Ukraine: Daily Briefing – May 15, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 15, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
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 or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors of the front 42 times in total, including at least 11 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh faces second “trial” in Russian-occupied Crimea
Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh, illegally imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea, who has been on a hunger strike for 57 days, is on “trial” again in Russian-occupied Crimea. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Balukh was sentenced in January to three years and seven months in a penal colony. […] Balukh insists the case against him was politically motivated.
In March, a new case was launched against Balukh after a warden in a local detention center in Crimea claimed that Balukh attacked him. Balukh denies the charge, saying the warden attacked him.
           On May 3, the United States said that Balukh is a political prisoner and called on the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea to release him.
          ‘Unacceptable for Russia to jail a Ukrainian citizen for flying a Ukrainian flag in Crimea and deny him medical care,’ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Twitter. […]
          Balukh was arrested in December 2016, after the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said explosives and 90 bullets were found in the attic of his home.
          The search was conducted shortly after Balukh planted a Ukrainian flag in his yard and affixed a sign to his house that read Heavenly Hundred Street, 18.”
3. Statement by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on unauthorized opening of the bridge across the Kerch Strait
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its strong protest in connection with the opening of the bridge through the Kerch Strait and in turn emphasizes the illegality of Russia’s construction of this infrastructure facility without the consent of Ukraine.
            Such actions by Moscow are fundamentally contrary to generally accepted norms and principles of international law, grossly violate the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, and bilateral contractual obligations towards Ukraine.
In the face of Russian armed aggression against Ukraine and the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula, it is actually an attempt to legitimize the annexation of part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.
            Construction of the bridge, as well as any other actions of the Kremlin occupation authorities, can in no way change the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part of the territory of Ukraine in its internationally recognized borders. The Russian Federation, as an invading state, is fully responsible for the consequences of its internationally wrongful acts and will reimburse the damage.
          Ukraine will consistently work on extending national and international sanctions on persons and companies involved in the illegal construction of the bridge crossing through the Kerch Strait.”
4. EU: construction of Kerch bridge is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia
The European Union External Action Service stated, “The Russian Federation has constructed the Kerch Bridge to the Crimean Peninsula without Ukraine’s consent. This constitutes another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia.
           The construction of the bridge aims at the further forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia and its isolation from Ukraine of which it remains a part. The bridge limits the passage of vessels via the Kerch Strait to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea.
           The European Union continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia and will not recognise this violation of international law.”

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