Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 7-13, 2018
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of July 6-12, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 148 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front. On July 10, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on residential areas of Krasnohorivka. One civilian was injured.
2. Ukrainian political prisoner Yevhen Panov, tortured by FSB, sentenced to 8 years in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported on July 13, “Yevhen Panov has been sentenced to eight years in Russian-occupied Crimea on ‘sabotage’ charges for which there is not a scrap of evidence. The sentence, to be served in a maximum security prison, was met with cries of ‘Glory to Ukraine’ from Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian activists who had come to show support, an act of no small courage under Russian occupation.
After being taken prisoner by the FSB [Russian security service] and widely showed on Russian propaganda channels ‘confessing’ to planned acts of sabotage in Russian-occupied Crimea, there was effectively no chance that Panov would be acquitted.
However, the fact that he received a sentence so much higher than the other three men arrested was undoubtedly because he consistently highlighted the lack of any substance and the use of torture in Russia’s attempt at a ‘Crimean saboteur plot’. Not only did Panov retract the ‘confession’ tortured out of him for Russian television, but he also maintained this refusal to collaborate in any way, despite the FSB stating quite unambiguously that this would significantly increase the sentence handed down and mean that he would be sent very far into Russia, and away from his family.
Such stubborn courage was most inconvenient for the FSB since this ‘case’ was so absurd that two of the other three men arrested were convicted of changes that were very different from what they had also been shown ‘confessing’ to.
There is nothing new to add about this case. No new evidence was ever provided either that the alleged ‘sabotage’ had ever been planned and attempted, or that Panov had been involved. […]
Judging by all other political cases, Russia will likely send Panov thousands of kilometres away from his home and family. For the moment, however, he will remain imprisoned in Crimea since the sentence will assuredly be appealed.”
The full report from KHPG is available here
3. Chairman’s statement on NATO-Ukraine following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Georgia and Ukraine at the Brussels Summit
NATO reported on July 12, “NATO Heads of State and Government met today with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, to reaffirm their joint commitment to further develop their Distinctive Partnership and its contribution to a peaceful, stable and undivided Europe.
They discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where, for more than four years, Ukraine has defended itself against Russia’s aggressive actions. Allies expressed their unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and its right to decide on its future and foreign policy course free from outside interference, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act. NATO and Ukraine continue to call on Russia to reverse its illegal and illegitimate annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which they do not and will not recognize. NATO and Allies remain committed to providing continued support to Ukraine’s reform agenda in the security and defence sector, including through the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP). […]
The ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, instigated and perpetuated by Russia, remains a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security, and has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbas. This has led to the loss of more than 10,000 lives and displaced over 1.5 million Ukrainian citizens. […]
NATO highly values Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations, the NATO Response force and NATO exercises. Allies welcomed Ukraine’s decision to increase its contribution to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the NATO Response Force. These contributions testify to Ukraine’s continued commitment to Euro-Atlantic security and increase the level of interoperability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with NATO. […]
An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to security in the Euro-Atlantic area, of which – as stated in the Charter on Distinctive Partnership – Ukraine is an inseparable part.”
The full statement is available here
4. Meeting of Ukrainian and American Presidents at NATO Summit
On July 12, Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “President Petro Poroshenko underlines the importance of the meeting with President of the United States Donald Trump before his meeting with the President of Russia.
‘This was an absolutely trustful conversation and I’m pleased that Ukraine was given priority. And it was absolutely necessary to speak to President of the United States Donald Trump before his visit to Helsinki. I am completely satisfied with this conversation,’ Petro Poroshenko said in Brussels during the press conference.
At the same time, the Head of State will not disclose some of the issues discussed during this meeting. According to him, during the conversation with the President of the United States, significant attention was paid to the meeting to be held on Monday in Finland.
‘We thoroughly discussed the next meeting of President Trump to be held in Helsinki on Monday, July 16. The issues of the Nord Stream 2 were carefully discussed as well. I informed President Trump in a very detailed manner,’ the Head of State noted.
He also said that during the conversation the achievements of Ukraine in advancing reforms were emphasized. In particular, the interlocutors stressed the importance of adopting a bill by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which establishes the jurisdiction of all anti-corruption cases for the new anticorruption court.
Answering the question whether the issue of the annexation of Crimea was discussed with Donald Trump, Petro Poroshenko stressed that the position of all Alliance members was reflected today in a statement following the Summit. ‘It is clearly written. This is a statement approved by all members at the highest level, including with the participation of President Trump. The Crimean status is absolutely clearly emphasized, non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea,’ he said.
The President also reminded that the same position was fixed in the resolution of the U.S. Congress and in the statements of the Department of State and the White House.”
5. Funeral for Levko Lukyanenko held in Kyiv
Levko Lukyanenko, Soviet-era Ukrainian dissident, founding member of the Ukrainian Helskinki Group, and former Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, passed away at the age of 89 on July 7.
For his unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s independence, Lukyanenkowas arrested for the first time in 1961, persecuted by Soviet authorities and spent over 25 years in Soviet prisons, labour camps and exile. He was one of the last political prisoners released from the Soviet Gulag, in 1988. Lukyanenko was one of the authors of Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence in 1991. Lukyanenko’s funeral was held on July 10 in Kyiv. The requiem was conducted at St. Volodymyr Cathedral by Patriarch Filaret.
Speaking following the ceremony, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “It is a great tragedy and great sorrow when the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian people lose such personalities as Levko Lukyanenko, who demonstrated with his life the invincibility of spirit and patriotism of the Ukrainian people.”
For an obituary of Levko Lukyanenko by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, please see
6. Statement following EU-Ukraine Summit
Following the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit on July 9, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, issued as joint statement, in which they stated, “We, the leaders of the European Union and Ukraine, gathered today to reaffirm our continuous commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union, on the basis of the Association Agreement and our common values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. […]
We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. […] We remain committed to fully implement our respective non-recognition policies, including through restrictive measures. […]
We deplored the continuation of violence in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and its heavy toll on the civilian population and its dire consequences for the human rights situation. [….] The EU recently again renewed its economic sanctions on Russia, the duration of which remains clearly linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. […]
We recalled the tragic downing of flight MH17, paying tribute to the victims, looked forward to the effective prosecution of those responsible for this tragedy, and called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability.”
The full joint statement is available here:
7. In advance of NATO and Trump-Putin Summits, Bipartisan group of US Senators reiterate importance of continuing sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated on July 10, “U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rob Portman (R-Ohio.), co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today led a group of eight of their Senate colleagues in introducing a Senate Resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea. The bipartisan resolution comes ahead of President Trump’s scheduled trip to Europe, where he will attend a NATO Summit in Brussels as well as meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Affirming the Senate’s full support for the sanctions the United States and the European Union have imposed against Russia for its illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory, the Senators’ resolution calls on the Trump Administration to formalize a policy of non-recognition of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The United States adopted a firm non-recognition policy during the Cold War with the Welles Declaration, which condemned the forced annexation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union.” The full text of the resolution is available here
8. Ukraine MPs back anti-corruption court law amendment
Reuters reported on July 12, “Ukraine’s parliament approved an amendment to an anti-corruption court law on Thursday in an effort to secure more funding under a $17.5 billion aid-for-reforms program from the International Monetary Fund.
After months of delay, a law to create an independent court dedicated to handling graft cases was adopted in June, but the IMF wanted changes so that appeals to existing corruption cases were under the new court’s jurisdiction.
Speaking before the vote in parliament, several lawmakers said the amendment was fully in line with the IMF’s requirements, although this could not immediately be verified. […]
The law is meant to ring-fence court decisions from political pressure or bribery in Ukraine. […] A failure to pass the amendment would have further delayed the reform as this is parliament’s last week in session before the summer recess.
Establishing the court, adjusting gas prices and honoring budget commitments are conditions to unlock the next loan tranche under the IMF program, which expires next year.”