Ukraine: Daily Briefing – December 4, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 4, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Commander of the Canadian Army Lt. Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier visits Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training mission to Ukraine. 
Photo – CAF Operations
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 two 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 14 times in total, including at least 4 times with heavy weapons. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 3 and wounded 3 enemy combatants.
2. Ukraine’s President meets with relatives of Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia
Ukraine's President meets with relatives of Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia. To view video, please click on image above
Ukraine’s President meets with relatives of Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia. To view video, please click on image above
 Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko met with the relatives of Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia in Russia’s naval attack at the Azov Sea on November 25.
            Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “Today, the task was given to the Minister of Justice to complete the filing of a lawsuit against Russia for this act of aggression in order to ensure that those who gave these orders are brought to justice,” President Poroshenko noted during a meeting with the relatives of the Ukrainian sailors captured by the Kremlin. Petro Poroshenko noted that the Russian Federation ‘has fallen into this trap with its absolute hatred of Ukraine, with its malice.’
             He stressed that Ukrainian sailors were prisoners of war: ‘They are classical prisoners of war according to the Geneva Convention. And that is why our position will be very tough.’ […]
             The Head of State also emphasized the need to strengthen sanctions policy as regards the actions of the Russian Federation and said that the package of ‘Azov sanctions’ was being discussed, which would deal with individuals who participated in the aggression against Ukrainian ships. Also sanctions against Russian seaports and Russian ships are planned.
            At the same time, the President stressed that ‘we must struggle for the Kerch Strait.’ ‘We will not give up a single piece of Ukrainian land,’ he stressed.”
3. “He is a Patriot”: Ukrainians rally around defiant sailor detained by Russia
image – Andriy Yermolenko

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 3, “Ukrainian naval officer Lt. Roman Mokriak remained loyal to Kyiv even as most of the crew of his submarine defected when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
             Now one of 24 Ukrainian sailors Russia detained after it fired on and captured their ships, he has defied the Kremlin again, refusing to speak with security-service agents or record a video confession, his lawyer said.
             Lt. Mokriak’s dogged stand, along with that of another boat commander who proclaimed his innocence in court, has been hailed by compatriots as a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to Russian efforts to bring its former vassal to heel.
             ‘He is a patriot and remains a patriot,’ said his cousin, Taras Kravchenko, praising 31-year-old Lt. Mokriak’s disobedience as characteristic of Ukraine’s defiance. […]
             Russia’s attack on three Ukrainian ships seeking to pass through a narrow strait from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov looks like an attempt to remind Ukraine that Moscow can wield its overwhelming power with little Western response beyond verbal opprobrium, analysts said.”
4. Statement by NATO Secretary General following meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia
NATO Foreign Ministers are meeting in Brussels December 4-5. Today, they met with the Foreign Ministers of Georgia and Ukraine. Following the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “NATO Foreign Ministers have just met with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia. We addressed the security situation in the Black Sea region.
             Including Russia’s violations of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Four years ago, Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Now, Russia is attempting to use Crimea to expand its influence. And control the Sea of Azov.
             Just a few days ago, we saw Russia use military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel. We call on Russia to immediately release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized. Russia must allow freedom of navigation. And allow unhindered access to Ukrainian ports. […]
             We also restated NATO’s solidarity with Ukraine. We recognise Ukraine’s aspirations to join the Alliance. And progress has already been made on reforms. But challenges remain, so we encourage Ukraine to continue on this path of reform. This is crucial for prosperity and peace in Ukraine.

Allies greatly value our unique partnerships with Georgia and Ukraine. In different ways, each of them contributes to our shared security. And NATO remains committed to strengthening our ties with both countries.”

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