Russia significantly escalates attacks against Ukraine
January 31, 2017. OTTAWA. For the last several days, the Russian Federation and its proxy forces have unleashed intensive artillery, Grad rocket and mortar shelling of Ukrainian military positions and residential areas near Avdiyivka and surrounding locations.
According to the Ukrainian army’s General Staff, eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 36 wounded due to shelling and attacks by Russian and proxy forces on January 29-January 30 alone.
Two civilians have been injured as a result of shelling by Russian and proxy forces. The shelling by Russian and proxy forces has cut off electricity in Yasynovata and Avdiyivka. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs more than 400,000 civilians in the region have no access to water, electricity and heating.
The United States Mission to the OSCE stated, “Russia and the separatists initiated the violence in Avdiyivka. We call on Russia to stop the violence, honor the ceasefire, withdraw heavy weapons, and end attempts to seize new territory beyond the line of contact.”
As Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “The Kremlin’s actions may qualify as a war crime, a gross violation of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and an unlawful, wanton and extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity.”
“This escalation in violence is a very troubling sign that Russia intends to intensify its war against Ukraine,” stated Ihor Michalchyshyn, Executive Director and CEO of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “The Russian Federation has repeatedly shown through its actions that it has no intention of abiding by the Minsk Agreements and withdrawing its army from sovereign Ukrainian land. As one of Ukraine’s steadfast allies, it is imperative that Canada respond in support of Ukraine.”
International pressure on Russia must be increased in order to ensure that Russia end its invasion of Ukraine. The UCC calls on Canada to:
- Issue a strong condemnation of this serious escalation by the Russian Federation and demand that Russia abide by the ceasefire it has signed;
- Work with allies to significantly increase sanctions on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s increasing aggression, including banning Russia from the SWIFT international payments system;
- Provide Ukraine with the defensive equipment it needs to defend its territory, including anti-tank, anti-artillery and surveillance equipment.
Ukraine has been fighting to defend itself from Russia for almost three years. Russia has consistently breached ceasefire agreements and ignored calls from the international community to end its invasion of Ukraine and reverse its occupation of Ukrainian territory. The response of the international community must be strengthened, and we call on Canada to lead that response.