Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 4, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
|Ukrainian army tank exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence|
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, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Svitlodarsk, Avdiivka and Luhanske village. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions shelled Ukrainian positions at Vodyane with artillery and Grad rockets. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Shyrokyne with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Maryinka – a civilian man was injured as a result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces. At Lebedynsk, Hnutove, Pavlopil and Novotroitske, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska, Shchastya, Novotoshkivske and Popasne.
2. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister to attend Ukraine Conference in London on July 6
Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated that Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland “announced today that she will attend the Opportunity Ukraine conference in London, United Kingdom, on July 6, followed by the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7 and 8. Hosted by the governments of Ukraine and the United Kingdom, the Opportunity Ukraine conference will bring together foreign ministers from G7, EU and NATO countries, as well as representatives of international financial institutions and civil society. Conference participants will examine progress made in Ukraine’s reform efforts over the past three years and set out priorities for further advancing these reforms.”
3. Russia prevents jailed Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz from attending his mother’s funeral
photo – KHPG
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on July 3, “It is a son’s duty to lay his mother to rest. Russia had allowed Crimean Tatar political prisoner Akhtem Chiygoz to see his dying mother for just ten minutes two weeks ago, and it has now prevented him from attending her funeral. […] Crimean Tatars came, almost certainly from all over Crimea, to Bakhchysarai to pay their respects to Aliye Chiygoz. […]
The SIZO or remand prison where Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis [representative assembly] has been illegally held prisoner now for almost two and a half years, refused to accept his wife’s application for him to be allowed to attend the funeral. Russia thus proved itself too craven to even formally reject the application, using an excuse that convinced nobody. Chiygoz’s lawyer, Nikolai Polozov addressed an appeal to the Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson and head of the Presidential Human Rights Council, but nothing worked. Chiygoz has long been recognized as a political prisoner, and nobody is in any doubt, as Polozov puts it, that it is the Kremlin who passes sentence, not the court.
It is the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin who decide also to show such contempt for fundamental humanity. Chiygoz was arrested on January 29, 2015 on charges that demonstrate similar contempt for the law. He is accused of ‘organizing’ a mass riot over a demonstration that took place on February 26, 2014, on Ukrainian territory and under Ukrainian law. […]
There are extremely strong grounds for concluding that Chiygoz is in prison; the Mejlis banned, and Crimean Tatars facing mounting repression because the demonstration on February 26, 2014, organized by Mejlis leaders, prevented the planned ‘extraordinary session’ intended to illegally change Crimea’s status and therefore foiled the Kremlin’s plan to carry off a coup without the deployment of Russian troops. Soldiers without insignia invaded the following morning.” The full report from KHPG is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.php?
4. Trump’s Opportunity to Arm Ukraine
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on June 30, Stephen Blank, senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, stated, “President Trump’s trip to Poland next week is an exceptional opportunity to reassert U.S. leadership and American greatness. In Warsaw Mr. Trump can reaffirm the U.S. commitment to European security by giving Ukraine the weapons it urgently needs to defend itself against Russia’s continuing aggression.
Russia’s violations of the 2015 Minsk II accords grow daily in both number and intensity. Moscow has reconstituted four armies on Ukraine’s borders, rebuilt the Black Sea Fleet, created a powerful antiaccess and area-denial bubble in the Black Sea, militarized Ukrainian energy installations there, and prepared the logistical infrastructure for a major war with Ukraine, including potential amphibious operations in the South. It is building nuclear bunkers in Feodosiia and Sevastopol. The Russian military clearly regards large-scale, protracted conventional war, backed by mounting nuclear threats, to be a real possibility. […]
Though Mr. Putin occasionally praises Mr. Trump, his actions demonstrate that he is contemptuous of the American president-and of U.S. resolve. The Obama administration’s strategic dereliction compounded the Russia problem. Mr. Trump’s trip will be closely watched as a sign of his willingness to advance U.S. and European security. Giving Ukraine weapons that can meet Russia’s threats-counterbattery radars, armored vehicles, antitank weapons, secure communications gear, reconnaissance drones, antilanding weapons like shallow water mines, and training and intelligence support-can help deter Russian aggression while solidifying American leadership of NATO.
Arming Ukraine would keep faith with American policies dating back to President Harry Truman to support free peoples against aggression. It would enhance U.S. leadership and resolve. Moreover, it would communicate those attributes globally and create, as Ronald Reagan’s policies did, a real basis for future dialogue with a Russia deprived of the means of aggression. […]
Arming Ukraine and shoring up NATO can’t be the end of it. Congress must expand and extend sanctions while passing legislation to counter Russian information warfare. Perhaps the most direct way to impose costs on Russia is to increase American energy exports to Europe. […] While in Warsaw, Mr. Trump will have a rare opportunity to do the right thing and demonstrate American greatness in action. For our freedom and for Europe’s, he should not miss that opportunity.”
5. Security Service of Ukraine: Russia behind “Petya” cyber-attack
The BBC reported on July 2, “Ukraine says it has proof that Russian security services were involved in the cyber-attack that targeted businesses around the world earlier this week. The country’s security service, the SBU, said it had obtained data that points to a link with an attack on the nation’s capital, Kyiv, in December. Ukrainian firms were among the first to report issues with malicious software on Tuesday, before the virus spread. […]
The virus, which disrupted IT systems across the globe, froze computers and demanded a ransom be paid in the digital currency Bitcoin, which is untraceable. […] Ukraine’s SBU said in a statement that – through data obtained from international anti-virus companies – it had established a connection with a previous attack involving the so-called Petya virus, which it alleges was not designed to secure ransom payments.
The SBU later said the ransom demand was a cover, adding that the attack was aimed at disrupting the operations of state and private companies in Ukraine and causing political destabilisation. The lack of any real mechanism for securing financial payments, the SBU said, led the agency to this assumption.”