Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 14-20, 2018
CAF and UAF personnel during Operation UNIFER training exercises. Photo – Joint Task Force-Ukraine
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of July 13-19, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and 12 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 173 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front.
2. Canada’s Minister of International Development visits Ukraine; announces call for proposals
Minister Bibeau with Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, July 19, Kyiv
Canada’s Department of Global Affairs stated on July 19, “Canada is unwavering in its support for Ukraine as that country takes the necessary steps to secure its future as a stable, democratic and prosperous country. This includes helping the Government of Ukraine advance its democratic and economic reform processes so it can be accountable to its citizens and helping rebalance socio-economic inequalities among Ukrainians.
Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, announced a new call for preliminary proposals entitled ‘Growth that works for everyone-Inclusive and shared prosperity in Ukraine.’ The $30-million call for preliminary proposals will fund innovative projects to enhance the economic security of rural women, especially those affected by the conflict in the eastern part of the country. The projects will also help to create a more competitive, innovative and sustainable environment for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women and for vulnerable and marginalized groups.
This announcement was made by Minister Bibeau in Kyiv during a joint press conference with First Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv.”
More information on the call for proposals is available here
3. U.S. lawmakers slam Trump as ‘weak’ in Russia summit; some push new sanctions
Reuters reported on July 16, “Leading U.S. lawmakers, including numerous Republicans, criticized President Donald Trump on Monday for failing to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election as the two heads of nuclear powers stood side-by-side at a joint news conference.
Trump, speaking in Helsinki after his first summit with Putin, said he saw no reason to believe his own country’s intelligence agencies over the Kremlin leader’s assurances that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election.
A wave of condemnation immediately followed, with lawmakers calling Republican Trump ‘weak’ and ‘cowardly,’ while Senator John McCain said the summit was ‘a tragic mistake.’ The war hero and former Republican presidential nominee, a frequent critic of the president, said Trump ‘failed to defend all that makes us who we are – a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.’ […]
After the Helsinki summit, at least two senators – Republican Pat Toomey and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer – raised the possibility of imposing new punishment on Russia. Toomey said in a statement that unless Putin helps the United States prosecute Russians accused in the hacking, ‘the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia.’ It was unclear if Senate or House of Representatives leaders would back such a move or how new sanctions might be crafted.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have been at their lowest point in the post-Cold War era. Trump touted the summit as a chance to improve ties. Even before the allegations of Russian meddling, tensions were high over Moscow’s concerns about NATO expansion, Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Russia’s military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in its seven-year civil war.
Trump’s eagerness to improve U.S. relations with Russia had been met with skepticism in Congress, where lawmakers nearly unanimously approved tough sanctions targeting Moscow in 2017. […]
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 election. ‘The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals,’ said Ryan in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told reporters: ‘I’ve said a number of times and I’ll say it again. The Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.’
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, said Trump’s comments next to Putin made the United States look like a ‘pushover.’ […]
Senator Susan Collins said Trump’s ‘position is untenable,’ while Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, also a Republican, outlined Russian aggression on several fronts and said the United States ‘will not tolerate hostile Russian activities against us or our allies.'”
4. US Senator Gardner: Russia is a state sponsor of terror
For a video of Gardner discussing his legislation to list Russia a state sponsor of terror, please click on image above
The office of US Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) reported on July 17, “Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) called on Congress on Tuesday to immediately take up his legislation S.2780, to require the State Department to determine if Russia is a State Sponsor of Terror. Gardner spoke about Russia’s continued violations in a Helsinki Commission hearing and in the weekly Senate Leadership Press Conference on Tuesday.”
Gardner stated, “Four years ago today nearly 300 people were killed when a Russian missile system was used over eastern Ukraine to shoot down a Malaysia airlines flight. Russia has not only downed the commercial airliner, it invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine, supports the murderous Assad regime and our enemies in Afghanistan.
It has engaged in active information warfare against western democracies, including meddling in the United States elections 2016 and elsewhere. Early this year they crossed yet another line when they poisoned two individuals on allied soil in a chemical agent attack. I’ve introduced legislation to require the State Department to consider within the next 90 days whether or not Russia should be listed as a state sponsor of terror and I hope that legislation will be heard soon.”
According to the State Department, the penalties for the designation include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”
5. G7 Foreign Ministers statement on MH17
On July 15, the G7 foreign ministers issued the following statement in advance of the anniversary of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17:
‘We, the G7 foreign ministers, of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in our condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a civilian aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.
MH17 was carrying 298 crew and passengers, nationals of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
We fully support the work of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), an independent criminal investigation led by the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The JIT’s findings on Russia’s role in the downing of MH17 are compelling, significant and deeply disturbing. The G7 recalls that UN Security Council Resolution 2166 demands that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. We are united in our support of Australia and the Netherlands as they call on Russia to account for its role in this incident and to cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of MH17 and their next of kin.
In a rules-based international order, those responsible for unacceptable actions, such as the firing or launching of the BUK missile of Russian origin, which intercepted and downed a civilian aircraft, must be held accountable. To this end, we call on Russia to immediately engage with Australia and the Netherlands in good faith to explain and to address all relevant questions regarding any potential breaches of international law.
We express once again our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of MH17. We stand together against the impunity of those who engage in aggressive actions that threaten the rules-based international order, anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstances.”
6. Are the EU and NATO serious about bringing peace to Ukraine? You wouldn’t know it from their language
In an article for the Atlantic Council, Roman Sohn and Ariana Gic stated, “Two events that took place in Brussels this month-the NATO summit and the EU-Ukraine summit-have once again brought attention to the Western position on Russia’s unlawful war on Ukraine. Although very supportive of Ukraine, the final declarations of both summits fail to use clear language recognizing Russia’s responsibility for its ongoing multi-vector war on Ukraine.
Instead, the EU-Ukraine summit’s statement speaks of “external challenges” that Ukraine is facing, “acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014,” “illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol,” and “violence in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” The language of NATO’s Brussels summit declaration is more direct, mentioning “Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and ongoing destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” and Russia’s “political, financial, and military support to militant groups,” “military interventions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” and “troops, equipment, and mercenaries [stationed on] the territory of Ukraine.”
Both make two crucial mistakes. They treat Russia’s actions in Crimea and the Donbas as separate matters, not part of a coordinated, unitary war effort; and they do not unequivocally recognize Russia as the aggressor state that is directly responsible for waging an unlawful inter-state war against Ukraine, albeit an undeclared one.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Russia is waging war against Ukraine-in which the military invasion is just one component among many-the language of NATO and EU documents lends credence to Moscow’s “plausible deniability” strategy, which denies Russia’s role as the aggressor. This has serious implications for Ukraine, and for the international order.
When the West plays along with the Kremlin to describe Russia’s war on Ukraine, it is a win for Moscow and a loss for truth. A loss for truth is a loss for peace, stability, and order. As long as Russia’s undeclared war is not recognized as the unlawful war that it is-with Crimea and the Donbas forming part of a larger, single war effort-no peace solution can be crafted. […]
Kremlin-sponsored unreality has permeated Western media and institutions, and polluted the thinking of many political actors. By echoing Russia’s lies, the international community has allowed Moscow to continue its war in the comfortable shadows of distorted reality without incurring the true cost of its war and destruction. Putin’s calculated strategy of disguising Moscow’s invasion has left Ukraine defending itself against an enemy largely “invisible” to the world. […]
If the EU and NATO are serious about bringing peace to Ukraine and preventing the world order from being upended, they must they must get honest about Russia’s war against Ukraine and dispense with Moscow’s lies.
Russia should rightfully be called the aggressor for its unprovoked and unlawful use of force against Ukraine, and tools commensurate to Russia’s violations of international law should be employed to help restore the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to bring a just peace to Ukraine.”