Ukraine: Daily Briefing
July 31, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
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, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Zaytseve and Avdiivka. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Pavlopil and Hnutove with mortars. At Lebedynske and Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Popanse, Krymske, Katerynivka and Stanytsia Luhanska.
2. Russia repeats “trial” of Crimean Tatar political prisoner until judges give the “right” sentence
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on July 28, “After three attempts. Russia’s FSB has obtained nearly the 17-year sentence it demanded against Ruslan Zeytullaev, a 32-year-old father of three and recognized political prisoner.
There were never any grounds for his prosecution, with the only difference literally being in the composition of the panel of judges who handed down the sentence. On July 27, three judges from Russia’s Supreme Court left the courtroom for about the time it takes to wash their hands, and changed the second sentence from 12 to 15 years, with this more than doubling the sentence after the first identical trial.
Zeytullaev has declared an indefinite hunger strike, which is of major concern as he is very far from Crimea and from his lawyers who will be unable to monitor his condition. His lawyers, Emil Kurbedinov and Edem Semedlyaev, call the sentence a disgrace and will now be applying to the European Court of Human Rights.
The hearing took place in Moscow, however Zeytullaev was not allowed to be present and addressed the court from the Rostov SIZO (remand prison). He wore a T-shirt with the message: ‘Order fulfilled’, and one of the messages he held up read: ‘Repression in the XXI century’. He called on Crimean Tatars to resist the efforts underway (in Russian-occupied Crimea) to divide them, and asked them to not leave, and those who have, to return to their native homeland. [He stated,] ‘Do not pay attention to the current reality of searches, arrests, prison sentences and bans. Even if they imprison the entire people, all the rest of the world will see this injustice and our people will become an example to follow, and as a result become stronger‘. […]
Russia, which is illegally occupying Ukrainian Crimea, is imprisoning Ukrainian Muslims for unproven involvement in an organization – Hizb ut-Tahrir – which is legal in Ukraine and which is not known to have committed any act of terrorism or violence anywhere in the world. […] Zeytullaev is surely correct that this trial and those coming of other Ukrainian Muslims is targeted at crushing dissent, and allowing only those religious and political views that the occupying regime will tolerate.”
The full report from KHPG is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.php?
3. US to supply coal to Ukraine for upcoming winter
The US Department of Energy stated today that Pennsylvania based Xcoal Energy and Resources will supply American thermal coal to Ukrainian state-owned power generation company Centrenergo PJSC ahead of the upcoming winter season.
US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stated, “In today’s turbulent world, geopolitical turmoil can create uncertainty for nations without access to an abundance of their own natural resources. No one knows this more than Ukraine. In recent years, Kyiv and much of Eastern Europe have been reliant on and beholden to Russia to keep the heat on. That changes now.
The United States can offer Ukraine an alternative, and today we are pleased to announce that we will. U.S. coal will be a secure and reliable energy source for Centrenergo and its electricity customers.”
According to media reports, under the terms of the agreement, Xcoal Energy will supply 700,000 tons of thermal coal to Centrenergo.
4. US Vice President: President will sign Russia sanctions legislation “very soon”
Speaking during a visit to Estonia today, US Vice-President Mike Pence stated, “the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable for its actions — and we call on our European allies and friends to do the same. In a sign of our commitment, very soon, President Trump will sign legislation to strengthen and codify the United States’ sanctions against Russia.”
Last week, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate overwhelmingly passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (HR 3364). On July 28, the White House stated that President Trump would sign the legislation into law.