Ukraine: Daily Briefing – November 24, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Ukraine: Daily Briefing
November 24, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
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, five Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Four of the Ukrainian soldiers were killed near Krymske, on the Luhansk sector of the front, during an eight-hour battle with Russian-terrorist forces. 8 Russian-terrorist militants were killed and 9 were wounded in the battle. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 7 times in total on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors of the front.
2. EU’s Tusk: There should be doubt that our common future lies in the EU’s readiness to open up EU policies for our neighbours
 
European Council President Donald Tusk speaks at Eastern Partnership Summit. To view video, please click on image above
European Council President Donald Tusk speaks at Eastern Partnership Summit. To view video, please click on image above
Speaking at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit, European Council President Donald Tusk stated, “It is only eight years ago that we launched the Eastern Partnership at a summit in Prague. I remember it well, because as the then Prime Minister of Poland I was one of the initiators. The reason for launching it was simple: we wanted to bring our European neighbours from the East closer to the EU. […]
           But while there are indeed good prospects for the future, frozen and armed conflicts continue to prevent development and create hardships in Eastern Partnership countries. The death of five Ukrainian servicemen yesterday is just the latest proof of the tragic consequences of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The EU condemns Russia’s aggression and will never recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea.
           There should be no doubt that our common future lies in the EU’s readiness to open up EU policies for our partners. And I can reconfirm that we are ready to do that. It is also the sovereign right of each of our European neighbours from the East to choose the level of ambition, and the goals they aspire to, in their relations with the EU. And for me the key sentence of the Association Agreements still is the one which says that ‘the European Union acknowledges the European aspirations’ of its associated countries, that is Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and ‘welcomes their European choice.’ And all choices remain open. […]
           Today we have adopted a joint declaration, which is, as always, a compromise. I would prefer that the wording of the declaration were more ambitious. But we all decided that the demonstration of our unity is the most important objective.”
The Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit is available here
3. Ukraine’s President: If Europe wants to endure, it needs to toughen up
Ukraine’s President at Eastern Partnership Summit. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration


Speaking at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “Europe has a serious adversary – Russia – with a deeply anti-European agenda. In order to undermine Europe, Russia doesn’t need to attack it militarily – undermining Europe’s unity and self-esteem is enough. If Europe wants to endure, it needs to toughen up politically, rhetorically, ideologically. […]
          No longer, should we hide behind vague technocratic wordings – we should be clear-worded like never before. No longer, should we choose between ideals and self-interests – we should be united by our just cause in our best interests. No longer, should we limit potential of our partnership – we should unleash it and be strategic and forward-looking. The opposite would whet Russia’s appetite for more. […]
          The EU should defend itself from those who defy it – not from those who look at it with hope and admiration. […]My country is looking (first and foremost) at so-called ‘Four Unions’ – Energy Union; Digital Single Market; Customs Union and association with the Schengen area.
           We want more Europe in Ukraine. These four paths seem to be the right way for now. Yet we want to look beyond ‘now.’
           Not because we want favors in advance, but because Ukrainians deserve a goal. Everyone deserves a goal – but especially those who pay a price for it. And no one pays a higher price than Ukraine. So, let’s look to future with courage, not fear.”
4. US Mission to OSCE: It is clear that the Russian Federation has manufactured and sustained this conflict from the start
The US Mission to the OSCE stated on November 23, “Russia’s willingness to exploit the vulnerabilities of critical civilian infrastructure by moving its forces closer to the Donetsk Water Filtration Station, and staging heavy caliber guns in densely populated areas, leaves the civilian population exposed to unconscionable danger. […]
           We all know the truth: this is Russia’s conflict, but it is unwilling to make even simple moves to reduce tensions. Russia refuses to order the forces it arms, trains, leads and fights alongside to agree to the establishment of safety zones around critical infrastructure, or the withdrawal of forces in areas with dense civilian populations.
          For its part, as recently as last month, Kyiv has followed through on key political measures called for in the Minsk agreements, such as the extension of the law of special status. The calculated way Russia deploys its forces near infrastructure and along the contact line exacerbates the risk of environmental disaster and disruption of water supply to hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the contact line. Russia’s actions also heighten the danger of civilian casualties from shelling. […]
           Russia has detained dozens of Ukrainians on a variety of baseless pretexts. The United States is deeply concerned that a Moscow court may sentence journalist Roman Sushchenko to up to 20 years imprisonment on fabricated charges of espionage. We call on Russia to drop these charges. The United States is also following the cases of Mykola Karpiuk and Stanislav Klykh, who were convicted in May 2016 on bogus ‘terrorism’ charges. We call on Russia to return both men to Ukraine.
           The politically motivated targeting of Crimean Tatars, and others opposed to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, continues unabated. […]
           Despite its unsuccessful attempts to convince us of the contrary, and to distract us from the realities of the situation, it is clear that the Russian Federation has manufactured and sustained this conflict from the start. The brazen violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, along with the seizure and occupation of Crimea, remains Europe’s twenty-first century example of the dangers of aggression.”

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