Ukraine: Daily Briefing
May 29, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian soldiers conduct anti-IED (improvised explosive device) training, Yavoriv, Ukraine. Photo – US Army Europe
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. On May 28, at approximately 12PM Kyiv time, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Zalizne with mortars. A civilian, a 15-year-old girl, was killed by the shelling by Russian-terrorist forces. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 37 times in total, including at least 8 times with heavy weapons.
2. Russian prosecutor demands 14-year sentence for Ukrainian journalist on sham “espionage” charges
photo – KHPG
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “A Russian prosecutor has demanded a 14-year sentence for Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko on mystery spying charges in a ‘trial’ heard before a closed court.
The verdict is due at the Moscow City Court on 4 June, although Sushchenko’s lawyer, Mark Feygin believes the sentence has already been written and points out that there are no acquittals in such cases. […]
Sushchenko is accused, as a Ukrainian of ‘spying’ while on a brief visit to relatives in Moscow in 2016, with the grounds for such charges known only in very broad outline. First the detention hearings, and then the trial were held behind closed doors and Feygin was forced from the outset to sign an undertaking not to divulge any information about the case.
There have been repeated calls for Sushchenko’s release from international bodies and numerous governments, and he was recently honoured ‘For Courage’ by the Andrei Sakharov Committee on Journalism as an Act of Conscience.”
3. European Council endorses agreement on a further €1bn in loans to Ukraine
The European Council stated, “On 29 May 2018, EU ambassadors endorsed, on behalf of the Council, an agreement with the European Parliament on a new package of macro-financial assistance for Ukraine.
A further €1 billion in loans will cover Ukraine’s financing needs over a period of two and a half years. The loans will support economic stabilisation and a programme of structural reforms, supplementing resources provided by the IMF and other donors.
The IMF has identified a $4.5 billion financing gap for 2018 and 2019, going over and above funding committed so far by the international community.
Macro-financial assistance is an exceptional form of financial aid that the EU extends to partner countries with balance-of-payments difficulties. This is the third operation for Ukraine since 2014. The EU additionally provides assistance under its neighbourhood policy.
The EU pledged €1.6 billion of macro-financial assistance in 2014 and €1.8 billion in 2015, of which Ukraine received €2.81 billion. A €600 million instalment was cancelled in January 2018 due to incomplete compliance with the conditions set.
Ukraine is part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership. An EU-Ukraine association agreement, which includes free trade provisions, entered into force on 1 September 2017.
The further disbursements will be conditional on Ukraine respecting democratic mechanisms and the rule of law, and guaranteeing respect for human rights. They will be subject to economic policy and financial conditions, focusing on structural reforms and sound public finances and including a timeframe for their fulfilment. The conditions will be laid down in a memorandum of understanding between Ukraine and the Commission.”
4. Canadian weapons destined for Kurds should go to Ukraine instead: Conservatives
The Canadian Press reported, “Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives want the federal government to give Ukraine $9.5 million worth of military equipment originally intended to help Kurdish forces in their fight against Islamic militants in Iraq.
The Trudeau government announced 15 months ago that it would give the Kurds weapons – including rifles, machine-guns, light mortars, grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles – as part of Canada’s revamped mission to help eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
But there were delays in getting approvals from the Iraqi government, and in ensuring adequate safeguards were in place to prevent the weapons from winding up in the hands of paramilitary groups accused of committing war crimes in Iraq. […] To this day, those weapons remain in storage at a Canadian Forces supply depot in Montreal.
Now, the Conservatives say a Scheer government would send those arms to Ukraine instead. ‘They’ve been allowing these weapons to sit in storage and collect dust and, meanwhile, the violence in Ukraine has taken on a new spring offensive,’ said Conservative defence critic James Bezan. ‘Instead of letting those weapons go to waste, let’s get them in the hands of people that can use them.’ […]
The Ukrainian government has asked Canada to provide it with defensive weaponry, as the United States has done, but the Trudeau government has been non-committal. It did open the door six months ago to the export of Canadian-made weapons to Ukraine, but it refuses to say whether any requests for arms export permits to Ukraine have been received, much less approved.”
5. Prime Minister of Poland: Nord Stream 2 is poison pill for European security
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says Russia’s planned natural-gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, is a weapon of hybrid warfare that Moscow wants to use to undermine European energy security and the solidarity of the European Union and NATO.
Morawiecki said at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Warsaw on May 28 that Nord Stream 2 is ‘a poison pill for European security, which can have far-reaching consequences.’
Nord Stream 2 is a controversial project that would expand the current Nord Stream pipeline, which passes along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian gas to Germany. The United States, Poland, the Baltic states, and several other EU countries have expressed concern about Nord Stream 2 — which avoids existing gas pipelines through Ukraine — and the added leverage on energy security it could give Moscow. […]
Earlier at the assembly, Polish President Andrzej Duda also issued a warning about Russian intentions in Europe. ‘With regret, it must be said that Moscow has never come to terms with the collapse of the imperial Soviet Union. The invasion of Georgia and the unlawful annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine illustrate the real intentions of Russia,’ Duda said.”