Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
May 19-25, 2018
|Ukrainian armed forces training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense|
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of May 18-24, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 17 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 332 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 95 times with heavy weapons -artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. International Criminal Investigation: Buk Missile from Russian Military Antiaircraft Brigade Downed MH17
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on May 24, “A Dutch-led international criminal investigation has concluded that the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 came from Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade.
The Joint Investigative Team (JIT), comprising authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, made the announcement at a press conference on May 24 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
MH17 was shot down over the conflict zone in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
The JIT ‘has come to the conclusion that the Buk-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from the 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,’ top Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen told reporters. ‘The 53rd Brigade is part of Russia’s armed forces.'”
The report from the JIT can be found here: Update in criminal investigation MH-17
3. MH17: The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia responsible
The Government of the Netherlands stated on May 25, “The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17. The government took a decision on this matter, on the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok. Our two countries have informed Russia of their decision. […]
On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable.’
State responsibility comes into play when states fail to uphold the provisions of international law. A state can then be held responsible for breaching one or more of those provisions. This is the legal avenue that the Netherlands and Australia have now chosen to pursue. Both countries hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17.
Holding a state responsible is a complex legal process, and there are several ways to do this. The Netherlands and Australia today asked Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused by the downing of MH17. A possible next step is to present the case to an international court or organisation for their judgment.
Holding Russia accountable for its part in the downing of flight MH17 on the basis of international law is a course of action that is separate from the criminal investigation and any prosecution and trial of the perpetrators of the downing of flight MH17. The investigation by the JIT continues, and it is up to the Public Prosecution Service to decide if and when individuals will be identified as suspects and indicted.
‘We call on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of flight MH17 and their next of kin,’ said the minister.”
4. Crimean Tatar activists arrested in new repression campaign in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on May 22, “Russia has ignored even the Holy Month of Ramadan and carried out new armed searches and arrests in occupied Crimea, with one of the targets Server Mustafaev, a highly-respected civic activist and coordinator of the Crimea Solidarity movement.
This is the latest attack on men who are actively reporting on rights violations in occupied Crimea and helping the families of political prisoners. Reports about these arrests have coincided in the Russian media with claims of a bizarre ‘plot’, involving a Ukrainian recently abducted while entering Crimea and aimed at discrediting the Mejlis, or self-governing body, of the Crimean Tatar people.
Vans with masked men turned up early in the morning of 21 May at the Bakhchysarai homes of Server Mustafaev and Edem Smailov, who is also active in Crimea Solidarity. Mustafaev’s lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was prevented from being present, which is a flagrant violation of Mustafaev’s right to defence. There were elderly people in the Mustafaev home, as well as his four small children.
It is difficult to conceive the trauma inflicted on children when men with automatic rifles burst into their homes, force their fathers to the floor and take them away. Mustafaev’s third very small son Yusuf came out on to the street where people had come to show support, saying that they’d taken his Babashka (Daddy) away. He was shaking and crying hysterically.
Smailov’s three children were reportedly blocked off by the armed officers and their mother not admitted into her own home. Smailov’s lawyer Aider Azamatov was also kept out during the search, with his demand that the investigator came out and explained the reason for this ignored. Both men were then taken away, seemingly to the FSB headquarters in Simferopol.
Mustafaev was one of the first Crimean Tatars to begin streaming the constant searches and arrests online. He and other activists immediately pass on information about searches and come to peacefully show solidarity. This is clearly not to the Russian occupation regime’s liking. They first began rounding up men who were simply standing outside, with obedient ‘judges’ then jailing them for up to 10 or 15 days.
When this overt intimidation failed to deter activists, much more draconian forms of repression began. Since October 2017, several active members of Crimea Solidarity […] have been arrested and are facing huge sentences on concocted charges.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
5. Ukraine’s President: American-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles significantly increase combat capabilities of Ukrainian Armed Forces
For a video of President Poroshenko’s remarks following training exercises with Javelin missiles, please click on image above
On May 22, Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made a working trip to the military training area and checked the readiness of the AFU to use the American anti-tank missile complexes ‘Javelin.’ […]
‘Today, on May 22, for the first time in Ukraine, the trial of Javelin anti-tank complexes of the third generation took place. I am convinced that today, combat capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, missile troops and artillery have grown significantly,’ the President said. ‘Of course, it is a defensive weaponry that will be used only in case of the offensive on the positions of Ukrainian troops by the Russian Federation,’ he said.
Petro Poroshenko stressed that the units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had passed respective training to use this weaponry.
The Head of State noted that the American anti-tank complexes had shown extremely high efficiency. ‘You saw happy faces of soldiers. Today, their dream came true. It is very symbolic, as it is a symbol of our cooperation with our American partners,’ he added.
The Head of State thanked U.S. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Defense, U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senate and Congress, all the American partners for supporting Ukraine and approving the relevant decision on the provision of Javelin anti-tank missile complexes.
The President watched the confidence firing at land targets performed by Ukrainian servicemen. All the targets were successfully hit. Also, the training launch of Ukrainian anti-tank missiles, including Stugna, was carried out and showed great results as well.”