Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
June 9-15, 2018
Ukrainian armored units training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of June 8-14, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 26 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 225 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front, including at least 64 times with heavy weapons -artillery, tanks and mortars.
2. Ukraine files Memorandum in International Court of Justice against Russia’s violations of International Convention for Suppression of Financing of Terrorism and UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
On June 12, Ukraine filed a memorandum in the International Court of Justice against Russia’s violations of the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “The presentation of the Memorandum in the case against Russia is an important stage in proving that the Russian Federation will bear responsibility for all its illegal actions.
The whole world is trying to convince Russia to recognize the illegality of its actions and get out of the occupied regions of the Donbas and the Crimea.
Meanwhile, Russia still stubbornly laments that they did not occupy the Ukrainian lands, brought the Buk for the downing of MH-17, brought Grads, which fired on civilians of Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Avdiivka and a checkpoint in Volnovakha. Officials of the Russian Federation are stubbornly lying that they did not recruit terrorists who carried out explosions in Odesa, Kharkiv and Kyiv. […]
We can overcome this lie only with truth and evidence. In order to do this, we need the position of the International Court of Justice, which will give an appropriate assessment of the actions of the Russian Federation and will not leave them the opportunity to hide from responsibility behind the next manipulations and shouting ‘it’s not us’ and ‘we are not there.’ […]
There is still a lot of work to bring the truth, but the truth is on our side and that’s why we will advocate and defend it with all the proper means.”
3. European Parliament urges Russia to immediately release over 70 unlawfully jailed Ukrainian citizens
On June 14, the European Parliament passed a resolution, in which the Parliament “strongly condemns the judgment handed down against Oleg Sentsov in the court in Rostov-on-Don on 25 August 2015, which sentenced him to 20 years in prison on charges of terrorism;
equally condemns the 10 year sentence handed down to Oleksandr Kolchenko at the same trial and the ongoing trial of Volodymyr Balukh who is on hunger strike since March 2018; considers their cases to be in breach of international law and of elementary standards of justice; urges the Russian Federation to act in accordance with its international obligations, and to immediately release Oleg Senstov and other unlawfully detained Ukrainian citizens, now numbering over 70 individual cases; […]
underlines that from the very beginning Oleg Sentsov was not afforded the right to a fair trial and that procedural concerns, including the allegations of torture, merit a thorough investigation, open to international observers; deplores that he was tried in a military court and points out that statements and testimonies gained through torture and other illegal methods should be inadmissible in court proceedings; […]
calls for the release of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, […]; .emphasises that Russian courts, both military and civilian ones, are not competent to judge acts committed outside the internationally recognised territory of Russia, and points out that the judicial proceedings in this case cannot be regarded as legitimate; calls on the Council and the Commission to address this and the many similar cases in contacts with the Russian authorities and to report back to Parliament; calls on the Member States to do the same in bilateral meetings; […]
calls on the Council to consider a European Magnitsky Act under which further Russian officials, responsible for systematic human rights abuses, should be added to an extended EU list of those under an EU-wide visa ban and with assets frozen that they, or their immediate family, may hold within the European Union; commends Lithuania, Estonia and the UK for adopting Magnitsky Act national legislation which allow sanctions to be imposed against individuals suspected of involvement in human rights violations and urges other Member States to follow suit.”
The full text of the Resolution is available here
4. US Treasury sanctions Russian Federal Security Service Enablers
The US Treasury stated on June 11, “Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Russian entities and three Russian individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, ‘Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,’ as amended, and Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
One of the designated entities in controlled by and has provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), while two others have provided the FSB with material and technological support. OFAC is also designating several entities and individuals for being owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the three entities that have enabled the FSB.
‘The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities. The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,’ said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. ‘The United States is committed to aggressively targeting any entity or individual working at the direction of the FSB whose work threatens the United States and will continue to utilize our sanctions authorities, including those provided under CAATSA, to counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russia.’
Examples of Russia’s malign and destabilizing cyber activities include the destructive NotPetya cyber-attack; cyber intrusions against the U.S. energy grid to potentially enable future offensive operations; and global compromises of network infrastructure devices, including routers and switches, also to potentially enable disruptive cyber-attacks. Today’s action also targets the Russian government’s underwater capabilities. Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.”
5. Here’s why OFAC’s new Russia sanctions are significant
Daniel Fried, former US State Department coordinator for sanctions policy, and Brian O’Toole, former US Treasury official, wrote for the Atlantic Council, “Set against the odd frame of US President Donald J. Trump wanting to invite Russia to govern the world as part of a reconstituted G8, the actions taken by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 11 to sanction Russian cyber actors were a welcome reminder that actions can speak louder than words and that credible, sustainable actions like these are (hopefully) what advance actual policy goals.
Taken by itself, this set of sanctions is the important, if routine, work that dismantles networks of bad actors doing bad things. It was not escalatory, but it serves as a reminder of the threats posed by Russia and raises some interesting questions.
The OFAC sanctions target the destabilizing cyber activities of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). The press release on the sanctions specifically mentioned Russia’s responsibility for the devastating NotPetya cyber hack that caused billions of dollars in damage to companies and devastated the computer systems at global shipping giant Maersk, Ukraine’s Boryspil International Airport, US pharmaceutical giant Merck, and many others. It also cited Russia’s prepositioning of cyber assets that have the potential to cause global disruption, including intrusions of the US energy grid.
Stated this way, especially the targeting of global commerce and critical infrastructure systems that are well outside of normal state-to-state hacking for espionage purposes, the Trump administration is publicly painting Russia with the same broad brush of bad cyber actor that it has used against Iran and North Korea. That is rather significant company as this administration has not even accused China, long seen as the most significant global cyber threat, of such behavior.
A final notable piece of the sanctions was the targeting of Russian entities that enable Russia’s undersea espionage and hacking efforts. The US and UK governments have previously warned about the threat posed by Russia’s access to the undersea cables that essentially prop up the global financial system and the Internet.
It is unlikely that OFAC would specifically name cyberattack access points in a designation action-such information would reveal sources and methods of intelligence collection and would not be necessary to support a designation-but noting that threat raises the question of whether Russian security services used such undersea tools in the NotPetya attack or have used them to lay the groundwork to cripple the critical systems that traverse those cables.”
6. European Parliament approves 1 billion Euro macro-financial loan to Ukraine
The European Parliament reported on June 13, “A €1 billion macro-financial loan to help Ukraine cover part of its external financing needs in 2018-2019 was approved by Parliament on Wednesday.
MEPs agreed to an EU Commission to provide Kyiv with another package of macro-financial assistance (MFA) […]
They nevertheless insisted that Parliament, the Council, and the Commission issue a joint statement on policy conditions that Ukraine must fulfil, due to concerns over the pace of reforms and the fight against corruption in the country. This statement, annexed to the decision, stresses that as a precondition for granting the loan, Ukraine must respect effective democratic mechanisms – including a multi-party parliamentary system – the rule of law, and human rights. It also underlines that the use of the EU aid must help reduce poverty and create jobs in Ukraine.
MEPs also insist that the loan is conditional upon progress in fighting corruption, and in particular, the setting up of a specialised anti-corruption court in line with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission recommendations. (Ukraine’s parliament voted on 7 June to set up this court).The Commission and the European External Action Service are to check that these preconditions are met throughout the process, and make their findings public. If they are not met, then the Commission should temporarily suspend or cancel disbursement, say MEPs. The resolution was backed by 527 votes to 124, with 29 abstentions.
Jaroslaw Walesa (EPP,PL), rapporteur, said: ‘The purpose of this aid is to make the country more economically stable, and there are firm conditions in place to ensure that the money will serve this goal. The country also has to take drastic measures to address corruption before the funds are delivered. I welcome with great satisfaction last week’s adoption of the law on the High Anti-corruption Court in Ukraine: it means that Ukrainians take their commitment seriously.'”
7. Centre for European Policy Analysis report on Nord Stream 2
In a new report, Europe and Nord Stream 2: Myths, Reality and the Way Forward, the Centre for European Policy and Analysis states, “Right now, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline represents one of the greatest threats to European solidarity and energy security. Promoted by one of the largest gas suppliers in the world- Russia’s state-owned Gazprom-this pipeline is a direct challenge to European law, the principle of fair play in the market, existing regulatory protections for consumers, and the bedrock political cohesion that has united U.S. and European interests for decades. Should the Russian government succeed in completing Nord Stream 2, the negative consequences for Europe will be many, and the benefits few.” The full report is available here: Europe and Nord Stream 2: Myths, Reality and the Way Forward