Ukraine: Daily Briefing
September 19, 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 at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was 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 25 times in total. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 3 and wounded 5 enemy combatants.
2. Ukraine’s economy grows 3.8% in Q2 2018
Ukraine Business News reported, “Ukraine’s economy grew by 3.8% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the State Statistics Service reports, updating its provisional estimate of 3.6%. For all of 2018, estimates range from the government’s 3.2% to the World Bank’s 3.5%. By contrast, the total economy of the OECD, a group of 36 largely high-income countries, is forecast to grow by 2.5%.”
3. Ukraine’s defense and security spending expected up by 21 percent in 2019
The Kyiv Post reported, “Ukraine is expected to allocate a new record-high Hr 209.5 billion ($7.45 billion) on defense and security in 2019 – an increase of 21.1 percent compared to the previous fiscal year, which also saw record defense spending.
The new defense budget will probably reach approximately 5.9 percent of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, which is forecast at $126.7 billion by the International Monetary Fund.
According to the recently approved law on national security and the country’s revised military doctrine, aimed at countering Russian aggression, the overall annual defense spending should be at least 5 percent of the country’s estimated GDP, including 3 percent for the Armed Forces alone.
The new draft law on the state budget for 2019 submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on Sept. 15, promises record-high spending on each of the country’s principal defense and security bodies.”
4. US Mission to OSCE: Authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea continue to target Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians for reprisal
The US Mission to the OSCE stated, “The United States condemns the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine and Georgia. Its occupation of parts of their territory are egregious examples of aggressive nationalism. Russia seized Crimea by force, and as it seeks to ‘russify’ the peninsula, occupation authorities continue to discriminate against and target for reprisal the two largest non-Russian minorities – Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. Russian occupation authorities have banned most Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar-language media, replacing the content with Russian programming, and commit gross and widespread harassment of organizations representing minority communities.
Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars can no longer gather to celebrate their national holidays and mark historic dates, school instruction in their languages has decreased dramatically, and their leaders have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, interrogation, politically motivated prosecution, and imprisonment.
Russia fomented the conflict in eastern Ukraine on the false pretext of protecting Russian speakers. As the direct result of Russian aggression, the population has undergone terrible suffering: nearly two million people have been displaced and more than 10,000 killed. In Russia-controlled territory, civilians considered to have pro-Ukrainian sympathies have been imprisoned, tortured, and subjected to extrajudicial killings.”
5. Live Event today, 3:30 PM EDT – Atlantic Council hosts conversation with Patriarch Filaret
The event will be livestreamed online here, beginning at 3:30 PM EDT:
The Atlantic Council stated, “The Kremlin has long used the Russian Orthodox Church as an instrument of influence in Ukraine. To combat this, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) has been seeking to establish autocephaly, or official independence, from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Recent statements both from Kyiv and Constantinople suggest that the prospects for granting autocephaly are growing.
If independence is granted, it will greatly strengthen the position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and the Church will emerge as one of the two largest churches in the Orthodox world alongside the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Given the current power of the Russian Orthodox Church, autocephaly would be an event of both geopolitical and religious importance. Please join us for a conversation with Patriarch Filaret, Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, regarding the prospects for autocephaly and its significance.”