Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – October 7-13, 2017

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
October 7-13, 2017
Ukrainian tank units participate in training exercises
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of October 6-12, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 153 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 25 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukraine protests against latest wave of repressions in Russian-occupied Crimea
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on October 11, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its resolute protest to yet another wave of groundless searches and illegal detentions of the citizens of Ukraine by the Russian occupation authorities in the city of Bakhchysaray (the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine).
            As a result, 6 people were illegally detained, in addition to that at least 9 activists were arrested only for coming to support their compatriots and standing nearby the houses where searches were conducted.
           The onslaught of the occupants against those opposing the occupation regime, in particular Crimean Tatar activists and Ukrainians, once again testifies the continuation of Russia’s repressive policy with the aim to eradicate any dissent voices and intimidate the population of the Crimean peninsula.
           Moreover, targeted searches in the homes of Muslims are a clear manifestation of persecutions on religious grounds.
           Repressions, illegal detentions, enforced disappearances, abductions, tortures and other violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms have become a regular practice of the Russian occupation authorities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Russia keeps blatantly and cynically violating its international legal obligations […]
           We call on the international community to actively stand for the rights and freedoms of the population of the Crimean peninsula and to force Russia to stop malicious persecutions against those opposing the occupation.”
3. Ukraine’s President addresses Veterans on Day of Defender of Ukraine
Photo – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko addressed military veterans on the Day of the Defender of Ukraine on October 13. Poroshenko stated, “Prince’s warriors, Zaporozhian Cossacks, Sich Riflemen, warriors of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, Ukrainian Insurgent Army, soldier in the Second World War, warriors of the Armed Forces, the National Guard, other military units – they have been defending the Homeland for generations. They have contributed to the independence of our state with iron, blood and sweat. […]
          The highest honor for me on behalf of the Ukrainian people is to express the words of sincere gratitude to all servicemen for heroism and courage, self-sacrifice and victories, patriotism and loyalty to the oath. […]
          Today, we bow our heads to those who gave life for the peaceful future of Ukraine. The bright memory of the heroes will remain forever in our hearts. […]
          In this difficult period for our state, you serve in the modern Ukrainian army. This is a truly new people’s army, as it was created by the people. Everyone took part in its formation.”
4. Ukraine’s Parliament to consider healthcare reform bills next week
Acting Health Minister Dr. Ulana Suprun.  Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Health
Ukraine’s Parliament will consider two draft bills that would reform Ukraine’s healthcare system next week. On October 11, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman called on MPs to adopt the bills, which were introduced in April. Acting Minister of Health Dr. Ulana Suprun called on MPs to pass the systemic changes to Ukraine’s healthcare.
            Dr. Suprun stated, “We are very close to a historic step – building a high-quality and equitable healthcare system for millions of Ukrainians. The price of delaying is the lives and health of our citizens. Ukraine can’t wait any longer. We call on all MPs and politicians to unite and do everything possible to begin the healthcare reforms!”
           According to a public opinion survey conducted in June-July 2017, 72% of Ukrainians support the reforms in the two healthcare bills that will be considered next week.
5. Former NATO chief: Russia’s UN peacekeeping proposal a Trojan horse
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on October 11, “Former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russia’s proposal to send UN peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine is ‘a Trojan horse,’ but it would be worth trying to ‘reshape’ it, since it presented the first opportunity in a long time to resolve the conflict.
           Putin last month said that UN peacekeepers might be deployed on the contact line separating the sides of the conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region — a proposal that has been dismissed by both Kyiv and the West.
           ‘In its current form, Putin’s peacekeeping proposal is what I would call a Trojan horse, it is a non-starter,’ Rasmussen told a conference organized by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Brussels on October 11. […]
           ‘We should push for a robust mandate that seeks to protect civilians, protect infrastructure, and cover the entire territory of Donbas, not just the contact line. If we followed President Putin’s proposal we would just have what I’d call a UN-mandated frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine, and that would of course be unacceptable,’ said Rasmussen, who currently works as a security adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
           He also urged that a UN assessment team be sent to Ukraine ahead of any future peacekeeping force — a move that wouldn’t require consent from the UN Security Council, where Russia is a permanent member.”
6. US Senators McCain, Cardin question Administration’s delay in Russia sanctions implementation
On October 11, US Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Ben Cardin, (D-MD), released a statement ten days after the October 1 deadline by which the Trump Administration was to announce the implementation of sanctions on Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, as stipulated in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
           Senators McCain and Cardin stated,
“The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress. They’ve had plenty of time to get their act together.
          In addition to the administration’s lack of responsiveness on this deadline, there does not appear to be a significant diplomatic effort to engage our allies in Europe and lead an effort to increase pressure on Moscow.  Congressional intent was clear, reflected in the overwhelming bipartisan majority in favor of the legislation.
         We wrote the Administration on September 28, strongly urging them to develop a robust and comprehensive implementation plan for all aspects of the law and to work in close consultation with Congress to ensure a fulsome reflection of congressional intent. We again request that the administration respond to our letter, and engage Congress in a serious way moving forward.”

The letter McCain and Cardin sent to President Trump on September 28 is availableHERE.

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