Ukraine: Daily Briefing – November 7, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
November 7, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian armored units participate in 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 or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 13 times in total on the Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 5 times with heavy weapons.
2. NATO Secretary General: We support Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine
At a press conference ahead of a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers (November 8-9), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “Ukraine is a close partner. We support Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine. We help Ukraine with reforms. The focus of Ukraine now is on reform – how to modernize their armed forces, how to modernize their defense and security institutions. That’s exactly what we are helping them with, with our team, with our people in Kyiv and in Ukraine. So I think that we should now focus on reform, which also helps Ukraine on the path towards NATO.”
3. US Assistant Secretary of State to travel to Ukraine November 14-16
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell will travel to Ukraine November 14-16. The State Department reported, “Assistant Secretary Mitchell will meet with senior government officials in Kyiv, Ukraine, to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and encourage Ukraine to continue implementing critical reforms.
           He will also meet business leaders and civil society representatives to discuss Ukrainian efforts to transform the country into a prosperous, secure, and democratic European state.”
4. EU plans rule change to snag Russian pipeline
Reuters reported, “The European Commission is proposing to extend EU internal energy market rules to cover offshore gas pipelines, an EU document shows, its latest attempt to regulate Russia’s planned Nord Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany.
          The EU executive sees Russia’s plan to double the gas it could pump under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing traditional routes via Ukraine, as undercutting EU efforts to reduce dependence on Moscow and its support for Kyiv.
          The move dovetails with the Commission’s proposal for a mandate from member states to negotiate with Russia over objections to the pipeline. […]
          Under the proposed changes to the gas directive, seen by Reuters, all import pipelines would have to comply with EU rules requiring pipelines not be owned directly by gas suppliers, non-discriminatory tariffs, transparent operations and at least 10 percent of capacity be made available to third parties. […]
           The proposal will go to a vote on Wednesday at a meeting of EU Commissioners. If passed, it will go to member states and to European Parliament for approval.
           EU regulators say they want the rules in place by the end of 2018 – early enough to apply to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline due to be completed by the end of the following year.
          The Nord Stream 2 project, fully owned by Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom, is far from complying with the EU’s so-called third energy package rules. […] With the proposal, the Commission also challenges big member states, who have companies invested in the project.
           Five European energy firms are financing the 1,225 km (760 mile) pipeline to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year: German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie.
            If the new rules are passed and the EU does not get a mandate for talks with Russia, it would be up to the member states involved, in this case Germany, to hold talks with Russia to apply the new rules, an EU official said. The move extends legal uncertainty around the pipeline even as the project company plans to tap banks next year for financing of up to 70 percent of costs.”

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