Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
July 28-August 3, 2018
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises.
Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of July 27-August 2, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 14 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 214 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that Ukrainian force, returning fire, killed 16 and wounded 28 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Bipartisan group of US Senators introduce hard-hitting Russia sanctions package
On August 2, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, “comprehensive legislation that will increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s continued interference in our elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression in Crimea, and other activities,” Senator Graham’s office stated.
Among the key provisions of the legislation are:
- The establishment of an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the Department of State. This office will lead diplomatic efforts relating to international cybersecurity, Internet access, Internet freedom, the digital economy, cybercrime, deterrence and responses to cyber threats. […]
- New sanctions on political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin
- Sanction on transactions related to investment in energy projects supported by Russia state-owned or parastatal entities
- A prohibition on and sanctions with respect to transactions relating to new sovereign debt of the Russian Federation
- Sectoral sanctions on any person in the Russian Federation that has the capacity or ability to support or facilitate malicious cyber activities
- A requirement for the Secretary of State to submit a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
- A prohibition on licenses for United States persons to engage in activities relating to certain projects to produce oil in the Russian Federation.
Senator Graham stated, “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria. The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed. “
For the full news release on the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018 please see here
3. Representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew: Ukrainian Church and its leaders have the right to their place among the Churches
|July 28, Kyiv. Celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Ukraine-Rus’. Photo – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration|
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on July 28, “At the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of Christianization of Ukraine-Rus’, representative of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Metropolitan of France Emmanuel emphasized that the Ecumenical Patriarch ‘will not leave his Ukrainian sons unprotected and abandoned.’
‘The Ecumenical Patriarch cannot remain blind and deaf to the appeals that have been repeated for more than a quarter of a century,’ Metropolitan Emmanuel said. ‘Sons of the Ukrainian Church and its leaders have the right to their place among the Churches,’ he added.
‘The Mother Church has already passed the ruling on April 20 this year. Namely – to begin the procedure for achieving the ultimate goal – to provide autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,’ representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted. He added that this became possible after the appeal of the Ukrainian authorities, the President of Ukraine, ‘which is the successor to the political structure of Kyivan Rus.’
‘We are sure that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is on your side. You will not be orphaned because the Mother Church will find a way to become involved in your progress, your success, your growth in the faith of Christ,’ Metropolitan Emmanuel said.
‘We express our hope that our Lord will fill all your needs. May God bless you,’ Metropolitan Emmanuel said and gave blessings to the Ukrainian people from the Ecumenical Patriarch.'”
4. Russia denies Amnesty International access to Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov
On August 2, Amnesty International reported that they were denied access to Ukrainian political prisoner Oleh Sentsov, currently on the 82nd day of a hunger strike. Sentsov is jailed in a penal colony in the Russian Arctic. He began his hunger strike demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners jailed by Russia.
Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International’s Ukraine Director, stated, “Denying us the right to visit Oleg Sentsov is indefensible. After almost 3 months on hunger strike, there are grave concerns for his health. We were planning to visit Oleg accompanied by an independent medical expert who would be able to evaluate his health. In order to dispel all doubts about Oleg’s health condition and the adequacy of medical assistance provided to him, such a visit is imperative.
Amnesty International calls for Sentsov’s immediate release and demands that, while detained, he has access to qualified health professionals, providing healthcare in line with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent. In addition the Russian authorities must grant access to Sentsov for Ukrainian consular staff.”
5. EU sanctions six entities involved in construction of Kerch Bridge connecting Russian-occupied Crimea to Russia
The Council of the European Union stated on July 31, “The Council added six entities 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 construction of the Kerch Bridge, connecting Russia to the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula.
Through their actions they supported the consolidation of Russia’s control over the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula, which in turn further undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The measures consist of an asset freeze, meaning that all of the assets in the EU belonging to these entities are frozen and EU persons and entities cannot make any funds available to them.
The decision brings the total number of entities listed by the EU to 44. In addition, the EU imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on 155 individuals under this sanctions regime. The legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned, are available in the EU Official Journal of 31 July 2018.”
6. One year since Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement came into force
The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) came into force on August 1, 2017. Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade reported that in in 2017 Ukrainian exports to Canada grew by 74.4%. In the first five months of 2018, Ukraine’s exports to Canada grew 37.1%.
7. Ukraine’s President: The path to the establishment and operation of the Supreme Anticorruption Court is fully open
Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported on August 2, “President Petro Poroshenko signed the Law ‘On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine On the Judiciary and Status of Judges due to the adoption of the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Supreme Anticorruption Court.’
The amendments made to the Law ‘On the Judiciary and Status of Judges’ and the Law ‘On the Supreme Anticorruption Court’ allow to ensure the effective launch and further functioning of the Supreme Anticorruption Court, including its Appeals Chamber, which will become a significant step in the fight against corruption in Ukraine.
The law resolves some issues related to the organization of the work of the Supreme Anticorruption Court and guarantees of the activities of its judges, in particular, it provides for the specification of the work of the chambers of higher specialized courts and consolidation of certain institutional, organizational, personnel and financial autonomy of the appeals chamber of a higher specialized court.
At the same time, the law envisages that the advocation of cases of top corrupt officials will be carried out exclusively by the Appeals Chamber of the Supreme Anticorruption Court.
President Petro Poroshenko noted: ‘With the adoption of this Law, the path to the establishment and operation of the Supreme Anticorruption Court is fully open, so I appeal to the High Qualification Commission of Judges with a request to conduct a competition as soon as possible. I also request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request our international partners as soon as possible to delegate representatives to the Public Council of International Experts. I also appeal to all worthy lawyers – take part in the competition. The speed and effectiveness of combating corruption in Ukraine will depend on your principled position.'”