Ukrainian peacekeepers. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of July 12-18, two Ukrainian service members were killed in action and eight Ukrainian service members were wounded in action. In the last week, Russia-led proxy forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk sectors of the front 108 times in total, including at least 36 times with heavy weapons
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that while returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed three and wounded at least 13 enemy troops in the last week.
President Zelenskyy meets with Prime Minister Trudeau during Ukraine Reforms Conference in Toronto_ July 2019. Photo courtesy of CBC News
Following up on the recent meeting between President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Levon Sevunts who is the reporter for the Radio Canada International, offers an overview of Canadian Ukrainian relations in the sphere of defence and military cooperation. While Ukraine’s leader has particularly expressed his interest in acquiring Canadian armoured vehicles, the author provides some of the comments by Canada’s officials and strategic partners of Ukraine.
“Ukraine needs to carry out deep structural reforms and develop a clear defence policy before it goes on a shopping spree for sophisticated Western and Canadian military equipment, says Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. According to him “once the new Ukrainian government is formed following parliamentary elections on July 21, it will decide what the military’s mission should be and what kind of equipment it needs to carry it out.”
3. National Post: Remembering the Hundreds of Innocents Russia Murdered Five Years Ago Today
MH-17 crash site. Image courtesy of CNBC
Marking the fifth anniversary of the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine today’s issue of National Post features an Op-ed by Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).
Among the 298 victims who were brutally murdered in this tragedy Chyczij mentions the name of Andrei Anghel, a 24-year-old Canadian medical student from Ajax, Ontario.”
While showcasing certain examples of the international community turning a blind eye upon Russia’s involvement in this tragedy the UCC leader highlighted Senator Gardner’s recent quote: “We must take every diplomatic step necessary to protect our allies and our democracy, and to deter a revanchist Russia that is intent on rewriting history and threatening our way of life.” Chyczij is convinced that “Canada should follow suit.”
3. Financial Times: Zelenskyy’s Plan to Purge Ukraine Officials Draws Criticism
President Zelenskyy. Courtesy of Presidential Administration of Ukraine
Last week, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced draft legislation banning the state officials who were part of the administration of Petro Poroshenko to run for government offices. “I think the least we can do now is to permanently deprive them all of the opportunities to participate in state governance,” said Ukraine’s head of state in a statement.
However, “a close associate of the president, speaking on condition of anonymity, doubted that the lustration plan was being seriously considered, and portrayed it as a ploy to appeal to Mr. Zelenskyy’s voter base ahead of parliamentary elections on July 21,” states Roman Olearchyk in his FT article
3. Prisoner Swap, Extension of the Import Ban from Russia, Law in Illicit Enrichment, Council on the Freedom of Speech, Zelenskyy Dismisses 11 Ambassadors
A prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine was scrambled on July 15 after the court in Kyiv postponed a hearing that was expected to release an imprisoned Russian journalist in exchange for the 24 Ukrainian sailors illegally captured in the Sea of Azov last November, as reported by the abc news. On July 18, during a briefing Ukraine’s president said that Ukraine was ready to exchange RIA Novosti Ukraine chief Kirill Vyshinsky for Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, illegally detained in Russia, but this exchange must be done simultaneously.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has amended the decree on the ban of imports of Russian goods into Ukraine, extending it until December 31, 2020.
On July 17 Ukraine’s president has submitted a draft law to parliament criminalizing illicit enrichment by officials, a condition for receiving support from the International Monetary Fund, as indicated on the parliament website.
Ukraine’s Presidential Office initiated the creation of a Council on Freedom of Speech under the President of Ukraine with an objective to record and eliminate threats to freedom of speech, signs of censorship and protect the rights of journalists, as reported by the Presidential Office.
President Zelenskyy has dismissed 11 Ukrainian ambassadors to the following countries: the United States, Jordan, Argentina, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Cyprus, Vietnam, Vatican City, South Africa, Nigeria, and Morocco.
4. RFE/RL: Law On Ukraine State Language Comes Into Force
Photo courtesy of 112 news channel
On July 16 the Law on Securing Ukrainian Language as the State Language came into force.
“Ukrainian becomes mandatory in all official documents, court records, elections and referendums, international treaties, and labor agreements,” reads the article in the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Contrary to numerous assumptions the law would not apply to private conversations or religious rituals.
It is estimated that Ukrainian is the “native language of some 67 percent of Ukraine’s almost 45 million population, while Russian is the native language of almost 30 percent. Russian is spoken mostly in urban areas. Almost 3 percent of Ukraine’s population are native speakers of other languages.”
5. Ukrainin World Congress Calls on Global Community to Bring to Justice Those Responsible for MH-17 Crash
Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian World Congress
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has called on the international community to bring the Russian Federation to justice for the killing of 298 innocent civilians on July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukrainian territory by a Russian-controlled missile system.
“It is appalling that on the fifth anniversary of this criminal act of terrorism against innocent civilians, Russia continues to deny its responsibility for this tragedy. Kremlin spin doctors have maintained a fervent disinformation campaign with the goal of sowing doubt about the validity of the findings while attempting to transfer the blame to Ukraine and its authorities,” stated Ukrainian World Congress President Paul Grod.
“The Ukrainian World Congress and the global Ukrainian community stand in remembrance and solidarity with the families and friends of the victims of the MH17 disaster on the fifth anniversary of this act of terrorism as the quest for justice continues. May the memory of the victims be eternal and such tragedy never happen again,” concludes the statement.
6. European Parliament Calls on Russia to Immediately Release Ukrainian Political Prisoners
On July 18 the European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling on Russian authorities to immediately release and return “all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens” held in Russia and in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-led proxy forces.
“Russian courts, whether military or civilian, are not entitled to judge acts committed outside the internationally recognized territory of Russia,” states the resolution, emphasizing that “judicial proceedings in such cases cannot be regarded as legitimate.”
The text that was adopted with 458 votes in favour, 80 against and 89 abstentions included the demand to release peaceful demonstrators who were detained at Moscow’s Red Square on July 10 and the 24 Ukrainian sailors detained by Russian forces along with their three naval vessels in November 2018 near the Kerch Strait.
In addition, the resolution demands that Russia makes public “full list of prisoners held in occupied Ukrainian territories in Donbas and Luhansk and facilitate their contact with families and lawyers.”
7. Canadian short-term election observers and Lloyd Axworthy arrive in Ukraine in advance of parliamentary elections
Lloyd Axworthy talking to election observers after arrival to Ukraine
Canadian short-term election observers are arriving in Ukraine this week to monitor the parliamentary elections on July 21, as reported by the Global Affairs Canada. The delegation is led by the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy.
“These short-term observers will join other, long-term observers who have been working with local governments and civil society organizations to examine issues ranging from the participation of women in the electoral process to foreign interference and disinformation,” the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in her statement.
8. EuroNews: Ukraine Parliamentary Election: What You Need to Know
Vote counting during presidential election in Ukraine. Image courtesy of 112 International
On Sunday, July 21, Ukrainians will cast their votes to elect a new parliament. With one day left before the election the article by Natalia Liubchenkova offers a brief overview of major contenders and what to expect.
“These results, if confirmed, could see several parties completely wiped out of parliament including the left-wing Revival and Self Reliance parties as well as the right-wing Radical Party,” writes Natalia.
According to July 19 press briefing of the Head of the UWC International Election Observation Mission to Ukraine’s 2019 Elections, Eugene Czolij, a total of 300 observers from the Ukrainian World Congress will evaluate the electoral process during the snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada and monitor media for any evidence of disinformation with respect to the elections.