Ukraine: Daily Briefing – October 30, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
October 30, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian army 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 15 times on the Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors of the front.
2. Ukraine’s President meets with US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko met with US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker on October 27. The Presidential Administration stated, “The parties coordinated further steps to strengthen the international presence in Donbas, both in the framework of the efforts of the Normandy format and on the international platforms, primarily the UN Security Council.
           The interlocutors discussed the security situation in the region and noted the fundamental importance of ensuring proper implementation of the Minsk agreements, primarily in terms of consolidation of permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian occupying forces and equipment from Ukraine.
          The parties paid considerable attention to the issue of the release of hostages illegally detained in the occupied territory and in Russian prisons. The Special Representative of the President of the United States received the relevant appeal from the families of the hostages. The President is hopeful for his effective support, first of all in contacts with the Russian side, aimed to ensure their early release and return home.
          Kurt Volker highly appreciated the approval of the law of Ukraine on creating the necessary conditions for a peaceful settlement of the situation in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. It was noted that the given decision was a clear signal to confirm the true commitment of the Ukrainian side to a peaceful settlement.
          During the meeting, the schedule of the nearest contacts and negotiations in the Normandy format and in the framework of the activities of the Special Representative of U.S. President for Ukraine Negotiations was discussed.”
3. 4th Canadian Division troops begin new training cycle as part of Operation UNIFIER
Members of Join Task Force-Ukraine at training alongside Ukrainian Armed Forces instructors, Operation UNIFIER. Photo – Joint Task Force-Ukraine

An update on Operation UNIFIER published by Canada’s Department of National Defence stated, “With the arrival of the fifth rotation of Operation UNIFIER troops in September, a Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) Battalion has deployed to the International Peace Support Centre (IPSC) ready to receive training from a US and Canadian training battalion.
           Members from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, based in Petawawa, are responsible to teach alongside UAF instructors as they run a Rotational Training Unit (RTU) through a 55-day training cycle. The aim is to improve training delivery among the UAF instructor cadre, build relationships among international partners, and further UAF and NATO compatibility.
           The Canadian Staff are prepared to provide the expertise aimed at advancing UAF training delivery methods. Through and with Ukrainian instructors, Canadians will train UAF at the individual and collective levels. The training begins with first aid, military planning, small arms handling and firing, armour vehicle training, and subsequently collective training. It culminates with a battalion-level field exercise. Canadians are willing to learn as well, and look forward to hearing about the tactics that UAF are employing in operations.
           These efforts also include working with UAF to determine what institutional changes are needed to move closer to NATO compatibility. ‘This is a challenging task, as language barriers, tactical practices and equipment differences all combine to force Canadian instructors and staff to think of creative ways to convey ideas and concepts,’ explained Maj Pat Newman, Officer in Charge of Line of Effort 1.          ‘Additionally, building positive relationships is a facet to Canadian success. The relationships that are forged with the incoming unit will be key in overcoming the challenges in the coming months.’
          The goal of this training mission remains to enable the UAF to be able to instruct, deliver and evaluate all of its units that come to the IPSC for training. This change has begun to be implemented and will continue throughout until mission success.”
4. Washington Post: Trump administration stalled on whether to arm Ukraine 
In the Washington Post on October 29, Josh Rogin stated, “After months of internal debate, the Trump administration is stalled on the question of whether to provide Ukraine with the defensive weapons  it has long asked for. The de facto result has been to continue the Obama administration’s policy of denying Kyiv what it needs to resist ongoing Russian aggression – and sharpen doubts about President Trump’s willingness to stand up to Vladi­mir Putin.
           National Security Council officials insist the administration is slowly but surely working through whether to provide Ukrainian security forces with the capability to respond to Russia’s infiltration of tanks, artillery and other equipment into occupied parts of eastern Ukraine. A meeting of the council’s principals committee, which includes Cabinet secretaries, was held on the issue several weeks ago. Now officials are formalizing a set of options to present to Trump, a senior security council official said. […]
           In 2015, the House voted 348 to 48 to pass a resolution urging Obama to provide Ukraine with defensive weapon systems. The measure was sponsored by Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking Democrat, who told me Trump needs to make a decision now.
          ‘I’ve supported providing Ukraine with defensive weapons for years,’ Engel said. ‘But we’ve failed to act, demoralizing the Ukrainians and signaling weakness to Putin. It’s time for the administration to quit dithering and show whose side we’re really on.’ […]
          Trump often says he would like to improve relations with Russia, but that can only be done from a position of strength. The United States failed to prevent Russia from meddling in Georgia, Moldova and Crimea. Trump must now decide if he will help Ukraine fend off Russian aggression or allow Putin to create yet another endless ‘frozen conflict’ while the United States stands by.”

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