Ukraine: Daily Briefing
February 26, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
US Embassy in Ukraine
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, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 5 times in total.
2. Join in Solidarity with Oleg Sentsov and other victims of Russia’s occupation of Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “It is four years since a huge pro-Ukrainian unity demonstration in Simferopol on 26 February 2014 foiled Russia’s plans for an illicit coup d’état. It is an appropriate, yet poignant Day of Crimean Resistance given the huge price paid by the Crimean Tatar leaders and other Ukrainians who peacefully stood in defence of Ukraine on that day and later, after Russian forces and armed paramilitaries seized control of Crimea.
The list is long, but includes Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and a number of Crimean Tatars active in the Crimea Solidarity movement which arose to help the ever-increasing number of political prisoners in Crimea and their families.
Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberty and PEN America have initiated a global event entitled 26 Moments of Solidarity in support of Oleg Sentsov, civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and all the other Ukrainians whom Moscow is illegally imprisoning. […]
It is hoped that others worldwide will add their events to demonstrate solidarity with men imprisoned for their support for Ukraine, for their faith or because they themselves helped those in need. Sentsov was honoured with the PEN America / Barbey Freedom to Write Award in 2016, and PEN America will be holding readings, rallies and special events calling to #FreeSentsov on February 26.”
The full report from KHPG is available here: Join in Solidarity with Oleg Sentsov and other victims of Russia’s occupation of Crimea
3. Remarks by US Ambassador to Ukraine at fourth international forum “Occupied Peninsula: Four Years of Resistance”
US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch spoke at the international forum “Occupied Peninsula: Four Years of Resistance.” Ambassador Yovanovitch stated, “It is my pledge to you that Crimea remains on the United States’ agenda. And we want to ensure that it remains on the international agenda as well. The United States has not, and will not, forget Crimea.
U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson said in December: ‘We will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.’ […]
Crimea is Ukraine. But where does this leave us? Russia continues to violate basic principles of international norms. Fundamental human rights have been under attack for four years now. Russian security services have engaged in an intense and invasive campaign of intimidation to suppress dissent and stifle opposition to the occupation.
Their tactics have included extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, raids, disappearances, arbitrary detention, physical abuse, torture, deportation, and harassment. They have limited freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly – even peaceful assembly within the bounds of Russian law.
We viewed with particular concern the treatment of the over 100 individuals who participated in individual protests against Russian persecution on October 14. These courageous individuals protested alone, they protested peacefully, to stand up for their rights and those of their neighbors and community. […]
The Crimean Tatar community has faced particular scrutiny by Russian occupation authorities. These so-called authorities have raided Crimean Tatar homes, mosques, and schools, and imposed administrative fines and other penalties on witnesses who gathered to document them. This is unacceptable.
The great American civil rights activist Martin Luther King said: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ […] The injustice that Crimeans face today is antithetical to the values and norms we, as society, must adhere to. Without a shared set of values and rules of behavior, we are all under threat. Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the human rights of Ukrainian citizens is a threat not just to Ukraine, but to the international community. Indeed, injustice in Crimea is a threat to justice everywhere, just as Martin Luther King, Jr said. […]
Our position is clear: Crimea is Ukraine, and Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.”