Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
March 2 – 8, 2019
NEW: This week’s bulletin features a new section: Presidential Elections Updates (item #10)
|Ukrainian Army training Photo – armytimes|
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of March 1-7, one Ukrainian service member was killed in action and 10 service members were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 64 times including 57 times using heavy weapons on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front which marks 25% decrease in the number of ceasefire violations and 10% increase in heavy weapons use compared to the previous week.
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that while returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 14 and wounded at least 22 enemy troops in the last week.
2. Daily Mail: Russia Has Planned ‘Full-Scale Invasion’ Of Ukraine with 100,000 Ground Troops Able To Swoop Into The Country in Just Four Hours, Female Defector Claims
Former female tank commander from the DPR defected to Ukraine and is ready to testify in The Hague (Video in Ukrainian)
Svitlana Dryuk, 40, who until recently served as a tank commander fighting against Ukrainian Armed Forces in the eastern part of the country, defected to Ukraine and said she handed Kyiv the details of Russia’s battle plans for a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.
Reportedly, she fell in love with Ukrainian spy and fed him information leading to the destruction of eight modern Russian T-72 tanks. The story has a twist as she was an inspiration for one of the main characters of the Russian propaganda film depicting a paramedic who moved up the ranks becoming a tank commander leading an all-female tank unit. The film was supposed to be aired on May 9 [WWII Victory Day in Russia] this year.
Svitlana revealed that the Russian authorities have been issuing special IDs for all Russian soldiers who entered Ukraine providing a false proof that these people were residents of Luhansk and Donetsk regions according to international law.
Currently, Dryuk lives in Kyiv with her daughter Natalya, 19, and her teenage son Dmytro
3. Kolga and Gold: How the Kremlin Distorts the Past to Divide Us
Marcus Kolga Photo – Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Today’s Ottawa Citizen features an article by Marcus Kolga and Gosh Gold calling on the readers to remain “aware of and reject any attempts to cynically take advantage of historical issues by those who seek to divide our communities within Canada and to influence Canada’s foreign policy towards NATO and nations in Central and Eastern Europe.” This article is offered as a rebuttal to Feb. 25 David Pugliesi’s blog in the Citizen.
“Distortion of historical narratives and the use of “fascist” labels were cynically employed as an instrument of Soviet propaganda throughout the Cold War. Anyone who resisted or criticized the Soviet regime or its policies in the West was at risk of being branded a “fascist” in efforts to discredit them. Such tactics weren’t only limited to human rights and political activists; many Canadian ethnic groups who fled the Soviet Union were so labelled, in efforts to marginalize their voices and their impact on national debates,” contemplate Kolga and Gold.
The authors explain that the Soviet Union has been using the word “fascist” throughout the Cold War against anyone who resisted or criticized the Soviet regime to marginalize their opinions; Vladimir Putin has been employing this tactic since the early 2000s threatening to set communities against each other. Kremlin, however, continues to extend support to right- and left-wing extremist organizations in Europe, which represents a serious threat to the existing international rules-based order.
The authors remind that Kremlin “…itself a serial abuser of human rights and free speech” has outlawed public advocacy for LGBTQ rights, let the national media flood with anti-Semitism and let its propagandist portray the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity as “Zionist” in order to discredit it.
“Any attempts to use history and these victims to drive wedges between Canadian communities or to erode trust in Canada’s trans-Atlantic relations should be viewed with skepticism,” caution the authors.
Notably, in January 2019, Marcus Kolga has released his latest “Stemming the Virus: Understanding and responding to the threat of Russian disinformation” report
4. Ukraine’s Ambassador: Crimea shown as Russia territory on Google Maps goes against U.S. policy
|Picture – screenshot|
The Ukrainian Embassy to the United States issued a statement that showing Crimea, the peninsular annexed by the Russian Federation from Ukraine in 2014, as Russian territory on Google Maps goes against the clear-cut stance of the U.S. Administration, U.S. Congress and the United Nations.
The Ukrainian ambassador’s post on Facebook particularly recalled that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressing in July 25, 2018 Crimea Declaration that “the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea.”
The Embassy has asked the top managers of Google Inc. to fix the wrong designation of the territory of Crimea on all Google Maps in accordance with international legislation and standards, as well as the official position of the United States, insisting on the inappropriateness of involving the international corporation and Google’s search service in the information warfare that Russia has been waging internationally by spreading disinformation, fakes and propaganda. “Google representatives have repeatedly stated in public speeches and interviews that Google’s policy is focused on the development of information technology outside of the information warfare,” the Embassy noted.
On March 5 Google announced that it had corrected “an error that caused a small number of Russian iOS users to see incorrect information” following complaints from Russian State Duma officials. Russian lawmakers threatened to lodge a complaint with the Russian Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, or Roskomnadzor, thus seeking sanctions against Google Inc.
Earlier, Google Inc. assured the Russian authorities that Crimea annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 was shown as Ukrainian territory “for technical reasons” and “there is no politicization.”
5. Ukraine’s New Church Complains to UN, OSCE over Pressure in Occupied Crimea
|Klyment, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea Photo – Euromaidan|
The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine has appealed to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) over the mounting pressure on the Ukrainian church in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas.
In its statement the Holy Synod mentioned that for more than five years the occupying Russian authorities never ceased persecuting the Crimean diocese headed by Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea, Klyment. Among most recent incidents is an attempt to seize the building hosting the St Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Simferopol, pressure on church community in Yevpatoria, as well as the detention of Archbishop Klyment.
The statement also says that “the situation is significantly worsening” with respect to the right to freedom of conscience and religion in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine [the territories which are currently controlled by the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”]. On March 1, the Russia supported proxies issued a ban forbidding all OCU activities, granting full confiscation of property, and deportation of priests from the territory temporarily controlled by the Russian proxy forces in “DPR”.
“Considering these threats and an ongoing pressure on the clergy and believers of our Church in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories of Donbas and in Crimea, we appeal to the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Minsk process guarantor states, the European Union and in general to all democratic countries, international and interfaith institutions with a call to influence those who make decisions in these territories to stop the escalation of persecution of our Church,” the statement reads.
6. Ukraine Simplifies Employment Procedure for Foreigners
Photo – kostalegal
On March 6 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine made a move that is expected to increase Ukraine’s attractiveness for highly qualified specialists. During the meeting on deregulation the Cabinet of Ministers has adopted a series of decisions including the one that would simplify employment of foreigners.
Reportedly, the Ukrainian government decided to ease the procedure for obtaining long-term visas by foreigners seeking employment in Ukraine. Now, foreign nationals who are already in the country will be able to submit their work visa applications to the Department of Consular Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without leaving Ukraine. In addition, the government canceled about 150 irrelevant acts related to price regulation and approved nine new criteria for introducing risk-oriented audits for businesses.
According to Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, the Cabinet during the seven sessions on deregulation has amended or canceled more than 1,200 regulatory documents.
7. Canadian Monitoring Mission Returning to Ukraine for Presidential Elections
|Photo – Oleg Petrasiuk|
Today’s Kyiv Post features the story of a Canadian of Ukrainian origin Natalia Toroshenko from Alberta, Canada, who didn’t hesitate to come to Ukraine as CANADEM’s long-term observers to monitor the presidential election in Ukraine as well as the explanation of mission objectives by the Deputy Head of the Observers Mission Olga Odynska-Grod.
The article goes on to explain the mandate of the mission, the candidate selection criteria, the logistics and planning behind the mission. The mission officials believe the observers are crucial to preserving Ukraine’s ability to conduct a democratic and fair election in the face of Russian efforts to destabilize the country. During her interview Toroshenko said that she had witnessed improvements in the democratic process in Ukraine “with each election, whether presidential, parliamentary, or municipal.”
8. Chatham House: Ukraine’s Presidential Election: Key Candidates and Key Questions
This article provides an overview of the current presidential election in Ukraine including the socio-political environment. Author Anna Korbut, a Fellow of the Academy Robert Bosch Russia and Eurasia Program, breaks down the leading candidates and comes up with questions that she believes the voters need to be asking before making their decisions.
“Ukraine needs politicians that could marry the expectations of voters to the harsh reality of changes the country must go through over the next few years. Instead, the campaign is being driven by reckless criticism of the incumbent president, personality cults and populism. While delivering quick electoral gains, these tactics promise neither strategic thinking nor the ‘new’ politics the country needs,” sums up Korbut
To read Anna Korbut’s article press here
9. Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague finds Russia expropriated Naftogaz assets in Crimea in violation of investment treaty
|Picture – Naftogaz|
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine and six of its subsidiaries, concluding that the Russian Federation was liable for the unlawful seizure of Naftogaz assets in Crimea under the bilateral investment treaty between Ukraine and Russia.
“It’s a very important victory, which will help put the aggressor to justice for the stolen assets,” commented Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev. “Thanks to efforts of both international community and Ukraine, the cost of Crimea annexation for Russia will constantly grow. The tribunal’s decision is an important step in this direction.”
Ukrainian Naftogaz owned some of the most valuable energy assets in Crimea which became the top targets when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea in 2014.
Later, The Hague tribunal will launch a second phase of the proceedings to determine the amount of compensation Russia owes to Naftogaz. Naftogaz experts have estimated the value of Naftogaz’s stolen assets at $5 billion.
Naftogaz filed for arbitration against the Russian Federation in October 2016 pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the Encouragement and Mutual Protection of Investments, more commonly known as the Russia-Ukraine bilateral investment treaty, or BIT. A hearing on matters of jurisdiction and liability was held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in May 2018.
The six Naftogaz subsidiaries are National Joint Stock Company “Chornomornaftogaz,” JSC Ukrtransgaz, Likvo LLC, JSC Ukrgasvydobuvannya, JSC Ukrtransnafta, and Subsidiary Company Gaz Ukraiiny.
More information about the case can be found on the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration
10. NEW: UCC: Presidential Elections Updates
In view of the upcoming presidential elections the Ukrainian Canadian Congress will offer weekly updates on the presidential race in Ukraine, including the latest polling results. For your convenience we have put together links to the most up-to-date information available on the candidates and polling results.
This week the top running candidates are the current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky.
Graphic Summary of the polling votes for the top 3 candidates
Who is who in Ukraine’s presidential race with key dates and top contenders
CNBC: Ukraine elections: What’s going on and why it matters
Bloomberg: Ukraine’s Election Wildcard Assembles a Team to Match His Ambition
Democratic Initiatives Foundation: The presidential campaign in Ukraine: new front-runners and old challenges
The latest polling results are available here