Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
Ukrainian soldier participates in live-fire training exercise.
Photo – US Army Europe
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that during the week of December 8-14, five Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 12 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 202 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front, including at least 75 times with heavy weapons – Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Canada adds Ukraine to Automatic Firearms Country Control List
On December 13, Canada added Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL). The Department of Global Affairs stated that the inclusion of Ukraine in the AFFCCL “will enable Canadian companies and individuals to apply for a permit to export certain prohibited firearms, weapons and devices to Ukraine. Each permit application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure its consistency with Canada’s international obligations and foreign policy and defence priorities.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stated, “I’m delighted to make this announcement today. The addition of Ukraine to the AFCCL reflects the close ties our countries share. Canada and Canadians will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
3. Canada’s Defence Committee tables report on Ukraine, recommends Canada provide Ukraine with lethal weapons
On December 11, Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence tabled their Report, Canada’s Support to Ukraine in Crisis and Armed Conflict. Among its 17 recommendations to the Government of Canada, the Committee stated,
“That the Government of Canada advocate for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Ukraine that respects its territorial integrity. […]
That the Government of Canada provide lethal weapons to Ukraine to protect its sovereignty from Russian aggression, provided that Ukraine demonstrate it is actively working to eliminate corruption at all levels of government. […]
That the Government of Canada expand Canada’s sanctions, including implementing the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), against those responsible for contributing to the armed conflict in Ukraine and work with its allies, including NATO, to maintain and enhance their sanction regimes against Russian operatives.”
The Committee’s report is available here:
4. EU extends sanctions against Russia
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “European Union leaders have agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months over Moscow’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.
The decision, announced on December 14 at an EU summit, will extend current restrictions against Moscow until July 2018.
The EU measures, which mainly target the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 and have been extended every six months since then. […]
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed the EU decision to extend the sanctions.
‘[It is] an important political decision by the leaders of the European Union to continue economic sanctions against Russia for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and unwillingness to stop hybrid aggression against our country,’ Poroshenko wrote.
5. Ukraine defense budget up by 28 percent in 2018
The Kyiv Post reported on December 11, “Ukraine will allocate Hr 165.3 billion ($6.1 billion) to defense and security in 2018, according to the budget bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada on Dec. 7.
In comparison with 2017, when spending was Hr 129 billion ($4.9 billion), next year’s spending on the army, police and special services in Ukraine is 28 percent higher, and a new record-high amount.
The new defense budget is likely to rise beyond 6 percent of the nation’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP), which is forecast by the National Bank of Ukraine for 2017 to hit Hr 2.7 trillion ($100.1 billion).”
6. Interview with Commanding Officer of Operation UNIFIER
Lieutenant Colonel Kristopher Reeves, Commanding Officer, Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, was interviewed by Business Ukraine Magazine.
Lt. Col Reeves stated, “Ukraine is a battle laboratory. If you want to understand hybrid warfare, you need to study Ukraine. You can see the whole spectrum of hybrid warfare in action here. […] I’ve served in a lot of countries and have never seen such hunger for change and reform. Ukraine often comes in for criticism for not reforming fast enough, but the progress that has taken place in the military over the past two years is huge. Their attitude is nothing short of impressive and it helps to make this a very rewarding deployment.”
The full interview is available here – Ukraine: Hybrid War Laboratory
7. US Secretary of State: Russian sanctions regime will not change until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is returned
Speaking on December 12 in Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is something that we cannot accept. As I’ve indicated to others in Europe last week, it’s one thing for countries to choose sides in conflicts. Russia wanted to choose the side of Bashar al-Assad; we chose not to. But when you invade another country and take their territory, we cannot – that cannot be left to stand. And that is the basis for the very stringent sanctions regime that the U.S. and Europe imposed on Russia as a result of that invasion, and that regime will not change until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is resolved and Ukraine’s territorial integrity is returned. […]
We know we’re going to have to continue to deal with Russia’s hybrid warfare. We felt it in our elections and we now have reports from many European countries that they’re seeing the same effects. It is something I do not understand about why Russia thinks it’s in its interest to disrupt the free and fair elections of other countries. What do you hope to achieve? I don’t understand it and no one’s been able to answer that question for me. But we make it clear that we see it, it needs to end, it needs to stop, and it too stands in the way of renormalizing our relationships.”
8. Kyiv court releases former Odesa oblast governor Saakashvili
A Kyiv court released former Odesa oblast governor Mikheil Saakashvili, who is accused by prosecutors of assisting a criminal organization, from custody on December 11, pending trial. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Ukrainian prosecutors had sought to place Saakashvili under house arrest, but a judge on December 11 turned down the request. […]
Judge Larysa Tsokol told Kyiv’s Pechera district court that the prosecutors’ request to put Saakashvili under house arrest pending trial was ‘dismissed.’ […] Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko later said on ICTV that he will appeal the judge’s ruling.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Ukraine’s Justice Ministry is also still weighing an extradition request from Georgia for the former Georgian president to face criminal charges related to his years in power there. […] Ukrainian authorities say Saakashvili is suspected of abetting an alleged ‘criminal group’ led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014.”
Saakashvili was detained on December 8, after fleeing law enforcement custody on December 5.