Ukraine: Daily Briefing – March 12, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 12, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Note to our readers: The UCC Ukraine Daily Briefing will be not be published March 13-21, 2018. The UCC Ukraine Daily Briefing will return Thursday, March 22. Thank you for your interest!
Ukrainian Army armored units training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense


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, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 4 times in total.
2. EU prolongs sanctions over actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity
The European Union stated, “On 12 March 2018, the Council prolonged the restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 September 2018. The measures consist of asset freezes and travel restrictions. They continue to apply to 150 persons and 38 entities.
           An assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime. The relevant information and statement of reasons for the listing of these persons and entities were updated as necessary.
          The legal acts will available in the EU Official Journal of 13 March 2018. Other EU measures in place in response to the Ukraine crisis include: economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy, currently in place until 31 July 2018; restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until 23 June 2018.”
3. Ukraine’s President on NATO’s recognition of the aspirations of Ukraine to become a full member: Our next ambition is the Membership Action Plan
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “President Petro Poroshenko expressed gratitude to NATO for the strong support of Ukraine and stressed that one of the key priorities of the national security of our country is to achieve the criteria for membership in the Alliance.
           ‘I welcome the important, long-awaited and logical decision of NATO to increase Ukraine’s ambitions regarding the Alliance,’ the President said on his official Facebook page.
           ‘This became a recognition of the real state of our relations with NATO. We discussed this during our last meeting with the NATO Secretary General in Munich, as well as the recent phone conversation with the Vice President of the United States,’ Petro Poroshenko said.
           ‘Our next ambition is the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine. This was the subject of my letter to Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General – ed.) of February 2018, where, with reference to Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, I formally stated Ukraine’s aspiration to become a member of the Alliance,’ the Head of State emphasized.
          ‘The quiet diplomacy for advancing our principled positions, as agreed with our partners, gives its significant results,’ Petro Poroshenko said, adding: ‘We are moving forward confidently.'”
4. Atlantic Council on Trump Administration’s Sanctions Policy
Atlantic Council Distinguished Fellow Daniel Fried, former State Department Coordinator for sanctions policy, wrote, “In a speech March 9 at the Atlantic Council, US Department of Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker, the Trump administration’s top sanctions official, confirmed that new Russia sanctions are being prepared, and suggested that they would target members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power structure. […]
           Sanctions policy is central to three top-tier US foreign policy issues-Russia, North Korea, and Iran-and the Trump administration’s sanctions track record combines professional competence and demonstrable achievements, mixed signals (e.g., on Russia sanctions), and a potential (but untested) breakthrough on North Korea. […]
           Pushing back on a common media narrative, Mandelker noted the administration’s mostly solid implementation of Russia sanctions to date-in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, for North Korea sanctions violations, and human rights sanctions, both under the Magnitsky Act and the Global Magnitsky Act (a new human rights and anti-corruption sanctions regime).
          Mandelker confirmed that the administration is preparing additional Russia sanctions, drawing from the classified version of the so-called “Kremlin Report,” which is an analysis-by many accounts excellent-of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power structure, which the Trump administration prepared under Section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
          This was another welcome indication that the administration is abandoning the risible public list it submitted under Section 241 and turning to a potentially powerful sanctions tool partly in response to Russian meddling in the US elections in 2016 and continued disinformation operations.  (A well-prepared set of new sanctions against members of Putin’s inner circle could help restore the Trump administration’s credibility after mixed signals [to put it mildly] about Russia’s election interference and slow implementation of CAATSA.) […]

On sanctions policy as in other areas, professionals in the Trump administration-both career officials and many political appointees-seem to be doing their best. And that is often pretty good. One big question is whether they will get the support and running room they need to advance American interests.” The full report from the Atlantic Council is available here

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