Ukraine: Daily Briefing – March 7, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 7, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Canadian Forces members and Odesa Military Academy staff assess aspiring platoon commanders as they rehearse amphibious and mechanized platoon attacks during Operation UNIFIER. 
Photo – Canadian Forces
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 3 time in total. On March 5, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Shchastya with mortars. No civilians were injured.
2. Atlantic Council Report: Democratic Defense Against Disinformation
The Atlantic Council published a report, “Democratic Defense Against Disinformation,” by Ambassador Daniel Fried, former US State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy and Dr. Alina Polyakova, Brookings Institution Fellow.
           The report states, “Following Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential campaign, ‘disinformation’ became a topic du jour. Revelations, detailed in multiple congressional testimonies, of how the Russian government and its proxies infiltrated social-media platforms to spread false narratives and manipulate public discourse jolted the American public and policy makers to attention. Amid important European elections in 2017, including those in France and Germany, European countries faced the same challenge of how to respond to and resist disinformation campaigns aimed against them.
          Since the US election, governments, multinational institutions, civil-society groups, and the private sector have launched various initiatives to expose, monitor, and get ahead of disinformation attacks. Through these efforts, the transatlantic community has gleaned three valuables lessons: The problem is broader than Russia or any single actor; a democratic response to malign influence must engage the whole of society; and we must work together to learn from each other’s mistakes and successes as we craft governmental and nongovernmental strategies and solutions.
          This paper is part of the broader transatlantic effort to identify democratic solutions for countering disinformation in the short term and building societal resistance to it in the long term. At this point, the transatlantic community has moved beyond acknowledging that it has a problem. Today, we need concrete solutions that can be readily implemented, tested, and refined. Rather than elaborating the details of the challenge, this paper presents a menu of options for key stakeholders: national governments, civil society, and tech companies.” The full report can be accessed here: Democratic Defense Against Disinformation
3. Human rights groups report on Russia’s war crimes in occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Young Crimean conscripts have approached human rights activists complaining of demands that they renounce their Ukrainian citizenship.  This alone is a war crime, but so too is Russia’s ongoing conscription of young men on territory it is illegally occupying. […]
           Any attempts to force people to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship constitutes a war crime, Oleksandr Sedov from the Crimean Human Rights Group stresses. ‘If the Russian authorities were hoping to avoid punishment by forcing conscripts to sign papers rejecting their Ukrainian passports, they have, instead, given new proof of a crime.’
          The 1907 Hague Convention, for example, states unequivocally that ‘it is forbidden to compel the inhabitants of occupied territory to swear allegiance to the hostile Power.’
          Russia’s attempts to deny that it is occupying Crimea have been rejected by the United Nations General Assembly, by all international bodies and democratic states.  Most importantly in the context of war crimes, the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court at the Hague concluded back in 2016 that Russia’s occupation constitutes an international armed conflict, placing it within the Court’s jurisdiction which Ukraine has recognized.
          Russia’s imposition of conscription in occupied Crimea is already in grave violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. According to Article 51 of this, ‘The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.’
         The Crimean Human Rights Group has long asked Crimeans to send them information about any young men forced to serve in the Russian Army, and Sedov now reiterates this request with respect to demands that they renounce their Ukrainian citizenship.  This cannot, unfortunately, help their immediate situation, but it is evidence of war crimes for which Russia must be held to answer.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
4. Members of European Parliament denounce instrumentalisation of gas supplies by Russia
European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, David McAllister, Chair of Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, Dariusz Rosati, and EP rapporteur on Ukraine, Michael Gahler, stated,
          “We are deeply concerned about the decision taken by Gazprom on 1st March 2018 to stop supplying pre-paid gas to Ukraine, as well as about the following announcement of Gazprom’s withdrawal from the contract with Naftogaz. This is yet another proof of the instrumentalisation of gas supplies as a political tool of pressure by the Russian Federation, which might also impact the EU’s energy security. […]
           These recent developments make it even more important for the EU to enhance its energy security by immediately reducing its dependence on oil and gas supplied by authoritarian regimes and by stopping it altogether in the medium term.”

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