Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 6, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 6, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian army training exercises. 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 or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 24 times on the Donetsk, Mariupol and Luhansk sectors of the front, including 6 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament adopts legislation on Russian aggression
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “A Ukrainian parliamentary debate on legislation addressing the conflict in the country’s east was interrupted by scuffles and a smoke grenade that was tossed into the auditorium.
           Despite the disruption, lawmakers gave preliminary approval on October 6 to two bills submitted by President Petro Poroshenko. […]
           One of the bills sets out steps to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over separatist-held parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which border Russia, and the other is a bid to create ‘the conditions necessary for peaceful regulation’ of the conflict.
           Before votes in which the Verkhovna Rada approved the bills in the first of three required readings, opposition lawmakers scuffled with members of Poroshenko’s party near the podium. […]
           The first bill would define territory controlled by the separatists as temporarily occupied, define Moscow’s actions in those areas as Russian aggression against Ukraine, and give the president the right to use the armed forces to restore control.
           It would also give UN Security Council resolutions precedence over the February 2015 deal on a cease-fire and steps toward peace known as the Minsk agreement.”
           The second bill extends the legal force of the law on peculiarities of local self-government in certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, passed following the Minsk agreements.
3. Ukraine’s President addresses nation following vote in Parliament
To view President Poroshenko's address, please click on image above
To view President Poroshenko’s address, please click on image above
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko addressed the nation following the vote in Parliament today. Poroshenko stated, “The events in the Verkhovna Rada today and yesterday just boggle the mind. Former partners in the democratic coalition, people who call themselves patriots and even Ukrainian nationalists disrupt voting… And for what? For the legal recognition of Russia as aggressor and its troops as occupants! […]
           The issue of sovereignty, territorial integrity and defense capabilities of Ukraine should unite all political forces, bring the narrow-party interests to the background.
In the end, the majority turned out to be responsible deputies. And they provided two very important votings that defend the national interests of Ukraine and the lives of citizens.
           The law on de-occupation, the law on the return of Ukrainian sovereignty to Donbas brings the legal field in line with the real state of affairs. The territories are legally proclaimed temporarily occupied by the Russian occupation troops. Ukraine qualifies Russia as country-aggressor. And we secure the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
           This further strengthens the legal framework for the use of the Armed Forces, expands their capabilities in the region. This strengthens the arguments in favor of providing Ukraine with defensive weapons. While regulating in detail the military aspect of our struggle, the law proclaims a peaceful, political and diplomatic way the key one. […]
           Finally, a few words about the bill, which extended the earlier law on the peculiarities of local self-government in certain areas for one year. What horrors didn’t we hear three years ago, when it was adopted for the first time? By the way, the politicians who opposed yesterday and today had voted for it then.
           And not a single negative forecast came true in these three years! Now and then, the ability to enforce the law is strictly conditioned by a number of demands on Russia as an aggressor and invader and on its puppet regimes. First of all – the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops, illegal armed groups, military equipment from the territory of Ukraine, and the regulation on the conformity of political processes to the OSCE standards.
           At the same time, our reputation as a country that has a responsible attitude to the Minsk agreements makes it possible to continue sanctions against Russia, the country-violator of the agreements, whensoever. And these sanctions largely restrain the aggressor. […]
           The day before yesterday I had a long conversation with Iryna Gerashchenko, my special representative in the Minsk group, just after her return from the capital of Belarus. The Russians did not conceal their hopes for the failure of the voting in the Verkhovna Rada. They particularly relied on the rejection of the bill on the continuation of the peculiarities of local self-government.
           Why? Because it would let them off the leash on the touch line and help get rid of the burden of sanctions. However, a responsible majority vote will help our army continue to hold the line with a minimum of casualties, and our diplomats – intensify international pressure on Russia. I am grateful to the people’s deputies for the demonstrated responsibility.”
4. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s violations of international law in Ukraine
At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on October 5, US acting deputy chief of mission Michele Siders stated, “True progress on implementation of the Minsk agreements will start only when Russia’s proxies cease attacks against Ukrainian forces. […] Let us not forget who is responsible for this conflict. We call once again on Russia to disengage the forces it leads, arms, trains, and fights alongside from the line of contact and withdraw proscribed weapons in accordance with the Minsk agreements. […]
           We have entered the fourth year of this conflict, but the path forward is clear. The Minsk agreements provide the means to a peaceful end of the conflict in the Donbas. We call upon Russia, and the forces it backs, to make good on its commitments and start creating the conditions necessary for full implementation of those agreements.
           Regrettably, conditions in Crimea continue to deteriorate. We condemn the September 27 sentencing of Crimean Tatar leader, Ilmi Umerov, who was found guilty of “separatism” by a court in Russia-occupied Crimea after peacefully opposing Russia’s purported annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Umerov, who has Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and heart problems, received a two-year prison sentence after a sham process reminiscent of Soviet show-trials. This sentencing is yet another part of Russia’s campaign to intimidate and silence voices who wish to speak out against Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of the peninsula. […]
           The United States remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We do not, nor will we ever, accept Russian efforts to change the borders or territory of Ukraine by force or coercion. We join our partners in Europe and elsewhere in affirming that our sanctions against Russia for its conduct in eastern Ukraine will remain in place until it fully implements its commitments in the Minsk agreements. Our separate, Crimea-related sanctions will remain until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

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