A Canadian Armed Forces sniper takes a concealed position during training at IPSC, Ukraine, during Operation UNIFIER. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of May 10-16, two Ukrainian service member were killed in action and eight service members were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russia-led proxy forces opened fire 96 times including 29 times using heavy weapons on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front.
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that while returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed four and wounded at least 13 enemy troops in the last week.
2. President Poroshenko Signs Ukrainian Language Bill into Law
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. Photo courtesy of UNIAN
On May 15, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed bill No. 5670-d into law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as an official one.” During the signing he referred to it as one of the most important acts for the formation of Ukrainian statehood. “The language is definitely a platform, a foundation on which the nation and state are built,” the Head of State said.
The Verkhovna Rada (VR) [Ukrainian Parliament] adopted the language bill on April 25 which was signed by the VR Chairman Andriy Parubiy on May 14 after the lawmakers rejected all four draft resolutions proposing that the parliament’s decision to adopt the draft law be repealed.
The law stipulates that the citizens of Ukraine know Ukrainian as the language of their citizenship. The state shall organize Ukrainian language courses for adults and provide an opportunity for citizens of Ukraine to learn the national language free of charge if they had no such opportunity.
3. Feature Interview: Canadian Ambassador Waschuk on Ukrainian politics
Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Roman Waschuk. Photo courtesy of UNIAN
On May 14, Ukrayinska Pravda (UP) has published an interview with Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Roman Waschuk. The Canadian diplomat talked about the upcoming Ukraine Reforms Conference in Toronto, Ukraine’s political vector, recent visit of Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, presidential elections, expectations, Marshall Plan for Ukraine, Canada’s support, and cooperation with Ukraine.
When asked about the Ukrainian society His Excellency Waschuk noted of the social negativism phenomenon amplified by the four factors that include natural distrust of Ukrainians to power, Russia’s propaganda influence, oligarchic media, and “hyper-maximalist” expectations by the civil society. Therefore, in his opinion, it is important that the newly elected president creates a visual image that would unite the society.
When talking about the reform priorities Ambassador Waschuk advised to listen to Ukrainian voters and spoke about the sensibility of choosing the civic-centric approach rather than an institutional or political one.
Click here to read the full Ambassador Waschuk’s interview [in Ukrainian]
4. Rock Star Vakarchuk Enters Race for Ukrainian Parliament
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk speaks at a panel during the Yalta European Strategy conference in Kyiv on Sept. 15, 2018. Photo by Volodymyr Petrov
Famous frontman of the popular Ukrainian rock band Okean Elzy Svyatoslav Vakarchuk announced that he would run for the Ukrainian parliament as the leader of the new Voice [pronounced as Holos in Ukrainian. Ed] party which means both voice and vote in Ukrainian. He also presented a few members of his campaign team: “Yulia Klymenko, a former deputy economy minister; Solomiia Bobrovska, a former deputy governor of Odesa; Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the former director of Transparency International Ukraine; Andriy Sharaskin, a Donbas war veteran and defender of the Donetsk airport; and Yuriy Sokolov, a prominent cardiologist.”
Vakarchuk’s party is expected to challenge the old political elite in the Ukrainian parliament, continuie Ukraine’s pro-European course and hold the authorities accountable to the public.
5. Ukraine’s Coalition Failure, Signing of Inauguration Decree and Wave of Resignations
President Poroshenko. Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree on inauguration of President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to the document, the organizing committee has been formed and approved “to plan and organize the events related to the inauguration of the newly elected President of Ukraine”. The Foreign Ministry has been tasked with inviting foreign delegations (representatives of the diplomatic corps of foreign states) to attend the inauguration ceremony scheduled for May 20.
Ukrainian Parliament Chairman Andriy Parubiy. Photo by UGCC
Ukrainian Parliament Chairman Parubiy announces breakup of coalition in the Verkhovna Rada as of May 17, 2019, after the People´s Front faction announced about its withdrawal from the coalition. Now, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, MPs should form a new majority within a month from the date of termination of the coalition’s activities.
On May 17 Ukraine witnessed a series of resignations of several top officials including Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Vitaliy Kovalchuk, First Deputy Head of Presidential Administration, as well as Kostiantyn Yeliseyev, who furnished his letter of resignation yesterday.
The departing officials stated that they wanted to make space for the new people and expressed their willingness to work with the new team once President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy gets inaugurated and appoints his new cabinet.
6. Ex-commander of Ukrainian Joint Forces: About 75,000 Russian Soldiers Stationed in Crimea and Donbas
General Serhiy Nayev. Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post
During the recent interview with the Ukrainian television news service TSN the former Ukrainian Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Nayev spoke of the achievements of the Ukrainian Armed Forces during his tenure as a senior commanding officer, his personal career goals, military intelligence and counterintelligence, Ukraine’s naval capabilities, the amount of Russian troops in Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk regions and the amount of time required to retake Ukraine’s territory.
“About 75,000 ranking members of the Russian military are now stationed in occupied Crimea and certain areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions,” said General Nayev. “Forty thousand members of [Russian] military are in Crimea, another thirty five thousand are stationed in certain areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. […] Special units, and instructors are from Russia. There are from 2,100 to 2,300 of them. In addition, there are about 11,000 Russian citizens (since even before Russia started distributing its passports).”
In addition, General Nayev has informed that the generals of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation hold key positions in the so-called 1st Army Corps [of Donetsk] or the 2nd Army Corps [of Luhansk] keeping them out of the public eye.
Read the full TSN interview with General Serhiy Nayev here [in Ukrainian].
7. Ukraine Intelligence Declassifies Hundreds of Documents on UNR
Photo from SZRU archives
The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine declassified almost 350 documents from its archive on the activities of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR), as reported by Ukrainian media. Among the documents now open to the public are diplomatic and financial papers, orders, resolutions, regulations, letters, and photographs that cover the activities of the UNR authorities.
Some of the documents describe the activities of UNR government in exile and efforts to restore the Cossack movement in Ukraine. “Of particular interest are the materials related to the assassination of Symon Petliura,” reads the agency’s statement referring to the Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Army and UNR President during Ukraine’s short-lived sovereignty in 1918-1921.
8. Ukrainian and Canadian Ministers of Veteran’s Affairs to Meet in July
Iryna Fryz, Minister of Veteran’s Affairs of Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Kyiv Post
Minister of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine Iryna Fryz has announced that she would be meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Canada in July when she would be travelling as part of the government delegation. She admitted that she had been discussing the work of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine with the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk who supported the initiative for the creation of a unified state register of veterans and E-Veteran online platform.
Ukraine created the Ministry for Veteran’s Affairs in 2018 assigning Iryna Fryz, Ukrainian MP and the Chief of the mission of Ukraine to NATO, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.
On May 8 the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) hosted a delegation of Ukrainian veterans from Pobratymy and Dopomoha Ukraini-Aid Ukraine, who spent two days in Ottawa meeting with Veterans Affairs Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion National Headquarters and the Military Family Resource Centre – National Capital Region learning about programs and services and discussing the current situation of Ukrainian veterans and the care and support they receive when returning home from war.
9. MP Larry Maguire Recognizes Vyshyvanka Day in the House of Commons
MP Larry Maguire
In celebration of the traditional Vyshyvanka Day here is the link to a video of Conservative MP Larry Maguire recognizing Vyshyvanka Day in the House of Commons on May 15, 2019.
10. Parliament Fails to Vote on the Motion to Recognize the 1944 Deportation of Crimean Tatar People as Genocide
The flag of Crimean Tatar People. Picture courtesy of UATV
On May 16 the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met with the Mustafa Dzhemilev, former Chairman of the Mejlis [governing body] of the Crimean Tatar People, and Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chief of Mejlis who was imprisoned by the Russian Federation and served three years in Russian prison. During the meeting the delegates talked about the current situation in Crimea under the Russian occupation.
“There are sanctions and those sanctions are insufficient to make Russia leave from the occupied territories,” responded the members of the Crimean Tatar delegation. “We believe that the Magnitsky Act should expand to include the repressions against the Crimean Tatar People – the indigenous people of Crimea,” they emphasized. Click here to listen to the recording of the meeting.
Later that day, Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced the Motion 214, calling on the House to recognize the Crimean Tatar People deportation of 1944 as an act of genocide. Unfortunately, the Motion did not receive unanimous support. The Canadian Association of Crimean Tatars has already expressed that it “was saddened to learn about the defeat of Motion 214.”