Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 16, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 16, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian army artillery units training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
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. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 16 times in total on the Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including three times with heavy weapons.
2. Atlantic Council on Ukraine’s proposed healthcare system reforms
Writing for the Atlantic Council, Senior Fellow Diane Francis stated, “Ukraine’s halting but steady climb toward becoming a just and smart European nation will take a giant leap forward if major health care reforms are adopted this week.
          Health care is always a contentious issue in any country and one need only look at the United States as an example. But Ukraine’s corrupt, Soviet system is demonstrably inadequate; witness the fact that Ukrainian lifespans are eleven years shorter than they are in the rest of Europe.
          This Thursday, a transformative package of reforms will be voted on in the Verkhovna Rada. These have been months in the making and already demonstrated benefits.
          Acting Health Minister Dr. Ulana Suprun is confident that Ukraine’s lawmakers will adopt reforms now.
          ‘The president and prime minister [Groysman] are both 100 percent behind them,’ she said in an interview. ‘The big plus now is that the president is engaging fully, and the prime minister is even going on television and meeting with legislators.’ […]
           Some reforms have been implemented, demonstrating the benefits. […]In 2015, Ukraine handed over the procurement of drugs and equipment to the United Nations, UNICEF, and the UK nonprofit Crown Agents. This has saved tens of millions of dollars in costs each year because these nonprofit intermediaries buy directly from manufacturers. […]
           Suprun proposes a fraud-proof, world class ‘e-health’ system. If reforms are approved, patients will register with a doctor of their choice then doctors will sign contracts with the health ministry to get payments directly based on the patients registered. Doctors and hospitals will also be paid directly by the health ministry for procedures, stays, and recognized services. […]
          The reforms also will benefit doctors. ‘Doctors will be paid enough to support their families instead of getting by on whatever the bureaucracies and hospitals gave them,’ she said. Physicians currently make up to 5,000 hryvnia per month, but she projects they will make a minimum of 15,000 hryvnia per month, and up to 60,000 hryvnia a month, under the new system. […]
          Savings will be in the billions and care improved, once reforms are fully implemented. Eliminating non-medical intermediaries and harnessing technology will release 30 percent of funding to go directly to patient care.”
3. Operation UNIFIER: next training phase at the Military Police Training Centre
Training of Military Law and Order Service Sergeants and Junior Officers during Op UNIFIER. Photo – Joint Task Force – Ukraine
An update on Operation UNIFIER, published by Canada’s Department of National Defence, stated, “Spirits are high at the Military Police 25 Training Centre as students move on to the next phase of training, having completed the first of nine modules of the new Transition course.
           This course was designed to provide Military Law and Order Service (MLOS) sergeants and junior officers with the tools and skills they need to succeed on the job. As such, it is a key part of multinational efforts to strengthen and rebuild the Ukrainian Armed Forces military police force.
          From handcuffing procedures, patrolling and investigative skills to the appropriate application of force, candidates have been exposed to effective techniques applicable in various scenarios they are likely to encounter.
          In the classroom and out, students are exposed to new learning techniques, and for many it is the first time. ‘Open, participative and transactional, this modern approach to professional development stands in stark contrast to past methods,’ explained  Captain Nicole McConnell, Standards and Development Officer deployed on Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s training mission in Ukraine.
           Over the course of the next nine weeks, members will train in combat first aid, counter-improvised explosive device, escorting, custody and detention, and leadership and ethics. Truly a joint effort, the transition course was developed with the support of Canada, Lithuania, United Kingdom, the NATO Centre of Excellence in Poland, and Danish forces. It was designed to address the pressing need for trained MLOS personnel.”
4. Former NATO chief – Europe, Canada and US have opportunity to foster political solution to Russia’s war against Ukraine
In an op-ed in the Globe and Mail, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote, “I just returned from the contact line in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, which separates free Ukraine from the Russian-occupied parts of the Donbas region.
           My conclusion is that Europe, Canada and the United States now have the opportunity to foster a political solution to this war: first, by providing defensive equipment to the Ukrainian soldiers; and second, by deploying a robust United Nations peacekeeping mission to the Donbas region. The question is whether the transatlantic allies have the tenacity to solve this conflict bleeding in the Western world’s heart, or whether their timidity will let the opportunity sail us by. […]
           Providing defensive systems in no way diverges from efforts for a peacekeeping mission. The West has already raised the costs to Mr. Putin for his aggression – through sanctions and training of Ukrainian troops. Mr. Putin’s overture to the UN shows it is having some effect on his thinking, but his game-playing shows we have not yet reached the tipping point in Moscow’s calculus. Further measures will continue to raise the costs and prompt further reconsideration. […]
           Mr. Trump’s administration has accepted that the road to a better relationship with Russia passes through Ukraine. Now it is time for Europeans to get on board. Canada can play a pivotal role as the transatlantic bridge. Nobody is naive about Mr. Putin’s intentions, but a commitment of effort now could uncover a path to end Europe’s deadliest conflict.” The full article is available here

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