On July 29 the elite branch of the Ukrainian military – Special Operations Forces celebrate their professional holiday. Image Ukrainian MOD
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of July 26 – August 1, three 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 22 times in total, including at least five times using heavy weapons.
2. €250 million loan from Cargill, Call Against Human Rights Violations, Orthodox Church of Ukraine, March of Dignity, IDPs, Russian TV Channel, Ukraine’s Farmland Market, Naftogaz Sues Russia, CUFTA 2 Years Later
Russian Police attack peaceful protesters during the July 27 peaceful rally in Moscow. Image by Reuters
The Cabinet has authorized the Finance Ministry to attract €250 million in loans from Cargill Financial Services International, the financial arm of the US grain conglomerate.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Ukraine has condemned “a violent crackdown of a large-scale peaceful rally held in Moscow” on July 27. The ministry also expects the same strong condemnation of the Russian authorities’ actions by other representatives of the European and Euro-Atlantic community.Ukraine has also called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to respond to massive human rights violations during protest rallies in Moscow.
Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Epifaniy (Epiphanius) informed that over 500 parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) changed their denomination in the past six months and joined the newly created OCU.
This year’s Ukraine’s Independence Day (August 24) will be held in a new format as reported by the president’s office. Instead of the traditional Soviet-style military parade Ukraine’s capital will host the European-style March of Dignity. The Ukrainian military, veterans, doctors, teachers, diplomats and volunteers will participate in the event.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea has reached 1,395,099 people, according to the report of the Social Policy Ministry of Ukraine released on July 29, 2019. It also says that a third of registered IDPs (34%) are not ready to return to their homes after the end of hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
The president’s office informed that it plans to launch Russian-language television channel to broadcast worldwide with an aim to strengthen the state’s position in the war against disinformation.
Ukraine plans to lift a moratorium on farmland sales and launch the land market by the end of 2019, according to the Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Oleksiy Honcharuk. A ban on farmland sales was introduced in Ukraine in 2001 to regulate land relations and create infrastructure for the land market. The parliament has extended the moratorium since then. In December 2018, the Verkhovna Rada extended the moratorium on agricultural land sales until January 1, 2020.
The Naftogaz group filed a lawsuit with the Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with a request to force the Russian Federation to pay $5.2 billion in compensation for assets lost in annexed Crimea.
August 1 marks two years since the launch of Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). In addition to generating commercial benefits for Canadian businesses, CUFTA was designed to support the economic reform and development efforts of the Government of Ukraine, strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership for peace and prosperity, and help pave the way for long-term security, stability, and broad-based economic development in Ukraine.
3. The New York Times and Bloomberg: U.S. Hitting Russia With More Sanctions Over Skripals and Nord Stream 2
Image courtesy of Irish Times
The United States hit Russia with the new round of sanctions as President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday, August 1. “It is the second round of sanctions by the administration after a botched attempt in March 2018 to fatally poison a former Russian military intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, in the British town of Salisbury,” reads the article in The New York Times (NYT).
According to NYT, an American president has been “reluctant to take punitive actions against Russia, instead seeking better relations with Moscow despite its well-documented interference in the 2016 election. But in recent weeks, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have criticized his administration’s delay in taking what they have called legally mandated action to follow up on sanctions imposed last August.”
Image courtesy of 112 international
On Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation “that would impose sanctions on undersea construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for shipping gas from Russia to Germany,” reads an article in Bloomberg.
“The bill, introduced by Texas Republican Ted Cruz and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, was approved by the committee 20-2 with bipartisan support. “Russia has a bad history of using energy as a weapon,” said Cruz shortly before the vote. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin “gets his revenue for military adventurism and hostility” from oil and gas.
4. Bloomberg: Ukraine Turns to Blueprint That Transformed Ex-Communist Europe
Downtown Kyiv. Image by Orel Roman
On July 30, Bloomberg ran the interview with Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, leader of President Zelenskyy’s economic team and, reportedly, potential prime minister. He talked about Ukraine’s intention to replace the current loan deal with IMF with a staff-level agreement. This would allow Zelenskyy to accommodate the selling of state companies, trimming the budget deficit and relaxing rules for land ownership. “The ideas have been floating around for years. But unlike the previous administration, this one may have more appetite to implement them,” reads the article.
When talking about the parliamentary set up Honcharuk believes that “Control of the legislature allows it to pursue market-based economic policies that the likes of Poland and Hungary introduced two decades ago, even as those nations now seek more state sway.”
5. Ukrinform (Interview): It Is Important Not To Lose Pace In Our Relations With Washington, Ambassador Chaly
Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly. Photo by Ukrinform
On July 30, Ukrinform released the interview with Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly, who will shortly complete his tenure in the U.S. capital. During the conversation Ukraine’s official talked about the biggest challenges, achievements, priorities, gains and opportunities in the relations between Kyiv and Washington.
In his interview Chaly revealed some of the nuances while promoting in the U.S. the recognition of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as genocide. “I met with the leaders of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) and the leaders of Ukrainian organizations from different countries. I found out why it couldn’t be done. I was told how this had happened during previous attempts and what had stopped it…” reads the interview.
6. New Eastern Europe (Opinion): Ten Reflections on Ukraine’s Parliamentary Vote
Image courtesy of iegvu.agribusinessintelligence
The article by Kostiantyn Fedorenko, political analyst at the Kyiv Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, offers 10 reflections on the aftermath of Ukraine’s elections.
“‘Servant of the People’, much like Zelenskyy himself, is an empty signifier, harnessing support of completely different social and ideological groups. These groups vary from nostalgic Soviet Union fans to pro-European anti-corruption activists. The party stays deliberately vague in its public communications in order to preserve this balance. Yet, with a convincing victory, they will have to govern, and there is no way to do that without alienating some of these electoral groups. We will therefore observe some ersatz of an ideology crystallised by the party, and with it, a certain unavoidable loss of support for the ‘Servant of the People’,” writes Fedorenko
When talking about checks and balances the author mentions that “the Ukrainian judiciary unfortunately remains corrupt and judiciary reforms have not yielded successful results… Western partners can at times act as a check on Ukrainian politics and have done so on many occasions in the past since Ukraine strongly depends on its relationship with the west. Yet the western capitals will not be doing all of the work for the new administration,” reads the article.
7. Mejlis Reports 73 Searches, 69 Detentions And 200 Arrests in Crimea in January-June, 2019
Mejlis – the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people continues to monitor and document human rights violations that take place in Crimea.
“In the first six months since January we recorded 73 searches that were conducted in the occupied Crimea, 55 of which were carried out in the houses of Crimean Tatars. There were 69 detentions recorded, including 57 detentions of Crimean Tatars. Two hundred arrests were registered, and 138 of the arrested were representatives of the indigenous people,” head of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Eskender Bariyev said at a press conference in Kyiv on July 31 as reported by Ukrainian media.
According to Bariyev, 60 political prisoners and 24 Ukrainian sailors had been convoyed to Russia from the territory of the occupied Crimea over the past six months. Twenty-nine persons out of those 60 have already been sentenced, while the rest remain in custody.
8. Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Senator Andreychuk Retiring After 26 Years
Senator Raynell Andreychuk speaks at XXIII Triennial Congress
Yesterday’s issue of Saskatoon StarPhoenix ran an article by Shannon Boklaschuk based on a recent interview with Senator Andreychuk who is about to retire on her birthday on August 14, after 26 years in the Senate.
“A passion for justice and human rights, and a commitment to public service, are some of the defining qualities of the long and illustrious career of Conservative Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk,” starts Boklaschuk her introduction of the senator.
“A lot of senators are very focused on certain issues,” said Andreychuk. “I do foreign policy, I do human rights, I do family issues. I do Saskatchewan – pulse crops forever – so international trade. And then I do Ukrainian things. So, I’m all over the world and all over Canada and Saskatchewan.”