Ukraine: Daily Briefing
January 15, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian armored units training exercise.
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 6 times in total.
2. Canada’s Governor General to visit Canadian troops in Ukraine
The office of the Governor General of Canada stated, “At the request of the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, will visit Ukraine and Latvia from January 17 to 19, 2018.
This visit will allow Her Excellency to meet with and show her support to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members serving on Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine and on Operation REASSURANCE in Latvia. Her Excellency will be accompanied by General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.
During this visit, Her Excellency will also have an opportunity to meet with the presidents of Ukraine and Latvia.
Lviv, Ukraine – Wednesday, January 17 – Her Excellency will arrive late in Lviv and begin her official program the following day.
Lviv, Ukraine – Thursday, January 18 – In the morning, Her Excellency and General Vance will visit the Memorial to Fallen Soldiers of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation. Afterwards, they will meet with members of the Canadian and Ukrainian Armed Forces at the Military Law and Order Service (MLOS) Academy. Canadian’s Operation UNIFIER was crucial to the reopening of the MLOS Academy in September 2017 after it had been decommissioned in 2012.
Later, Her Excellency will visit Potocki Palace, where she will meet with His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, to discuss Canada-Ukraine bilateral relations and to reaffirm Canada’s support for Ukraine.
Yavoriv, Ukraine – Thursday, January 18 – In the afternoon, Her Excellency and General Vance will travel to the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi to see Operation UNIFIER in action. This mission aims to provide military training and capacity building assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This encounter will allow for an exchange with the Canadian men and women who are committed to helping Ukraine remain sovereign, secure and stable.”
3. “Prosecutor” in Russian-occupied Crimea asks for five year sentence for Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh
Volodymyr Balukh, photo – RFE/RL
A “prosecutor” in Russian-occupied Crimea has asked a “court” to sentence Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh to five years and one month in prison, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
“In his final statement in court on January 15, Balukh reiterated that he was innocent and that the case against him would ‘never make me love my so-called new motherland’ — a reference to Russia.
He suggested that the accusations against him were politically motivated and part of what Kyiv and rights groups say is a campaign of pressure on Crimeans who opposed Russia’s takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
‘The tears of the mothers of those who today are fighting for their right to be free will [haunt] those who are persecuting people in Crimea,’ Balukh said. ‘But no matter what, victory will be ours. Glory to Ukraine!’
After the prosecutor and Balukh spoke, the judge adjourned the trial and said the verdict would be pronounced on January 16.
In August, the Rozdolne District Court convicted Balukh and sentenced him to three years and seven months in prison. But an appeals court cancelled the ruling, sent the case for additional investigation, and transferred Balukh to house arrest.
Balukh is one of dozens of Crimeans whom Russia has prosecuted in what rights groups say has been a persistent campaign to silence dissent since Moscow seized control over the Ukrainian region in March 2014.
He was arrested in December 2016, after the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said explosives and 90 bullets were found in the attic of his home.
The search was conducted shortly after Balukh planted a Ukrainian flag in his yard and affixed a sign to his house that read Heavenly Hundred Street, 18. […]
In March 2017, the European Parliament called on Moscow to free more than 30 Ukrainian citizens who were in prison or other conditions of restricted freedom in Russia, Crimea, and parts of eastern Ukraine,” RFE/RL reported.
4. EUAM donates 30 off-road vehicles to Ukraine’s National Police
The EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine stated, “The ability of the National Police of Ukraine to protect and serve communities in remote and difficult to reach areas has been strengthened following a donation of 30 off-road vehicles made by the EU Advisory Mission Ukraine (EUAM). These resilient Nissan Patrols should help improve safety and security in such regions by enabling the police to patrol more widely and respond more quickly and efficiently to incidents.
‘We have been working closely with the National Police of Ukraine to support efforts to improve the service that is being delivered to rural areas and mid-sized towns. Since 2015, we have played an active role in providing advice and training that led to the creation of response units in such areas. The vehicles we are donating complement our efforts to date. These Nissan Patrols will help ensure that difficult terrain and weather conditions present less of an obstacle when the police are called,’ said EUAM Head of Mission Kęstutis Lančinskas.
The vehicles will be used in the Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Lviv, Rivne and Transcarpathian regions to reach mountain villages or support the fight against illegal amber mining for example. Better police coverage of remote areas should also help develop tourism in these regions.
The donated Nissan Patrols were previously in use in the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and have become available as that Mission is downsizing. The vehicles have been serviced to be fully operational in Ukraine and can be used in all conditions, including extreme weather such as snow, ice and heavy rain.”