Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 1-7, 2017
Ukrainian army tank exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of June 30-July 6, six Ukrainian soldiers were killed and twenty Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 155 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 36 times with heavy weapons.
2. Canada reiterates support for democratic reforms, human rights and peace in Ukraine
On July 6, Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated, “Canada is unequivocal in its support for the people of Ukraine. We continue to call for the protection of their rights, safety and security and respect for the sanctity of Ukraine’s borders.
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded her participation in the Opportunity Ukraine conference, in London, United Kingdom, where she reiterated Canada’s support for Ukraine’s efforts to implement economic and democratic reforms. Canada welcomes the progress made in a number of areas since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, notably, key achievements in stabilizing the economy and fighting corruption.
The Minister announced today an additional $6.89 million in funding to Ukraine through five new initiatives that will primarily focus on continued support of human rights monitoring, conflict resolution, and mine awareness, surveying and clearance. These initiatives, funded by Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), build on and reinforce previously announced Canadian investments in police reform and support to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.”
Minister Freeland stated, “Since the beginning of the crisis in 2013, Canada has been at the forefront of the international community’s support for Ukraine. Canada applauds reform efforts undertaken by Ukraine and believes that these new projects will help address Ukraine’s immediate national security and peacebuilding needs as its people pursue a secure, stable and prosperous future.”
A backgrounder on the announced support is available here
3. NATO Secretary General to visit Ukraine July 9-10
NATO reported on July 6, “At the invitation of the Ukrainian authorities, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) chaired by NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, will visit Ukraine on 9-10 July 2017. A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission with the President of Ukraine, Mr. Petro Poroshenko will take place on 10 July.
During the visit, the Secretary General will deliver an address at the Parliament of Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council and the Secretary General will also meet the Speaker of the Parliament and Heads of the Parliamentary Factions. The Secretary General and the NATO Ambassadors will visit an exhibition presenting achievements of 20 years of NATO-Ukraine co-operation.
Outreach activities will also be organized, during which NATO Ambassadors will engage with members of the civil society. During the visit, the Secretary General will also have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Volodymyr Groysman. The same day, the Secretary General and the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration will inaugurate the new premises of the NATO Representation to Ukraine.”
4. Russia prevents jailed Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz from attending his mother’s funeral
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?
5. US Secretary of State appoints Ukraine envoy
The US State Department stated on July 7, “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson announced today his appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker, who has served previously as the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO as well as Director for European and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council, will take responsibility for advancing U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements. He will accompany the Secretary to Kyiv on Sunday, July 9, and is expected to continue to hold regular meetings with Ukraine and the other members of the Normandy Format: Russia, Germany, and France.”
6. Suspects in downing of Flight MH-17 to be prosecuted in Dutch court
Reuters reported on July 5, “Suspects in the downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, in which all 298 people aboard were killed, will be tried in a Dutch court and under Dutch law, the Netherlands’ foreign ministry said on Wednesday. The move to choose the Netherlands was agreed to by the five countries which have been conducting a preliminary criminal investigation.
Victims of the disaster, which occurred over territory held by pro-Russia separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces, came from 17 countries, and included 196 Dutch citizens. The Dutch Safety Board, which investigated the cause of the crash, concluded in October 2015 that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made ground-to-air rocket. […]
The decision follows attempts, blocked by Russia in 2015, to set up an international court over the incident. The extent to which Russia will cooperate with a Dutch court if prosecutors name Russian suspects or request information is not clear. […]
The Dutch-led team of international investigators, which also included Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, concluded in September that the rocket was fired from territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists.
No suspects have been named, though Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said last year his office has identified 100 ‘persons of interest’ in the investigation, including those who organized the arrival of the rocket and oversaw its transport from Russia to Ukraine and back.”