Ukraine: Daily Briefing – December 15, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 15, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
US Army soldiers observe a Ukrainian army live-fire training exercise, Yavoriv. Photo – US Army Europe
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 four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk, and Mariupol sectors of the front 24 times in total.
2. Interview with Commanding Officer of Operation UNIFIER
Lieutenant Colonel Kristopher Reeves, Commanding Officer, Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, was interviewed by Business Ukraine Magazine.
          Lt. Col Reeves stated, “Ukraine is a battle laboratory. If you want to understand hybrid warfare, you need to study Ukraine. You can see the whole spectrum of hybrid warfare in action here. […] I’ve served in a lot of countries and have never seen such hunger for change and reform. Ukraine often comes in for criticism for not reforming fast enough, but the progress that has taken place in the military over the past two years is huge. Their attitude is nothing short of impressive and it helps to make this a very rewarding deployment.”
The full interview is available here – Ukraine: Hybrid War Laboratory
 3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “European Union leaders have agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months over Moscow’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.
          The decision, announced on December 14 at an EU summit, will extend current restrictions against Moscow until July 2018.
          The EU measures, which mainly target the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 and have been extended every six months since then. […]
          Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed the EU decision to extend the sanctions.
         ‘[It is] an important political decision by the leaders of the European Union to continue economic sanctions against Russia for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and unwillingness to stop hybrid aggression against our country,’ Poroshenko wrote.
4. Secretary of Ukraine’s NSDC meets with NATO Secretary General
NSDC Secretary Turchynov meets with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. Photo – NATO
Oleskandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) met with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on December 14. The RNBO reported, “During the talks, the parties discussed the issue of countering Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine and the hybrid threats faced by our country.
           According to Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine, in comparison with 2014, today Ukraine has a qualitatively new army capable of defending the country. ‘Based on the challenges facing the state today, a significant part of the State budget funds are directed at the defense and security of Ukraine. Total spending on security and defense in 2017 has exceeded 5% of GDP,’ – he said adding that the situation is similar with the budget for 2018.
          In addition, the interlocutors considered the issues of reforming the security and defense sector of Ukraine, the transition to NATO standards and the difficulties on this path.
         Mr. Turchynov thanked Mr. Stoltenberg for the recent statement at the International Security Forum on November 17 in Halifax on that the NATO door is open to Ukraine and Georgia, noticing that Ukraine, to move towards the Alliance, ‘is now focused on reforms, on modernizing defense institutions, fighting corruption, and strengthening democratic institutions.’
        Mr. Turchynov stressed that a new significant stage of interaction between Ukraine and NATO can become our country’s joining the Enhanced Opportunities Program. ‘According to the military experts from partner countries, – he added, – Ukraine meets all the criteria the prospective Program participant should meet.'”

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