Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 28, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainians liberated from Russian captivity are welcomed home at Boryspil airport in Kyiv, night of December 27-28. Photo – Radio Svoboda
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 two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk sector of the front 4 times in total. There was no combat on the Luhansk sector of the front.
2. 73 Ukrainian hostages welcomed home – over 160 still held in Donbas, Crimea & Russia
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “63-year-old Ihor Kozlovskyy and many other hostages whose insane ‘trials’ have been reported here are free at last, and returning to their families.
The joy and relief that this first exchange of prisoners in 15 months was really taking place was tinged with sadness for all those who remain imprisoned – at least 103 in the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ [DPR, LPR] and over 60 held in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea. […]
The release of 74 Ukrainians prisoners of war and civilian hostages had been agreed, however one woman chose to remain behind, saying that although she held pro-Ukrainian views, her family was in Donetsk.
Although the Minsk Accords clearly states that there should be an all for all release of prisoners, not one exchange has ever been of equal numbers, and that on Dec 27 was no exception. The Ukrainian government had agreed to release 306 people, however 29 refused to go to the Russian-backed ‘republics’ when already at the exchange point, while a further 40 who had been released from custody or imprisonment in anticipation of the exchange simply failed to turn up. 237 prisoners were therefore handed over.
Some of the PoW, whose relatives have campaigned for over the last year and more have been released, but some, like Glondar and Korinkov, who were captured by Russian soldiers or pro-Russian fighters at Debalseve, remain imprisoned. So too does Stanislav Aseyev, the journalist and blogger seized by the so-called ‘DPR ministry of state security’ in June 2017.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
For a report from Hromadske on the return of the liberated Ukrainians to Kyiv, please see here:
3. Ukraine’s President meets Ukrainians liberated from Russian captivity
|Ukraine’s President meets Ukrainians liberated from Russian captivity. To view video click on image above|
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on December 27, “Near the contact line, President Petro Poroshenko met liberated Ukrainians who were kept in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The President congratulated the heroes on their return and noted that everyone waited for their liberation. He also noted that the heroes are met today by the Ambassador of France and the representative of the German embassy. ‘Due to the efforts of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, of our big team, your liberation has become possible,’ the Head of State emphasized.
According to Petro Poroshenko, the liberated Ukrainians will be transferred to Kharkiv by helicopters and then to Kyiv by planes. ‘A lot of Kyiv residents, Ukrainians, came to congratulate you and demonstrate how we’ve been waiting for you,’ the President stressed.
The Head of State noted: ‘As Supreme Commander-in-Chief, as President, I will do everything to return every warrior. Today, we must unite to save those who left there. We must do everything to ensure the international pressure. We will win.’
Together with the President, the liberated Ukrainians were met by French Ambassador Isabelle Dumont, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Wolfgang Bindseil, Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak and Volodymyr Zhemchugov who had been liberated earlier.”
4. US Secretary of State: On Russia, we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with
In an oped in the NY Times on December 27, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote, “On Russia, we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with. The United States today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others’. The appointment of Kurt Volker, a former NATO ambassador, as special representative for Ukraine reflects our commitment to restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Absent a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine situation, which must begin with Russia’s adherence to the Minsk agreements, there cannot be business as usual with Russia.”