Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
December 1-7, 2018
|On December 6, Ukraine marked Armed Forces Day.
Слава Україні! Героям Слава!
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of November 30-December 6, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and seven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 87 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 24 times with heavy weapons. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 18 and wounded 18 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Russia levels sham charges of “illegal border crossing” against 24 Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner following Russian attack in Azov Sea
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on December 3, “A lawyer for a Ukrainian sailor detained by Russia last month while trying to pass from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov has confirmed that all 24 Ukrainian sailors involved in the incident have been charged by Russian authorities with ‘illegal border crossing.’
The sailors were aboard three Ukrainian Navy ships that were fired upon by the Russian Coast Guard and seized by Russian special forces on November 25 when their ships attempted to pass through the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer for detained Ukrainian sailor Denys Hrytsenko, said on December 3 that the detained sailors were formally charged on November 27. Dzhemil Temishev, an attorney for another of the Ukrainian sailors, said on November 29 that 21 of the detainees were being transferred from Russia-annexed Crimea to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow. […] Western leaders — including all members of the G7 — have called on Russia to release the Ukrainian crew and return the seized navy ships to Kyiv.”
3. President: Ukraine taking measures to confront threat of full-fledged Russian invasion
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on December 3, “Ukraine takes all available measures that may prevent a full-scale Russian invasion of its territory, President Petro Poroshenko said. One of these is the introduction of martial law in 10 regions after the open aggression of Russian soldiers against Ukrainian ships. […]
‘In order to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our state, I introduced martial law in the 10 regions of Ukraine neighboring with the Russian Federation, as well as those located on the coast of the Black and Azov Seas,’ Petro Poroshenko noted and reminded that it will last 30 days.
The President once again stressed that this is a measure aimed primarily at protecting the Ukrainian people, it will not affect the constitutional rights of citizens.
‘Again I want to emphasize – this is a preventive step, which in no way aims at curtailing the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens. It is introduced only to expand the capabilities of the Armed Forces and the entire security sector, including the National Guard, which in these conditions we have the right to engage in order to respond quickly to rising threats,’ he said, recalling the information provided by the intelligence on the increase in the number of Russian troops along our border and in the occupied Crimea.
‘Martial law is a preventive measure for 30 days. This time will be used to strengthen our defense and our ability to protect citizens from the attack of the enemy. We will not allow to repeat February-March 2014. I hope that we will be able to confine ourselves to these measures and will not need to prolong it,’ he added.
Petro Poroshenko reminded that Russian aggression has been lasting for more than four years already. Despite this, the enemy did not break us. ‘Moreover, Ukraine has already gained a great moral victory – the enemy didn’t force us to give up our values. Whatever the difficulty is, we do not resort to curtailing human rights, rights and freedoms of citizens,’ he stressed.”
4. Ukraine’s President: Unity Council declaring creation of Autocephalous Orthodox Church will be held December 15
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on December 5, “President Petro Poroshenko informed that the Unity Council declaring the creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church will be held on December 15, 2018 in St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent respective letters with the invitation to take part in this Council to the hierarchs of the UOC KP, UAOC and UOC MP.
It was stated by the President at the Forum of Local Self-Government. ‘I want to begin my statement with the announcement of an important news that is allegedly far from the topic of local self-government, but it is important for the whole country. And it is long awaited. We are glad to announce the date of the Unity Council proclaiming the creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine. This Council will approve its charter. This Council will choose the Primate. Consequently, the Council will be held on December 15, 2018 in St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which has been the center of Ukrainian religious life for centuries,’ Petro Poroshenko said.
The Head of State informed that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had already signed the letters with invitations to the hierarchs of the UOC-KP, the UAOC and the UOC-MP to take part in this extremely important historical event.”
5. Canada announces support for elections and democracy in Ukraine
Global Affairs Canada stated on December 6, “Canada is a steadfast partner of Ukraine. Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, announced that Canada will contribute up to $24 million to support electoral reforms, election observers, gender equality and inclusive governance in Ukraine.
Electoral observation missions are key contributors to strengthening democratic institutions. Canada will support Ukraine by committing a significant number of Canadian observers to support both a Canadian bilateral observation mission and, if called upon next year, an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election observation mission. Canada’s support will focus on the greater democratic participation of civil society, the empowerment of women in the democratic process and combatting the spread of disinformation and interference.
Canada stands with Ukraine on its journey to implement reforms, including strengthening democratic institutions; promoting women’s political participation; building public confidence in electoral processes; and deterring fraud, intimidation and violence.”
The backgrounder on the support announced yesterday is available here:
Backgrounder – Canada announces up to $24 million to support elections, democracy and inclusive governance in Ukraine
6. US conducts extraordinary flight over Ukraine; makes preparations to sail ship into Black Sea
The US Department of Defense stated on December 6, “Today, the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations. The United States is resolute in our support for the security of European nations.
Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is a dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity. The United States seeks a better relationship with Russia, but this cannot happen while its unlawful and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
On December 5, CNN reported, “The US has begun making the necessary preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea, a move that comes amid heightened tensions in the region following Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and detention of Ukrainian sailors.
The US military has requested that the State Department notify Turkey of its possible plans to sail a warship into the Black Sea, three US officials tell CNN, a move they said is a response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. […]
A State Department spokesman said, ‘the United States carries out its activities consistent with the terms of the Montreux Convention. We will not, however, comment on the nature of our diplomatic correspondence with the Government of Turkey.’
Two of the officials said that the notification was to provide the Navy the option to move a warship into the area, but that this option would not necessarily be selected. ‘Our US 6th Fleet is always prepared to respond where called,’ said Cdr. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for the Fleet, which oversees naval operations in the region. ‘We routinely conduct operations to advance security and stability throughout the US 6th Fleet area of operations to include the international waters and airspace of the Black Sea,’ Raines told CNN. ‘We reserve the right to operate freely in accordance with international laws and norms,’ he added.”
7. Commander of the Canadian Army visits soldiers on Operation UNIFIER
Commander of the Canadian Army visits OpUNIFIER training exercises. Photo – CAF Operations
Canada’s Department of National Defence reported on December 6, “The Commander of the Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, wrapped up a visit to Ukraine this week, during which he met with Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed on Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, as well as with Ukrainian and multinational partners.
In his first trip to Ukraine since taking command of the Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Lanthier visited deployed Canadian soldiers at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi. He also met with the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Viktor Muzhenko; the Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, Colonel General Serhii Popko; and the Commander of United States Army Europe, Lieutenant-General Christopher Cavoli. Lieutenant-General Lanthier also visited the National Guard of Ukraine where he met with the Commander, Colonel General Yurii Allerov, and attended a live-fire exercise conducted by the 30th Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
As part of Canada’s unwavering support to Ukraine, the Canadian Armed Forces are providing military instruction to enhance the capabilities of the Security Forces of Ukraine. The aim is to help Ukraine maintain its sovereignty, security and stability.”
Lt. Gen. Lanthier stated, “Having the opportunity to witness firsthand the results of the contributions of our Canadian Army soldiers to Operation UNIFIER, reminds me why I am so honoured and privileged to lead the Canadian Army. In addition to providing training to our Ukrainian counterparts, our soldiers are also learning about their experiences, ensuring this relationship is mutually beneficial. Visits such as these are crucial as they further reinforce our strong bonds with our Ukrainian Partners.”
8. Statement by NATO Secretary General following meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia
NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels December 4-5. On December 4, 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.”