Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 27, 2019, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that on March 26, one service member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 23 times on Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sector using heavy weapons in 6 instances.
According to the Ukrainian military intelligence report one invader was killed and two were wounded as a result of returning fire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on March 26.
2. UWC Elections Mission: Disinformation is a Serious Threat to a Free, Democratic Electoral Process
Disinformation is one of the most serious threats to a free democratic electoral process, noted Eugene Czolij, the Head of Ukraine World Congress International Observation Mission to Ukraine’s 2019 Elections (UWC Mission) and former president of UWC. He held a press conference at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv on March 26 to present the UWC’s interim report.
“The disinformation campaign is not confined to the Ukrainian information sphere and is widespread throughout the world with the goal of disillusioning Ukraine’s allies,” said the Head of the UWC Mission.
When talking about the UWC Mission he emphasized that it was unique in its composition and scope, consisting mostly of Ukrainian-speaking observers. It includes long-term observers (LTOs) who carry media monitoring outside of Ukraine and short-term observers (STOs) who monitor the electoral process both in Ukraine and at Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad, highlighted Czolij.
In addition to the current interim report the UWC Mission will be issuing two more reports: Preliminary Observations the day after the election on 1 April 2019 and Final Report eight weeks after the election.
The UWC Mission is also working closely with the observation mission of the its member organization – Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), which has deployed 77 STOs. Together, the UCC and UCCA boast the second largest after the OSCE contingent of election observers deploying 296 STOs from 17 countries, 122 LTOs observing elections in diplomatic representations of Ukraine in 24 countries. The findings of both missions will be integrated into the Final Report of the UWC Mission.
3. ABC News: Russian security forces raid homes of Crimean Tatars
On Wednesday, March 27, Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman reported that the Russian state security service (FSB) arrested seven Crimean Tatars who were predominantly Muslim. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the raids as violations of human rights. The Russian intelligence agency claimed that it was searching multiple homes for members of a banned (in Russia) extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Russian security forces have been targeted members of the group even since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
4. U.S. House of Representatives Passes a Bill to Combat Russian Influence and Aid European Energy Security
On March 26, the House of Representatives passed the Bill 1616, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act, with a strong bipartisan vote of 391-24. which is to “advance United States foreign policy and development goals by assisting European and Eurasian countries to.”
Introduced by Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA), the legislation is aimed at helping the United States and countries across Europe and Eurasia with global energy security while also encouraging diversification of energy sources and their supply routes. It is also designed to reduce their dependence on energy resources from countries that use energy dependence for undue political influence, such as the Russian Federation, which has used natural gas to coerce, intimidate, and influence other countries.
“I’m glad to see such swift action on the European Energy Security and Diversification Act,” said Congressman Kinzinger, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment.
“The Russian Federation, led by Vladimir Putin, has long used energy as a weapon to coerce and manipulate European countries. As American energy production continues to rise, we have a prime opportunity to support our allies and provide an alternative to the stronghold Russia employs over energy sources. With U.S. support, we can stop Putin from threatening the security of our European partners and further help our allies increase their own energy security to better defend against these bad actors,” stated Kinzinger
The legislation authorizes $1 billion in financing to catalyze U.S. public and private sector investment for European energy projects that can help diversify Europe’s energy supply and decrease Russia’s hold on the region.
Read the full text of the Bill H.R. 1616.
5. Global Voices: With elections just days away, Ukraine faces disinformation, cyber attacks and further Russian interference
Ukraine may be “the most globally advanced case of computational propaganda”, according to the disinformation researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute. Russia’s meddling with Ukraine’s elections, Facebook’s efforts to counter malicious campaigns, the role of the journalists, researchers and civil society in countering disinformation are all intertwined in this Global Voices article by Tetyana Bohdanova.
“A more recent study by VoxUkraine reviewed more than nine million tweets linked to the IRA [Internet Research Agency], of which 750,000 related to Ukraine. This disinformation campaign appears to have been sparked by the 2014 Euromaidan revolution and has steadily gained ground through the occupation and annexation of Crimea. The campaign went into overdrive the day after Malaysian flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine,” noted Bohdanova
According to some observers at the Ukrainian Election Task Force “Russia’s goal is not to aid a particular candidate, but rather “to delegitimize the election process altogether.”
Click here to read the full article by Tetyana Bohdanova
6. Turkish Diplomat to Take Over OSCE Ukraine Monitoring Mission
On March 27 the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying that Yasar Halit Cevik will take charge of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The OSCE mission remains a key component of monitoring the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region, that claimed more than 13,000 lives and affected more than 1.5 million people who fled their homes, according to the United Nations