games and cheer on Team Ukraine and Team Canada, please see here
           Follow Team Ukraine on twitter at @invictusgamesua and#InvictusGamesTeamUkraine
          Follow Team Canada on twitter at @IGTeamCanada and #InvictusGames
For information on tickets to this event, please see HERE

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