Ukraine: Daily Briefing
February 5, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Ukrainian armor training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Stafff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three 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 5 times in total, including 3 times with heavy weapons.
2. Ukraine’s Minister of Defence meets with US Secretary of Defense
Ukraine’s Minister of Defence Poltorak, US Secretary of Defense Mattis arrive at the Pentagon. Photo – US Department of Defense
On February 2, the Pentagon reported, “Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis met his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak, at the Pentagon today.
Secretary Mattis emphasized the value of the U.S.-Ukraine security partnership. He praised Minister Poltorak for his country’s sustained courage in the face of Russian aggression, and reiterated U.S. support for Ukrainian defense reform goals.
He cited the Law on National Security as an urgent priority, and expressed his hope that the Presidential Administration and Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, take swift action and pass legislation that ensures a solid legal basis for the implementation of defense reforms in support of a secure and democratic Ukraine.
The two leaders pledged to strengthen a lasting partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine built on common security interests and shared principles.”
3. Kyiv sees 50% rise in international tourists
Photo – Business Ukraine magazine
Business Ukraine magazine reported, “The number of international tourists visiting Kyiv has almost doubled since the lows of 2014 and topped one and a half million in 2017, according to new figures released in late January. Kyiv City Administration officials confirmed that just over 1.5 million tourists visited the Ukrainian capital in 2017, which is virtually twice as many as the 800,000 recorded during 2014.
City officials reported that revenues from the Kyiv tourism trade have trebled over the same period, climbing from an estimated UAH 6.1 billion in 2014 to UAH 17.9 billion in 2017, or approximately USD 650 million. Just over 50% of international visitors in 2017 came from other European countries, with Asian nationals making up around a third of all tourists. […]
Kyiv will hope to continue this progress in 2018 when the city hosts the UEFA Champions League Final in late May. This global headliner event will place Kyiv firmly in the international spotlight and present the Ukrainian capital with an opportunity to shine.”
4. Atlantic Council distinguished fellow Daniel Fried: US Treasury’s Kremlin Report a “missed opportunity”
The Atlantic Council reported, “The US Treasury Department’s decision not to slap sanctions on Russian oligarchs and officials, some with ties to the Kremlin, is a missed opportunity to check Russian aggression, according to the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried.
‘I think the [Trump] administration missed an opportunity [on January 29] to extend the use of sanctions to Russia’s aggressive behavior,’ Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center, and formerly the State Department’s coordinator on sanctions policy, said in a phone briefing hosted by the Council on January 30.
However, he said, if a classified Treasury list of Russian officials is ‘credible and strong’ then ‘its existence may have some deterrent value, but the administration then needs to work on its messaging to make sure that this is understood.’
While Fried described the scope of Treasury’s public list as a ‘missed opportunity’ and a ‘disappointment,’ he said he would not call it a ‘catastrophe’ if a classified list can deter future Russian meddling, such as interfering in the 2018 midterm elections in the United States. […]
The US Congress mandated the so-called Kremlin Report to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US elections. A special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is currently investigating links between US President Donald J. Trump’s campaign and Russia ahead of the 2016 vote.
Section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) mandates the administration to submit to Congress within 180 days‘identification of the most significant senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation, as determined by their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.’ […]
Fried said Treasury’s list of Russians was ‘so broad and so inclusive and so undiscriminatory that it undercut the clear purpose of Section 241, which was not to go after all rich Russians or corrupt rich Russians, but to go after the Putin power structure.’
‘I understand the basis for tactical discretion in the service of strategic determination, what I don’t understand is why they thought that strategic determination can be conveyed when your discretion might be mistaken for weakness. That’s a problem,’ he added.
Fried said of Treasury’s report: ‘It was a disappointing job because Section 241 has generated anxiety in Russia which could have been used to convince the Russian regime to back off some of its aggressive actions.’ […]
Fried said he was particularly surprised by the ‘clumsy’ rollout of the Treasury’s Kremlin Report because the Trump administration has acted ‘responsibly and credibly’ over the past year to implement existing Russia sanctions.”