Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
May 12-18, 2018
US Special Envoy for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visited Ukraine this week. For a short report on the visit from BBC News, please click on image above
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of May 11-17, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 24 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 427 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 107 times with heavy weapons – Grad rockets, artillery and mortars.
2. Russian terrorist forces shell civilians with artillery – killing two civilians and injuring three
Damage in Troitske caused by shelling by Russian-terrorist forces, May 18
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that on May 18 at 2 am Kyiv time, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Troitske with 122-mm artillery. Two civilians were killed and three civilians were injured as a result of the shelling by Russian-terrorist forces. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that one of the civilians killed was a 13-year old boy.
On May 17, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Mykolaivka Druha and Svitlodarsk with artillery, damaging a school and several residential buildings. No civilians were injured as a result of the shelling on May 17 by Russian-terrorist forces.
3. Ukraine Commemorates Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on May 18, “Ukraine commemorated the victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland in 1944, and authorities on the Russian-controlled peninsula briefly detained dozens of people there. A minute of silence was observed at noon on May 18 across the country — except in Crimea, which Russia seized in March 2014. […]
An RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Crimean capital, Simferopol, that the Russian-imposed police briefly detained dozens of Crimean Tatars who tried to commemorate victims of the deportation early in the morning.
Later in the day, several dozen Crimean Tatars held another commemoration event next to a stone erected in a park in Simferopol to honor the deportation victims. Dozens of riot police officers monitored the event.
In Kyiv, by contrast, bells at Orthodox Christian churches tolled for a minute to pay tribute to the victims of the deportation.
‘The pain of the Crimean Tatar people is our common pain. It is the pain of tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars who never made it back to their native Crimea,’ President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.
‘We will never forget the cynical crime of the Soviet regime, the crime against an entire ethnic group, against humanity,’ he wrote. ‘I am confident that these days’ criminals will also face punishment for occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, and the Ukrainian Crimea will be free again.’
The Crimean Tatars were deported en masse from the Black Sea peninsula in May 1944. […] Starting on May 18, 1944, some 250,000 people were put on trains — most of them in the space of two days — and sent to Central Asia. Tens of thousands died during the journey or after they were left on the barren steppe with few resources. Crimean Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until the late 1980s. […]
In November 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law declaring May 18 the Day of Commemoration of Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatars.”
4. Sentsov’s life on the line in defense of all of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Oleg Sentsov, world-renowned filmmaker and one of Russia’s first Ukrainian political prisoners has gone on hunger strike, vowing not to end it until Russia frees all its Ukrainian political prisoners.
His move comes just a month before the World Cup is due to begin in Russia and the timing is no coincidence. There was every reason for the International Football Federation [FIFA] to have taken the World Cup away from Russia after its unprecedented invasion and annexation of Crimea and aggression against Ukraine. FIFA failed to do so, potentially handing the Kremlin a weighty propaganda coup.
Oleg Sentsov, who has spent four years of a 20-year sentence in Russian captivity for peacefully opposing Russia’s invasion of his homeland, has taken the only, and most dangerous, step in his power to change this, and it is vital that his indefinite hunger strike receives maximum attention.
It seems he has been planning this move for the last month and a half, rejecting food parcels and reducing his food intake, and he fully understands the possible consequences. He told his lawyer, Dmitry Dinze: ‘If I die before or during the World Cup, there will be publicity that can help other political prisoners.’
Sentsov’s formal statement is brief, and reads: ‘I, Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian citizen, sentenced illegally by a Russian court and held in a prison colony in Labytnangi, have declared a hunger strike, beginning 14 May 2018. My sole demand is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners held in the Russian Federation. Together to the end. Glory to Ukraine!’ […]
Sentsov has been placed in a separate cell since the beginning of his hunger strike and a doctor is monitoring the situation. He has been warned that if his health deteriorates to a critical level, that they could apply force-feeding. In the event that they try to declare him mentally unfit (this being the widespread practice in the Russian penal system to counter hunger strikes), Sentsov points out that there is a medical assessment in his file which found him mentally fit.
It is four years since Sentsov was arrested in Crimea together with three other opponents of Russia’s invasion and annexation: civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko; Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chyrniy. All four men were held incommunicado for up to three weeks, first in Simferopol, then in Moscow, almost certainly to hide the torture marks.
Their case was one of the first of many attempted show trials of Ukrainians, and was clearly aimed at justifying Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
5. Canada, Ukraine sign Technical Agreement on military training
photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs
On May 18, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that Canada and Ukraine have signed a Technical Agreement on military training. The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated, “The Technical Agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and Canada’s Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces is intended to improve military cooperation, in particular personnel training, explosive and medical training, logistics modernization, professional development and education of officers, as well as language courses and cooperation in the field of strategic communication. […]
The Agreement was signed by the Commander of the National Guard of Ukraine Col.Gen. Yuriy Allerov and Deputy Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command, Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. William Seymour.”
6. Ukraine’s economy sees continued growth
Ukraine Business Journal reported, “Ukraine’s economy grew by 3.1% in Q1 of 2018, y-o-y. According to the State Statistics Service, the economy has now grown 9 quarters in a row.
International trade indicators confirm the positive trend. In Q1 2018, exports of goods and services grew by 9.1 % to $ 13.6 billion, while import growth reached 11.3 %, amounting to $ 13.7 billion. Exports to the EU in Q1 2018 amounted to $ 5.7 billion.
A positive trade balance was also recorded: the country’s exports exceeded imports by $27.5 million. Chemical, light industry, mechanical engineering, and woodworking products headed the list of exports.”
7. EU adds five persons involved in the organisation of Russian presidential elections in illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol to sanctions list
The European Council stated on May 15, “The Council added five persons to the list of those subject to restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
They are listed because of their involvement in the organisation of the Russian presidential elections of 18 March 2018 in the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, thereby actively supporting and implementing policies that undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The five individuals hold positions of responsibility in the electoral commissions of Crimea or Sevastopol. The measures consist of a travel ban and an asset freeze.
The decision brings the total number of individuals listed by the EU to 155. In addition, the EU has frozen the assets of 38 entities under this sanctions regime.”