Ukraine: Daily Briefing – November 27, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
November 27, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko honours the victims of the Holodomor Famine-Genocide, 1932-33. November 25, Holodomor Memorial Day.
Photo – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration
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 12 times in total on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front.
2. Human Rights Group: Russia jails four respected Crimean Tatars and spreads lies about ‘machine guns & drugs’ to discredit the Mejlis
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Any doubt that the FSB arrests in Russian-occupied Crimea on November 23 which caused the death of Vedzhie Kashka, 83-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, were a special operation aimed at discrediting Crimean Tatars and the Mejlis have been dispelled.
           Russian and Kremlin-loyal Crimean media have come out with lies about supposed ‘ammunition, drugs and material of an extremist nature’ found during the searches ‘of Mejlis’ members.  It is even claimed that machine guns were found, citing ‘a source in the enforcement agencies.’  The level is primitive, the inaccuracy astounding, yet almost openly so, suggesting that the main objective is to pour out as many headlines as possible to try to link the Mejlis with violence and crime. […]
           Having caused her death, the FSB continued this ‘special operation’, with several other Crimean Tatars also seized.  Not one of the men arrested is a member of the Mejlis, or representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar People, which Russia banned in April 2016, but such details are irrelevant to the FSB.  They can rely on the Russian media, after all, to spread toxic lies.
           Four men have now been remanded in custody for two months: Bekir Degermendzhy who suffers badly from asthma; Kazim Ametov; Asan Chapukh and Ruslan Trubach.  A fifth man detained on Thursday, Kurtseit Abdullaev, was later released.  The ‘judges’ were Viktor Mozhelyansky, notorious for his involvement in politically-motivated prosecutions and Yanina Okhota. There were no possible grounds for the detention, especially given that at least two of the men are in their sixties.
           Russia’s extraordinary ban of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the self-governing body of the main indigenous people of Crimea was condemned by the international community, and has been referred to as an attack on the entire Crimean Tatar people.  If the calls from the UN, EU, PACE and OSCE to lift the ban are not binding, the same is not true of the International Court of Justice in the Hague which Russia has committed itself to comply with.  The Court back on April 19 ordered Russia to reinstate the Mejlis and to stop other forms of discrimination against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians.
           While avoiding arrests directly linked with involvement in the Mejlis, Russia has not complied with the ICJ ruling, and has now set to trying to undermine the Mejlis and slandering the Crimean Tatar people, using a cynically concocted criminal prosecution and media willing to spread any toxic lies.”
3. US Special Representative Kurt Volker interview with Global Politico
US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker was interviewed on the Global Politico podcast. Asked about the possible provision by the US of defensive weapons to Ukraine, Volker stated, “Ukraine’s a country that is fighting on its own territory to defend its country against violence, basically, and people are dying every day. So, this is a case of self-defense. It’s something that’s enshrined in the U.N. Charter. It’s something that every nation would do, that they would want to defend their territory, defend their population against aggression.
           And, the U.S. has defense relationships and arms sales relationships with dozens and dozens and dozens of countries around the world. And there isn’t anything compelling that I can see as to why Ukraine should be a special case, why we wouldn’t do that, especially when they’re actively trying to defend their territory. And this is all about defense.” The audio of the full interview as well as a transcript are available at The Global Politico – Kurt Volker: The Full Transcript
4. Atlantic Council: Will President Trump Finally Arm Ukraine?
Writing at the Atlantic Council, Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, stated, “There’s a real possibility that the United States will finally send lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine. The country has been fighting a defensive war in its east for nearly four years, after Russia seized Crimea and Russian-backed separatists invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014. Many experts have argued that better weapons would change the tactical imbalance between Kyiv and Moscow. […]
           Now the National Security Council has approved a $47 million grant package that would send anti-tank Javelin systems, counter-battery radar, and counter-mortar weapons to Ukraine and forwarded its opinion to President Donald Trump for consideration. This is the latest step in a process that reflects the approval of the State Department, Pentagon, and Congress. Most news reports left out an important fact: this decision almost certainly took the views of US Ambassador Kurt Volker into consideration based on his recent negotiations with Russia; Volker previously revealed that the United States was considering sending such weapons to Kyiv.
          Although Trump reportedly desires that Ukraine pay at least in part for these weapons, Congress has authorized him to transfer these designated defensive weapons to Ukraine if he so chooses. This means that the full institutional weight of the US government, with the exception of the president, recommends the transfer of these weapons to Kyiv. […]
          Virtually every US government agency has rebuffed the myth of escalation dominance. Moscow might be inclined to escalate in return for arms transfers to Ukraine, but the costs would be staggering for Russia. Putin knows that escalation means many more Russian casualties that could not be concealed from the Russian public and would invariably lead to even more crippling sanctions. Russian escalation in Ukraine would likely intensify and accelerate NATO’s own ongoing rearmament and forward deployments in the Baltic and Black Sea areas and accelerate arms transfers to Ukraine. […]

Ukraine is fighting our fight against a common aggressor and showing our understanding of this situation by finally giving it the weapons to defend itself makes eminent sense.”

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