Ukraine: Daily Briefing – May 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 16, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian armor training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were 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 45 times in total, including at least 14 times with heavy weapons. Russian-terrorist forces shelled civilian areas of Novhorodske with mortars, damaging two residential buildings. No civilians were injured.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov starts hunger strike, demands release of all Ukrainians illegally imprisoned by Russia
Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov, illegally imprisoned in Russia, has started a hunger strike to demand the release of all Ukrainian nationals illegally imprisoned in Russian penitentiaries. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported, “In a handwritten letter that he gave to his lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, Sentsov said he started the hunger strike on May 14.
            ‘The only condition for ending it is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners held on Russian territory,’ Sentsov wrote in the short letter. ‘Together to the end. Glory to Ukraine!’
            Sentsov, a native of Crimea who opposed Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, is serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted on terrorism charges that he and human rights groups contend are politically motivated. […]
            The prominent Russian human rights group Memorial has recognized Sentsov as a political prisoner, and international rights organizations have called for his release.
            Volodymyr Balukh, pro-Kyiv activist imprisoned by Russian authorities in Crimea in another politically charged case, has been on a hunger strike for nearly two months.”
            Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “I call on the international community to maintain pressure the Kremlin, in order to ensure that Ukrainian political prisoners return home to their families as quickly as possible.”
3. US Special Envoy for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visits Ukraine
US Special Envoy for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker is visiting eastern Ukraine. For a short report on the visit from BBC News, please click on image below.
BBC report on Kurt Volker's visit to eastern Ukraine
BBC report on Kurt Volker’s visit to eastern Ukraine
4. US condemns Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea
The US State Department stated on May 15, “The United States condemns Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, which was done without the permission of the government of Ukraine. Crimea is part of Ukraine. Russia’s construction of the bridge serves as a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law.
            The bridge represents not only an attempt by Russia to solidify its unlawful seizure and its occupation of Crimea, but also impedes navigation by limiting the size of ships that can transit the Kerch Strait, the only path to reach Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. We call on Russia not to impede this shipping.
           The United States has sanctioned numerous individuals and entities involved in this project. These and our other Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.
           We once again reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and recall the international community’s expression of that commitment in UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262.”

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