Ukraine: Daily Briefing – June 18, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
June 18, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. 
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four 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 20 times in total, including at least 6 times with heavy weapons.
2. Thirty-Eight countries ask UN Chief to intervene with Russia on behalf of illegally jailed Ukrainian citizens
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “The United States, France, Britain, and 35 other countries have asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to raise the case of jailed film director Oleh Sentsov and dozens of other Ukrainian prisoners during his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.
           A letter making the request was delivered to Guterres on June 15 by Ukraine’s mission to the United Nations. The UN chief is scheduled to hold talks with Putin on June 20 and attend a Portugal-Morocco match during the World Cup that Russia is hosting.
          The letter comes as a Ukrainian ombudswoman said she was prevented from meeting with Sentsov on June 15 in the penal colony in Russia’s far-northern Yamalo-Nenets region where he is being held.
           In their letter, the 38 countries wrote that the case of Sentsov, who has been on a hunger strike since May 14, poses a ‘matter of urgency’ and said Guterres should try to mediate a solution.
          ‘The UN’s engagement on these concerns is welcome and we would encourage further steps to address the plight of all those unlawfully detained,’ the letter said.
          Among the signatories were Australia, Canada, and many EU countries, along with Turkey, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.
         Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko presented Guterres with the letter and a list of dozens of Ukrainian detainees in Russia, including labor unionist Oleksandr Kolchenko, historian Stanislav Klykh, and politician Mykola Karpyuk.”
3. Illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol: EU extends sanctions by one year
The European Council stated, “On 18 June 2018, the Council extended the restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia until 23 June 2019.
            The measures apply to EU persons and EU based companies. They are limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol. The sanctions include prohibitions on: imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU; investment in Crimea or Sevastopol, meaning that no Europeans nor EU-based companies can buy real estate or entities in Crimea, finance Crimean companies or supply related services; tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol, in particular, European cruise ships cannot call at ports in the Crimean peninsula, except in case of emergency;   exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors and related to the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources. Technical assistance, brokering, construction or engineering services related to infrastructure in these sectors must not be provided either.
          As stated in the declaration by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU on 16 March 2018, the EU remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Four years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the EU reiterated that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law.”
4. US Secretary of Defense: Putin seeks to shatter NATO
Secretary Mattis, photo – US Department of Defense
Speaking at the US Naval War College Commencement on June 15, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated, “I am confident that you’re going to carry forward that legacy of what those officers found here or brought to this school as you take your intellectual firepower forward and tackle the security problems of our time, because we are witnessing a world awash in change, as former Secretary of State George Schultz described it, a world beset by the reemergence of great power competition.
           And we define the categories of challenges in the following way:  urgency and power and will — political will. First, on urgency, we see it epitomized by the North Korea situation, as well as by the threat from violent extremist organizations, two very, very different challenges that have our ongoing attention.  […]
          The second category of competition is military power, and we see the Russian Federation as the nation closest to us in nuclear parity and proven willing to use conventional and irregular power in violation of international norms.

For the first time since World War II, Russia has been the nation that has redrawn international borders by force of arms in Georgia and Ukraine, while pursuing veto authority over their neighbors’ diplomatic, economic and security decisions.  Putin seeks to shatter NATO.  He aims to diminish the appeal of the Western democratic model and attempts to undermine America’s moral authority.  His actions are designed not to challenge our arms, at this point, but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals.”

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