Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin – February 3-9, 2018

Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
February 3-9, 2018
Ukrainian artillery training 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 February 2-8, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 14 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 54 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 36 times with heavy weapons – artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and Ontario Government to cooperate on improving healthcare system
photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Health

On February 9, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and the Government of Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the healthcare sector. The Ministry of Health stated, “the cooperation allows not only for the exchange of information and sharing of experience, but also to organize training programs and conduct joint research projects.
           The Ministry of Health and the Government of Ontario agreed to exchange information and provide opportunities for training on priority areas such as disease prevention and control, emergency care, mental health, education of healthcare professionals, telecommunications and telemedicine, rural medicine and the provision of medical services.”
           Ukraine’s acting Minister of Health Dr. Ulana Suprun stated, “Today, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate with the Government of Ontario seals our mutual intention to work together on a three-year program for health care development and participation. Our main objective is to transform the Ukraine’s healthcare system into an effective healthcare service of the 21st century. We really appreciate Canada’s support in this process, as this is the country that has always offered Ukraine a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, even at the most difficult times.”
           Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins stated, “Ontario has been collaborating with Ukraine on a number of training, education and knowledge-sharing initiatives. This agreement strengthens our important relationship by establishing a partnership to share information regarding health care delivery and cooperative programs that will benefit us both. I look forward to continuing to build this relationship in the future.”
3. Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh turns 47 in prison in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Volodymyr Balukh turns 47 on February 8, and will be spending his second birthday imprisoned in occupied Crimea, effectively for a Ukrainian flag.  His elderly mother, who is nearly blind and walks with difficulty, has been left entirely alone to tend their farm, after two ‘trials’ on flagrantly trumped up charges.
           In Kyiv, two Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were themselves imprisoned and / or persecuted under Russian occupation, will be joining many other Ukrainians for an evening in solidarity with the courageous Crimean.
           For those who cannot be present, there is an important way of showing solidarity with Volodymyr and all those in Crimea who refuse to be silenced and peacefully oppose Russian occupation.
           A petition was launched on Ukrainian Unity Day (22 January) calling on President Petro Poroshenko to declare Volodymyr Balukh a Hero of Ukraine.  It is endorsed by Archbishop Kliment, the Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kyiv Patriarchate in Crimea, and prominent human rights groups.
          They point out that even despite mounting persecution and repressive measures against all those who refuse to buckle under, the spirit of resistance to the occupation regime remains strong.  It is people like Balukh, unwaveringly true to Ukraine, that give the lie to Russian propaganda about Crimea and give hope that it will return under Ukraine’s control.
          Russia is holding at very least 64 Ukrainians, most Crimeans, prisoner on politically motivated charges or for their faith.  That number is rising all the time, and the persecution will only be stopped, and prisoners released, if there is political pressure from western governments.  There is a real opportunity for such pressure on the Kremlin in the run-up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pretence of standing for ‘re-election’ and to Russia’s hosting of the World Cup.
          Please help inform politicians and the media in your country of the extraordinarily cynical prosecution of a Crimean farmer, who refused to remove his Ukrainian flag and the sign he erected on his home to honour slain Euromaidan activists.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
4. Interview with Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk
Hromadske International interviewed Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk. To view the interview, please click on image above.
A transcript of the interview is available here:
5. US House of Representatives passes Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act
On February 7, the US House of Representatives passed HR 1997, the Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, which “expresses the sense of Congress that the Department of State should take the following actions, commensurate with U.S. interests, to help Ukraine improve its cybersecurity: (1) provide Ukraine necessary support to increase most advanced security protection on government computers, particularly systems that defend Ukraine’s critical infrastructure; (2) provide Ukraine support to reduce reliance on Russian technology; and (3) help Ukraine to build capacity, expand cyber security information sharing, and cooperate in international response efforts. The State Department shall: (1) report to Congress on the status of U.S.-Ukraine cybersecurity cooperation, and (2) pursue regional cooperation to address shared cyber challenges.”
           The sponsor of the bill, Congressman Brendan Boyle (D, PA-13) stated, “Today, the House took a strong step forward in the ongoing fight to counter Russia’s intensifying cyber-aggression by passing my legislation. Over the last few years, Russia has been using Ukraine as a field test for cyber attacks that endanger the national security of our great ally Ukraine, its regional neighbors, and the United States. H.R. 1997 sends a strong signal to Russia and all those who threaten the cybersecurity of America and its allies that we are ready and able to protect ourselves against this escalating threat.”
6. Defending Europe by Arming Ukraine
Defence and security consultant Ihor Kozak, former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, and Lubomyr Luciuk, professor of political geography at the Royal Military College of Canada, write about the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine in the Royal United Services Institute News Brief. To read the article, please click here: Defending Europe by Arming Ukraine 
7. Ukraine food exports to EU grow by 37% in last year
On February 5, Ukraine Business Journal reported that Ukraine’s food exports to the EU grew by 37% last year, more than twice as fast as the 16.3% global growth of Ukraine’s food exports. “Food sales to the EU amounted to $5.8 billion last year. In addition to big ticket staples — cereals – $ 1.7 billion, cooking oil – $ 1.4 billion – processed exports experienced high growth. Poultry doubled to $134 million. Confectionery products almost doubled to $38 million. Flour products rose by one third to $96 million. Juices rose by one third to $71 million. And honey rose by one quarter to $99 million,” the UBJ reported.

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