Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
28 January-3 February 2017
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of 28 January – 3 February, 17 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 96 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. The heaviest fighting was in and around Avdiivka, where Russian-terrorist forces carried out massive artillery and Grad rocket shelling of Ukrainian positions and residential areas of the town.
2. Bellingcat Report: Russian-terrorist forces using civilians as human shields
On February 2, the investigative reporting group Bellingcat published a report confirming that in their attacks on Avdiivka, Russian-terrorist forces are deliberately placing Grad rocket system in residential areas under their occupation. The report states, “The available evidence clearly documents that on 31 January 2017, multiple attacks with MLR systems were launched in proximity of the hypermarket Auchan in Donetsk. The location deep inside the so-called “DNR” and the firing directing pointing toward Avdiivka clearly document the responsible side for these particular attacks. One launch site is around 200 meters east of the hypermarket, and in fewer than 500 meters from a school and residential area. The second launch site is in proximity of the bypass and around 600 meters from an industrial area and 1000 meters from a residential area. Some of the attacks occured during the day while the nearby bypass was also used by civilians. Given the proximity of both launch sites to civilian infrastructure in the area, a potential Ukrainian counter attack to supress and respond to the rocket fire would have automatically risked civilian lives in the area. The cross-country mobility of the likely used MLR system, BM-21 Grad, would have allowed alternative launch sites. However, the repeated usage of the launch site 200 meters east of the hypermarket Auchan strongly suggest that the selection of this area happened on purpose, deliberately risking the lives of the civilians in the area.” The full report from Bellingcat is available at https://www.bellingcat.com/
news/uk-and-europe/2017/02/02/ human-shields-in-donetsk- launching-grads-near-a- residential-area/
3. US at UN calls on combined Russian-separatist forces to restore ceasefire
On 2 February at a meeting of the UN Security Council, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated, “I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance here is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years in which United States Representatives have needed to do that. It should not have to be that way. We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions. The sudden increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine has trapped thousands of civilians and destroyed vital infrastructure. And the crisis is spreading, endangering many thousands more. This escalation of violence must stop. The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue. Eastern Ukraine, of course, is not the only part of the country suffering because of Russia’s aggressive actions. The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine. The basic principle of this United Nations is that states should live side by side in peace. […]The United States calls on Russia and the combined Russian-separatist forces to fulfill their commitments in the Minsk agreements and fully restore and respect the ceasefire.”
4. Canada’s Minister of Defence: Canada’s training mission having meaningful impact in Ukraine
On February 1, Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit S Sajjan, “says the federal government is concerned about a new outbreak of fighting in Ukraine and is looking at ways to ‘improve’ Canada’s military support to the country,” the Canadian Press reported. Canada’s military training mission to Ukraine, Operation UNIFIER, in which 200 Canadian Armed Force personnel are training Ukrainian forces, expires at the end of March. Sajjan stated on 1 February, “I’m looking at the options right now in terms of how we can improve our support, what changes that we need to make. But one thing is for sure, that Canada remains committed to Ukraine. […] “I’ve always said when we send troops, we want to make sure they have a meaningful impact. And we are having a meaningful impact in Ukraine,” the Canadian Press reported.
5. Canadian appointed to serve on Ukrainian Defence Reform Advisory Board
On January 31, Canada’s Department of National Defence stated, “General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has appointed Jill Sinclair, a former Assistant Deputy Minister with the Department of National Defence (DND) and currently Executive Director, Directorate of Strategic Concepts, Leadership and Engagement at the Canadian Defence Academy, as the Canadian representative to the Ukrainian Defence Reform Advisory Board (DRAB). Canada was informally invited to participate in the DRAB during Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s visit to Ukraine in 2016.This informal request was followed by an official invitation letter to MND for Canada to join the DRAB. The DRAB has been established to provide a high level of expertise and recommendations to the Reform Committee as well as to the President of Ukraine, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, the Chief of General Staff – Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and senior political leadership. Since 2014, Canada has actively participated alongside North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in measure to maintain security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe – through partnering, training, exercises, and other operational tasks.” The press release from the Department of National Defence is available at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-