Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – June 30-July 6, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
June 30-July 6, 2018
 
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of June 29-July 5, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and nine Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 168 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 23 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 5 and wounded 4 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Three Ukrainian soldiers die training accident in western Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that at 6am Kyiv time on July 6, three Ukrainian soldiers died and nine Ukrainian soldiers were injured in a training accident at a base near Rivne. The accident was caused by the explosion of a mortar shell during tactical exercises.
           Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko instructed the Minister of Defense and Chief of General Staff to “urgently find out the reasons of the tragedy and report on the results of the investigation next week.”
          President Poroshenko stated, “It is required to take every step to prevent the repetition of such tragedies. I instruct you to stop using these mortars until the investigation is completed.”
3. Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh, illegally jailed in Russian-occupied Crimea, sentenced to extra three years in prison
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on July 5, “A ‘court’ in Russian-occupied Crimea has sentenced Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh to an extra three years’ imprisonment on charges as overtly fabricated as those used to originally arrest him, meaning an effective sentence now of five years.  The defence has reason to believe that the Russian Investigative Committee is behind the decision to add to the initial three and a half year sentence widely seen as linked not with any crime, but with the Ukrainian flag that Balukh had refused to remove from his home.
           The sentence, of three years in a medium-security prison colony, was passed on 5 July 2018 by ‘judge’ Tetyana Pyrzhalo from the Razdolne District Court.  The official charge was of ‘disorganizing the work of a detention unit’ under Article 321 § 2 of Russia’s criminal code.   This new ‘conviction’ is added to the two years remaining of the first three and a half year sentence passed in a ‘remake trial’ on 16 January 2018.  Prosecutor’ Dmitry Nikolaevich Shmelev had formally demanded a four-year sentence.
          Neither in this case, nor in other political prosecutions, are the ‘prosecutor’ or ‘judge’ making any decisions themselves.  This does not, however, absolve them of responsibility for following orders and imprisoning an innocent man on manifestly absurd charges.
         47-year-old Balukh has been looking dangerously gaunt since he resumed his full hunger strike on 23 June.  He had rejected any food earlier, from 19 March 2018, but was persuaded on the 25th day of hunger strike to take an absolute minimum to prevent the occupation authorities to using force-feeding.  He has now had virtually no nourishment at all for well over 100 days, and is clearly very weak.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
4. EU extends Russia sanctions through January 2019
The European Union officially extended sanctions against Russia imposed in response to Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.                  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “The extension was finalized on July 5 and comes after EU leaders unanimously agreed to prolong the measures during the bloc’s summit in Brussels on June 29. The measures primarily hit Russia’s banking and energy sectors.
          At the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron updated EU counterparts on the state of play of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked.”
5. Ukraine’s President signs Law on the National Security of Ukraine
On July 5, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed the Law on the National Security of Ukraine. President Poroshenko stated, “This is an important milestone for the reformation of the entire country, first of all our defense and security sector.           First and foremost, we boldly underline the course of Ukraine towards the EU and Euro-Atlantic integration with this Law. We confirm that our state, the people of Ukraine have clearly defined their future – this future is related to the family of nations of the free world.
        As President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I am fully responsible for the development, adoption, signing and implementation of the given law. I am confident that today these positions will enhance the defence capability of our state and increase trust between Ukraine and our strategic partners.”
       Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “The President noted that he would hold a phone conversation with the U.S. leadership, the U.S. Secretary of Defense today. He added that Ukraine expected additional defensive and financial assistance from the United States.”
6. Ukraine, UK welcome progress on trade relationship
In a joint statement on July 4, the governments of Ukraine and the United Kingdom stated, “The UK and Ukraine have been engaging on the future growth of trade and investment links between both countries after the UK leaves the EU, including during the Ukrainian Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister – Trade Representative of Ukraine, Nataliya Mykolska’s, recent visit to London.
          As the UK is in the process of exiting the EU, Ukraine welcomed the UK’s intention to avoid any disruption to trade. In particular, both countries welcomed ongoing discussions to ensure continuity of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), which facilitates more than £1.7 billion in trade between the 2 countries, once the UK leaves the EU.
         The UK informed Ukraine on the UK-EU agreement, reached at the March European Council, that the UK is to be treated as a member state for the purposes of international agreements during the EU-UK Implementation Period. This should provide further certainty to both British and Ukrainian traders that there will be no disruption to the existing trading relationship during the Implementation Period, and that in particular the preferential terms of EU-Ukraine DCFTA will continue to apply to both parties during the Implementation Period. Both countries agreed to work together to strengthen UK-Ukrainian trade.”
7. Canadian Brookfield Business Partners lead a $160 million investment consortium in Ukraine 
Ukraine Business Journal (UBJ) reported on July 3 that Canadian Brookfield Business Partners will lead a $160 million investment consortium. “The consortium will finance the construction of phase 1 of the Lviv IT Cluster. As reported in the UBJ Opportunity Reports IT the development is due of completion by the end of 2020, the first phase of the project will include 160,000 square meters of Class A office space with workplaces for dozens of IT companies and up to 14,000 IT professionals. The cluster of six 8-story buildings will also provide a new home for the Catholic University, a hotel, and parking spaces for some 3000 cars,” UBJ stated.
8. Ukraine passes IMF-backed law to make banks more independent
Reuters reported on July 5, “Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday passed a law requiring state-run banks to appoint a majority of independent members to their supervisory boards, a commitment made to the backers of its $17.5 billion bailout.
The law aims to bring corporate governance at the banks into line with international standards and help the lenders resist political pressure, the finance ministry said in a statement after the vote.”

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