Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
December 16-22, 2017
|Report on training cycle at Yavoriv Training Centre, Joint Multinational Task Force-Ukraine. To view video, please click on image above|
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of December 15-21, seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 16 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 132 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 63 times with heavy weapons – Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Russian-terrorist forces shell residential areas of Novoluhansk – 8 civilians injured
Video of Novoluhansk following shelling by Russian-terrorist forces, National Police of Ukraine. To view video please click on image above
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that on December 18, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Novoluhansk (near Svitoldarsk on the Donetsk sector of the front). Russian-terrorist forces used multiple-launch rocket systems, firing at least 40 shells at the town. As a result of the shelling by Russian-terrorist forces, eight civilians were injured, among whom were six elderly women and a six-year-old girl. The injured civilians were taken to hospital and their condition is stable. 50 houses, 9 apartment buildings, a kindergarten, a school, a first-aid station and power and gas lines were damaged as a result of the shelling by Russian-terrorist forces.
3. US approves sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on December 21, “The U.S. State Department says it has approved an export license for Ukraine to buy certain types of light weapons and small arms from U.S. manufacturers.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on December 20 that Congress was notified of the decision on December 13. The license covers weapons in categories such as semiautomatic and automatic firearms up to .50 caliber weapons, combat shotguns, silencers, military scopes, flash suppressors, and parts .It does not allow the sale of heavier weapons, such as Javelin antitank missiles, that Ukraine has urged Washington to provide in order to strengthen its capabilities.”
US Senator John McCain, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the announcement, and stated, “This decision is years overdue, but nonetheless, it comes at a pivotal moment. Ukrainians are enduring some of the worst fighting in several months as Russia has withdrawn its officers from a key ceasefire implementation mechanism and Russian-led forces have escalated their attacks in eastern Ukraine. At every turn, Vladimir Putin has chosen war instead of peace in Ukraine. So long as he makes this choice, the United States and the Free World should give Ukraine what it needs to fight back.
That is why the reported decision to authorize the sale of sniper rifles and ammunition must only be a first step. I urge the President to authorize additional sales of defensive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions, and to fully utilize security assistance funds provided by the Congress to enable Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. I also urge the President and congressional leadership to ensure that any budget deal fully supports the $350 million in security assistance for Ukraine authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law this month.”
4. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Ukraine’s President
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland met with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv on December 21. The Presidential Administration reported, “Petro Poroshenko thanked Canada for the support in the implementation of reforms and countering Russian aggression. A vivid evidence of such assistance is the recent decision of Ottawa to include Ukraine in the list of countries to which it is allowed to supply arms.
The parties discussed the dangerous development of the situation in the Donbas provoked by violation of the ceasefire regime by pro-Russian militants, including cases of shelling of civilian objects. Particular attention was paid to Russia’s intentions to undermine the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in particular, by leaving the JCCC.
In order to facilitate a peaceful settlement, further steps were coordinated to advance the initiative of deploying a UN peacekeeping mission throughout the occupied Donbas area, including the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian state border. Chrystia Freeland also informed about close coordination of approaches with the United States, in particular during a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on December 19.
It was also agreed to continue joint efforts to free the Ukrainian hostages in the Donbas and political prisoners illegally detained in Russia and the occupied Crimea.
The Head of State noted the important role of Ottawa in advancing the Crimean resolution that was approved by the UN General Assembly. Petro Poroshenko called on Canada to actively join the formation of a group of friends on the de-occupation of Crimea.
The President of Ukraine congratulated Canada on its forthcoming responsible mission, chairing the G7, and expressed confidence that the issue of Ukraine would be among the priorities on the agenda of this esteemed forum.”
5. UN General Assembly adopts resolution recognizing Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea as an international armed conflict
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on December 20, “The UN General Assembly has passed a vital resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea which recognizes that Russia’s illegal occupation is an international armed conflict and gives victims of abuse wider scope to defend their rights. […]
The mention in the document of Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea as an international armed conflict is a major step forward from the previous resolutions. It follows the Office of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Report which found that the situation with Crimea constitutes an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This is of crucial importance since it means that the conflict falls under the Rome Statute, and is within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. […]
This new resolution refers closely to international humanitarian law, such as the 1949 Geneva Convention and its 1977 Additional Protocol.
These regulate protection of victims of war and establish liability for violation of such norms. Russia is in breach of the Geneva Convention through its movement of its own citizens to Crimea; its conscription of Crimeans to its army; foisting of its citizenship, and much more. […]
Russia is not only illegally applying its legislation on Crimea under occupation, but is also imposing it retroactively. […]
The General Assembly has also condemned the ‘the imposition of automatic Russian Federation citizenship on protected persons in Crimea, which is contrary to international humanitarian law,’ […]
Russia has ignored the International Court of Justice, numerous resolutions from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE], the EU, European Parliament, OSCE, etc. There is certainly no reason to expect it to change its behaviour over this latest resolution.
It is, nonetheless, very important. […] Each such resolution, supported by democratic countries, makes it that much harder for them to backtrack on their proclaimed values.
All such resolutions also give the victims of repression hope that their persecutors will not enjoy ongoing impunity.”
The full text of the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly yesterday is available here: Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine
6. Win for Naftogaz in the Final Award in the Gas Sales Arbitration with Gazprom
The Tribunal at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce ruled in favor of Naftogaz Ukrainy on all issues brought in a claim by Gazprom. Naftogaz stated, “The Arbitral Tribunal today found in favour of Naftogaz of Ukraine on all issues in dispute: pricing, take or pay and the setting aside of other anti-competitive and unconscionable provisions. […]
The Tribunal completely rejected Gazprom’s USD 56 billion claim for take or pay payments (payments for gas not taken, but with an obligation to pay) for the period of 2009-2017. […]
The Stockholm Tribunal stated that gas delivered to someone else than Naftogas in the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions should not be the responsibility for Naftogaz to pay for. Also future deliveries to these territories are not the concern of Naftogaz as long as the occupation remains. Any such deliveries will not be accounted for in the annual contract volume. […]
The Tribunal also declared invalid other provisions of the Contract, notably a destination clause, illegally prohibiting sales of the gas outside of Ukraine.
Naftogaz hopes and expects to be successful with respect to its financial claims in the Gas Transit Arbitration, up to USD 16 billion including interest to be rendered on 28 February 2018.
‘Naftogaz will do its utmost to implement the decisions by the Tribunal in good faith. Final clarity on who owes what and to who, how it will be paid and when and how it would be enforced may not come until February,’ says Yuri Vitrenko, chief commercial officer of Naftogaz.
The Gas Transit Arbitration will resolve Naftogaz’s claims for (i) revision of the Transit Contract in conformity with mandatory European and Ukrainian competition and energy law (ii) revision of the transit tariff and consequent monetary claims, and (iii) compensation for under-deliveries.”