Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
June 16-22, 2018
Operation UNIFIER – CAF and UAF personnel during training exercises.
Photo – CAF Operations
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of June 15-21, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 16 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 198 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 39 times with heavy weapons – artillery and mortars.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament passes Law on National Security of Ukraine
For the statement by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko following the adoption of the Law on National Security, please click on image above.
On June 21, Ukraine’s Parliament passed the Law on National Security of Ukraine, with 248 MPs voting in support. Ukrinform reported, “The draft law regulates the fundamentals and principles of state policy in the field of national security and defense, taking into account the acquisition of membership in the EU and NATO, the mechanisms for improving democratic civilian control over the security and defense sector, the system of management of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in particular, the division of tasks, functions, powers, responsibilities and accountability of the management of the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces.”
3. On 40th day of Sentsov hunger strike, doctors say crisis imminent
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on June 22, “40 days after beginning an indefinite hunger strike, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is experiencing heart and kidney problems. His lawyer Dmitry Dinze has just visited him in the Arctic Circle prison where Russia is illegally holding him, and says that the doctors are warning that a crisis is imminent. […]
It was the prison doctors who warned Dinze that a crisis is imminent. There was a partial crisis on 16 June when Sentsov was taken to the public hospital. There a doctor in emergency care suggested placing him in emergency care and beginning force-feeding. Sentsov, however, wrote a statement, rejecting both hospitalization and force-feeding, and he was returned to the prison.
Oleg also rejected the call from the European Court of Human Rights for him to end his hunger strike. He sent greetings to the Court in Strasbourg, while noting that his application was given priority status, and yet there has been no progress on it for years (since July 2014).”
The full report from KHPG is available here
4. NY Times Editorial: costly sports show doesn’t wipe away Russian government’s crimes
The NY Times Editorial Board wrote on June 18, “In the midst of hosting the World Cup soccer extravaganza, the last thing Vladimir Putin wants to be reminded of is human rights, Crimea or Ukraine. That’s a good reason to raise the case of Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker who has been on a hunger strike for more than a month in a remote Siberian penal colony, to remind the Russian president that his costly sport show does not wipe away his government’s crimes.
Mr. Sentsov, a 41-year-old native of Crimea, was making a name on the film festival circuit and working on his second feature film when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. He was arrested with three other Ukrainians on charges of “terrorism,” which purportedly consisted of plotting to blow up a statue of Lenin and set fire to the door of a Russian political party. Mr. Sentsov said he was beaten into a confession; during his trial, the main witness against him retracted his testimony, saying it was given under torture.
No matter. Following in the best tradition of the Soviet era, Mr. Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which he is currently serving in Russia’s northernmost prison. On May 14, he went on a hunger strike to demand the release of about 70 Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. The case has raised an international outcry. […]
The Kremlin has gone on its usual counterattack. It maliciously claimed that Mr. Sentsov’s bruises were not torture marks but a result of his “sadomasochism.” Kremlin-allied media have cast aspersions on his filmmaking and, of course, have claimed that Western protests over his incarceration are a ploy to undermine Russia’s World Cup tournament.
No, no and no. Mr. Putin’s regime alone is responsible for the assaults on Ukraine, for Mr. Sentsov’s torture and phony trial and for whatever shadow Russia’s actions cast over the soccer games.
Mr. Sentsov is risking his life to draw attention to all this. He and the truth he proclaims deserve the full support of the West.”
5. 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.”
6. Naftogaz serves Gazprom with order to freeze assets in the United Kingdom
Naftogaz Ukrainy stated on June 19, “Naftogaz today served Gazprom with an order to freeze assets in England and Wales. The order was issued by the Commercial Court in London on 18 June 2018 to enforce the Stockholm arbitration award, whereby Gazprom owes Naftogaz US2.6 billion. In addition to freezing assets, it requires Gazprom to provide Naftogaz with a list of all assets with a value greater than USD 50.000 located in England or Wales.
The court has scheduled a hearing on the order for 6 July 2018. In the meantime, Gazprom is obligated to maintain assets in England and Wales equal to the value of the transit award.Naftogaz today has also notified the London offices of 17 banks doing business with Gazprom of that they may not facilitate any reduction in Gazprom’s assets in England and Wales of the order against Gazprom. Banks that fail to comply could be penalised.”
7. Former NATO Deputy Secretary General: NATO can help itself by pulling Ukraine closer now
In an article for RealClear World, former NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow stated, “NATO is gearing up for its next summit. The Alliance’s Brussels summit in July will take place against the backdrop of growing Transatlantic strains. […]
There is one concrete initiative that can unite allies across the Atlantic and bolster our collective security: strengthening NATO’s partnership with Ukraine. Ukraine wants to join NATO. This is not immediately possible given the current security situation and the status of Ukraine’s defense reforms, although it must remain on the table. For now, the Alliance can increase its cooperation with Ukraine independently of the membership question. While not a replacement for membership, inviting Ukraine to become an Enhanced Opportunities Partner is the natural next step in Kyiv’s relationship with NATO. […]
The list of designated countries remains small, comprising Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden. Ukraine does not count among them, but Kyiv has more than met the criteria needed to earn this designation. First of all, Ukraine pulls its weight in NATO missions. […]
Ukraine currently contributes 5 percent of its gross domestic product to defense, more than any NATO ally. Four years of war against Russian-backed forces in the Donbas have forged the most battle-hardened troops on the European continent and bolstered a significant military-industrial sector. Ukrainian capabilities, knowledge, and technical expertise would be of significant value to the Alliance. No one else has as much knowledge of Russia as Ukraine, nor as much practical expertise in combatting Russian use of cyber-attacks, disinformation, and other forms of ‘hybrid warfare’ aimed at undermining our democracies. Ukraine will also play a major role in Alliance efforts to strengthen its security in the Black Sea in order to protect NATO’s southeastern flank.
EOP status would recognize that special relationship and take the partnership to the next level. It would bring Kyiv into more political consultations with NATO at the ambassadorial and working level, would grant it more access to exercises, and would increase information sharing. Far from being a one-way relationship, it would also significantly enhance NATO’s expertise and operational skills. Some allies may be reluctant to support this step, but strong U.S. leadership could make it happen. […]
The Trump administration has shown that it is willing to support Ukraine’s security, not least through the recent decision to supply Javelin anti-tank missiles. Now Washington can show that it can unite NATO allies by further strengthening the Alliance’s partnership with Ukraine, the main victim of Russian aggression. Ukraine has shown itself to be worthy of taking the next step in its relations with NATO. Granting Ukraine EOP status would not only be a symbolic reward for its hard work in support of the Alliance, but a boost for NATO’s own security as well.”